The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed of dog belongs to the hound group (Group 2), and is placed in position 56 of the AKC breed listing. The family it is best known for are the Sighthound, Scenthound, and Southern (sight).
CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NZKC
solid colors of blue, black, red/fawn, or beige for show. also brindle and white for non-show.
25 to 27 inches in height at the withers
about 85 pounds but it is known that some males reach up to 160 pounds,
24 to 26 inches in height
The two main conditions for the Rhodesian Ridgeback refer to their need for an active life instead of a sedentary lifestyle, and the fact they are excellent outdoor dogs or they can be quite comformable on the couch watching Animal Planet.
The official breed standard for the Rhodesian Ridgeback states the breed is strong, muscular, and actively athletic--also symmetrical and balanced in outline. Considered to be a very handsome and upstanding dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is capable of extreme endurance and speed. In addition to that, it is considered to be symmetrical in outline with the build of the dog longer than tall, but still well-balanced. The most outstanding feature of this breed is the ridge on its back, starting with two identical whorls (called crowns) directly behind the shoulders while tapering to a point between the hipbones. The ridge of hair that runs along its back runs in the opposite direction compared to the rest of its coat.
The head is an outstanding characteristic of the breed, free of wrinkles when resting. With a flat skull that is broad between the ears, the eyes are moderately well apart and round in shape with its color matching in harmony that of the breed's color. The ears are set high and are of medium size, while they sit on the head with a wide base and tapering to a rounded point. The muzzle is long, deep and powerful while the nose is black, brown, or liver colored--similar to the eyes, keeping with the color of the dog's fur--black noses are accompanied by dark eyes, amber eyes are accompanied by brown or live colored noses.
Instantly alert at all times, the breed is not a barker but instead is not only a hunter but also a family protector, an affectionate trustworthy companion for adults and young children both. A quiet and gentle dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can be quite busy and energetic as a puppy and young adult. Keeping them on a leash is mandatory if living in a city or crowded area, as they can be very protective and combative if not trained properly.
The coat of the Rhodesian Ridgeback has an appearance that is short and dense, sleek and glossy--neither wooliness nor silkiness is accepted. An easy to groom and low maintenance dog, the breed has been developed for hunting in the African brush.
The colors of the Ridgebacks are solid colors of blue, black, red/fawn, or beige for show or exhibiting dogs. But additional colors of brindle and white are also found in this breed. Ridge patterns vary--needle, feather, arrow, lute, violin, bowling pin, leaf, and saddleback. The patterns may be slightly lighter or darker in color than the body, but are acceptable as long as they are clearly defined and symmetrical. The broader the ridge, the higher the value of the dog.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback was developed as a special breed from Southern Africa in Rhodesia, or modern day Zimbabwe, to harass a lion or keep it at bay for the master or hunter to make the kill. The breed was first written with standards in 1922, with its parent breed company formed by Francis R. Barnes in Bulawayo. But its history goes back even further, with records showing that the Ridgeback went back as far as the Hottentots of Southern Africa in the 1400s.
A native of South Africa, the breed's history begins when the first Dutch Settlers entered the area of Cape of Good Hope and Namibia in Southern Africa, and discovered the Hottentot tribes. The Dutch word "hottentot" refers to the stammering or stuttering, which could have been given to the Hottentot tribes because of the unusual clicking sounds the tribesmen made when they spoke. But it was also found in the writings of Eighteenth Century Europeans, and was considered a standard of the most savage and lowest of human beings, with the word Hottentot describing the actual Khoikhoi tribes. They were considered to be the lowest rung of "The Great Chain of Being" which meant they were on the level of animals, if not below. In actuality, the term Khoikhoi was referred to by the tribe itself as "men of men" or "a pure race."
But what they did have of value was a domesticated dog with a ridge of hair on its back turned backward, which eventually becoming the Rhodesian Ridgeback, with the European immigration bringing in their own dogs until 1707, when the imports were closed to Europe. Good hunting dogs became hard to find in this area, especially one that would flush partridge, pull down a wounded stag, or guard a farm home. A hardy breed was need that could withstand the rigors of the African bush weather and go without water for 24 hours if necessary. And one that would be a companion dog with the settler and his family. Over the years, a dog was developed from the Hottentot tribe's half-wild ridged dogs that was cross-bred with the European's finest imported dogs--Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds, Salukis, Bloodhounds, and other breeds--before the immigration was shut down.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is known as an extremely protective guard dog, in addition to being a keen and versatile hunter. Gentle enough to play with young children it is quite protective of its family, this elegant dog is tough and strong enough to hunt lions while guarding homes and settlements. It is a breed tough enough to withstand cold or heat, explore with the hunter, and hunt in the brushes. Keen eyesight is an excellent feature of the breed, as it accompanies the hunter with silent tracking and determination, able to work in diverse terrains while working together with a pack of hounds.
