• Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback in Great Britain
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback in the UK
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks in Great Britain
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks in the UK
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs
Size:
Grooming:
Exercise Level:
Trainability:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Affectionate:
Protective:
Height: 63 - 69cm M | 61 - 66cm F
Weight: 36 - 40kg M | 29 - 34kg F
Life Expectancy: 10 - 12 Years

Thinking of buying or adopting a Rhodesian Ridgeback?


Introduction

The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed comes from Southern Africa and was developed by Boer farmers. He is a good-looking large hound that is a big game hunter. They are known to face off lions, which is why they are also called African Lion Hounds and Lion Dogs.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed is a devoted and affectionate dog that greatly values his family. He is good with children and can be taught to get along with other dogs. However, smaller animals should be kept away from this large hunting hound. They are intelligent but headstrong dogs, so they need experienced owners.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed is low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. He needs more time for exercise since his energy levels are high. The lifespan of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is around 10–12 years.

Are you thinking of getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy? Here is a brief background of this large South African hound.


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History

It is believed that the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed originated in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa between the 17th and 18th centuries. Also known as African Lion Hounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks were developed by Boer farmers as a versatile hunting dog that could withstand extreme weather.

The ancestor breeds of these large dogs are thought to be the Greyhound, the Great Dane, the Mastiff, the Bloodhound, and the Saluki. They were brought by Dutch and German settlers and were crossed with the native “ridged dog” of the Hottentot tribe. The resulting dog became the forefathers of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed that we see today.

The primary role of Rhodesian Ridgebacks was to flush partridge or bring down an injured buck, but they eventually excelled in big-game hunting. Later on, these large dogs became popular family companions because they are kind to humans by nature, even though they were bred to be fierce hunting dogs.

After World War II, they were imported to the United States. They are recognised by breed clubs like the American Kennel Club as well as the Kennel Club in the UK. They are members of the Hound Group.

Can a Rhodesian Ridgeback kill a lion?

No, the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed cannot kill a lion despite his large size and protective nature. His main purpose when hunting lions is to keep the fierce animal preoccupied whilst his owner is preparing for the kill. Rhodesian Ridgebacks work in packs to keep lions at bay, which earned them the nickname “Lion Dogs.”


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Appearance and Grooming

The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed is a handsome large dog with a lean but muscular body. It would take 14 months for Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies to become fully matured.

Full-grown male Rhodesian Ridgebacks weigh about 36–40 kilos (80–90 pounds) and grow around 66 centimetres (26 inches) tall. The weight of full-grown female Rhodesian Ridgebacks is around 29–34 kilos (65–75 pounds) and their height is approximately 63 centimetres (25 inches).

The Rhodesian Ridgeback sports a distinctive ridge of hair growing along his back that adds charm to his lithe and powerful physique. It is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat.

This large hound dog has a long and broad head with a well-defined stop. He has a black or brown nose depending on his coat, a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite, and a long powerful muzzle.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed’s round eyes can be dark or amber, which show an alert and intelligent expression. His moderately large ears are set high on his head and are wide at the base.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed has a beautiful short, dense, and sleek coat that is highlighted by the ridge that runs the full length on his back. According to Kennel Club breed standards, the accepted colours of the Rhodesian Ridgeback are light wheaten and red wheaten.

Grooming the Rhodesian Ridgebacks is very easy because they are clean dogs that are virtually odourless. They are also low shedders but not hypoallergenic. Thus, these large dogs only need brushing and wiping with chamois leather once or twice a week.

To complete the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed’s grooming routine, brush his teeth twice a week to avoid dental problems. Trim his nails when you hear clicking sounds on the floor. Clean his ears regularly to remove wax build-up. Check his skin for bumps and parasites.


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Temperament and Intelligence

The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed is a courageous and loyal hound with a formidable body and mind. He is an intelligent dog that has a stubborn streak, so he is not fit for novice owners. He needs the leadership of an experienced dog owner that can take on the role of the alpha and establish rules and boundaries.

When the Rhodesian Ridgeback knows the person he can turn to for guidance, this large dog will become obedient and biddable. This breed will benefit from early socialisation and obedience training to ensure that he grows up a confident and calm adult dog.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed is gentle toward children. But because of his size and lively personality, he is better off with families that have older kids.

Make sure to keep an eye on your pets and children whenever they are together. The large size of the Rhodesian Ridgeback makes it so easy for him to accidentally knock down children.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also better off with a family that leads an active life and lives in the countryside. They are not good family pets for sedentary people or families living in small city apartments. That’s because these large hound dogs will need a bigger space to move around.

Is a Rhodesian Ridgeback a good family dog?

Yes, the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed is a good fit for families despite being bred to be a hunting dog. He forms a strong bond with his family members. However, he can be taught to be alone without feeling anxious.

But note that the Rhodesian Ridgeback should not be left alone for long periods, or he may develop unwanted behaviour when they get bored or lonely.

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks make good guard dogs?  

