Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed Profile

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed Photo - Picture of Rhodesian Ridgeback
Photo © iStockphoto.com/Sally Wallis

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large, athletic and sturdy dog breed known and named for the distinct ridge along its back. This ridge is caused by hair that grows in the opposite direction along the spine, and it is the unique trademark of this dog breed.

Details About the Rhodesian Ridgeback

Breed Group: Hound

Size: 70-85 pounds

Color: Light wheaten to red wheaten; may have small white markings; may have a black mask

Rhodesian Ridgeback History

The Rhodesian Ridgeback can be traced back as early as the 1500s when European immigrants brought several dog breeds to South Africa. The settlers needed a good hunting dog, protector, and companion. Their dogs were selectively bred with part-wild "ridged-back" dogs that were used for hunting by the natives. The resulting breed became known as the African Lion Hound, as it was once used to hunt lions.

In 1877, Ridgebacks were brought to Rhodesia, the country now known as Zimbabwe, where they were raised and further developed. The breed arrived in the US in the early to mid-1900s and was accepted into the AKC in 1955.

Caring for Your Rhodesian Ridgeback

The short, smooth hair coat of the Ridgeback requires little care and only sheds a small to moderate amount. Little more than basic routine grooming is necessary for healthy Ridgebacks. Be sure the nails stay neatly trimmed and the ears are cleaned regularly to avoid ear infections.

The Ridgeback is a highly athletic and active dog that needs plenty of mental and physical exercise, at least daily or more frequently. This breed excels at various dog sports, including agility, obedience, and lure coursing. Finding your dog an activity he loves can help prevent boredom and anxiety.

The Ridgeback is also very intelligent yet independent dog that needs proper obedience training and will do quite well once trained. All dogs need to be trained, but training is even more important for a larger dog like the Rhodesian. Some big dogs are not as aware of their size, so it's important to have control over your dog.

The noble Rhodesian Ridgeback is gentle and loyal towards its family, but may initially be reserved around strangers. Proper socialization starting at a young age is very important. This will help make it easier for your Rhodesian to accept new people, animals, and environments.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to develop hereditary conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Should You Get a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

The Ridgeback is an excellent protector that makes a great guard dog but is also a quite worthy companion. The Ridgeback may be appropriate for families with children as long as the dog is trained to get along with kids.

No matter the breed, be sure to never leave a dog alone with small children.

As with any breed, if you think the Rhodesian Ridgeback is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before you get one. Talk to other Ridgeback owners, reputable breeders and Ridgeback rescue groups to learn more.