A mature Rhodesian Ridgeback is a strong, handsome, upstanding,
athletic dog, capable of great endurance.
Of even temperament, the Ridgeback is devoted and affectionate
to his family but often reserved with strangers.
They should never display any signs of aggression or shyness.

The peculiarity of the breed is the "ridge" on the back of the dog.
The hair on the ridge lays in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat
and resembles a sword, symmetrical in outline.

Classic example of the ridge "Crystal" HuntingRidge Dakota
Mutliple best Ridge winner including Best Ridge Bitch at the First Australian National.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback posses a quiet, gentle temperament, rarely barking.
The Ridgeback was originally bred to hunt, but also as a family protector,
his affectionate nature make them an ideal family companion & tolerant of children.
An intelligent breed but some form of basic obedience training is highly recommended,
trained, they make an easy pleasurable dog to live with: as a
companion, show dog, obedience, agility, flyball competitor, a tracking or hunting partner.

The Ridgebacks coat colour ranges from light to red wheaten.

Littermates: female pup (left) wheaton/clear face/ blacknose, male pup (right) red wheaton/dark muzzle/blacknose

Photo above shows 3 puppies 2 livernose (left, middle), 1 blacknose (right).

Black nose ridgebacks may also have a darker muzzle and darker ears.
The livernose (or brown nose) should have an amber colour eye. Whether blacknose or liver; eye colour should harmonise with the coat colour.

Personally I find the livernose Ridgebacks are a little different in temperament to their blacknose equivalent. Livernose tend to be more personal.

It is often said that the Ridgeback has 2 speeds
flat out at your feet or flat out in an open field.

How are they with Children and other Pets?

Ridgebacks are very tolerant of children, loyal & protective (not possessive) family companion.
Supervision with children is always recommended despite any breed,
due to their large size a young pup may knock over a small child with their enthusiasm.
There is usually no problem if raised with other pets, either dogs, cats etc.,
but fiercely protective in defending their own territory from strays.
They should be taught what is acceptable behaviour from the beginning.
The Ridgeback is a pack animal, beware of having too many male dogs
of any breed as this may lead to dominance struggles.

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks have any inherited problems?

Generally they are a very hardy, stoic breed, virtually free of many genetic problems.
Characteristic problem associated with the breed is Dermoid Sinus.
Only a small percentage of pups may inherit this problem.
Most registered breeders are experienced in detecting a sinus.
Usually a puppy affected by dermoid sinus will be humanely euthanased at birth.
Often it is inoperable, having a dermoid sinus removed is very traumatic for the pup and its owners.
It can also regenerate itself.
Puppies are checked regularly before they leave, often by other breeders and assessed by the vet.
It is highly recommend that you purchase a puppy from a registered breeder.
Dermoid sinus is also found in crossbred Ridgebacks.
Canine Hip & Elbow Dysplasia is not a common problem within the breed
due to many responsible ethical breeders X-raying their breeding stock.

Are they a good house dog?

Their low maintenance short coat, minimal shedding and little odour make them an ideal house dog.
If you do not wish to share the lounge or your bed when they are an adult dog
then discourage them from being on the furniture from the very beginning.
Provide them with their own bed and space.

Generally they are easy to house train,
placing the pup outside as soon as they have eaten, had a drink or waken from sleep,
avoidance is the best way to combat any accidents.


Establish that you and all members of your family are number one, be firm with discipline
but never harsh and start early laying the ground rules
regarding what is/is not acceptable behaviour.
An intelligent breed but they lack road sense.
Make sure your fencing is adequate for an adult ridgeback and puppy proof.
It is a good idea to lock gates so that they can not be mistakenly left open.
Ridgebacks are generally eager to please but can be stubborn at times.
With Obedience lessons, 5 minutes a day as a baby gradually working
up to 20 - 30 mins every other day as they get older.
Ridgebacks do not enjoy repetitious exercises.

How much exercise do they require?

It is important not to over exercise your young pup,
having adequate room to run around the back yard and play is sufficient.
From 4 months of age if fully vaccinated they can venture out
on short walks increasing the distance and exercise as they get older.
As an adult dog 30 - 60 minutes a day is recommended.
If you are a very active person and adult dog can certainly handle the distance.

Are they good watch dogs?

Ridgebacks are not a noisy dog and will generally bark if there is something unusual.
An excellent natural watch dog with a threatening presence, protective of their own
territory against intruders or strays.
Being a hound dog they enjoy lazing around but can be easily alert if a stranger appears.
They are more likely to bail up an intruder rather than attack.

Do they eat a lot?

