Rhodesian Ridgebacks were incredible hunting dogs
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are sometimes referred to as “African Lion Dogs.” They are so-called because of their original purpose: hunting lions!
In a pack, Rhodesian Ridgebacks will corner their prey and wait for the hunter to come and finish it off.
They will work with other breeds of dogs to hunt their prey and are very strong pack animals.
Most Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not used for hunting today. However, they still have the prey drive of a lion-hunter!
Rhodesian Ridgebacks were named for their appearance
Rhodesian Ridgebacks take their name from the hair that grows on their back. These dogs have a cowlick along their spine that forms a “ridge” right down their middle.
At the top of the spine, the ridge splits into two curls of hair called “crowns.” If a Rhodesian Ridgeback does not have these crowns, he or she cannot compete in a show ring.
Each dog’s ridge follows the same general pattern, but is often unique!
They are an athletic breed
Rhodesian Ridgebacks love to run! While they may not be hunting dogs anymore, they still excel at lure coursing.
Lure coursing is a sport in which dogs chase after a motorized “lure” along a predetermined track. The lure is too fast for the dogs to catch, but Rhodesian Ridgebacks still love to chase it!
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are sighthounds and hunt mostly by sight, which makes lure coursing a perfect sport for them!
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are quiet dogs
While they will bark or howl if they’re excited enough about something, they are usually pretty silent.
Their silence can sometimes be a problem! Most dogs will bark to give a warning when they feel angry or frightened. Some Rhodesian Ridgebacks will attack without barking, even if they still give warning through their body language.
Because Rhodesian Ridgebacks are so quiet, they sometimes are not the best guard dogs available today.
Best guard dog for protection
Despite their quiet nature and reluctance to bark, Rhodesian Ridgebacks make excellent guard dogs. They are fiercely loyal to their families or friends and are very protective of small children.
As a result, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not very friendly towards strangers. They will often act “on guard” around visitors or even family members with whom they are not familiar.
Despite their shyness, these dogs work very well with children and are good guard dogs for young families.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks famous in Hollywood
Rhodesian Ridgebacks have long been associated with Hollywood stars. Errol Flynn, the old-Hollywood swashbuckler, was one of the first A-listers to love these lion dogs. His ranch in California had several
Rhodesian Ridgebacks who would often greet guests at the door.
Patrick Swayze, before his untimely death, was another world-famous fan of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. They were given to him as a gift, and appear in home and publicity photos with the “Dirty Dancing” star.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks’ ridges
Not all Rhodesian Ridgebacks have ridges. The ridge is a dominant trait, but some dogs are carriers for a recessive “ridgeless” trait. As a result, some Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies are born without any ridge at all!
Traditional Ridgeback breeders do not value ridgeless puppies very highly. They are often sold as pets instead of as show dogs.
However, in recent years, ridgeless Ridgebacks have become increasingly popular. They are still beautiful, loyal dogs, ridgeless, or not!
Rhodesian Ridgebacks origin
The first part of the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s name comes from its place of origin. The country now known as Zimbabwe was once known as Rhodesia but chose a different name after gaining independence.
In colonial Rhodesia, Rhodesian Ridgebacks were the iconic hunting dogs of the colonizers. They were originally bred as a mix of European dogs and wild dogs from the area. As a result, they still retain the hardy endurance and elegant style of both regions.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks health
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a pretty healthy breed. Because they are not as popular as some more famous dog breeds, they do not have the same genetic faults. Serious genetic defects often arise as a result of overbreeding or inbreeding in a dog’s line.
However, they are still prone to some genetic weaknesses. Hip dysplasia and degenerative myelopathy are the two most common genetic diseases that affect Rhodesian Ridgebacks. While neither condition has a cure, dog lovers can at least treat the symptoms.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks size
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a large breed. They stand between twenty-four and twenty-seven inches tall and weigh between seventy-five and ninety pounds.
In terms of height, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are about the same height as a Dalmation or a Labrador
Retriever. However, they are much thinner than a Lab and slightly taller than a Dalmation.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are sometimes confused with Vizslas, as they look very similar. Only Rhodesian Ridgebacks have the characteristic mohawk on their backs, which sets them apart.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks color
Unlike other dog breeds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks only come in one color: red. While the exact shade may vary, a Rhodesian Ridgeback must be red or “wheaten” to qualify as an example of the breed.
Despite this qualification, the actual definition of “wheaten” varies widely. Some Ridgebacks are “dark wheaten,” and have a dark reddish-brown coat. Others, the “light wheaten,” have a much paler, almost golden color.
Regardless of the exact shade, a Ridgeback’s shining coat is one of the hallmarks of the breed.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks liver nose
Most Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a dark nose, ears, and markings around the feet and eyes. However, some Ridgebacks, known as “liver noses”, lack these dark spots altogether.
A liver nose Ridgeback is a deep red from the nose to the tail. They are often slightly more aggressive or energetic than the standard “black nose” Ridgeback. However, they are still the same loyal and lovable Rhodesian Ridgebacks.