Are you considering adding a Rhodesian Ridgeback to your family? This magnificent breed is known for its loyalty, intelligence, athleticism, and distinctive ridge of hair on its back. Originally bred for hunting lions in southern Africa, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are now popular family pets for their loving and protective nature. Before making the decision to adopt a Rhodesian Ridgeback, it’s important to understand their temperament, exercise needs, and grooming requirements to ensure that they are the right fit for your lifestyle.

63-69 cm (male), 61-66 cm (female)
32-36 kg (male), 29-34 kg (female)
9-11 years

History and Origin

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed of dog that originated in Southern Africa, specifically in what is now Zimbabwe. The breed was developed by the indigenous Khoikhoi people, who used them as hunting dogs. The breed was later refined by European settlers, who crossed them with various European breeds, including the Great Dane, Bloodhound, and Greyhound. The result was a powerful, athletic dog with a distinctive ridge of hair along its back.

The breed was originally known as the African Lion Hound, and was used to hunt lions, as well as other large game such as leopards and baboons. The dogs would track the prey, and then hold it at bay until the hunter arrived to dispatch it. The breed’s courage and tenacity in the face of dangerous game made it highly prized by hunters.

In the early 20th century, the breed was brought to Europe and North America, where it quickly gained popularity as a show dog and companion animal. The first Rhodesian Ridgeback club was formed in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1922, and the breed was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in the UK in 1955. Today, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a popular breed around the world, known for its loyalty, intelligence, and athleticism.

Despite its popularity, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has faced some challenges in recent years. Inbreeding and overbreeding have led to health problems in some lines, including hip dysplasia and skin allergies. Additionally, the breed’s popularity has led to an increase in irresponsible breeding practices, with some breeders prioritizing appearance over health and temperament. As a result, it is important for prospective owners to do their research and choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs.

In conclusion, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a fascinating breed with a rich history and a bright future. From its origins as a hunting dog in Southern Africa to its current status as a beloved companion animal around the world, the breed has proven itself to be loyal, intelligent, and athletic. While it faces some challenges in terms of health and breeding practices, responsible ownership and breeding can help ensure that the Rhodesian Ridgeback remains a healthy and happy breed for generations to come.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog

Size and Breed Category

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large breed of dog that is known for its muscular build and distinctive ridge of hair that runs along its back. These dogs typically weigh between 29-41 kg and stand at a height of 63-69 cm at the shoulder. They have a short, dense coat that can range in color from light wheaten to red wheaten. Despite their size, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their agility and speed, making them excellent hunting companions.

In terms of breed category, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is classified as a hound. This is due to their history as hunting dogs, where they were used to track and corner large game such as lions and leopards. As a result, they have a strong prey drive and require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. While they can be independent and stubborn at times, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners. They make excellent family pets for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to train and socialize them properly.

Fur Length and Colour

The fur of a Rhodesian Ridgeback is short and dense, with a glossy appearance. The fur is typically a rich shade of red, ranging from a light wheaten colour to a deep mahogany. The fur on the back of the dog is characterised by a distinctive ridge of hair that grows in the opposite direction to the rest of the fur. This ridge is formed by a strip of hair that is longer and thicker than the surrounding fur, and it runs from the shoulders to the hips. The fur on the rest of the body is smooth and lies close to the skin, providing the dog with protection from the elements. The fur on the tail is also short and dense, and it tapers to a point. Overall, the fur of a Rhodesian Ridgeback is a defining feature of the breed, and it is one of the reasons why these dogs are so popular among dog lovers.

The colour of a Rhodesian Ridgeback’s fur is an important characteristic of the breed. The fur is typically a solid colour, with no markings or patterns. The most common colour is a rich shade of red, which can range from a light wheaten colour to a deep mahogany. Some dogs may have a small white patch on their chest, but this is not considered a desirable trait in the breed. The colour of the fur is an important factor in determining the breed standard, and it is one of the things that judges look for when assessing a dog’s conformation. Overall, the colour of a Rhodesian Ridgeback’s fur is a defining feature of the breed, and it is one of the things that makes these dogs so distinctive and attractive.

Termperament and Trainability

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their independent and strong-willed temperament. They are a breed that requires a confident and experienced owner who can establish themselves as the pack leader. Ridgebacks are loyal and affectionate towards their family, but can be reserved or aloof with strangers. They have a protective nature and will instinctively guard their home and loved ones. However, this can sometimes lead to aggression towards other dogs or animals, so early socialization and training is crucial. Overall, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a breed that requires a firm and consistent approach to training, but with the right guidance, they can be a devoted and obedient companion.

In terms of trainability, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent and quick learners, but can also be stubborn and independent. They have a high prey drive and may be easily distracted by sights and smells, so training should be conducted in a controlled environment. Positive reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise, work well with this breed, as they respond well to rewards. However, harsh or punitive training methods can lead to a resentful and uncooperative dog. Ridgebacks excel in activities such as obedience, agility, and tracking, and enjoy having a job to do. With patience and consistency, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be trained to be well-behaved and obedient companions.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Prepared for training.

Known Health Conditions

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a breed of dog that are known to be prone to certain health conditions. One of the most common health issues that affect this breed is hip dysplasia. This is a condition where the hip joint does not develop properly, leading to pain and discomfort for the dog. It can also cause arthritis and mobility issues later in life. To prevent hip dysplasia, it is important to ensure that the parents of any Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies have been screened for the condition. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia.

