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Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed

Sara Ochoa

By Dr. Sara Ochoa

Are you looking for an active pup to add to your family activities?

Are you looking for an affectionate family dog?

Do you maintain an active lifestyle?

Are you interested in a breed with a fascinating history and reputation?

If you said ‘yes’ to all of the above, you will want to take a look at the Rhodesian Ridgeback!

This breed is well-known for his loyalty and gentle patience with children.

Simple but muscled, his appearance is one of strength and elegance.

The ridgie is known as a determined hound who never lets his prey get away.

But at the end of the day, he loves nothing more than cuddling and spending time with his family.

So, what makes the Rhodesian Ridgeback unique?

What can you expect from his personality?

Does he need a lot of exercise?

Are there any potential behavioral challenges you need to be prepared for?

Does this breed have any proclivities toward health problems?

This article will cover all these topics and more!

If you are interested in taking home an adorable ridgie puppy, this is a great place to start learning!

So, join me in learning about this stoic and loving breed!


Rhodesian Ridgeback Appearance

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is one handsome fella!

He has a classic hound-shape, making them easily recognizable for their working history.

Standing between 24 and 27 inches tall, this noble breed can weigh up to 85 pounds.

This pup is typically very muscular and lean, making him fast and lithe in the field.

An alert head and proud tail crown off the overall aura of watchfulness that the ridgie exudes.

The name ‘ridgeback’ comes from the distinctive mohawk running along the crown of this breed’s back.

Starting from two whorls just behind the shoulders, this strip of hair runs backwards all the way to the hips.

While the breed originally manifested this distinct feature, pure-bred ridgies often don’t have it anymore.

The ridgie’s coat is short and smooth.

This makes for a fairly low-maintenance grooming routine.

Wheaten is the only color this breed comes in.

There is a wide variety of shade within the color, spanning from light wheaten to red wheaten.

Ridgies usually have black noses but can, less commonly, have a brown nose.

Other than these small variations, the appearance of the purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback is completely uniform.

Not only is your pup’s coat low-maintenance, but he is a handsome and stunning gentleman to boot!


Rhodesian Ridgeback Personality

The ridgie is well-loved for his loyal and affectionate nature.

Once he has bonded with you, nothing will come between you and your pup.

This breed is gentle and patient with children, making him a great family dog.

Outsiders, however, are a totally different matter.

When meeting new people and dogs, the ridgie can be standoffish and suspicious.

This makes early socialization training incredibly important.

When approaching training, continuation and consistency are most important.

Ridgies are a very assertive breed with an independent streak a mile wide.

You need to establish yourself as the head of the household or your pup will take over.

If you can maintain a strict line of command, both you and your pup will be happy.

Because the ridgie is so headstrong, they are not a great breed for first-time puppy parents.

Before committing to this breed, take into account the time and effort you will need to put into your pup’s training.

Something else worth mentioning is that the Rhodesian Ridgeback has an incredibly strong prey drive.

This isn’t surprising, considering he’s in the hound group.

But it does mean that you generally can’t trust this dog off a leash.

As your pup matures, you may be able to let him off his leash occasionally.

However, this requires strict and consistent obedience training.

See more details about your pup’s training below.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Exercise

As with all breeds in the hound group, ridgies need at least a moderate amount of exercise every day.

Set aside an hour daily to make sure your pup is getting the physical and mental stimulation he needs.

Going on a run, brisk walk, or backyard romping will help your ridgie to get any excess energy out of his system.

If you love the outdoor life, take your dog on hikes with you.

Not only will he love the physical activity, but he will also have a great time exploring nature and smelling all the smells!

Anytime you take your ridgie somewhere without a fence, be sure to keep him on a leash.

Even the most well-trained pups are liable to chase any perceived prey.

This can make it difficult to call them back to you if they are dead set on following their quarry.

This breed is also very intelligent and does well with additional strength and agility training.

If you are able, provide obstacles and runs for your pup to conquer.

This will engage not only his body but his mind.

If you provide your ridgie with proper exercise, both you and he will be happier for it!


Rhodesian Ridgeback Grooming

Because of his short coat, the ridgie’s grooming needs are relatively few.

While he does shed, your pup doesn’t shed much.

A weekly brushing will be more than enough to keep your dog’s shedding under control.

Use your own judgement for when to bathe your ridgie.

While this is an active dog, his coat doesn’t pick up much in terms of dirt and debris.

If he’s visibly dirty or has a smell, give him a bath.

It is common for ridgies to resist getting their nails trimmed.

While it might be difficult to accomplish, this is an important part of your pup’s grooming and cannot be skipped.

While your ridgie might naturally wear down his nails while running outside, you still need to check on them.

If your pup needs a trim but doesn’t want it, consider trying a nail grinder.

This might be a gentler and less invasive way to trim your pup’s nails.

Other than that, check your pup’s ears occasionally for any buildup or infection.

Ask your vet for toothpaste recommendations.

Oral care is very important, especially for dogs who spend time outdoors.

Taking care of your ridgie’s grooming needs will keep him happy and feeling loved.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Training

The ridgie is a loving but strong-willed pup.

You must assert yourself as the one in charge or your dog will take over.

As with all dogs, continuing training will ensure that you and your pup maintain a healthy and happy relationship.

This breed is very smart.

Best training results come about through consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement.

Give your ridgie a challenge and enroll him in agility training or take him with you on hikes and runs!

