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Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog
A Nice Mix of Loyalty and Courage!

The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog is a native breed of South Africa and is believed to be descended from dogs kept by the Hottentots around the 15th century. Prior to that time, their heritage is speculative, possibly originating in Asia.

As European immigrants arrived, bringing various dogs with them, their dogs were ultimately interbred with the Ridgeback. Some of the breed stock most likely included Terriers, Greyhounds, Grand Danes, Pointers, Mastiffs, Salukis, and other breeds.

rhodesian ridgeback dog standing in the grass with wooded background

Sometimes referred to as the safari dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog was developed to hunt big game, including lions, earning them the right to be esteemed for their courage.

In the United States, they have been used on hunts of wild boar, mountain lions, bear, deer, and coyote, using their keen abilities of sight and scent.

The "ridgeback" part of their name refers to a strip of very coarse hair growing down their spine in the opposite direction from the main coat. This physical characteristic is unique to this breed and some experts say it is could be a confirmation of the link to the Hottentots Dog - now extinct.

They are a strong and good-looking dog with an athletic build. Lifespan for the breed is up to 10 years with good care.

Appearance and Coat Care of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog

rhodesian ridgeback dog breed book Height: 24-27 inches
Weight: 65-85 lbs.
Color variations: Light Wheaten to Red Wheaten

Rhodies have a short, dense and sleek coat that sheds little and has minimal odor.

Weekly brushing will keep the coat in good order. Bathing is required very occasionally, but ears and nails should be given more regular care.

Ears of the folded over type, such as this breed's, are always more prone to ear problems such as mites or infections making frequent ear cleaning advisable.

Personality and Traits

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are affectionate and loyal to their owners. Although they have a even temperament and seldom bark without reason, they are ever alert and ready to protect the family.

Rhodies are blessed with high intelligence and have minds of their own. For this reason, obedience training is strongly recommended to establish your role as the "alpha presence".

This dog needs strong leadership, otherwise, they will happily rule the roost. However, on the plus side, they are very responsive to training and once this is accomplished, will become a very obedient companion.

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Health Issues Associated With The Breed

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed standing image with no background The Rhodesian Rigeback dog is linked to health concerns affecting the heart, thyroid, joints, eyes, as well as incidences of cancer and bloat. Responsible breeders of the Ridgeback will survey these areas as part of a health evaluation:
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Thyroid evaluation
  • Cardian Evaluation

Does the Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Need Much Exercise?

Daily exercise is a must for the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog.

If you are a jogger or hiker, Rhodies will be more than happy to join you. They are very athletic dogs with lots of stamina.

Space Needs

The Rhodie is one of the hound dog breeds that is adaptable to either house or apartment, as long as there is access to an outside area for them to run.


Best with older mature children, who can establish leadership with the dog. They can be over-whelming for young children.

As with any breed of dog, we recommend that owners always have an adult present when pets and children are interacting.


Being very loyal and adaptable, the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog makes an excellent companion dog, providing their exercise needs can be met.

Resource: Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States

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Further Reading

rhodesian ridgeback dog breed book rhodesian ridgeback dog breed book
Complete Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog

Useful advice about selecting a Ridgeback, health and genetics, general care and nutrition, temperament, the versatile Ridgeback (other things you can do with your dog). Also emphasises the importance of training the Ridgeback from an early age. A brief history of its origins is included along with full color photos.

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