Rhodesian Ridgeback

When you take a good look at the Rhodesian Ridgeback, it’s hard not to get lost in those cunning amber eyes and that well proportioned handsome face.

This member of the Hound Group is well mannered, as dignified as they come, and a wonderful protector of the family. 

Aside from the breed’s impressive structure, sleek and glossy coat, what else makes this dog such a popular choice among dog lovers?

Here is what you need to know about the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

History

During the 16th and 18th centuries, as the Dutch pioneers settled upon Southwestern Africa, they brought with them a larger breed dog for hunting excursions. The dog these Boer settlers brought with them were Great Danes, Boerboel Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, and Airedale Terriers. 

The European settles had a vision and a need. They wanted a better hunting dog, who could protect their commodities and property, as well as deflect or distract lions until they arrived for the kill. Not fully satisfied with their breeds, the Boer settlers crossed their dogs with the native people called, Khoi. 

Known then as the Hootentot tribe, the native people had a fierce yet odd looking dog of their own, that seemed perfect for the job.

As the Dutch fled from British Rule to Cape Hope near, Zimbabwe, they brought with them their new dogs. The man responsible for the modern day breed was Reverend Charles Daniel Helm at the end of the 1800’s.

The trademark ridge on their back is what they are named after, and an article back in 2017, clarified the mysterious debate of the Rhodesian Ridgeback ancestry. It indeed confirmed the Great Dane. The report also indicated the Boerboel, Greyhound and Airedale Terrier as having influence in the Ridgeback bloodline.

The original breed standard was settled by a group of Rhodesian Ridgeback owners, who in 1922, in Zimbabwe, created the Ridgeback we know today. As a matter of fact, it has been noted by Rhodesian Ridgeback enthusiasts that very few if any changes have evolved within the breed. Five years later, the African Kennel Group in Africa officially recognized the breed into to their studbook.

An exceptional group of Rhodesian Ridgebacks made their way into the United States around the mid-1900’s and it wouldn’t take long for the American Kennel Club to recognize the breed into the Hound Group.

The Ridgeback is a growing breed in the United States and is listed as the 42nd most popular dog by the American Kennel Club. Distinguished by their imposing muscular frame, their historic courage against Africa’s wild beasts, and the ridge of hair on their back, there’s no mistaken identity with the Rhodesian Ridgeback. They are truly a unique breed.

Size

Although the Rhodesian Ridgeback is listed as a medium breed, the compact shape of this breed is somewhat misleading. Some have been reported to weigh as much as 100 pounds, and be much taller than the standard calls for.

The American Kennel Club lists a male Rhodesian Ridgeback at 25 to 27 inches and a female at 24 to 26 inches in height.

The breed standards calls for the male to weigh 85 pounds and a female to weigh 70 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

You may be surprised to learn, that the Rhodesian Ridgeback does quite well living in apartments. This means they adapt well to different surroundings. This, of course, most likely reflects a Ridgeback that has been properly trained and socialized at an early age. By default, this breed wishes to rule the land and have enough space.

Expect a very even tempered dog with the Rhodesian. They are near stoic, and if they live within calm elements, they will undoubtedly reflect that in their personality.

They are extremely playful and affectionate. Their intelligence makes this breed a breeze to train. A Rhodesian Ridgeback wants to be included with the family and doesn’t wish to be alone all day. That can be very upsetting for a breed of this stature. 

This dog is happiest walking, hiking, swimming, and going for rides. He has been know to wander if you give the Ridgeback an opening. Keep your yard tightly cordoned so that your Ridgeback won’t plot an escape.

Early socialization with this dog makes for a great house pet with children, fellow dogs, and even cats. 

Described by the American Kennel Club as reserved towards strangers, you’ll have nothing to worry about with the family, as this dog is very compassionate with his humans.

Health

The Ridgeback is listed as a generally healthy breed, who enjoys a life expectancy rate of 10 to 12 years.

When you purchase a Rhodesian Ridgeback from a breeder, you will need to make sure you get the proper health clearances and paperwork to avoid obtaining an unhealthy dog. Routine inspections with the Veterinarian is vital to prolong your dog’s well-being.

One of the leading health concerns with this breed is a genetic skin condition called, Dermoid Sinus. It is describe as a neural tube defect caused by inadequate separation of the skin and the nervous system during the dog’s infancy.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia is also something you’ll want to keep an eye out for. Elbow Dysplasia is a growth disturbance in the joint of the elbow which can cause pain and lameness.

