Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs

After a few high-energy puppy years, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can turn into pretty mellow pals. However, they are far from lazy. Ridgebacks have an incredible amount of energy and stamina. During long walks, runs or hikes, they will stay at your side and then some, making them the ideal jogging partner. They also appreciate the opportunity to break free and run through wooded areas, fields or canyons.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pictures

  • Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named Snarla  Green
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named Brando
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named Sheva, RIP
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named JAVA
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named KAI
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named Aidan
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Quick Facts

  • 65 - 90 pounds
  • 24 - 27 inches

Ideal Human Companions

    • Singles
    • Experienced dog handlers
    • Active, sporty types
    • Hunters
    • Families with older children

Rhodesian Ridgebacks on Dogster

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Trademark Traits

    • Striking
    • Strong
    • Gentle
    • Intelligent
    • Good hunters
    • Great friends

What They Are Like to Live With

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are gentle around the home. They play very well with children and have a reserved but gentlemanly way with strangers. However, they are super-protective, making them very effective watchdogs.

Things You Should Know

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be a little stubborn. They need consistent and patient training from someone willing to dedicate the necessary time and attention. Alert and intelligent, Rhodesian Ridgebacks learn quickly. Because they have very active minds, they need plenty of tasks and games to prevent boredom.

Ridgebacks have powerful hunting instincts. Unless you’re in a controlled area or out in the countryside, always keep them on a leash. Also remember that these dogs were bred to hunt lions: They are fearless in almost any situation, especially around other dogs.

A healthy Rhodesian Ridgeback can live as long as 12 years. Common health issues include hip dysplasia and heart problems. Overall, they are healthy and hardy. Their glossy coat is easy to groom, but they do shed quite a bit. Ridgeback hair can be tough to remove from carpets and furniture, so regular brushing outdoors is a good idea.

Rhodesian Ridgeback History

Named after the “ridge” of hair along their backs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks were developed by South African Boer farmers to hunt large game. In the 16th century, European immigrants to South Africa brought Great Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds and other breeds. These were bred with native South African dogs to create the Ridgeback. In 1922, a group of Rhodesian breeders set a standard for the Ridgeback. Registered by the AKC in the 1950s, they have just recently become popular in the U.S.

The Look of a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have large, balanced and muscular frames with short, sleek coats. Bearing the trademark “ridgeback,” they have a line of hair along the spine that grows counter to the other hairs. Their long heads have flat, broad skulls and deep muzzles. Their eyes, somewhat set apart, have a bright and radiant expression, and their noses are black, brown or liver depending on the color of the coat. They have strong, somewhat lean necks, solid backs and strong tails that hang low and curl up slightly. Their glossy coats come in wheat or red. Overall, Rhodesian Ridgebacks carry themselves with equal amounts of dignity and athleticism.

Talk About Rhodesian Ridgebacks 

A breed for the adventurous

Josie, my Rhodesian, is a free spirit. Hard to control but devoted. She is a friend to everyone, but is definitely not for someone with cats. Her heredity comes out and she never allows any cat in her territory. She is gentle with kids and loves to play with other dogs, but is rough. She put her best friend, Sammy, a Spitz weighing 17 pounds, in the hospital for several days, just playing. Josie does not realize she is a powerball of over 90 pounds. She will lay for hours with her head in my lap, until a bird or other animal catches her attention, then off she goes.

This breed is for the adventurous, with older children because they love to run and play. A large yard would be necessary. I have five fenced acres and she uses them all. She also likes to stay in the house, especially when it is hot out, as it is all summer in Texas. With all her faults, her good points outweigh them and I would never be parted from her.

~David M., owner of a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Arranges her toys artistically

I didn't know about this breed until I rescued a 7-week old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy in 2002 during monsoon rains in east Tennessee. Who knows what circumstances caused her and three littermates to be abandoned?

From the beginning, she was a puppy genius. She is the best of dogs -- my friend, companion, "sister." What a sense of humor she has! Artistic in her own way, she sometimes arranges her toys and dog biscuits in designs on the floor and she has a techy curiosity, investigating how gadgets work.

The intelligence of this breed is amazing. A few months ago, she foiled a robber who broke into my house -- he didn't get farther than opening the front door.

With people she knows, she is very, very affectionate. She is wary but polite with strangers. She loves to ride in my van, sitting in the copilot seat, always wearing her seatbelt! And she is beautiful ... in face, body, and spirit! Her eyes are so expressive and full of adoration.

~Clara L., owner of a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Laidback lovebugs

I have had Rhodesian Ridgebacks since 1986. I adore the breed. They suit our lifestyle very well. We take leashed walks along our bay shore or they can romp off leash on the sandy beaches of the coast. When home, they are couch potatoes. I have always had males and they are laidback lovebugs.

RRs can be stubborn independent thinkers and counter surfers -- and they are big guys. Males are 80-100 pounds.

They also want to be with their people, not left in a yard for hours. I believe they are happiest with at least one other Rhodesian Ridgeback or dog in the house. I have two, Joe who is 10 and Rhett who is 5.5.

~Sharon J., owner of two Rhodesian Ridgebacks

A breed for the hardworking, loving dog owner

I love how they are alert and dedicate their time to protecting you and your family. I have six children, all under the age of 15, and Duke gets along fine with them. He is patient, caring, and you can often catch him sleeping on the patio with my younger children during the summer.

Though they look like the Bully type, as I first believed, they are not at all as aggressive, but still extremely protective. If you live near coyotes, as I do, Duke will run into the pack and fight them while the others keep their distance. This is what this breed was bred to do: fight lions to protect African villages. They are handsome, lean, muscular, and need a lot of play area to keep occupied. A great dog, with much more pros than cons for him. Duke is a great breed to have for the adventurous.

~Hannah B., owner of a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Protective and good with kids

This is my third Ridgeback, and I just absolutely love them. They are very protective but when given the right command they step back.

This Ridgeback has grown up with my two boys and a cat. He loves his Lucy, but any other cat he runs off. He is extremely protective in his yard/home, but take him to the park and he loves everyone.

My first two dogs would hunt wild hogs with a friend. They do not go in for the kill, but keep the pigs at bay, just like their ancestors.

I will never own anything but a Ridgeback. These dogs are not for everyone, so pick your breed carefully -- they are stubborn but very intelligent.

~Julie L, owner of a Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Ridgeback has stolen my heart

My pair, Kiara (5 years old) and Dakota (2 years old), are spoilt rotten, and in return I receive unconditional love, trust, loyalty, and protection. They are great with my cats, who even share beds with the dogs. When young kids are around, they love to play and be a part of the social gathering. Ridgebacks find the most comfortable seats in the house, and my pair love our morning 15-minute cuddles in bed before I get up for work.

If you are thinking of investing in a Ridgeback, please make sure that you are prepared to allow them indoors. They are super affectionate and love human companionship. They are easy to train, but be consistent! From the beginning, they need to know that YOU are the pack leader, otherwise they will walk all over you.

Being hunters, they love to run free and sniff. They are not retrievers, so don't get one if you want a ball-playing dog. I couldn't imagine my life without my fursons (fur persons) and I will be getting a third soon! Ridgebacks just look best in packs.

~Chantal L., owner of two Ridgebacks