Strong-willed and powerful, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can become very domineering and strong minded if not trained properly as a young puppy. Otherwise, it is very active and fun-loving, independent in nature yet intelligent enough for most people to work with. When fully grown, the Ridgeback enjoys the company of other animals, such as dogs and cats, protecting what it considers his property against unwelcome strangers, danger, or unwanted intruders.
Even the Ridgeback that is quite mature is enjoyable in its later years. Romping in the back yard or going to the park with its owners, taking naps on the couch, or even training in lure-coursing and agility is still a feat that the Ridgeback is capable of enjoying. As an intelligent breed, this dog is best when its desire to please is recognized and praised through the spirit of adventure, instead of through boring and repetitive dog training exercises that come out of mass-produced books and classes.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not like a Maltese or a Cocker Spaniel. This breed requires a very strong willed owner, as the Ridgeback's will and personality are extremely difficult to deal with. The owner needs to be committed entirely to the breed, the required obedience training, and to provide the dog with stimulation enough for the mind and body.
The number one major Health concern for the Rhodesian Ridgeback is dermoid sinus, with a minor concern as hip dysplasia. Dermoid Sinus in the Rhodesian Ridgeback is also called dermoid cyst, hair cyst, and African cyst. The Dermoid Sinus is similar to Spina Bifida in humans, and is a congenital condition that is present at birth, located on the midline of the neck, back, and tail along the spinal column. The abscess will form and resulting swelling will rupture the puppy's skin, which is not only painful but can be life threatening.
Puppies who have this disease are usually put to sleep, or if surgery is performed before they go to their new homes, they will be sold as pet stock only, not allowed to be sold as Breeding material. The Dermoid sinuses are not similar in their makeup, which sometimes makes them impossible to find and remove, or see how far into the spine area they may go. Puppies who are not able to be fixed with surgery, need to be put to sleep.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is considered a low demand for grooming rating, with full grooming intervals about once every 12 weeks, with a maintenance grooming schedule at least on a monthly basis. Most people groom the dog at home themself, due to its low maintenance and short hair. Brushing the Ridgeback with a natural bristle brush, thinning shears and scissors can be done weekly or every other week. Basic baths are easy to do with rubber brushes to remove hair or a soft bristle brush with a light spray of coat conditioner, coat gloss, or mink oil, is sprayed on the dog's coat, makes the dog's coat shine. Some owners have the dog's whiskers removed but that is a personal preference. If the elbows on the Ridgeback are hard, apply a natural gentle cream to the area.
Because the Ridgeback loves to run, and requires mental and physical exercise, coat care is done at a minimum basis but still needs done, if for nothing else but to remove dead hair or dander that is in excess. The physical contact with the dog while it is being "petted" with a hair-removal mitt is excellent bonding time, and removes stress from the dog. The area being petted offers muscle relaxation in addition to the removal of hair, which offers gentle stimulation on a mental, physical, and emotional level.
Exercise is a high requirement for the Rhodesian Ridgeback, even though it is not as high on the level as their watchdog ability or protection abilities. Very hardy dogs built to run and hunt, this is a breed that requires constant and very consistent exercise. Owners such as runners or joggers would make excellent owners for this breed as they can run for very long distances without tiring. And if this is available, make sure their are lots of room for the Rhodie to run and play in, such as a large running yard or walking to parks or special area. This is a breed that needs exercised from the time they are young. They respond well to what their owners want, so working with them is mandatory at a very young age while spending lots of time with them at play.
The Ridgeback's nature requires training done in a fair, firm, loving, and consistent manner to be done correctly, but also is a breed where training is extremely difficult as they are known to be stubborn and can get bored very easily, unless they are at the side of their owners at all time. They are considered one of the most intelligent of all the breeds. They are very much people dogs, and owning one requires a total commitment to time and energy. The correct training is required with obedience, agility, and jumping as demonstrations that they can be successfully trained for shows--clear on down the line to basic commands as a household pet.
This is a breed that very much wants to think on its own, do it on its own time, and then to do what it wants once it makes up its mind. This is the attitude that a person will face when beginning the training of a Rhodesian Ridgeback, so beginning training for this powerful dog at a young age is mandatory. If not, it can become "quite" mischievous and destructive without the proper training or supervision. But the training should be firm and gentle at the same time, as the breed is very tender-hearted and crumbles at the slightest harsh word. Too much harshness, verbal abuse, or physical punishment will destroy the dog's nature and its essence of who it really is.
A very strong breed of great endurance, they make excellent watchdogs or family pets, as long as they are trained to mind and young children are supervised around them. They are not mean, just so large and strong they could accidentally knock down the child or hit them across the face with a strong wagging tail. A friendly and affectionate, the training works as they have a strong desire to please their owners or trainers, being totally devoted to what their owners want them to do. Leash training is a high requirement for this breed in addition to basic commands, as they require daily walks if they are not taken out into the field or a large play/exercise is available.