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Rhodesian Ridgback


General Description:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a wonderful breed, combining many desirable traits. However, it is not the breed for everyone. Their intelligence and independence, combined with their physical strength and speed, can make them difficult to handle and train. They are house dogs, and must be in the house with their family to be happy. THEY HAVE NO TOLERANCE FOR THE COLD! A properly handled and trained RR is a joy to have around; one with no training is a liability.

This seems to be the best opportunity to talk about that funny "mohawk" ridgebacks have. The ridge, as the name of the breed implies, is the hallmark of the breed. It is a ridge of hair that grows in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat (the breed standard sets forth the exact types of ridges that are desirable). There is a lot of confusion about ridges, but the main thing to remember is - If the dog has a ridge, THE RIDGE IS THERE ALL THE TIME. It doesn't only show when the dog is frightened or angry (those are hackles); it doesn't show as a stripe or dark line down the dog's back where the ridge should be (those dogs are ridgeless), and it isn't on the neck or side of the dog (those are cowlicks). Though you will be hard pressed to find anything about it in the books and websites, there are ridgeless ridgebacks, both mixed breeds and purebreds. They should look and act just like a ridged ridgeback, they just have smooth backs like the dog pictured on the lower left. And dogs that are only part ridgeback can have ridges too. Ridgelessness in a ridgeback is the only disqualification for the Conformation show ring and it will also bar an RR from competing in AKC Lure Coursing. But a ridgeless RR can compete in all the other AKC and UKC activities for titles. And the personality and other characteristics are the same.



Standard calls for: Dogs 25"-27" up to 85 pounds; Bitches 24"-26" up to 70 pounds.



Red wheaten, ranging from a reddish blond, to a dark mahogany red with a black mask. Most RR's have black noses, but there is a color variation called "liver nose", characterized by a red or brown nose; the coat is lighter in color and the eyes are green in puppies, amber in adults (see upper right revolving photos, there is a liver-nosed dog in one of them). Other rare colors show up from time to time, such as the "blue" dog on the left with a blue collar (which can be mistaken for a ridgeback/Weimaraner mix), brindle, pictured 2nd from the bottom on the lower left, and black and tan. For more information about, and pictures of, these rare colors,visit this site.


Energy Level:



Life expectancy:

About 12 years on average.



Good if raised with them. Ridgebacks do not readily tolerate the clumsiness of toddlers, and do not have a high pain threshold. They also have a fairly strong prey drive that is excited by the running and screaming of small children.


Other animals:

Will do ok if raised with other animals, especially other house pets. But they are sighthounds and anything that runs away will be chased, including livestock, and they are fast enough and strong enough to kill some animals. When playing with other ridgebacks, the dogs are very noisy and rough, with a lot of body slamming and running.



Fast, strong, athletic. Intelligent, fast learners, well developed prey drive and natural hunting instinct. Able to figure cause and effect. Can be calculating and manipulative, especially bitches. Natural guard dogs.



Minimal. Short hard coat is kept neat with an occasional brushing with a hound glove. Bathing every 6 to 8 weeks is sufficient. Nails are thick, strong and hard, and must be trimmed at least once a week, as they grow fast.



Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hyper/hypo thyroid, and deafness occur in the breed, but are not rampant. Dermoid sinus (DS)is a condition peculiar to the breed: It is a tubular structure that is usually open at the skin surface and can extend as deep as the spinal chord. It occurs most often on the back, but has been found on the necks snd tails of dogs also. It can be infected and filled with pus; in the worst cases, a deep DS can become gangrenous and infect the spinal chord, resulting in a systemic infection in the dog. Affected dogs are born with the dermoid, and newborn puppies should be checked right away, and continue to be checked as they develop. Many dermoids can be successfully removed surgically.


Best with:

Strong willed confident owners who will set boundaries and enforce them. People who are familiar with guarding instinct. Households that don't have a high volume of strange visitors. Obedience training and socialization cannot be over empahsized for this breed. They are very good at most dog sports, such as agility and lure coursing, and make excellent companions for jogging, hiking, etc. Though not high activity, regular exercise is necessary, and ridgebacks enjoy the chance to run in a safe environment. Prey drive and fast getaways usually require a securely fenced yard, especially for young dogs.


Not for:

Timid, easily frightened people. Ridgebacks are a dominant breed and will run the house if allowed. They are also independent and not always willing to please. They can be stubborn and sulky



Intelligent, indpendent, fast learners. Physically able to do almost anything. Fast and athletic. Elegant and handsome. Short coat makes maintenance a snap. Affectionate with their inner circle without being demanding. Natural guard dogs. Naturally clean and quiet in the house, but love to go when and where you do.



Can be stubborn. Can be aggressive if not socialized and properly handled. Prey drive and surprising bursts of speed can be disastrous. Dominant dogs can be a handful. Pack order must be strictly maintained with dominant dogs. Cannot tolerate cold for very long. Notorious for "counter surfing" and can be greedy about food. Easily bored with repetition.


Further Information:
Breed Details

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