The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a paradox of characteristics. Though they are a hearty breed, able to take on the likes of lions and other large and dangerous quarry, they are at the same time a sensitive animal that will crumble with harsh treatment. Many assume their aloof attitude towards strangers and aggressive stance when it comes to other dogs makes them one of the unbreakable breeds. In truth, handling the Ridgeback poorly or keeping it caged in isolation is the easiest way to break its spirit. The lively but sensitive breed requires just the right type of owner that can create a healthy balance of discipline and freedom.
The contradictions of the breed come from its high level of intelligence and strong hunting instinct. While the Ridgeback has a high prey drive and is able to perform its hunting duties without a second thought, the breed is one that can turn this instinct off when it comes to family time. The Rhodesian Ridgeback greatly enjoys being inside with its owner just as much as it enjoys being outside. Despite their size, they often do quite well indoors. The chance to spend time with owners either outside or watching TV is never passed up. When socialized from the very beginning, the Ridgeback often takes it upon itself to care for and amuse other animals in the house.
At the same time, a Ridgeback is smart enough to know when it is being mistreated or asked to do something not in its best interest. When suspicious, the breed's natural stubbornness can come out, but in truth this is just their deep rooted ability to sense danger stemming from their days in the wilds of Africa. This survival instinct is not only what kept them alive but made them the eminent hunting choice for so many. The Ridgeback also hates to be isolated or penned up. This also goes against their natural instinct to roam and explore their territory. It is not uncommon for this breed to flee owners who disregard or disrespect the Ridgeback's boundaries.
With intelligent dogs, trust is everything. The Ridgeback who feels safe is the Ridgeback that is best behaved. This means not only offering plenty of room but valuing the breed's need for independence in thought and action. Any dog with a high intelligence will need plenty of interaction with its owner as well as an abundance of toys to keep busy with during the day. Thanks to its African origins, the Ridgeback has many idiosyncrasies that first time dog owners may have difficulty handling. One of the most peculiar traits of the lion hunting breed is their attraction to staking comfortable spots. Many owners note that, when given the chance, the Ridgeback never passes up the opportunity to spread out on sofas or across their owner's bed.