Rhodesian Ridgeback

South Africa is a country of extremes, requiring a special hound to hunt its indigenous animals. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a rare example of the marriage of European canine breeds with a semi-wild African dog: "The dog with a snake on its back".


The first European settlers in South Africa bred their Greyhounds. Pointers. Staghounds, Great Danes and Foxhounds with native Hottentot dogs with a striking ridge of hair growing in the reverse direction along the spine. They created a fearless hound of great stamina, combining the hunting instincts of European hounds with the South African hound's capability of holding lions at bay. Their unique qualities were recognized by Cornelius van Rooyen who popularized them in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are large, handsome dogs with a ridge of hair along the length of the back.


These dogs require patient, kindly training from an early age: fearless hunters, they can be stubborn and given to individualism. When walking in the country, they should be kept under strict control if there are domestic animals around. Properly trained and socialized, they make a splendid family pet.

must know

Check with the breeder for instances of hip dysplasia and lack of or deformation of the characteristic ridge.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a big, solid dog in various shades of tan. The ridge 0n the back formed by a line of hair growing in the opposite direction is the escutcheon of the breed. It consists of two identical crowns 0n either side of the spine at the shoulders, continuing down to the haunch. It should be about 5cm (2in) wide at the crowns, diminishing to a point. The minimum height for dogs is 63-67cm (25-27in): 61-66cm (24-26in) for bitches.

Strangers 5/5

Suspicious, will guard family and property

Temperament 4/5

Laid back, affectionate

Exercise 5/5

Will take all you can give

Grooming 1/5

Minimal: once a week

Other dogs 3/5

Tolerant but will not be bullied


Can be wilful but with early socialization is a faithful companion

General care

The easy-care coat requires only a weekly brush and comb to remove dead hairs. Ridgebacks are not good city dogs – they need space and cannot get enough exercise, however much you provide. They are indifferent to weather but like to lie in the sun. Although they will live outside in a kennel, they enjoy human company. Food should be monitored carefully, so the dog does not get fat.

Gallery of Rhodesian Ridgeback