Rhodesian Ridgeback general features, temperament, health

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed face

FCI # 146, Origin: Southern Africa, Group 6.3 Scenthounds. Related breeds.

Height: 24-27 in, Weight: 65-90 pounds

Grooming: Low, Shedding: Medium, Coat: Short, dense, shiny.

Color: Wheaten, red (small white markings on the chest are allowed).

Ease of training: High, Energy level: Medium, Span of life: 10-12 years

Breed: Rhodesian Ridgeback as a breed was officially recognized only in the early 20-ies of XX century. Although the information about his ancestors goes into the mists of time.

Rhodesian Ridgeback - breed that created a furor among all enthusiasts of dog breeding  as soon as it came out of fabulously mysterious expanses of South Africa.
Like many other modern purebred dogs, Rhodesian Ridgeback is a result of crossbreeding.

The roots of the breed can be traced from a hunting dogs, which were able to hunt large animals, predators, including lions. These dogs were valued for their incredibly loyal temperament, which was making them the perfect companion for the tribes, that were constantly moving from place to place, encountering danger at every turn. Exactly this kind of people were the tribes of the Hottentots, whose roots originate from the southern borders of the Kingdom of Egypt, possibly from Ethiopia or southern Sudan.

The first conclusive evidence of Hottentot dogs are cave paintings at 30 km north of Rusape in Zimbabwe. Hottentot dogs more likely were considerably smaller than today's Ridgebacks - a little more than 46 cm at the withers. This dogs were described by historian George MacCoulhill  as a horrible creatures with a body resembling the body of a jackal, and the fur on the back, growing in the opposite direction, but at the same time, this animals were selflessly devoted to man. The exterior of this dogs was improved by crossbreeding with the dogs of a tribe Bakalahari, that were in the type of Greyhound, which undoubtedly improved also the hunting qualities of the Hottentot's dogs.

In 1651 the Dutch East India Company sent Jan van Riebeeck to build a settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, where he arrived by April 6, 1652. The policy of the Dutch at that time in respect of breeding animals was the following: they were trying to receive the new breeds by crossing animals, imported from Europe, with the local breeds, rather than trying to implement a purely European lines of breeds in new countries. In South Africa it has led to the emergence of red African dogs, which the are precursors of the modern Ridgebacks. The settlers spent their free time in hunting and trying to improve the quality of Hottentot dogs, by crossing them with some European sporting breeds, Jan van Riebeeck witnessed and participated in those.

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breeds

Next, perhaps the most crucial, step in the breeding of the Rhodesian Ridgeback occurred in 1870, when the missionary Charles Helm brought two dogs with ridges - Powder and Lorna - to Rhodesia, where he met with Cornelius Van Rooyen, who was breeding cattle and also has the huge pack of hunting dogs. When Van Rooyen saw two females brought by Helm, he admired their physical and security qualities, which led to an agreement with Helm of crossbreeding of his females with the hunting dogs of Van Rooyen. The result of crossing was dog with a ridged back, red coat and a tail of modern Ridgeback, which laid the foundation for purposeful breeding of dogs by Van Rooyen in the next 35 years, in order to bring a dog capable of hunting lions, as did his ancient ancestors.

Official recognition of the breed occurred a few years later and was a credit to Francis Barnes, who along with other enthusiasts founded the Salisbury kennel in 1898-1900. In 1915 he bought his first Rhodesian Ridgeback Dingo, whose roots originated from Ridgebacks of Van Rooyen. Somewhat later, Barnes got another Ridgeback - bitch Judy and gave a start to the famous line of Ridgebacks. Barnes was keenly aware of the need to introduce the breed standard, as he was constantly facing Ridgebacks of different size, different coat and colors. In 1922 a group of 7 people founded the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club. In the same year was released the first breed standard, which, according to Barnes, was largely borrowed from the standard of Dalmatian. In fact, this standard served very well and has remained virtually unchanged for the most important points, having undergone only minor changes, limiting the permissible coat color and allowing the white spots only on the fingers and chest. In September 1924 the Rhodesian Ridgeback as a breed was officially recognized by the South African Kennel Club.

General Features: Rhodesian Ridgeback is harmonious, strong, muscular, active dog of noble lines, combining qualities such as speed and stamina. Gives the impression of strength, combined with the speed, but without heaviness.

Typical breed characteristics - "ridge" on the back, formed by hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat of the dog. Ridge should be pronounced, symmetrical, starts just behind the withers, and continuing to the croup. Tapering when reaching the pelvic bones. Ridge has only two identical, symmetrical curles ("crown"), the lower edge of which should not fall below 1/3 of the ridge. The width of the right ridge is usually about 5 cm. The coat of Rodesian Ridgeback is short and glossy. Colors from wheaten to red.

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed photo

Temperament: Ridgeback has a strong character, he is expressive with a stately manner. Ridgebacks are not noisy dogs, but they have a deep resounding bark and they use it when something needs to be investigated, it makes them a serious guard dog. They warn you if something is not right, but if you're welcoming guests in the house, they take your estimate and react accordingly.

However, if the suspiciousness of a Ridgeback awakes, it is unlikely that he would be happy with such a guest, but when he is told to take him kindly, the Ridgeback will be just tolerant and polite. Never ignore your Ridgeback, when he feels that something is wrong.

Some people buy Ridgebacks for protection and as a member of the family and are very pleased with the result. Nevertheless, you will never buy Ridgeback solely for his protective abilities.

Ridgeback will always be patient with children and will allow them to lead. However, if the kids are too annoying, the Ridgeback may prefer to leave earlier than explode and loose his patients. If a Ridgeback is introduced to children from an early age, he will be more confident in his responses. Adult Ridgeback is a large strong animal, but they can be very gentle.

The breed is showing a good results in agility. All Ridgebacks can be trained quite easy and achieve great success in competitions.

Ridgebacks love comfort, they quickly find the most convenient place for lying, whether it will be a sofa, a blanket or just floor right next to you, they will be a perfectly happy coach potatoes, if there is nothing else to do.

Everyone who has a Ridgeback is certainly admiring his temperament. This is an outstanding domestic dogs - loyal, gentle and protective. Ridgeback has indeed a strong protective instinct, but he never shows any uncontrolled aggression. This is a dog that recognizes his owner as a leader, although he will be cautious with strangers, still he will remain friendly and welcoming, if properly introduced to them.

The breed standard states that the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a magnificent, intelligent, indifferent to strangers, not showing aggression or fearfulness dog and it sums up the temperament of a Ridgeback. Once you have a Ridgeback, another breeds for you will not exist, he is the best of them all. Ridgeback quickly adapts and can be faithful to one person or a real favorite of the whole family. His intelligence and inner understanding inspire fear - he is almost a human. Ridgeback has an independent spirit, and it's always a matter of respect. Ridgeback loves to please, he will be your equal  friend, but never your servant, he is too smart for that. This is a dog that can think for himself - and can be stubborn.

"If I was asked to name the superior quality of a Ridgeback, I certainly would have called pride. This is a self-confident dog who is well aware of his abilities. As soon as there is something new, his dark eyes light up immediately with curiosity. Never handle Ridgeback badly. While we usually avoid giving human characteristics to dogs, I can guarantee that the Ridgeback has excellent long-term memory. With good treatment of him, you get the most faithful friend. All he asks in return - is the same dedication and respect for his integrity. When you feel that an independent arrogance of a Ridgeback goes too far, remember that he is - a proud dog, and he has something to be proud of." - that's what one of the authors is writing about this brave and powerful, still loyal and gentle dog - the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Health problems: Generally the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a healthy hardy breed. Still some Ridgebacks may suffer from the hip dysplasia.