Despite their size, Ridgebacks do not require large amounts of food.
They will eat anything and everything and give the impression that they are always hungry.
A well balanced diet will ensure a happy healthy dog.
Do not feed a Ridgeback an hour before or after excercise.
Any breeds with the large deep capacious chests may be prone to gastric torsion (bloat).
Gastric torsion can occur from overeating or stress.

History & Origin

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is native to South Africa.

The early dogs were known in different areas as Van Rooyen's, Lion Dogs,
Ridgebacks or Boer Hounds which were bred for 2 purposes:
hunting lions in a pak and keeping them at bay until the hunter came along
and trapped or shot the lion and staying at home
protecting the family while other household members were out hunting or farming.
They were also expected to hunt and kill small game
and keep wildlife out of the crops.

European settlers migrating to Africa bought along farm stock
as well as their dogs which exhibited qualitites of herding, guarding,
protection and hunting game.
From this gene pool part of the origin of the Rhodesian Ridgeback was established crossing
their dogs with the Hottentot tribe's jackal-like dog whose hair
along the spine turned backwards along the back.
These early crosses looked nothing like the Ridgebacks today.
The Ridgebacks were developed across the entirety of South Africa,
bred to suit the territory and game they hunted.

The hunters realised that the dogs which retained the ridge possessed
the courage and tenacity to survive the hunt.
They used several breeds with the Hottentot dogs
to gain an agile active dog with short sleek coats
which were capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed.

The breed Standard which closely followed that of the Dalmation was written in 1922
and adopted by the Kennel Union in 1924.
In 1932 the first exports landed in England, America in 1945 and Australia in 1967.

Breed Standard

General Appearance:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback should represent a well balanced, strong, muscular,
agile and active dog, symmetrical in outline and capable of
great endurance with a fair amount of speed.
The emphasis is on agility, elegance and soundness
with no tendency towards massiveness.

The peculiarity of the breed is the ridge on the back,
which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction
to the rest of the coat.


The ridge is the escutcheon of the breed.
The ridge must be clearly defined, symmetrical
and tapering towards the haunch.
It must start immediately behind the shoulders
and continue to the hip (haunches) bones.
The ridge must contain only two crowns,
identical and opposite each other.
The lower edges of the crowns must not extend further down
the ridge than one-third of its length.
A good average width of the ridge is 5 cm (2ins).

Head And Skull - Cranial Region Skull

- Should be of a fair length (width of head between ears,
distance from occiput to stop, stop to end of nose, should be equal),
flat and broad between the ears;
the head should be free from wrinkles when in repose.

Stop - Should be reasonably well defined and not in one straight line
from the nose to the occipital bone.

Facial Region - Nose

- Should be black or brown.
A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes,
a brown nose by amber eyes.


Should be long, deep and powerful.


Should be clean, closely fitting the jaws.


Should be clean.

Eyes: Should be moderately well apart, round, bright and sparkling,
with intelligent expression,
their colour harmonising with the colour of the coat.

Ears should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at base
and gradually tapering to a rounded point.
They should be carried close to the head.


Jaws strong with a perfect and complete scissor bite,
i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
The teeth must be well developed, especially the canines or holders.

Neck: Should be fairly long, strong and free from throatiness.


The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and well boned,
with the elbows close to the body.
When viewed from the side, the forelegs should be wider
than viewed from the front.
Pasterns should be strong with slight spring.

Shoulders - Should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed.


Back - Powerful. Loins - Strong, muscular and slightly arched.

Chest - Should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious;
the brisket should reach to the elbow.


Should be visible when viewed from the side.


Moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel-hoops.


In the hind legs the muscles should be clean and well defined
with good turn of stifle and strong hocks well let down.


Should be compact and round with well arched toes and tough,
elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads.


Should be strong at the root and gradually tapering towards the end,
free from coarseness. It should be of moderate length.
It should not be attached too high nor too low and
should be carried with a slight curve upwards, never curled.


Straight forward, free and active.


Hair - Should be short and dense, sleek and glossy in appearance but neither woolly nor silky.


Light wheaten to red wheaten.
A little white on the chest and toes is permissible,
but excessive white hairs here, on belly or above toes is undesirable.
A dark muzzle and ears permissible.
Excessive black hairs throughout the coat are highly undesirable.


The desirable heights are: Dogs 63 cm (25 ins) to 69cm (27 ins) Bitches 61cm (24 ins) to 66cm (26 ins)


The desirable weights are: Dogs 36.5kg (80lbs) Bitches 32 kg (70lbs)


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault
and the seriousness with which the fault should be
regarded should be in exact proportions to its degree.
Notes: Male animals should have two apparently normally developed testicles fully descended.

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