Lifespan: 11-13 years
Grooming: Very low
Watchdog ability: Very high
Protection ability: Very high
Area of Origin: South Africa
Date of Origin: 1800’s
Other Names: African Lion Hound
Original Function: Large game (including lion) hunting, guardian
Temperament and Care
A fine hunter, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is ferocious in the hunt, but in the home it is a calm, gentle, obedient dog. Although extremely good natured, some do not do well with small children because they may play too roughly and knock them down. They are intelligent, skillful and straight-forward dogs that are loyal to their family. They have a mind of their own, are brave, vigilant, possess considerable stamina, are reserved toward strangers so require good socialisation at a young age with both people and other dogs. Without enough mental and physical exercise the Ridgeback can become highly strung and unmanageable. They need a firm, confident and consistent pack leader who can provide the rules they must follow, as well as the limits or boundaries as to what they can and cannot do. Meek and/or passive owners or owners who like to treat their dogs like humans rather than canines, will have a difficult time controlling this breed which may result in them becoming combative with other dogs.
When given what they need, the Rhodesian Ridgeback will be an excellent companion dog. Ridgebacks react best to an extremely consistent and firm but calm approach to training. They are intelligent and learn quickly, however constant repetition will bore them and they can then become stubborn and willful if they are allowed to be stronger-minded than the humans. Training should be gentle, but firm and should start young while the dog is still small enough to manage.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are very good watch dogs but are not suggested for guard dogs. They do become very protective of their owners and again this has to be addressed during their early training to ensure they understand that the human is their authority figure (or pack leader).
If the Ridgeback is not given enough exercise or mental stimulation it can become frustrated and left alone can be more destructive than a Labrador!
The Ridgeback loves to run, so they make excellent jogging or hiking companions. They can live outdoors in temperate or warm climates, but they are usually much happier sleeping indoors and dividing its time between the house and yard during the day. Coat care is minimal, consisting only of occasional brushing to remove dead hair.