Rhodesian Ridgeback

Breed History

Rhodesian Ridgeback training

Rhodesian Ridgeback is a powerful and brave dog. Known as the Lion dog or Lion Hound because of their abilities to defend against Leopards and other larger size animals if they were in a pack.

Independent, intelligent and driven it is hard to not respect the capabilities and contributions this dog has made to African citizens who own them.

Hottentot Tribe in South Africa are the people who kept this dog from the earliest remembrance. During the height of the colonist era they began to breed with European dogs changing the look of the dog.

In the 18th century there is documentation of an ugly dog that is brave with a description of their back. It is theory that they liked the characteristics of the dog just not the look, so they made adjustments with a different dog.

Long ridge in their back is due to their coat growing in the opposite direction is one of the key attributions and distinctions of this breed.

Hunting dogs of large animals they could catch anything from a faster animal to a bigger animal with speed, stamina and determination.

When hunting was no longer a strong part of people finding food in South Africa they were in the same position as other dogs who lost their jobs in history. Extinction in the 20th century was a real possibility.

Crossbreeding Khoikhois, Greyhounds and Terriers gave life to the breed and they were able to keep the parts of the breed that they could.

Use of different dogs like the Great Dane and Dalmatian to bring out different looks. Still holding strong instincts of what they had before the crossbreeding to avoid extinction


Almost exclusively known as a Hound dog around the world because of their superior abilities and prey drive. Came to America at some point in the 20th century they began to get recognition and the breed got their first standards. The first year they got recognition was 1955.

Here are the Kennel Clubs around the world the register and document the bloodline of the Rhodesian Ridgeback.


Male Height: 25-27 inches

Female Height: 24-26 inches

Male Weight: 85 pounds

Female Weight: 70 pounds

Men in this breed are considerable bigger than the females and you should be able to tell at first glance.

Litter Size

They have big litter sizes and will have around 8 on average. Litter sizes can increase to over 10 multiple times over the breeder’s time with a single mother dog.


  • Light Wheaten (Black Nose, Brown Nose
  • Red Wheaten (Black Nose, Brown Nose)
  • Wheaten (Black Nose, Brown Nose)


Papers for this dog will require a payment of $1,000-$2000 depending on the market demand, supply in the region, country you come from and many more factors.

Without papers you can expect to pay several hundred dollars for this breed but with no guarantee that you are buying the exact breed. One of the key places you want to look at is the colors, markings, and the ridge on the back.

You should be able to tell with the breed standard if this dog fits the description or if it doesn’t.


Grooming process for this dog low maintenance and doesn’t require a lot of attention from the owner.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Every dog needs to get a brush down at least once a week. Ensuring that you remove old hair and dead skin on the coat will be the only reason why you would need to brush this dog.

Combing will not be of any use for this breed. Coat is too short for any significant benefits. No danger of tangles or mats which is really of use for dog with longer coats.

Bathing should happen on at least a monthly basis to keep the coat fresh and clean. If living in an environment where the dog gets dirty quicker, you may want to increase the frequency.

Dirty ears will result in ear infections leading to higher vet costs. Keep bills lower by cleaning the ears at least once per week or more if there is a heavy dirt and wind environment.

Nails will trim naturally from exercise the dog twice per day just like they would without human interference. Whenever you chose to raise the dog unnaturally you will need to use clippers on the nails.

Although the dog is easy to groom some people may want to take the dog to get a nice grooming. Nothing is wrong with that, but we do not recommend it. All grooming can be done from home.

Life Span

They have an average lifespan of 10-12 years of life. That is a long time to own a dog so proper preparation is key to understanding when they reach adulthood and senior ages.

Health Issues

Generally, a healthy dog with little health risk. Rhodesian Ridgeback Kennel Club does recommend getting a few tests to make sure your dog doesn’t haves some of these conditions. Most of these are routine for any breed with a few specific to these breeds.

