Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback
Original Function: 

large game (including lion) hunting, guardian


sighthound, scenthound, Southern (sight)

Date of Origin: 


Primary Current Function: 

lure coursing

Other Name: 

African lion hound

Place of Origin: 

South Africa


Beginning in the 16th century, European Boers began settling in South Africa. Along with the Boers came the dog breeds that they were accustomed to in Europe. Among the breeds were bloodhounds, pointers, mastiffs, Great Danes and several others.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Health

Avg Size of Female: 

Height: 24-26 inches, Weight: 70 pounds

Suggested tests: 

breeder check for dermoid sinus, hip

Major concerns: 

dermoid sinus

Minor concerns: 


Life span: 

10 - 13 years

Avg Size of Male: 

Height: 25-27 inches, Weight: 85 pounds

Occasionally seen: 

deafness, elbow dysplasia

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed History

They soon learned that they would need dogs that could handle their new climate. They needed dogs that could operate in both temperature extremes while performing their occupations of hunting and guarding. To achieve this goal, they bred their imported dogs with a Hottentot tribal dog. This tribal dog had a distinctive “ridge” of fur along its spine. This new breed was adept at both sight and scent hunting. Sometime in the 1870s, many of these dogs were taken to Rhodesia to aid in lion hunts. The dogs would tire the lion by chasing and harrying the animal, thus allowing the hunters to make the kill. These dogs became very popular and were known by their nickname, “lion dog.” The ridge on the back of the breed came to symbolize a quality animal. There were so many types of the breed that a meeting was called in Rhodesia in the 1920s to decide on which traits were preferred. This was the start of the breed standard that we know today. Dogs that had these characteristics were known as Rhodesian Ridgebacks. The nickname of “lion dog” was subsequently dropped as being too violent. The new breed was first seen in England in the 1930s with the introduction into America coming shortly thereafter. They were popular in both countries, and by the 1950s had developed a following. By the 1980s, the breed had been accepted as a sighthound and was thus eligible to participate in field trials. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is currently among the most popular of hounds. Certainly the triple threat of hunter, friend, and guardian fuels this popularity.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Appearance

The Ridgeback has a nice combination of endurance, speed, and power. This breed is a little longer than it is tall. It is athletic with a long and effective stride and powerful enough to bring down large animals. The short coat is ideal for working in the hot climates to which it is accustomed. The signature ridge that is located from the hipbone to behind the shoulders grows against the grain of the rest of the coat. Its coat is dense and sleek with colors ranging from red wheaten to light wheaten.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Temperament

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is very protective for a hound. It is extremely loyal and obedient though somewhat reserved with strangers. It is courageous and makes a great guard dog. It can become domineering and willful if not trained properly. The Ridgeback is tolerant of other pets as long as socialization begins early enough. This breed may play a little rough for young children and does well with older children if not harassed. It also withstands insect bites very well.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Maintenance

The Ridgeback requires minimum grooming. Occasionally use a firm bristle brush and shampoo only when needed. It needs mental and physical exercise daily to ward off frustration. A large amount of exercise is needed to absorb its limitless energy. The Rhodesian Ridgeback enjoys swimming and would make a great running partner. This breed is better suited for living in warmer climates and they are equally at home indoors or out provided they receive adequate exercise. Country living with room to roam brings out the best in the Ridgeback. This intelligent but stubborn breed is easily trainable as long as training begins when they are young.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Ratings & Reviews

Excellent watchdog - December 08, 2016




I’m in love with Rhodesian Ridgebacks. This is an excellent dog breed. My dog Seus is an amazing watchdog; he doesn’t bark without a reason, when he barks I pay attention, as it’s always an alert to something or someone. He doesn’t like being alone and needs a good amount of physical activity. One of the greatest things about this breed is that they need very little grooming.

Review Rhodesian Ridgeback