- South African Hottentot tribes hunted with dogs that often had a ridge of hair running the opposite direction along their back.
- In the 1500s and 1600s, Boer settlers arriving in South Africa brought with them mastiffs, Great Danes, greyhounds and other breeds that then interbred with native Hottentot dogs.
- In 1875, Dr. David Livingston published one of the earliest engravings of a ridged dog in his memoirs, Missionary Travels in South Africa.
- Also in 1875, missionary Charles Helm traveled to Rhodesia, bringing two dogs from his home in South Africa. A big game hunter, Cornelius von Rooyen, borrowed the dogs to try them at hunting. He was so impressed with their hunting ability that he worked for the next 35 years to have them breed true.
- The dogs were especially adept at holding lions at bay, and were dubbed lion dogs.
- In the 1920s, the name was changed to Rhodesian ridgeback and a standard of perfection was produced.
- In the 1930s and 40s the breed came to Europe and America.
- Today it is among the most popular of AKC registered hounds in America.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Behavior Concerns
- Makes a loyal and protective companion.
- Good with children, but can be overly boisterous for small children.
- Makes an excellent watchdog and good protection dog.
- It is strong-willed, powerful and somewhat independent.
- Reserved with strangers.
- Generally good with other dogs and pets.
- Obedience training is a necessity.
- Does best with reward-based training involving food plus a firm hand.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Suggested Exercises
- Makes a well-mannered housedog as long as its exercise needs are met.
- Requires a good walk or jog, or a run in an enclosed area, every day.
- Not generally a good dog for dog parks, but varies with individuals.
- Its short coat provides little protection against cold weather.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Grooming
- Coat is short and close.
- The coat needs weekly brushing and occasional bathing.
- Shedding is below average.
- The ridge of hair growing in the opposite direction along the midline of the back is distinctive and leaves no doubt as to whether it is a ridge or raised hackles. A few ridgebacks are born without ridges.
Suggested Rhodesian Ridgeback Nutritional Needs
- Ridgebacks have a moderate build, lean yet muscular. You should be able to feel the ribs, but they should not be too noticeable.
- Some ridgebacks tend to put on too much weight.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.