Looking for a new pet? If you’re a fan of large, athletic dogs, with striking appearances, then the Rhodesian Ridgeback may fit the bill. They also have plenty of stamina and a curious, intelligent nature. They’re great dogs for families with older kids, for single people living alone, and for anyone who loves outdoor sports.
If you're considering bringing one of these South African breeds home, consider the following facts.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks were named after the ridge of hair along their backs. A mix of Great Danes, Mastiff, Greyhounds and similar breeds were bred with native South African dogs to hunt large game. In the 1922, immigration made these dogs available in the US, and they were first registered by the AKC in the 1950s.
Developed by Boer farmers to hunt large game, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a big dog, with plenty of stamina. They can weigh anywhere from 65-90 lbs, and stand between 24-27 inches in height. They have strong, lean necks, and strong backs and tails. They may be light wheaten in color, or red wheaten. Mixed breeds will have more white on the chest, toes, or feet.
Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs generally go through their puppy stage for about two years. They’re high-energy and very intelligent, so they can be a handful for a first-time dog owner. They’re not aggressive, but they are very protective. This trait indicates that families with older children are best, since an overexcited Rhodesian puppy may knock over a small child.
Training a Rhodesian Ridgeback
Not gonna lie, training a Rhody puppy can take some work. They’re highly intelligent, and tend to get bored quickly. Once they leave the puppy stage, at about two years, they tend to be calmer and easier to manage. However, they are very athletic dogs so you’ll need a running dog leash and to be firm about who is the master. They’re great for anyone who loves running, hunting, or other sports.
They’re alert and outgoing, but the Ridgeback’s independent nature and sense of curiosity can cause issues. Without proper training, they can develop bad habits so again, a firm hand is necessary.
Grooming & Eating Habits
Ridgebacks are a shorthair breed. Having said that, they do shed a bit- more than you might expect. You’ll be happy to know though, they don’t have a strong odor. For meal times, rather than an open dish, have specific meal times. Also, try to feed your dog a high-performance dog food. Ridgebacks tend to overeat if left unsupervised so obesity is a concern when eating habits aren’t managed.
The typical lifespan of a Rhodesian Ridgeback is an average of 12 years. They tend to be very healthy dogs, though they might experience hip and elbow dysplasia as they age. They may also experience thyroid problems. If you get your Ridgeback from a breeder, check with them whether your puppy has been tested.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog that’s just gaining popularity in the US, but they’ve been around since the 1950s. Big, athletic, loyal and a bit stubborn, they’re a great pet for an outdoorsy family. They’re the perfect watchdog for a single person or couple without kids. If you’re looking for a unique dog who can keep up with your hiking and hunting habits, the Rhodesian Ridgeback might be the perfect pet for you!