This large sized hound looking breed has a distinctive feature in its short, dense coat. The hair along the backbone actually grows in the opposite direction towards the head, different than the rest of the hair on the dog. This gives the unique “stand up ” appearance of the backbone, therefore the name ridgeback. The dog is a light to dark wheaten color with white markings acceptable. The head is dignified and broad with a large, powerful square shaped jaw. The ears are folded over to the front, and are usually very alert looking. The legs and feet are sturdy and strong, and overall the dog appears very powerful and highly athletic. The tail is long and tapered and curves up slightly at the tip.
Temperament of a Rhodesian Ridgeback
The breed is a ferocious hunter by nature and must be thoroughly socialized to prevent aggression as they get older. The males may be particularly aggressive towards other dogs, but neutering and socialization will often minimize this problem. They are natural guard dogs that will protect the property and the family no matter what. They can be taught to be very social and are general easy to train with firm, consistent training and positive rewards. The breed wants please but is not as demonstrative or affectionate as some of the other hound breeds. They are not recommended for small children as they cannot tolerate being pestered or teased. They prefer a challenge and need to have something to do with their time. If bored the Rhodesian Ridgeback can be highly destructive, chewing and destroying furniture, landscaping or digging out of the fence. Amazingly these dogs can withstand incredible temperature changes, go without food and water for prolonged periods of time and have almost no discomfort from insect bites or pain.
Grooming & Shedding of a Rhodesian Ridgeback
The short, dense coat is easy to keep. All that is required is weekly brushing with a slicker brush, stiff bristle brush or a grooming mitt. Care must be taken to check the ears for debris and remove any waxy build-up. Only bath the Rhodesian Ridgeback when absolutely necessary. They are an average shedder throughout the year.
History of the Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred by the Boer settlers when they moved into South Africa. It is assumed that the native ridgeback dogs were bred with the larger European breeds including Mastiffs, Deerhounds and possibly Great Danes. The combination of the native Khoikhoi dog and these European dogs that created the breed that is known today. The Khoikhoi dog is responsible for the ridge down the back, as this is a trait that they possessed. The dogs have been used for hunting lions in Rhodesia, and were typically used in packs. The first breed standard was developed in Rhodesia in 1922.