Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Rodgeback is an average height but a muscular type of dog which originates from South Africa. It was developed during the period when early pioneers came here from Europe and crossbred their dogs with some of the local breeds they found there. It is assumed that the dogs that they crossbred them with were semi-domesticated, ridged hunting dogs of the Khoikhoi, found in South Africa at the time. These dogs are very powerful and have been said to be able to keep a lion at bay while its master makes the kill. The breed standards were adopted and drafted by F. R. Barnes, in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, which also accounts for their name.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Male

But the Rhodesian Ridgeback is also known by some other names. You may also know them by Van Rooyen’s lion dog or the African lion hound or simply African lion dog.

History & Origins

The Rhodesian Ridgeback starts off its career in South Africa. The local Boer farmers needed a working dog that would help them fend off intruders but also dogs that would be good at hunting and living on smaller rations in harsh temperatures that they had then. What they started doing first was to interbreed dogs brought from Britain, mostly  Great Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds, and Bloodhounds, with a local, semi-domesticated breed that was kept by the pastoral tribe of  Khoikhoi. The local dog was characterized with a ridge on its back and it is the same ridge that the Rhodesian inherited from its ancestor.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs

Due to their natural gifts, the dogs were primarily used for hunting. And one of the hunters, named Cornelius von Rooyen, soon saw the potential in them and started breeding these dogs. He even managed to establish the first breed standards that were made in 1922. The name and the breed standards were officially accepted and recognized only two years afterwards. The dogs also made its way to the US, Canada and UK. The early dogs were imported before WWII and were used during it as well. The American Kennel Club accepted and recognized the breed in 1955.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Characteristics & Temperament

A Rhodesian Ridgeback is described as a loyal and intelligent hound. They are also strong willed and may have a tendency to perform mischiefs, but not in a bad way. The dog is a good guard dog and can be trained to help in various situations. Sometimes people can view it as an aggressive hound but that only happens if a dog is not socialized ad trained properly. Once the form an attachment with their owners they will be highly protective of them, the family and the house.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Female

As far as their training goes, they respond to reward-based training and require positive influence. Due to their stubbornness at times they can be hard to train. This is why they are better suited for experienced trainers and should not be taken by amateurs or inexperienced trainers. Socialization is also needed and can prove to be very important when taking on this type of a dog.

Appearance, Colors, Size

The most distinguishable part of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the strip of hair on its back that goes the opposite direction compared to the rest of the coat. It consist of two whorls of hair and tapers just behind the shoulders down to the level of the hip. The ridge is approximately 2 inches thick. This part is assumed to directly correlate to the local hound it was originally bred from.

As far as his size goes, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can reach a height of 25–27 inches and can weigh about 85 lb. Females are a tad bit smaller and they are 24–26 inches in height and weigh about 70 lb. The dog is also very muscular.


Red Wheaten Rhodesian Ridgeback

Their coats are usually light wheaten to red wheaten. The coat is short and dense while being sleek and glossy in appearance. It is neither woolly nor silky. White is accepted on the hair and on toes, but black hair has not been addressed but is assumed as nonacceptable.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Health

A Rhodesian Ridgeback is a pretty healthy type of a hound by most standards. Their average lifespan is calculated to be about 11 years, which is standard for the size and they type of the dog. Nevertheless, there are some standardized conditions which affect them with hip dysplasia and dermoid sinus being the most common ones.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Adult Dog

In most cases degenerative myelopathy, hypothyroidism and gastric dilatation volvulus occur. These can all be avoided with regular visits to the vet and performing the necessary tests to determine the possible illness. Taking care of your dog properly will ensure that their health is good and that they live longer.

Grooming & Shedding

Shedding of Rhodesian Ridgebacks depends on where you keep them. Actually, the ones that you keep indoors will shed less opposed to the ones that are kept outside which are heavier shedders. They generally shed all year round and have heavier shedding periods during transitional periods.

Fortunately, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a pretty low-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming. You do not have to spend so much time and only need to give them occasional brushes with a rubber brush to remove the dead hair. Afterward you could wipe it off with a damp cloth to keep its coat shiny.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Price and Breeders

A Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a cheap dog at all. They are not easy to find, even with all of the breeders and kennel clubs being available. If you want a quality dog you will have to spend somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 dollars per pup.


7 Weeks Old Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy


There is another cheaper way of getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback and that is through adoption. There are numerous rescue groups which will offer you the possibility of rescuing a dog and you can contact Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue Inc or Ridgeback Rescue of the United States to get more information on how to adopt one.