When gas distends inside a Rhodesian Ridgebacks stomach and twists on its own, therefore cutting off much needed blow flow, it can be deadly and painful. This condition is called, Bloat. Signs for this abnormality are pacing and restlessness.

Watch out for Entropion, Deafness and Cataracts.  Cataracts are a nuance for your dog, that can lead to partial or complete opacity.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when an under active thyroid gland refused to release adequate thyroid hormones. Ask your veterinarian more about these conditions and how likely your dog may inherit the disorder.

Care

Much like a DobermanRottweiler, and a Bull Mastiff, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is very simple to train. Positive reinforcement wins this dog over a lot more than someone who is impatient. 

You should introduce your puppy to other dogs so that your adult Ridgeback is a lot more sociable.

They do need a lot of exercise and appreciate the space to run around. While they are very good with children, you do want to keep your eye out on them due to the size of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. They are very simple to tend for and live a stealthy life. Although apartment life isn’t ideal, your Ridgeback isn’t considered a loud dog. They do bark when it’s necessary.

Not a messy dog, they hardly shed or drool. You will want to trim their nails once a month to avoid the chances of splitting or cracking. Check their each often for infections, dog with hanging ears tend to invite a plethora of critters and debris.

Feeding

If you want to keep a healthy dog fueled correctly, then paying attention to the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s diet is important. Their calorie intake demands mirror that of a human. For a dog that is less active, you can gun for 1,300 calories per day. A Ridgeback that is atypical active should get about 1,600 calories per day, while a runner and hunter will need a demanding 2500 calories.

To protect them from the genetic skin disorder, Dermoid Sinus, a diet rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids will be a big help.

Like most large dog breeds, you should aim for a protein as the first ingredient. Lamb, rice, chicken, beer or fish is a good selection.

Puppies will require more food earlier on, as you should expect to be feeding them about 8 cups of top rated dry kibble per day. Most dog experts would suggest breaking that up into 3 or 4 meals per day to avoid bloat and other health issues down the road.

Eventually, after the six to eight month mark for your puppy, you can ween them down until they are consuming 4 total cups per day. A meal in the morning and then again in the evening is usually the best method in keeping a balanced food regimen.

As always, you should have fresh drinking water available for your Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Coat

With this breed, their silk and smooth coat is one part of the package that involves those alluring almond and brown eyes.

Their coat is described at medium length, which somewhat dense and straight.

You won’t need to spend a tremendous time grooming or brushing this dog as they are easy to care for. To promote good hair growth and to get rid of the dead skin on the coat, you should get in the habit of brushing twice a week. 20 minutes a week should suffice a dog of this caliber. You can use a standard slicker brush to get that desired sleek result.

A Rhodesian Ridgeback comes with nine colors for a coat. They are mostly a variation of wheaten and red. 

Here is the complete accepted list, according to the American Kennel Club:

  • Light Wheaten
  • Light Wheaten and Black nose
  • Light Wheaten and Brown nose
  • Red Wheaten and Black nose
  • Red Wheaten and Brown nose
  • Red Wheaten
  • Wheaten and Black nose
  • Wheaten and Brown nose

There are no accepted markings for this breed’s standard, however, you may find a Rhodesian Ridgeback with white markings and a black mask.

Fun Rhodesian Ridgeback Facts

  • As fast and good of an athlete the Rhodesian Ridgeback is, it only makes sense that an Olympian legend, Carl Lewis, owned his own Ridgeback.
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers frontman, Anthony Kiedis owns a Ridgeback. Other celebrities that fell in love with the handsome gentleman include, Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier, Errol Flynn and Patrick Swayze.
  • Like the Irish Wolfhound and Beagle, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is listed as a “scent hound.”
  • There is only one other location in the world that you can find a “Ridgeback” dog and that is from the Gulf of Thailand.
  • Duo sport Athlete, Tim Tebow and NBA superstar, Blake Griffin are fans and owners of the Ridgeback.

Closing Words

A Rhodesian Ridgeback is the type of dog you own that makes you feel as dignified as the dog itself. Those warm and inviting eyes, the perfect jaw structure, and that even temperament is contagious. 

The Ridgeback is the kind of dog you want on your side. They are selflessly devoted to their master, and protective of their kingdom and the children living in it. 

If you want a dog that easy to care for, not very loud or messy, and is one heck of a companion, then the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the breed that you’ve been dreaming for.