Yes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be reliable guard dogs. These brave hound dogs are natural protectors of homes. However, instead of barking, they would rather put themselves in between those they deem a threat.

Why are Rhodesian Ridgebacks dangerous?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a strong desire to protect their family from danger. Thus, they may appear threatening to outsiders.

As a hunting dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed also has a high prey drive and is prone to chasing small animals. With proper training and socialisation, Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies will mature to be people-friendly family dogs. However, when it comes to smaller pets, it is better to avoid them altogether because of their strong prey drive.

Are Ridgeback dogs aggressive?

No. Although the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed has a protective streak, he is not aggressive. But he is reserved with strangers. Also note that he may not get along with other dogs, especially those of the same sex.

Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies should be socialised early to keep them from becoming extremely suspicious canines.


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Nutrition and Feeding

Full-grown Rhodesian Ridgebacks need 2.75–3.5 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day. The right amount of food will depend on factors like your dog’s age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism.

Owners need to research the basic nutritional needs of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed. With that said, they should also know the individual characteristics of their pets. This is the reason why working hand in hand with a trusted veterinarian is important.

Typical calorie needs of adult Rhodesian Ridgebacks per day:

  • Senior and less active: up to 1,500 calories daily
  • Typical adults: up to 1,700 calories daily
  • Physically active/working dogs: up to 1,880 calories daily

The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed has different nutritional needs from other breeds. Thus, choose a dog food that is specifically formulated for active large dogs and that has animal meat as the main ingredient. Go easy on the treats and avoid free-feeding to prevent bloat and obesity.


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Health and Exercise

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a healthy breed that is not predisposed to serious health problems. However, here are a few minor health issues some Rhodesian Ridgebacks may suffer from:

Cataracts

Cataracts are prevalent in the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed. It causes vision impairment and, in severe cases, blindness. Treatment for this eye problem often involves surgically removing the affected lens.

Dermoid Sinus

It is a genetic disease commonly found in newborn Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies. This condition is characterised by hollow tubular indentations of the skin. Affected Rhodesian Ridgebacks will be highly prone to infections. For treatment, surgical removal of the sinus may be recommended along with medications.

Hypothyroidism

This endocrine disease occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. It lowers the metabolic rates of affected Rhodesian Ridgebacks. This causes them to be lethargic, have poor skin and coat conditions, and prone to skin problems.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed is a hunting dog, thus he naturally possesses high levels of energy. He will require a minimum of 2 hours of daily exercise.

Long walks outdoors and off-lead time in the back garden will help tire him out. Letting him participate in various dog sports such as agility and tracking is a good idea too.

Do not forget to provide Rhodesian Ridgeback with mentally challenging games including dog puzzles and obstacle courses. Avoid neglecting his exercise needs. Active dogs like him are prone to destructive behaviour if they don’t get enough exercise.

How fast can a Rhodesian Ridgeback run?

Long-limbed and agile, the Rhodesian dog breed can run at a speed of 30 miles per hour. His ability to run at high speeds on various terrains makes him a good exercise partner. They are great partners for people who love to go running, jogging, and hiking.

How long does a Rhodesian Ridgeback live?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed’s lifespan is around 10–12 years. To keep your dog’s life long and happy, be sure to meet his daily needs. Provide him with a loving and warm home, feed him healthy and balanced meals, and give him enough exercise.

Get your Rhodesian Ridgeback checked by the vet regularly as well to keep track of his health.


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Cost of Ownership

The Rhodesian Ridgeback price range from £1,200 up to £3,000. Be sure to look for reputable Rhodesian Ridgeback breeders when you are in the process of acquiring your puppy. You are also encouraged to get your puppy from an animal shelter or a Rhodesian Ridgeback rescue organisation.

As a large dog breed, the Rhodesian Ridgeback will require more food. His monthly food expenses can total around £40–£50.

Providing your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy his daily necessities such as a dog bed, toys, and food and water bowls will help him quickly feel at home. Be ready to spend around £100–£400 for these items.

Veterinary care can be costly. The fees for each vet check-up session are around £30–£60. Initial vaccine jabs for your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy will cost about £100–150 and £50–£60 for annual boosters. You will need to shell out approximately £110–£397 if you spay or neuter him.

Lower the medical expenses of your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy by getting pet insurance. Choosing a time-limited package has a monthly fee of around £45, whilst opting for a lifetime insurance costs £54 per month.

This pricing is not definitive as it can change depending on your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s health and age. If he is young and disease-free, your pet insurance fees will be lower.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Highlights

  • The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed is a courageous and intelligent large hound.
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback needs a spacious home and may not be suitable for families that live in small apartments.
  • The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed has low-maintenance grooming needs.
  • He is an active dog and needs at least 2 hours’ worth of exercise.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks are recommended for experienced dog owners that can take on the alpha role.
Rhodesian Ridgeback

Are you sure the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.

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Having doubts about getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback? You may use our Pet Finder to find other dog breeds based on your personality.

Disclaimer:
The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only.