Activities with you that challenge him both physically and mentally will keep your pup happy and fulfilled.

Another important training your dog should go through is socialization training.

Socialization training is imperative, especially for a breed like the ridgie.

This dog is naturally suspicious, making him an excellent guard dog.

However, this means that this breed does not always interact well with other dogs.

Start your pup in socialization training as early as possible.

This will help normalize good behavior when your dog interacts with new people and dogs.

Remember: with any training, patience and continuation are the key!


Rhodesian Ridgeback Health

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is generally a very healthy breed.

Just like any other breed, however, there are certain health concerns that your pup may be liable to develop.

Do not trust any breeder that insists that your pup is 100% unlikely to develop any health issues.

A responsible breeder will be honest about potential health concerns.

Additionally, a good breeder will be able to provide your pup’s medical heritage as well as any screenings particular to this breed.

Necessary screenings for this breed include thyroid function, eye anomalies, and hip and elbow dysplasia.

Do not hesitate to ask for this information.

A reliable breeder will be more than happy to provide you with the pertinent paperwork.

This breed is prone to a condition called dermoid sinus.

This condition is when a tunnel-like space appears between the dog’s skin and spinal column.

Dermoid sinus can happen at any age and can be corrected through surgery.

Experts strongly suggest that dogs affected by dermoid sinus should not be bred.

Another serious condition that can affect the ridgie is myelopathy.

This is a rare but horrible degenerative disease that affects the spinal cord.

Myelopathy is crippling and incurable.

Research is ongoing, but there is currently no way to genetically test for this disease before it manifests.

As always, be sure to take your pup to regular veterinarian checkups.

Don’t hesitate to ask your breeder lots of questions before choosing a puppy.

And continue to ask your vet questions after you have chosen a dog.

Both you and your ridgie will live a happier, healthier life if you are informed and proactive!


Rhodesian Ridgeback History

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was named for Cornelius van Rooyen of Rhodesia, who was a big-game hunter in the late 19th century.

This breed is incredibly unique and is the result of years of crossbreeding.

Breeds that feature in the ridgie’s background are the South African Khoikhoi dog, various Terriers, and Greyhounds.

Van Rooyen solidified the breed in an attempt to create the perfect lion-hunting dog.

And boy, did he have success!

Not only was the resulting dog strong and tireless, but he excelled at keeping a fully-grown lion occupied.

This allowed the hunter time to get a good shot at his massive prey.

The ridgie breed became known as fearless hunters and protectors.

He is loyal to a fault and will protect his family tirelessly.

When big-game hunting started to fade out, the ridgie almost went extinct.

However, with the standardization of the breed in 1922, enthusiasts brought the breed back.

Now the Rhodesian Ridgeback is one of the most popular family and guard-dogs in the western world!

Where Can I Find Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies?

Where Can I Find Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies

As stated above, it is imperative to find a reputable breeder.

For your sake as well as the dog’s, avoid puppy mills and internet scams.

A good breeder will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.

Do not hesitate to ask for medical records.

Make sure that your puppy has been raised in a safe and loving environment.

If you are unsure of where to start, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States (RRCUS), has a breeder’s list.

The listed breeders are all members of the RRCUS who adhere to the breed standards listed on the website.

Once you’ve found the breeder you want to work with, take time to get to know the available puppies!

Some breeders provide personality quizzes in order to better recommend what puppies to look at.

If you are able, take the time to hang out with your puppy a few times before taking him home.

This will solidify your choice, start building a bond, and help your pup to better adjust when you remove him from his litter.

Once you find the puppy for you, you will fall in love with the ridgie breed!


Q: Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks good with kids?
A: Yes! The ridgie is notoriously patient and gentle with children! He will also be very protective of your kids, which makes him a great guard dog.

Q: Is the Rhodesian Ridgeback easy to train?
A: This breed is very independent and stubborn, which can make them difficult to train. Experts do not recommend this breed for first time puppy parents.

Q: Does this breed do well in an apartment?
A: This is an active breed that needs at least an hour of exercise every day. If you can accommodate this need while living in an apartment, he should be fine.

In Closing

Once a hunter of the king of beasts, this pup is now a renowned guard and family dog.

He is energetic with a streak of independence a mile wide.

Is the Rhodesian Ridgeback the right breed for you?

Are you ready to look at some adorable ridgie puppies?

If so, click here to find the pup of your dreams!

Thank you for learning about this hearty breed with me!

See you next time!


American Kennel Club. (2022, 2 21). Rhodesian Ridgeback. Retrieved from American Kennel Club:

Hillspet. (2022, 2 21). Rhodesian Ridgeback. Retrieved from Hillspet:

Petfinder. (2022, 2 21). Rhodesian Ridgeback. Retrieved from Petfinder:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States. (2022, 2 21). Homepage. Retrieved from The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States:

The Spruce Pets. (2022, 2 21). Rhodesian Ridgeback. Retrieved from The Spruce Pets:

Vetstreet. (2022, 2 21). Rhodesian Ridgeback. Retrieved from Vetstreet:

Picture of author Dr. Sara Ochoa in her scrubs with a cute dogSara Ochoa, DVM is an expert veterinarian ready to help you give your dog an amazing life. Stationed in East Texas, Dr. Ochoa specializes in small and/or exotic animals. She’s currently loving life alongside her husband Greg and their three fur babies: Ruby the Schnoodle, Monkey the tortoise, and Oliver James (affectionately dubbed “OJ”) the cat.

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