Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed Traits & Facts

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

*The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a tale with two distinct personalities .. He is an extremely affectionate and sweet dog behind closed doors. He is very protective and tough in public. This breed is known for its inability to tolerate any threats to its owners. He will actually protect his family with all his might. He is also known as the Lion Dog in Africa where he comes from ,. He literally fights lions for his family if they are in danger. Impressive!

But you have to be able to handle this breed! You need to be comfortable with dogs and have the ability to handle a Ridgeback’s personality. Not for the faint-hearted ,. It is not something to be taken lightly.

Ridgebacks are great family dogs ,, but you must be the right fit for your family. This Rhodesian Ridgeback breed guide will walk you through the Ridgeback traits and facts. Let’s get started to see if the Lion Dog and you could be a match!

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog

Breed History

The Rhodesian Ridgeback can be described as a canine creation from Africa, specifically the Zimbabwe territory. His name was originally given to Rhodesia. In the late 19th century, a big-game hunter named Cornelius van Rooyen chose two ridged Greyhounds to join his pack of lion dogs. The ridged offspring proved to be a great help in confronting andwarding off big game to protect his master’s land and property. His master was able to take a shot because he distracted them.

It is believed that he is not only a Greyhound, but also the native ridged Khoikhoi terrier , and the Great Dane. The native Khoikhoi blood is what gave them the ability to handle large predators in Africa. Not just leopards, baboons, and lions. This breed was also able to withstand pests and other local diseases. As if all that weren’t enough, Antelope was capable of hunting small game to provide food for his master and pack. His favorite game is Antelope!

The Rhodesian Ridgeback made his way to America in 1911. However, large numbers of this breed weren’t imported until after the World Wars. He was accepted into the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1955. He now finds himself in the top 50 dog breeds in America. Blake Griffin and Patrick Swayze are two examples of his African charm. The Ridgeback is a great choice for both cowboys as well as families with young children.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a naturally protective dog He is extremely protective of his family and will not interact with outsiders. Don’t expect him openly to receive strangers or visitors. He will be suspicious of his master and stand by him. Do not be misled by Ridgeback puppies that are too friendly. They can seem curious and playful at first. Expect him to mature and become more serious and protective as he reaches adulthood.

*His strong protective nature and ability (not with) to kill a lion means that he’s an independent thinker. He has an dominant personality which requires an even stronger master. This dog is not recommended for timid owners or people looking to get a dog for the first time. He requires leadership to be able to behave well.

But if you can the beast , he is an amazing companion. He will do anything for you. He is loyal and desires his master’s company . He is a gentle and sweet soul underneath his rugged exterior. He doesn’t fear you, but he is scared. He is in this sense needy. This is not everyone’s cup of tea.

His protective nature and need to be with people make him the best canine sibling that small children could ever ask for. He will often be found next to the children, even when he isn’t guarding the gate. He is gentle and affectionate with children, as you would need to supervise all dogs. He will play with them as hard and fair when it comes time for playtime. He is devoted to his family but has a special place for the younger members of the family.

Size & Appearance

The Rhodesian Ridgeback, a large-sized dog is a larger-sized dog Female Ridgebacks will typically weigh around 70 pounds, and males will weigh approximately 85 pounds. They measure between 24 and 27 inches tall, from paw to the withers, also known as the shoulder. He is strong, athletic, and well built. He is also lean and agile, and his body is streamlined. These traits combined make him the ultimate big-game hunting machine.

His breed standard says that he is a nearly perfectly symmetrical canine. looks very similar to Vizsla .. His ears are large and high, and they reach down to his jawline. He is proud of his neck, which is quite long. His eyes are round and sparkle with intelligence and expression . He has webbed feet which allowed him to walk on the sand dunes of his homeland.

Coat & Colors

No Ridgeback breed guide would be complete without mentioning his unique physical characteristic. His spine ridge is what gives him his name, the Ridgeback. This ridge, a section of hair running in the opposite direction from the rest of his body, gives it a different texture and shade.

Some Ridgebacks have long, ridged ridges that run from their hips to their shoulders. Some Ridgebacks have only a part of the ridge while others have none. Ridgebacks who want to compete at the conformation show have to have a full-length ridge. This is completed by two identical crowns (whorls). Their coats are either red or a variation thereof.

He has a dense, thick coat that appears glossy but is slightly rough to touch. The Ridgeback sheds very little to moderately during the year, and is slightly heavier during the shedding season. However, it is not as severe as other dogs. We’ll be discussing his simple grooming routine in more detail. His colors range from light Wheaten to red wheaten .. Some Ridgebacks may have some white on their chests and toes.

Exercise Requirements

Surprisingly, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has lower energy needs than you might think. He needs between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise every day. His activity does not need to be intense, unlike other hunting breeds. He will enjoy a few brisk walks in the park or around the neighborhood. This pup can run fast so make sure you keep him on a leash!

