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Adopt a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen


sighthound, scenthound, Southern (sight)

Area of origin:

South Africa

Original function:

large game (including lion) hunting, guardian

Average size of male:

Ht: 25-27, Wt: 85

Average size of female:

Ht: 24-26, Wt: 70

Other names:

African lion hound

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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Temperament

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is the hound group's answer to a somewhat protective dog. Not only is he a keen and versatile hunter, but he is a loyal guardian. He is good with children, especially protective of those in his family, but he is sometimes overly boisterous in play. He is strong-willed and powerful; some can become domineering.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Care

The Ridgeback loves to run, and he needs daily mental and physical exercise to keep from becoming frustrated. He can be a good jogging or hiking companion. The Ridgeback is happier sleeping indoors and dividing his time between the house and yard during the day. Coat care is minimal, consisting only of occasional brushing to remove dead hair.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Health

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

Interested in the history of the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed?

When European Boer settlers arrived in South Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries, they brought with them such breeds as the Mastiff, Great Dane, Bloodhound, Pointer, Staghound and Greyhound, among others. These settlers needed a dog that could withstand both hot and cold temperatures, limited water and rough bush, while performing the duties of guard dog and hunting dog. By breeding their European dogs with native Hottentot tribal hunting dogs (which were distinguished by a ridge of hair growing in the opposite direction along the top of their back) they produced just such a dog. These dogs hunted by both sight and scent and were devoted protectors of the entire family. In the 1870s, several were taken to Rhodesia to hunt lions, chasing and harassing the lion until the hunter could shoot it. The 'lion dogs' were so successful that they soon became popular, their distinctive ridge becoming a trademark of quality. By the 1920s, so many different types of ridged lion dogs existed in Rhodesia that a meeting was held to elucidate the most desirable points of the breed, which became the basis for the current standard. Dogs meeting the standard criteria were known as Rhodesian Ridgebacks (the dogs' former designation as lion dogs was deemed to sound too savage). The breed was introduced into England in the 1930s and America soon after. In both countries, it gained recognition in the 1950s and quickly attracted admirers. In the 1980s, the breed received recognition as a sighthound and became eligible to compete in sighthound field trials. Today he is among the more popular hounds, undoubtedly because he combines the abilities of hunter, protector and companion in a sleek handsome body.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Rhodesian Ridgebacks ready for adoption:

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