While the hunting instinct is strong in the Rhodesian Ridgeback, their double ability of sight and scent have proven extremely beneficial in a number of search and rescue programs. The Ridgeback can be found worldwide in drug sniffing dog programs but they are used more often in rescue efforts and for tracking down lost persons and sometimes even escapees. Their ability to sniff out quarry plus chase it down comes from their days of hunting in the African bush. Being developed to hunt the African savannahs has also given the Ridgeback a strong self confidence, allowing it to go anywhere in any situation with little fear.
More than anything, search and rescue trainers say it is the attitude of the dog itself and not the breed that matters most. However, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has become a favorite because when out in the field, the breed is all business. They do not often give up or give in unless and until they have accomplished their task. The Ridgeback is also able to turn their ability off and on at precisely the right moments. When it comes to tracking down escapees, the Ridgeback has certainly been found intimidating enough to handle the task. Their lion hunting skills that found them harassing, barking, and treeing quarry in their wilder days once again comes into great use in this area.
The Ridgeback also has just the physical characteristics that make a good search dog. Their webbed feet not only make them steady on snow or sand, but they have a great deal of stamina that allows them to search for extended periods of time. They are perfectly comfortable in the hottest of climates as well as the freezing cold. One of their best traits is a wonderfully developed lung capacity. This enables them to get a short burst of energy and quickly chase down their target. Time and time again, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has proven itself a good choice when it comes to rescue operations in a number of terrains and all types of weather.
Although its aloof personality can make a person wonder exactly how it works, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is sometimes even used as a therapy dog. Despite any misgivings, the fact that the breed is accustomed to working in packs makes it highly intuitive. They have a tremendous sense of their environment and an individual's needs. This has made them especially invaluable in hospice settings. On top of this, the Ridgeback doesn't have a tendency for drooling or any type of doggy smell. When trained and socialized from a young age, they have been found to do above average in a number of therapeutic surroundings. Without a doubt, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is an all round winner both in the field and up close and personal.