He is intelligent and should mix his activities throughout each week. Think beach visits, mountain adventures, or visiting the local doggy park if he likes making new friends (we say if – you need to read the next paragraph!) You can keep him entertained between exercises by buying him a variety of toys.

Ridgebacks can be averse to dogs outside their immediate family. If he is a puppy, and you allow him to join your multi-pet household, he will thrive. If you have an existing Ridgeback and invite another dog to join the family, it could be a problem. Male Ridgebacks can be dislikeful of new animals .. You might consider changing your breed selection if you are looking to have multiple pets.

Living Conditions

If your Ridgeback has access to a yard it must be secured. You will need to install high fences that are deep into the ground. His high prey drive will make him chase everything. We’re merely saying that if your Ridgeback can take on Lions, you neighbor cat better be quick on his feet! Electric fences don’t work for Ridgebacks who are often known to chase cars.

This breed is well-suited for both large and small homes so long as they have their basic exercise needs met. You need to consider how much space you have available for him. He is a very adaptable dog. He is an excellent family dog and loves children of all ages.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback, an independent breed with a dominant . character, is a independent canine. Dominant dogs can test the master’s leadership skills and attempt to assume the role of leader. You need to have experience with dominant dogs and the confidence to establish a pack hierarchy. Because he will be able to view every member of the family as his master, it is important that everyone in the family is on board.

Do not let him get away with his unruly behavior. He’ll try his luck again once he gets away with it. Make dominant dogs work for things like their food or waiting to be told to sit on your sofa. You are the boss and not him. This is a simple way to remind him every day.

When it comes to training headstrong dogs start your training process . early. Good breeders will start the training process by mixing him with other dogs and humans. You will continue to work with them to introduce him to the rest of the world. It is important to work with Ridgeback breeders of high quality.

*Socialization refers to the mixing of a dog with other dogs. This will determine if he grows into a polite, well-mannered dog . No matter how socialized you are, Ridgebacks will be hostile to dogs other than their family. But it’s still important to socialize your pup as much as you can. An unruly 85 pound Ridgeback is a lot of dog to handle.

Positive reinforcement training is essential for Ridgebacks who are independent. He could take offense if you are harsh in your training. Instead, reward good behavior. You can reward good behavior with tasty treats. The Ridgeback is known for being a gluttonous puppy. This pup requires a lifetime commitment to training. Ridgebacks who are disciplined with their training often have well-behaved Ridgebacks.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a reasonably health dog breed . He is tough, but can be susceptible to health issues. This list is not conclusive and Ridges may be affected by them. Many Ridges will also experience other health issues. It is a good place for a start, as they are the most common breed.

Regular veterinary visits are the best way to ensure your Ridgeback is healthy. Early detection of health problems is crucial. Regular exercise and good nutrition are key to keeping your Ridgeback healthy. On average, Ridgebacks enjoy a lifespan of 10 years.

Hip And Elbow Dysplasia

This is more common in larger breeds of dog because it is affected by rapid bone development as a puppy. This happens when the dog’s skeleton grows too fast, leading to uneven growth. Uneven growth can cause additional wear to the joints, eventually leading to arthritis and painful joints. Ridgebacks that have high hip and elbow scores will only be bred by top-quality breeders.

Eye Conditions

The Ridgeback can be susceptible to many eye problems. Glaucoma is the most common. Glaucoma is a severe condition that can quickly lead to total blindness. The most common symptoms are red eyes, squinting and watery eyes. Another common condition is cataracts, which can also occur in the older years.

Dermoid Sinus

This is a fairly common skin condition in the breed. This is a congenital defect that causes tube-like cysts to form in the spine area of the dog’s skin. Some cysts can penetrate muscle tissue and attach to the spinal cord. These pups are usually euthanized. Those with less severe cysts can be treated surgically.

DNA Testing For Health

Embark, one of the leading dog DNA testing companies, recently discovered a genetic indicator for Early Onset Adult Deafness (EOAD) in Rhodesian Ridgebacks. By taking the at-home test, you can find out if your dog is at risk for this or 200+ other health conditions, in addition to confirming your dog’s breed makeup.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback will eat three cups of kibble each day and two meals. It will depend on his size, energy level, and what kibble he is fed. Feeding your Ridgeback the best nutrition you can afford can make a huge difference to his health. It is best to give your Ridgeback the best nutrition possible. High quality kibbles are a good choice for him. They provide the best nutrition and high quality protein. There is also a lot of flavor.

He is a large breed dog so the kibble he eats must be made for him. This is especially important for puppies, as it contains crucial nutrients that help control bone growth. This will reduce the risk of developing joint dysplasia. It is also rich in healthy fatty acids, which he needs to develop . This will ensure that he has the best start in life.

