What Gives the Rhodesian Ridgeback Its Name?

  • 23/11/2010

A Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed of dog that shines not only because of its characteristic ridge of hair, but also because it is one of the few dog breeds that hail from Africa. The Ridgeback is believed to be a result of inbreeding South African dog species and the dogs of settlers, which include Great Danes, Greyhounds and Mastiffs. Like many other breeds, a Ridgeback is a natural born hunter-guard dog but they were also meant to live life on the tough African terrain. The requirements for a dog that lived in this type of climate and environment require a certain combination of physical strength, intelligence and power.

With an acutely developed sense of smell that comes from its days as the African Lion Dog, the Ridgeback used to hunt for lions on the African savannah. Most Ridgeback owners notice the dogs have a strong prey drive from the very start. With the ancestral origins still very much evident in its temperament, the dog requires an alpha owner who knows how to show the dog respect but knows about handling a breed of this type. The Ridgeback is a fiercely loyal dog breed and very protective of its home and territory, particularly males of the breed. New Ridgeback owners are advised to have their dog heavily socialized from the very start to eliminate any jealousy or aggressiveness that may be displayed in their temperament.

The Ridgeback is a smart and responsive dog which trains rather easily. The dogs are quick to master such basic commands as sit, stay, no, down and come. Obedience training is recommended from an early age as the dogs grow quite large and it is advisable to keep them under firm control.

One of the most defining traits of a Ridgeback is the tufts of hair that run from the shoulders to the hips. Commonly called a "ridge," the hair is present right from birth though it is possible for the dog to be born without the trait, it is quite rare. The hair is the most distinguishing feature which is required of the breed standard as designated by reputable kennel associations from all over the world. Other than to make the dog recognizable as one of the two world dog breeds that have a ridge of hair, the ridge serves no other constructive purpose.

One of the most desirable and attractive features that draw people to the Rhodesian Ridgeback is their lack of bark. As a hound, the dog can bellow and vocalize, but they are not prone to obsessive barking and do not normally bark unless there is a valid reason. A seasoned Rhodesian Ridgeback owner knows from history that when the dog does bark excessively, there is a good reason for it. The excessive barking is what gives the Rhodesian Ridgeback such an effective and stellar reputation as a guard dog. Just like their webbed toes, a Rhodesian Ridgeback was used to walking on sand and the trait has remained present in the dogs even now. A Rhodesian Ridgeback has no trouble being a member of a loving home, and an owner will grow to love the dog for all of the qualities that make them so truly endearing and quirky.

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