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The Rhodesian Ridgeback! A Strong, Beautiful and Protective Dog!

Updated on May 18, 2010

Country of Origin: South Africa

Alternative Names: Lion Dog & African Lion Hound

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very interesting and beautiful dog! Developed in South Africa by European Settlers the Rhodesian Ridgeback was considered an all purpose farm dog used to herd, guard and hunt the African lion. Today, this breed is a loyal companion dog that loves being part of the family. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large muscular dog. They stand 24 to 27 inches in height, weigh 70 to 85 pounds and live approximately 10 to 12 years. The Rhodesian Ridgeback owes his name to the distinctive ridge of hair that runs down their spine. They are dignified dogs that are also intelligent, affectionate, powerful and protective.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is usually light wheat to red in color. They usually have dark muzzles and ears as well as small amount of white on their chests.  This powerful dog was once used by hunters to track and corner lions in Africa. Today, however, they are loyal family companions that are often used to guard property.

The Best Owner

So what type of owner is best for this large, powerful breed? An owner who has time to properly socialize and train this very strong dog! If not properly socialized as a pup the Rhodesian Ridgeback can become extremely dominant which can be problematic when around other canines.  They also need plenty of positive training! Training MUST start early and be consistent. This breed can be extremely stubborn so novice trainers may find them difficult to deal with. Again, positive, reward-based training works best! If you consider yourself a couch potato, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is NOT the dog for you as they need plenty of exercise and training time. They also need a strong, confident owner who is able to establish leadership boundaries. The Rhodesian Ridgeback does not do well if left alone for long periods of time. If you have a demanding job or travel a lot…this is not the breed for you! Ridgebacks that are left alone for long periods of time often become depressed and sometimes, destructive (say goodbye to your sofa cushions!). They also love to dig…so if you have a prize winning garden…it might be best to consider a different breed!

Adorable Rhodesian Ridgeback Pups!
Adorable Rhodesian Ridgeback Pups!

This well tempered dog does well with children who know how to treat him properly. This large dog demands respect! For obvious reasons, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is probably not the best choice for homes that have small children. This breed is VERY playful and exuberant and too much for small children to handle.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally healthy dogs. However, they have been known to inherit defects such as hip and elbow malformation (dysplasia) as well as thyroid problems. Cataracts can also be an issue.

If you are searching for a large breed dog that has an easy to care for coat…then look no further, the Rhodesian Ridgeback may be the dog for you! Their sleek, smooth coats are easy to care for and only require weekly brushings with a hound glove. They are also intelligent, protective, affectionate and extremely loyal! They are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy long walks, hikes and have plenty of free time for positive based training sessions! If you are considering this beautiful breed, please consider adoption! As I always say, adoption is the BEST option…no matter what type of dog you are looking for.


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    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 

      5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Great hub, full of info thank you. Always thought these dogs were very fierce and not to be approached.

    • Cygstarz profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Maryland

      Hi Rich...Thank you for your comment/question! One of the best ways to Calm a Rhodesian is to exercise them often! This breed loves to be busy and they love to run! A Rhodesian that does not get enough stimulation/exercise can become bored and yes...even destructive (say goodbye to your couch cushions!). Training is also very important...and stimulating! Train your dog to do tricks and provide lots of positive rewards. A tired Ridgeback is a happy Ridgeback! Of course, puppies are often...well, crazy....simply cause they are young and full of energy. Lots of play, walks and off leash running time (in an enclosed area, of course) should help. Good luck! Enjoy your new pup.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have a 6 month old Rhodesian ridgeback call rio and he has just got really giddy and uncontrolable he is a very beautiful dog but very demanding what's the best way to calm him down?

    • profile image

      Jeff and Ranay 

      7 years ago

      Had a Rhodie ourselves. Incredibly loyal and very loving. He was a rescue dog, just hours away from euthanasia at the local shelter. One the best decisions I ever made without my wife's permission was bringing Chauncy home.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I fostered and ended up adopting a Rhodie. He is the best dog ever. Obeident, protective and extremely loving. He was very hyper when I first brought him home from the vet after he had major surgery and unfortunately, he had to stay in the kennel for 6 weeks to allow his injury to heal. He's become my best buddy and now at 5 y/o is calm, well behaved. Also, I foster dogs for a local rescue group and he's my "foster daddy." He's so good with all dogs, large and small.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i love this puppy

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I lived with a friends dog for two years from the time it was a puppy, and it was an alpha female. she was so stubborn and would not listen. You could tell her "no" about sticking her head in the trash, and she would stick her head in deeper. She finally calmed down some after a few years, but you are right, they are very active dogs and they want to play a lot

    • Cygstarz profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Maryland

      lovelypaper: I agree...the Rhodesian Ridgeback is beautiful! They are great dogs! Thank you for your comment.

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      I've never heard of this breed of dog. It certainly is beautiful.


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