Rhodesian Ridgeback – from Lion Hunter to Versatile Sports Buddy

07.10.2022 - Reading time: 3 minutes

Ein Rhodesian Ridgeback schaut direkt in die Kamera

In the past it defended its owners' houses, today the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a popular breed of dog with an athletic stature and excellent character. This imposing dog with a crest on its back is versatile in use – as a tracker, rescue dog or sentry as well as a loyal family and companion dog.


Newsletter Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback
South Africa (Zimbabwe, formally Rhodesia)
Hounds, bloodhounds and related breeds
Males 63 to 69 cm at shoulder height – females 61 to 66 cm at shoulder height
Males approx. 36.5 kilograms – females approx. 32 kilograms (according to the breed standard, though most dogs are significantly larger and heavier; males of 50 kg are not uncommon)
round and clear, should harmonise with the fur colour
high base, medium-sized and close-lying
large, high set floppy ears
Coat and colour
short-haired, light or reddish wheat-coloured, sometimes with a dark “mask”, small white markings are permitted
Special features
Strip of fur against the direction of growth along the back (“ridge”)
friendly, intelligent, spirited, pronounced hunting instinct, reserved around strangers
daily brushing with rubber brush, sheds all year
sometimes problems with the thyroid, such as hypothyroidism, congenital epilepsy, knee dysplasia, hip dysplasia, congenital illness DS (Dermoid Sinus)

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Cradle in Africa

The Rhodesian Ridgeback originates in the wilderness of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Its ancestors were the wild dogs there, which were crossed with English hunting dogs. The result: an impressive, muscular dog that was first used to guard farms and for hunting big game and lions. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is characterised by courage and confidence, coupled with friendly intelligence. The first breeding animals were brought to Germany in 1973. Far from their homeland, these special dogs now enjoy a large number of fans. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is the only internationally recognised breed from South Africa, first officially recognised in 1926.

The character of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

Ein Rhodesian Ridgeback steht auf einer Wiese

Dignified and intelligent – that’s the short definition of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Independent decision-making and problem-solving were essential for this hunting dog when hunting lions. The Rhodesian Ridgeback therefore has a mind of its own and is very willful.

However, once it has accepted its owner as the leader, it can be trained well using positive reinforcement. Once the relationship between you and your dog has been solidified, it will prove trustworthy and loyal. The Rhodesian Ridgeback benefits from its ancestors’ ability to learn quickly – it is able to correctly assess new situations and instinctively react appropriately.

Training and husbandry of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a dog for beginners. If you choose this breed, you should have experience in keeping dogs and a confident bearing. You also can’t forget about the pronounced hunting drive particular to the Rhodesian Ridgeback. In order to manage this, the dog needs appropriate outlets and consistent training. In the case of doubt, it is worth getting advice from an experienced dog trainer. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is only fully grown after around three years.

If you offer sufficient variety and activities, then you will have a relaxed and well-balanced dog at your side. As a horseback rider or cyclist, you will find this dog a companion with loads of stamina. Sports which require stamina and speed are also well-loved. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is absolutely not suitable for keeping in a kennel – as well as integration into the family, a garden should ideally be available. Given the large size of the dog, any house should also not be too small. Caution is also called for if there are small children in the house. The size and power of the dog alone present a hazard, even during peaceful playtime. Do not leave your child unattended around this robust and powerful animal.

Care tips for the Rhodesian Ridgeback

The short fur of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is very easy to care for; the animals shed, however, all year round, making it a good idea to brush out the loose fur. Because the dog has very little undercoat, it must also not get too cold in the winter and must stay in motion at all times when out of doors. Clean the ears occasionally with a damp cloth and offer chewy bones regularly for dental care.

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