Rhodesian Ridgeback

Slightly longer than tall, the Rhodesian Ridgeback combines speed, endurance and power. The Ridgeback should have a athletic build to allow it to catch as much as a lion and then harass it without being hurt. Since the lion is only one quarry of this Ridgeback, the puppy also has to be powerful enough to bring down other big game. Its stride is long and efficient. The short glossy coat is accommodated for working in warm climates. A distinguishing feature is that the clearly defined form, which should begin with two equal whorls just behind the shoulders and taper to a point between the hipbones.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is your hound group’s response to a dog that is somewhat protective. Not only can it be a keen and flexible hunter, but it’s a loyal guardian. It’s good with kids, particularly protective of these in its loved ones, but it’s occasionally overly unkind in play with smaller kids. It’s strong-willed and strong; a few may become domineering. It’s reserved with strangers and may be aggressive toward strange dogs and creatures.

FAMILY sighthound, scenthound, Southern (sight)
ORIGINAL FUNCTION large game (including lion) hunting, guardian
TODAY’S FUNCTION lure coursing
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 25-27 Weight: 85
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 24-26 Weight: 70
OTHER NAME African lion hound
The Ridgeback enjoys to operate, and it requires daily physical and mental exercise to keep it from getting frustrated. It is sometimes a fantastic hiking or jogging companion. The Ridgeback can live outside in warm or temperate climates, but it’s normally much happier sleeping inside and dividing its time between the home and yard during the day. Coat care is minimal, consisting only of cleaning to remove dead hair.
  • Energy levelMedium energy
  • Exercise needsMedium
  • PlayfullnessModerately playful
  • Affection levelModerately affectionate
  • Friendliness toward other dogsShy
  • Friendliness toward other petsShy
  • Friendliness toward strangersShy
  • Ease of trainingModerately easy to train
  • Watchdog abilityHigh
  • Protection abilityVery protective
  • Grooming needsLow maintenance
  • Cold toleranceMedium tolerance
  • Heat toleranceMedium tolerance
• Major concerns: dermoid sinus
• Minor concerns: CHD
• Occasionally seen: deafness, elbow dysplasia
• Suggested tests: breeder check for dermoid sinus, (hip)
• Life span: 10 – 13 years
After European Boer settlers arrived in South Africa from the 16th and 17th centuries, they brought together these strains as the mastiff, wonderful Dane, bloodhound, pointer, staghound and greyhound, amongst others. These settlers had a puppy which may withstand both hot and cold temperatures, restricted water and demanding bush, while doing the duties of guard dog and hunting dog. By breeding their European puppies using native Hottentot tribal hunting dogs (that have been distinguished by a form of hair growing in the opposite direction across the very top of the back) they created just such a puppy. These dogs searched by both sight and scent and have been committed protectors of the whole family. From the 1870s, many were shot to Rhodesia to search dinosaurs, chasing and harassing the lion before the hunter could take it. Even the “lion dogs” were so powerful that they soon became famous, their identifying ridge becoming a trademark of quality. From the 1920s, therefore many distinct kinds of ridged lion dogs existed in Rhodesia that a meeting was held to one of the most desired points of this strain, which eventually became the foundation for the present standard. Dogs meeting the normal criteria were called Rhodesian Ridgebacks (the puppies’ former designation as lion puppies had been deemed to seem too barbarous). The strain was introduced to England from the 1930s and America shortly after. In both nations, it gained fame in the 1950s and immediately drawn admirers. From the 1980s, the strain obtained recognition for a sighthound and eventually became qualified to compete at sighthound field trials. Today it’s one of the more popular hounds, certainly since it combines the skills of hunter, guardian and companion at a glossy body that is handsome.

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