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Rhodesian Ridgeback

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, they also enjoy spending time perched on the sofa with their owner at the end of the day. They’re gentle dogs, although somewhat stubborn, and due to their size and strength will fit in more with experienced owners.

10–12 years
Adult males 63–69cm; Adult females 61–66cm
Any self-colour from light wheaten to red wheaten
Kennel Club group
The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys more than two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Quiet dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is predisposed to:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Gastric dilatation volvulus 
- Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy occurs in young dogs and is a specific form of epilepsy- a condition where abnormal brain function can lead to seizures which damage the brain.
- Hypothyroidism¹ where the thyroid gland is underactive and does not product enough thyroid hormone. This can result in low energy levels, weight gain and skin problems. 
- Dermoid sinus which is a condition where the skin is either attached to the spinal cord or the tissue overlying it.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme

¹L. J. Kennedy, 'Association of canine hypothyroidism with a common major histocompatibility complex DLA class II allele', 2006, Tissue Antigens


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a strong, powerful dog that can be determined and stubborn. Although quite friendly and confident at home, they are very wary of strangers - human and canine. Not the ideal breed for the novice owner, they need experienced handling and training, together with early, thorough and ongoing socialisation.

Vet Rating

History and Origins

Ideal Owner

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Training Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

  • The anatomical feature that gives the breed its name is the ridge of hair that grows down its back - and makes it instantly recognisable. This ridge is formed by the hair growing in a totally different direction to the rest of the coat and is capped at the top with two ‘crowns’ (whorls) that are directly opposite each other. This is shared by only one other (far less common) breed, the Thai Ridgeback.
  • This may however be more than just an interesting coat pattern. Some researchers have found a correlation between the ridge and a congenital skin condition known as ‘dermoid sinus’ – although this is fairly rare. Some more romantic breeders however say the ridge is “where God sewed them up after stuffing them”!
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