Breed Information


Ridgebacks are from Southern Africa. They hove been developed by crossing lots of breeds, mainly from gundog, terrier and hounds, but mastiff types and indigenous African hunting dogs are in there too!  The Ridgeback is not an attacking breed; it is bred to track game and then keep it at bay and also to be a loyal companion.  They are not guard dogs as such, but will keep a very watchful and protective eye on the Family they love.


Ridgebacks are bred for endurance and stamina but should be light on their feet and extremely agile.  Being a hunting breed and developed to think for themselves, they will chase anything that runs away, which could cause problems. It is important that time is made available to give them the amount of good exercise they need.  Without the stimulation a daily run gives the dog, you may find you have a very bored hound on your hands and a bored Ridgeback can be a destructive Ridgeback.


These dogs are big and strong in mind and body.  If your ridgeback does not respect your authority you may be faced with a problem! Earning a Ridgeback’s respect should be a first priority. They can test you to the limits, so you must be prepared to out think your dog.  Never lose your temper though, they are not servants and although they are more trainable that most hound breeds, you won't ever get the instant submission you see in a working or gundog breed like the Collie or Labrador.  Once you have gained a Rhodesian Ridgeback's respect you will have a life long devoted and entertaining companion.


Ridgebacks can be standoffish with strangers, even after a proper introduction a friendship cannot be rushed, but once given it is rarely forgotten. Natural suspicion should not be confused with nervousness. 


Ridgebacks are playful and love to romp and chase anybody and anything that joins in and they can play very rough, shoulder barging is a speciality.  This can be off-putting to other dog owners in the park, and they may think your dog is aggressive, when all he wants to do is play.


In daily life, most Ridgebacks think they are unable to live on an ordinary floor or dog bed and will try every trick in the book to take over the sofa, or even your bed!


Most ridgebacks are gluttons, which makes them notorious thieves; keep your kitchen secure and the butter at the back of the fridge. 


Ridgebacks are excellent gardeners, you would almost think that they wanted to live in an underground den in the middle of your lawn, instead of on your sofa and they love rearranging your spring bulbs and are ready to help with pruning at any time of the year. 


They can be incredibly lazy and expect to be lifted over the smallest fence; others can outmanoeuvre Houdini!


Some have a taste for chewing antique furniture or car interiors; others won't touch the stuff, and stick to seeing how fast they can chase round your legs as you carry in the shopping.


Ridgebacks don't necessarily grow old gracefully but if you have a sense of humour and a love of animals then a ridgeback can be the most rewarding of companions.


Loyal to a fault, loving, devoted member of the family, they adore children and hate burglars, are sensitive to your moods, but independent.  They can lie around the house for hours or walk for weeks, there are no short cuts to training a Ridgeback, but once over all the hurdles you will be in danger of wanting to do it all over again.


What hereditary problem does this breed have?


The breed can be affected with a condition called Dermoid Sinus. This is a problem that can be detected at birth. You should be able to buy a puppy without this problem very easily. However some breeders are either ignorant of the problem or do not know how to check for it. Being told a vet has checked the litter is OK provided the vet knows about the condition and how to detect it. If left undetected, a sinus can become a very big problem and causes a lot of pain and suffering. What looks like a lump, often along the dog’s neck and shoulder area (but can be on the head or tail), could be a kind of abscess which can sometimes reach into the spinal cord. With todays modern vet techniques often this can be operated on successfully but this is not always the case. Make sure that your puppy has been competently and regularly checked for Dermoid Sinus.


Although hip dysplasia is not a big problem in ridgebacks, it does occur. Hip dysplasia means that the hip bones are not fully in the sockets. This can sometimes cause a problem early on or can show up much later in a dog’s life, it is very painful to the dog and eventually they will be unable to walk. Certain families carry a higher incidence of HD than others do. Check that the parents and hopefully the grandparents of your puppy have been scored, and that they have a low score. The average for the breed is 12 for both hips, and the maximum score for any one dog is 106. The hip score of the parents is now printed on the puppy’s KC registration form; if it is not there the parents have not been scored. Breeders can come out with a variety of excuses about why they have not had their dogs checked, but since it is not expensive when you consider the price of a puppy, and can cause great distress to you the owner, as well as your dog, do not accept these excuses.


Being a large breed that grows fast, some puppies can be susceptible to OCD (Osteochondrosis). This is believed to be partly inherited and partly environmental. How you rear your puppy and feed it is very important.


Bitches can be prone to phantom pregnancies; it is wise to have her spayed after her first season if you are not going to breed from her. It is NOT necessary for a bitch to have puppies “for her own good” before she is neutered.


Ridgebacks are as prone as all other dogs to health problems be they mongrels or purebred, in fact sometimes they seem to be too healthy. Give a Ridgeback good food, care and attention, and very importantly, lots of love, and you will have a happy contented dog for many years.


The above information is shared with the kind permission of the RRCGB

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