(aka: African Lion Dog, African Lion Hound, Ridgeback)
Rhodesian Ridgeback Description
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a handsome dog, and carried himself with a certain dignity. Large in size, he has a well muscled, sturdy build, and an intelligent expression. His coat is short, close fitting, and glossy, and the coloring is golden tan or reddish tan (light or red wheaten). The weight of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is around 70-75 pounds for females, and around 75-85 pounds for males. The height of these dogs is around 24-26 inches for females, and around 25-28 inches for males. One distinctive feature that has helped the Rhodesian Ridgeback earn his name is the strip of hair along the dog's back, which grows in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat and forms a ridge.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog that has plenty of energy, especially as a puppy, and needs an owner that can provide plenty of stimulation and interaction. These dogs are friendly, but aggression can be a problem in some lines, which means that early socialization is essential. Serious, sensible, and dignified, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very independent and confident breed, and is best suited to owners with confidence, assertiveness, and experience in dog ownership. He is an intelligent dog and is quick to learn, but training may prove a challenge as he can also be very testing. This is a dog that demands respect in order to give respect, and can be a dominant, demanding, and controlling. However, with the right owner and the right training, he can be a well balanced, loving family pet and companion.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very loyal and protective dog. His suspicion of strangers makes him an effective protector. He will get along well with children when brought up with them, but younger children are not recommended, as these dogs do not like to be handled roughly. With early socialization he tends to get along okay with other animals, although he may be bossy with them. A devoted sight and scent hound, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is prone to wander off of something stirs his curiosity, and therefore a safe, secured area is essential unless he is on a leash. With early socialization, consistent training, and a confident, assertive owner, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can make a very good family pet.
The grooming requirements for the Rhodesian Ridgeback are low, and his coat simply needs to be brushed occasionally to keep it looking good. The odd wipe down with a soft, damp cloth will also help it to keep its shine. He is a light shedder, and therefore may be suited to some people with allergies.
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 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.
The life expectancy of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is around 12 years, and there are a number of health problems to look out for with this breed. This includes thyroid problems, cancer, cataracts, deafness, HD, dermoid sinus, and bloat. The parents of the Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.