Rhodesian Ridgebacks, AKA The African Lion Dog

  • 21/10/2016

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are named for the country of origin - Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and the ridge of fur growing the opposite direction on the back. This ridge starts at the shoulders and runs to the hips and is typically a couple inches wide at the widest point. Dogs must have the ridge to be considered for show dog material. This ridge grows toward the head of the animal, rather than toward the tail like most dogs. Early breeders discovered that the dogs with better ridges were better hunters, so this was a selective part of breeding. Rhodesian Ridgebacks do shed a small amount year around. Brushing a couple times a week and wiping with a damp cloth is about all the grooming needed, so it is considered low maintenance! Like all dogs, however, nails may need to be trimmed and the flop over ears should be watched for redness or smell indicating infection. Brushing teeth every week is recommended for all dog breeds.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred for hunting and holding large game, including lions, at bay till the hunter could arrive and kill the game. This tenacity and focus is great for hunting, but not so much for training. The breed can be stubborn and difficult to train, unless started early. Being a very sensitive dog, Rhodesian Ridgebacks require consistency and positive feedback for training. This independent streak can be difficult for first time dog owners; thus the breed is not recommended for these folks. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are friendly to family members and children, however, they can play too roughly for toddlers. They don't mean to be too rough, it just happens, since they are a large, athletic dog. They will be protective of family members and property, so they make good guard dogs. They may be aloof with strangers and will usually only bark when there is a reason to bark. They also are friendly to other dogs and pets, if they were raised and socialized with those pets. Remember that they were bred as a hunter and those instincts are still prevalent, so they will chase small animals despite efforts to train them otherwise. For this reason, they should be on a lease when outside of a fenced area.

Speaking of fences, the ideal yard for the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large yard with a tall fence that they cannot dig under. Exercising your dog will help keep them occupied both mentally and physically. A minimum of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a couple times a day is recommended. This is a great jogging or hiking companion. Playing games of fetch or an agility course would also be a great way to get some exercise for your Rhodesian Ridgeback. The dog is about 24 to 27 inches tall and weighs about 70 to 85 pounds. This is a dog that looks athletic and this helps its guard dog status, since it can be imposing. Despite all this, the breed will adapt to apartment living, if it has enough exercise on a daily basis. The danger is that Rhodesian Ridgebacks can become destructive if they are not exercised and challenged mentally on an ongoing basis. If they expend the energy they have on a daily basis, they make great companions.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a relatively healthy breed, with few problems. Life expectancy is 10 to 12 years. As with all deep chested dogs, they are prone to bloating. Elevating the food and water bowl may help decrease this problem. Additionally, there are always concerns about elbow and hip dysplasia with the dogs. Most of the time these are not major problems. The dog is more popular on the African Continent, as you would expect, but it is in the top 100 most popular dogs in the world.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are large animals with a moderate exercise requirement. If this is met, the dog does adapt to apartment living and you will have a happy and wonderful companion. Due to the size, intelligence, and stubborn nature of the breed, it is not recommended for first time dog owners. This active, athletic breed does need to be brushed a couple times a week, but grooming needs are minimal.

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