The Ridgeback can be a greedy breed ,, so make sure you don’t overfeed him. He will eat whatever you give him. Dogs who are overweight are more likely to have health problems. It is important to keep your dog in good shape. If your dog is overweight, you can reduce the amount of food you give him or switch to a weight management diet.


The grooming routine for the Rhodesian Ridgeback is very simple , due to his straight and short coat. Ridgebacks shed less than double-coated breeds because they don’t have an undercoat. To remove dirt and dead hair, rub a curry brush or rubber mitt on his coat at least once per week. Massage his skin to improve blood circulation and spread his natural oils.

He sheds very little throughout the year , and a lot more during the shedding season. To keep their Ridgebacks from shedding, some owners brush them twice per week during the shedding season. He doesn’t drool as much, unlike many large dogs. He is an overall clean dog which is why he is so popular.

You should expect that you’ll only need to bathe him once every 8 to 12 weeks or so. You risk irritating his skin and causing damage to his natural oils. We recommend that you only use a shampoo made for dogs. Many Ridgebacks are resistant to bath time ,, so make sure you get them used to their grooming routine from an early age.

The same applies to his teeth. Get him used to you brushing his teeth once a week at the very least. A toothpaste made for dogs is recommended because human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs. When you hear his nails tapping on the ground, trim them. His nails are usually black, so make sure to not cut into his blood vessels. Many Ridgebacks prefer a nail grinder to clippers.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

The Rhodesian Ridgeback finds himself in the top 50 dog breeds in America, so you shouldn’t have to travel too far to find a good quality breeder. working with responsible breeders is important, no matter where you live . You can expect to be placed on a waiting list and should keep in touch with your breeder throughout pregnancy.

A top breeder will do all they can to raise healthy Ridgeback litters. The pups you choose will be happy and healthy if they are raised healthy and given all the treatment. They will socialize the pups with their littermates, other dogs and humans in a loving and safe environment. The average cost of a puppy from a reputable breeder will cost around $1,500. And a great place to start is with the AKC’s Rhodesian Ridgeback breeder list.

Irresponsible breeders won’t breed healthy dogs or cut costs in every corner to increase their profits. Their puppy’s health may be at risk. Poor quality breeders are known for offering lower prices, limiting contact, not providing health certificates and refusing to allow you to meet the puppies at home. If you have a negative feeling about any breeder, do not work with them.

Apart from the initial puppy price, you should also consider other costs associated with owning a dog. It is important to make sure your dog has all the necessary equipment, including beds, crates, harnesses, toys, and even harnesses. He will need large, durable items that are sturdy. It will cost you more to care for this puppy than it would for a Pomeranian. You must factor in your ongoing costs like food, insurance, and medical expenses.

Rescues & Shelters

A Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy can be purchased from a breeder, but that is not the only option. Another option is to rescue a dog waiting to be adopted . LoveYourDogHQ is a dog rescue organization. Being a rescue dog mom/dad is the best thing. Many Ridgebacks end up in rescue shelters because they are so demanding and intense than most people realize.

You can either go to your local shelter or take the train to your local rescue shelters . Talk to staff when you arrive at the shelter. They will help you with the adoption process. They will also direct you to the right Ridgeback. You can also search for Rhodesian Ridgeback rescue groups that only rehome Ridgebacks or their mix.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue website maps out adoptable Ridgebacks state by state and lists contact details too. If you are open to adopting a Ridgeback mix like the Rhodesian Lab, you’ll increase your chances of getting a pup.

As Family Pets

  • The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an independent dog.
  • Once in the home, they can be pretty laid back.
  • He is a dominant dog that can be a challenge to train.
  • This breed is best suited for first-time dog owners.
  • In the family home, he is very affectionate with family members.
  • But outside, he is extremely protective and will bark at strangers.
  • His exercise needs are average, which is about 45 to 60 minutes daily.
  • His training will be a lifelong commitment, and not for the faint of heart.
  • Owning a Ridgeback is a lot of responsibility due to their size and demeanor.
  • The Ridgeback is gentle with children and makes a great family addition.
  • He isn’t always that friendly with other animals.
  • This breed may not do well in a multi-pet household.
  • Ridgebacks have a high prey drive.
  • They have been known to run through electric fences.
  • He is adaptable to his home space, but he ideally needs a yard to roam in.

Final Thoughts

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an independent dominant dog breed and is quite a difficult dog to manage. He can be difficult to train and intense, and he often does not get along well with other dogs. He is not suited for the average family home. If you are able to meet his needs and give him a firm but fair hand, you may just find a match in guard dog heaven.

We hope that now you have read this breed guide and understood some of the truths. His exercise requirements are not too severe and his grooming is simple. Although he can be difficult to train, you can rest assured that he will be an easy companion. You’ll find your best friend forever if you can solve the African canine mystery that is the Ridgeback.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top