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Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog is a large, solid-coloured, active breed with a short coat that has a distinctive ridge of hair along the back. Powerful and agile, they also enjoy spending time perched on the sofa with their owner at the end of the day. They’re gentle dogs, although somewhat stubborn, and due to their size and strength will fit in more with experienced owners.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Quiet dog
  • Guard dog. Barks, alerts and it's physically protective
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10–12 years
Weight: 30–39kg
Height: Adult males 63–69cm; Adult females 61–66cm
Colours: Any self-colour from light wheaten to red wheaten
Size: Large
Kennel Club group: Hound


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 2/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 4/5
Shedding: 4/5


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a strong, powerful dog that can be determined and stubborn. Although quite friendly and confident at home, they are very wary of strangers - human and canine. Not the ideal breed for the novice owner, they need experienced handling and training, together with early, thorough and ongoing socialisation.

History and Origins

This is a dog who has been known as the African Lion Dog which gives a good indication of what this powerful hound was originally bred to do. When European settlers came to southern Africa in the 17th century, they brought their large guarding dogs with them - a mixture of mastiffs, scenthounds and Great Danes - to protect their farms, and looked with scorn on the local ridge-backed dogs whom they often shot on sight. In time however they realised that these dogs were perfectly suited to the climate and had a resistance to tropical diseases, and so instead of killing them started to breed them with their own dogs to produce what they found to be the perfect breed for pursing African wild game. The resulting dogs were taken north to Rhodesia where they were further developed and worked with big games hunters who used them in small packs to hunt lions and leopards. By the 1920s the breed had become standardised and their popularity began to grow around the world.

Ideal Owner

Health and Common Issues

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Training Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

  • The anatomical feature that gives the breed its name is the ridge of hair that grows down its back - and makes it instantly recognisable. This ridge is formed by the hair growing in a totally different direction to the rest of the coat and is capped at the top with two ‘crowns’ (whorls) that are directly opposite each other. This is shared by only one other (far less common) breed, the Thai Ridgeback.
  • This may however be more than just an interesting coat pattern. Some researchers have found a correlation between the ridge and a congenital skin condition known as ‘dermoid sinus’ – although this is fairly rare. Some more romantic breeders however say the ridge is “where God sewed them up after stuffing them”!

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