The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog is a large, solid-coloured, active breed with a short coat that has a distinctive ridge of hair along the back. Powerful and agile, adult males measure 63-69cm and weigh 30-39kg. Females are 61-66cm in height and weigh 30-39kg. They can be any self-colour from light wheaten to red wheaten.
- Category size: Large
- Grooming requirements: Once a week
- Shedding: Little
- Allergies: No
- Noise: Usually quiet
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Hound
- Alone: 1 to 3 hours
- Other pets: Low
- Stability as a guard: High
Records show that the Hottentots of South Africa used ridge-backed dogs as hunters and companions from at least the 15th century. They were bred as big game hunters, to track and trap the prey, but not to attack. Once they had cornered their prey they would bark to alert the hunter. In the 1800s European settlers bred these dogs to their own Mastiffs and scent hounds thus producing the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed we know today. Nowadays few of these dogs are used for their original purpose of hunting; instead they are guard dogs and companions.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a strong, powerful dog that can be determined and stubborn. Although quite placid and confident at home, they are very wary of strangers. Not the ideal breed for the novice owner, they need experienced handling and training – together with early, thorough socialisation.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is predisposed to a particular inherited defect involving the spine (dermoid sinus) and all puppies should be screened at birth for this. As with many breeds they can also suffer from hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback requires a couple of hours' daily exercise as an adult. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have strong hunting instincts so should be in a safe open space before let of the lead. A reliable recall is essential.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming. The coat shorthaired coat can be groomed using a rubber-grooming mitt once or twice a week.