What is a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

wiseGEEK Writing Contest

A Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed of dog that is native to Southern Africa and originated in Rhodesia somewhere in the 1920’s. These dogs were bred to become lion hunters and were trained to harass a lion and keep it at bay until its master could move in and make the kill. Because of its ability to track lions, it would appear that this particular breed of dog would have a temperament to equal this ability, but just the opposite is true of Rhodesians. He is exceptionally loyal, intelligent, very independent, and especially gentle. Owners report that Rhodesians are very strong-willed, loyal, clever, and fun-loving dogs who make excellent pets , even in homes with young children. All Rhodesians have a very sensitive side and must be handled with care during early training. Any excessively harsh treatment that might be used with hunting or sporting dogs of another breed will not be tolerated by the “Rhody”. These young dogs cannot be handled cruelly or unfairly, because their sensitive side makes them easily upset and nervous. Correction by someone they love and trust will be accepted if they feel that it is fair and justified.

It is believed that the present day Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred from seven distinct dog breeds. The Khoi dog, the greyhound, the bulldog, the collie, the pointer, the Airedale, and Irish terrier.

A male Ridgeback usually weighs approximately 85 lbs. and is anywhere from 25-27 inches in length. The smaller female only averages about 70 lbs. and measures 24-26 inches in length. Both sexes are extremely muscular and agile and can exercise for long periods of time without becoming overly exhausted. They are extremely handsome dogs whose appearance is that of an active dog who is symmetrical in outline and who is capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed.

The most distinguishing feature of this breed is a ridge that consists of a fan-like area that is formed by two whorls of hair that extends from the shoulders to hip level. The distinct reddish color and prominent ridge make this dog one of the most recognizable of all dog breeds. It is believed that the Rhodesian Ridgeback evolved from the ridged hunting dog of the Khoikhoi, a native South African tribe.

These handsome animals have a very strong and smooth tail that is usually carried in a gentle curve upwards. In the presence of perceived danger, the tail is usually tucked in between the rear legs until the impending danger has passed. There are few health concerns with Ridgebacks, but there is the propensity toward development of hypothyroidism, cardiac problems, and cataracts in older dogs. Good veterinarian care is recommended for these dogs throughout their lives.

Ridgebacks are extremely versatile dogs that make great family pets and are wonderful with children. Their loyalty and protection of their owners is uncompromised.

submitted by Linda K. Woolhether