Hip Dysplasia – Every dog you take home should get an evaluation of their hips and this breed is no exception. Hips can have a profound effect of your dog’s ability to exercise and workout daily. Taking you dog to the vet to get an x-ray will tell you from an early age of a few months if your dog has this condition.

Elbow Dysplasia – Growth in the elbow joint will cause the dog discomfort when trying to exercise in engage in normal activity. Another issue that can be seen early in the dog’s life and get treatment from day one.

Thyroid – One of the top dogs that suffer from improper working Thyroids. Common issue with dogs like the first two issues but can lead to something rare that this breed suffers from and that’s skin issues. Treating Thyroid problems early can help avoid other health conditions later.

Dermoid Sinus – You will notice big patches of fur missing, but this is different from mange. Manage can happen all over the body this condition is primarily in the middle of the back where their ridge area is located. Rare for a dog or cat to have this but this breed will get this more frequent than others.

Breed Group

Members of the Legendary Hound Group. Hound Group will always be special due to their contributions to help humans get food from animals that were too fast or too strong for a human before guns.

After evolution of the process of getting meat and feeding the family went through changes these dogs were instrumental in protecting against strong predators.

Now these dogs can compete in competitions and live a life on a farm or domestication due to their ability to adapt to any environment. Strong intelligence, superior nose strength, and ability to help humans again at any point in time the Hound group is special.

Here are some of the dogs in the Hound Group.

Exercise Needs

Walk this dog every single day! Multiple times per day and there is no way around it. Failure to meet the exercise requirement will result in undesirable behavior. Most people need to establish and link between bad behavior or energetic activity levels with a lack of exercise.

Here is what we recommend

Morning: Hour (Run, walk, or treadmill)

Evening: Hour (Run, walk, or treadmill)

Younger dogs need a lot of activity. Running the dog twice per day would be of need if the dog is high energy. Most dogs will require a run a few times per week.

Older dogs around three to five years old are going to need moderate levels of exercise. People should begin to start getting a lot of times off after a strong session. Running an older dog may result in the dog being calm for several days with good behavior due to the recovery process.

Senior dogs will recover slowly from exercise and that includes a slow walk around the corner. Monitor how much exercise your dog will need and remember to start with something small like 30 minutes.

When the dog needs more than that they will show you. We recommend looking at the dog’s energy levels and adjusting on a consistent basis.

For example, you may think that the dog only needs a walk to the mailbox and to the bathroom. Let’s erase both of our opinions and look at the dog jumping out of its skin, nipping, barking excessively, and other undesirable behaviors.

When you have done the exercise work correctly it is evident in the behavior. Laying down, walking at a regular pace, no jumping, listening to no the first time and other good behaviors let you know you are currently giving them enough exercise.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Regardless what we think about exercising it is the most time-consuming activity we will ever do with our dogs. I like to give the homeless man story sometime to show people the difference. Homeless man doesn’t have an energetic dog or a dog that is willing to run away on or off leash. Difference will always be in the amount of exercise the dog gets in comparison to how your dog gets.

Commands will take up the shortest amount of time in the dog training program. Although a dog may sit, lay and stay when you ask them that doesn’t mean they will behave well. Repetition is the best teacher of the owner and the dog. Over time the dog will learn from your body language first and secondly, they will connect the voice command.

Socializing a dog should happen after exercising the dog. Don’t take your dog to the dog park to get exercise. Give your dog exercise and then take them to the park after. Natural ways of meeting because dog packs without humans exercise all day long and play around at the end of the day. Keep in mind the nature of the dog they don’t come around each other full of energy looking to play. Nature is more serious than that.

Corrections will be a big part at first, when done correctly, and a small part on the backend. At first it will seem like you are correcting all the time and once the rules are established you will notice you are never correcting anything at all. Dogs will develop the discipline to listen and predict what you want when consistent.

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good Family Dogs?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are good with the family, kids, other dogs and very easy to train making them a great dog for families. Once owners under the exercise and training that is a required to get any dog behaving properly this dog will fall in line right away.

Additional Resources