Rhodesian Ridgeback

Temperament: Affectionate, Dignified, Even-Tempered

  • Height: 25-27 inches (male), 24-26 inches (female)
  • Weight: 85 pounds (male), 70 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: ~10 years
  • Group: Hound Group 

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an all-purpose “Renaissance hound” whose hallmark is the ridge, or stripe of backward-growing hair, on his back. Though the breed was made famous in its native Africa for its skill at tracking and baying – but never, ever killing – lions, today Ridgebacks are cherished family dogs whose owners must be prepared to deal with their independence and strong prey drive.


The Ridgeback represents a strong, muscular and active hound, symmetrical and balanced in outline. A mature Ridgeback is a handsome, upstanding and athletic dog, capable of great endurance with a fair (good) amount of speed. Of even, dignified temperament, the Ridgeback is devoted and affectionate to his master, reserved with strangers. The peculiarity of this breed is the ridge on the back. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed.

About the Rhodesian Ridgeback

Beneath the Ridgeback’s trademark ridge is a whole lot of hound: Ridgebacks are fast and powerful athletes who can weigh between 70 and 85 pounds, and oftentimes more. They come in only one color – wheaten – which spans every shade seen in a wheat field, from pale flaxen to the burnished red of a maturing crop. Ridgebacks also have two nose colors: black and the less commonly seen brown.

The formidable Ridgeback can be strong willed, independent, and sometimes domineering. Ridge-backs must be guided with a firm but fair hand from puppy-hood. They are faithful friends, protective of their loved ones and meltingly affectionate with those whom they trust. Still, a Ridgeback can be too much hound for the novice dog owner.

NUTRITION The Rhodesian Ridgeback should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior).Ridgebacks are notorious “counter surfers,” so be sure not to leave human food unattended. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING The Rhodesian Ridgeback does shed somewhat, but overall his grooming needs are minimal. A regular weekly brushing will help to remove loose hair and keep the coat glossy, and an occasional bath will help to keep the Ridge-back clean and looking his best. The nails should be trimmed often if not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort and problems walking and running. Many Ridge-backs resist nail clipping, and many respond more positively to a nail grinder.

EXERCISE Rhodesian Ridgebacks are strong, athletic dogs who require a moderate amount of exercise, and they can adapt well to various living situations when provided with daily outings such as long walks and play sessions with their owner. They love to run, and they need physical activity to help keep them healthy and happy. The breed can also exercise mind and body by participating in canine sports like tracking, agility, and other activities that dog and owner can enjoy together.

TRAINING Because of their very strong prey drive, Rhodesian Ridgebacks should always be in a safely enclosed area when off leash. The Ridgeback is a devoted companion and needs to live indoors with his human family. They can be strong willed, independent, and sometimes domineering, and must be guided with a firm but patient hand from early puppy-hood. Early socialization and puppy training classes using positive reinforcement are recommended and help to ensure that the dog grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.

HEALTH Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their dogs for hip and elbow dysplasia, thyroid function and eye anomalies. Dermoid sinus is a tube-like opening in the skin that is occasionally present at birth; an experienced breeder can palpate, or feel, for this defect.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation

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