Another health condition that can affect Rhodesian Ridgebacks is dermoid sinus. This is a congenital condition where a small tube-like structure forms under the skin, which can lead to infection and inflammation. Dermoid sinus is more common in Rhodesian Ridgebacks than in other breeds, and it is important to check for signs of the condition when grooming your dog. If you notice any lumps or bumps under the skin, it is important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. Surgery may be required to remove the dermoid sinus and prevent further complications.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Clean air is beneficial for one's health.

Openness to Strangers

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a reputation for being friendly and sociable with strangers. They are known to be curious and inquisitive, often approaching new people with a wagging tail and a friendly demeanor. This openness to strangers is a trait that is highly valued by many owners, as it makes them excellent companions for social events and outings. However, it is important to note that this friendliness should not be mistaken for a lack of protective instincts. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are still highly alert and will not hesitate to defend their owners if they sense a threat.

Despite their friendly nature, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be quite reserved when it comes to showing affection. They are not typically lap dogs and may not enjoy being cuddled or petted excessively. However, they do form strong bonds with their owners and are fiercely loyal. This loyalty extends to their interactions with strangers, as they will often follow their owner’s lead when it comes to meeting new people. If their owner is relaxed and friendly, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is likely to be the same. Overall, this breed is known for its balanced and confident temperament, making them a popular choice for families and individuals alike.

Playfulness Level

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a highly playful breed of dog that loves to engage in various activities. They are known for their high energy levels and their love for playtime. Whether it’s playing fetch, running around in the park, or simply chasing after their owners, these dogs are always up for some fun. They are also highly intelligent and can be trained to perform various tricks and tasks, which can add to their playfulness.

One of the most notable traits of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is their love for socializing. They are highly sociable dogs and love to interact with other dogs and humans. This makes them great companions for families with children or other pets. They are also known for their loyalty and protective nature, which makes them great guard dogs. However, their playfulness can sometimes lead to them being overly boisterous, so it’s important to train them to control their energy levels. Overall, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a highly playful and sociable breed that makes for a great addition to any family.

Suitability as a Pet for Children

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a strong and loyal nature, making them a great companion for children. They are known for their protective instincts and will always keep a watchful eye on their family. With proper training and socialization, they can be gentle and patient with children. However, due to their size and strength, they may unintentionally knock over small children. It is important to supervise interactions between children and Rhodesian Ridgebacks to ensure safety for both parties.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog At ease around children

Exercise Needs

Rhodesian Ridgebacks require a significant amount of exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. As a breed that was originally bred for hunting, they have a high energy level and need plenty of opportunities to run and play. A daily walk of at least an hour is recommended, but they will also benefit from additional activities such as running, hiking, or playing fetch. It is important to note that Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a strong prey drive and should always be kept on a leash or in a secure, fenced area to prevent them from chasing after small animals. Additionally, they thrive on mental stimulation and may enjoy activities such as obedience training or agility courses.

In addition to regular exercise, Rhodesian Ridgebacks also require plenty of socialization and human interaction. They are a loyal and affectionate breed that thrives on attention from their owners. Without proper socialization, they may become anxious or aggressive towards strangers or other animals. It is important to expose them to a variety of people, animals, and environments from a young age to help them develop into well-adjusted adults. Rhodesian Ridgebacks also have a strong protective instinct and may be wary of strangers, making early socialization even more important. With proper exercise and socialization, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can make wonderful companions for active families.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog running exercise

Suitability for a Multi-Pet Family

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a reputation for being independent and strong-willed. They are known to be loyal and protective of their families. When it comes to other pets, it really depends on the individual dog and their socialization. Some Ridgebacks may get along well with other pets, while others may be more territorial and aggressive. It is important to introduce Ridgebacks to other pets slowly and carefully, and to supervise their interactions. With proper training and socialization, Ridgebacks can coexist peacefully with other pets.

Housing Requirements

Rhodesian Ridgebacks require a spacious and comfortable living environment that can accommodate their active and energetic nature. They need a minimum of 30 square meters of indoor space, with enough room to move around freely and stretch their legs. The living area should be well-ventilated and have access to natural light, as Ridgebacks enjoy basking in the sun. Additionally, they require a secure outdoor space of at least 100 square meters, where they can run, play, and explore. The outdoor area should be fenced and free from any potential hazards, such as sharp objects or toxic plants. Ridgebacks also need a comfortable sleeping area, such as a soft bed or a crate, where they can rest and recharge after a long day of activity.

In terms of grooming, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have short, dense coats that require minimal maintenance. However, they do shed moderately throughout the year, so regular brushing is recommended to keep their coat healthy and shiny. Ridgebacks also need regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. They enjoy long walks, runs, and hikes, and thrive in environments where they can explore and engage in physical activity. Additionally, Ridgebacks benefit from socialization and training, as they are intelligent and independent dogs that require mental stimulation. With proper care and attention, Rhodesian Ridgebacks make loyal and loving companions for families and individuals alike.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a reputation for being loyal and protective companions. They require regular exercise and training to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. They are not recommended for first-time dog owners or those who cannot commit to providing them with the attention and exercise they need. With proper care and training, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can make excellent pets for active families.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog FAQS

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Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be stubborn and independent, but with consistent training and positive reinforcement, they can be trained well.

Yes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be great with children if socialized properly.

Yes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be prone to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and dermoid sinus.

Yes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks shed moderately throughout the year and heavily during shedding season.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a lifespan of 10-12 years on average.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks need at least 1-2 hours of exercise per day.

The amount of food a Rhodesian Ridgeback needs depends on their weight and activity level, but on average they need 2-3 cups of food per day.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks need a lot of space to run and play, so they are best suited for homes with a large yard or access to a park.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks should be groomed at least once a week to keep their coat healthy and shiny.

The average weight of a Rhodesian Ridgeback is between 29-41 kg.