Meet the Breed: The Rhodesian Ridgeback

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Overview:

  • Height: 24"- 27”
  • Weight: 65-90 pounds
  • Historical function: Lion hunter, guard dog
  • Modern function: Watch dog, companion
  • AKC classification: Hound

Physical Characteristics:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback, also called the African Lion Hound and the Lion Dog, is a large, muscular hound with a deep chest. This dog is well proportioned and sturdy, adapting well to the hot African climate with cool nights. The hair that grows in the opposite direction down the spine, forming a ridge, is a readily-recognized characteristic. The coat is short, sleek and can be light wheaton to varying shades of red. The round eyes are usually brown. The muzzle is long and deep with a black, brown or liver-colored nose, depending on the shade of the coat. The muzzle may be dark. The muscular legs are long and straight. The tail is wider at the base, tapering to the tip. It curves slightly up. 

  

History of the Breed:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was developed in Africa when the Boers imported dogs and bred them with local semi-wild ridgeback dogs. These dogs were extremely suitable for the harsh climate and made excellent pack dogs for hunting lions. They are very strong and ferocious on the hunt but were docile as home protectors while looking after the children. They could also hunt other game including wild pigs and baboons. The look of the dog became standardized in Rhodesia in the 1920s based on the description of the Dalmatian. The breed was recognized in the U.S. in 1955. There has been some discussion as to the best classification of this breed as it has many skills and uses including as a sighthound, scenthound, a wagon/carriage dog (similar to the Dalmatian), a retriever, and more.  

Temperament:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an intelligent, loyal dog with a high need for exercise and strong human leadership. Strong leadership must be confident, yet calm as this dog does not respond well to harsh treatment. Early and consistent socialization is a must to ensure good behavior with strangers, non-canine animals, and children since this is a large, powerful, strong-willed dog. This breed is not recommended for an inexperienced dog owner. They have a large amount of stamina both mentally and physically so must have daily healthy outlets to prevent destructive behaviors. 

  • Best suited for: Active families with older children, joggers, hunters. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog prefers rural settings but can adjust to life even inn an apartment if sufficiently exercised. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy-care short coat sheds moderately, requires occasional brushing. 
  • Exercise needs: Daily long, brisk walk. Makes an excellent jogging partner. Provide mental exercise as well. 
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, bloat, and sinus issues. 

Breed Club Links: The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States.

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Wiggly Lion Dog Toy in size Large.

Have any stories about a Rhodesian Ridgeback? Please share!

Featured photo courtesy of tussanganaMbey. Back of ridge photo from Wikimedia Commons

This entry was posted by Mary.
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