breed
breed

Rhodesian Ridgeback

avatarJenna Kahn, MBA, VMD

Height24 - 27"
Weight70 - 85 lbs
TypeHound
Life Expectancy8 - 12 years
Area of OriginAfrica

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large, stately scent-hound that was used by hunters to track lions in late 19th-century Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe). Possessing a characteristic ridge of hair that runs vertically down their backs, they were once referred to as “the dog with the snake on its back.” Rhodesian Ridgebacks are easy to care for and very loyal to their families. When well exercised and provided with adequate enrichment, they make quiet, low-maintenance, well-behaved household pets. Powerful, strong-willed, and protective of their families, they are excellent guardians for the home. They also make for very attractive pets with their impressive stature, sleek coats, and distinctive ridge of backwards-growing hair.

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

Where Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks From?

Ancestors of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed can be traced to the 16th century, belonging to the Hottentot people of southern Africa. The following century, they were crossed with large dogs of European settlers to create a powerful breed of scent-hound that could be used to hunt wild game in Africa. In the late 19th century, the breed was taken to Rhodesia, where they propagated and became known for assisting big-game hunting. Official breed standards for the Rhodesian Ridgeback were created in 1922. They were officially recognized as part of the Hounds category by the American Kennel Club in 1955.

Where Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks From?

Ancestors of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed can be traced to the 16th century, belonging to the Hottentot people of southern Africa. The following century, they were crossed with large dogs of European settlers to create a powerful breed of scent-hound that could be used to hunt wild game in Africa. In the late 19th century, the breed was taken to Rhodesia, where they propagated and became known for assisting big-game hunting. Official breed standards for the Rhodesian Ridgeback were created in 1922. They were officially recognized as part of the Hounds category by the American Kennel Club in 1955.

Care

What Kind of Diet Does a Rhodesian Ridgeback Need?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback thrives on a high-quality, large-breed diet. They love to eat and are prone to obesity, so careful portion control is imperative.

Caring for a Rhodesian Ridgeback

What Kind of Diet Does a Rhodesian Ridgeback Need?

How Much Grooming Does a Rhodesian Ridgeback Need?

Are Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs Healthy?

How Much Training Does a Rhodesian Ridgeback Need?

How Much Exercise Does a Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Need?

What Kind of Diet Does a Rhodesian Ridgeback Need?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback thrives on a high-quality, large-breed diet. They love to eat and are prone to obesity, so careful portion control is imperative.

What Are the Physical Characteristics of a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

The average height of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is 25 – 27″ for males and 24 – 26″ for females. They generally weigh 70 – 85 pounds, and are a strong, active, and muscular breed.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have round, bright eyes that are reasonably spaced. The color of the eyes corresponds to the color of the nose: black-nosed dogs have dark eyes and brown-nosed dogs have amber eyes. Their heads are moderately long, with a flat, broad skull and tight facial skin. The ears are of medium size and positioned relatively high on the head.

The characteristic, clearly-defined ridge of hair on Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs grows in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat, creating its distinct look. The ridge is thicker between the shoulders due to two symmetrical, parallel whorls (also known as crowns) and tapers as it approaches the hind end.

The tail of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not curled. It has a strong base with a tapered end, and is held with a slight upward curve.

The Ridgeback’s forelimbs are thick-boned and straight. The shoulders are sloped and muscular. The feet are compact, with a good arch and tough, protective pads.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback color ranges from light- to red-wheaten (which is a pale yellow). A small amount of white coloring may be present on the chest and/or toes. The coat is trim and shiny.

The hindlimbs are as thick-boned and muscular as the forelimbs. Hocks should be down.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Facts

1

In the late 19th century, large-game hunters in Africa would ride on horseback with small packs of Ridgebacks running alongside them. The dogs would help to track lions and, once found, would lay chase to confuse them and give the hunters a chance to get close enough for the kill.

2

Silver screen legend Errol Flynn was one of the first breeders of Rhodesian Ridgebacks in the United States. He raised the dogs on his property in Hollywood, CA. The breed has been championed by other celebrity owners, including Patrick Swayze and Grace Kelly.

3

Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada chose the Ridgeback as their mascot due to their athleticism.

Other Breeds to Explore

Old English Mastiff
Great Dane
All About Greyhounds

References

  • American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. Random House Digital, Inc., 2006.
  • Morris, Desmond. Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds. Trafalgar Square, 2002

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