The Rhodesian ridgeback is a large, distinctive dog breed that originates from Zimbabwe, but that is now hugely popular all over the world as both a pet and a working dog. They are noble looking with a ridge of hair running the opposite way to the norm along their spines, which sets them apart from other breeds, and they are also very loyal, protective and loving with their families.
However, the Rhodesian ridgeback is not generally considered to be a good choice of pet for the inexperienced dog owner or someone who has not spent a lot of time researching and learning about the breed, and with improper handling and the wrong sort of lifestyle, they can soon become pushy and dominant.
That said, if trained, socialised and managed in the right way, the Ridgeback makes for a hugely rewarding companion or workmate, and they have undeniable skills in certain fields that other dogs could not hope to match!
If you are trying to find out as much as possible about the Rhodesian ridgeback before making a decision on whether or not they are the right choice of pet for you, or if you simply want to learn a little bit more about them, read on for five fascinating facts about the breed.
In Zimbabwe, their country of origin, the Rhodesian ridgeback was originally used by landowners and farmers to guard livestock from predators, and the ridgeback takes their job very seriously, and will think nothing of seeing off predators that are often much larger than themselves.
They will stand their ground in the face of extreme threat, and will fight large game animals such as lions, which they used to hunt as part of big game safaris before lions became protected in many areas of Africa.
This means that they can be problematic when kept within a suburban environment, as they are apt to chase cats and smaller animals, which their owners must be aware of and work to prevent.
Also, if they get into a standoff with another dog, the ridgeback is likely to come out on top, and so adequate early socialisation with other dogs is vital to prevent later problems.
As well as being bold and proactive hunting dogs, the Rhodesian ridgeback takes their role as a guardian and protector very seriously, and they will often literally patrol the limits of their territory to watch out for strangers and predators! They will soon bark to alert you if someone is approaching, and it would be a very poor idea to try to enter a Ridgeback’s home or garden without permission when one is on guard!
They are also very protective of their family and the people they love, particularly children-many dogs of the breed see it as their responsibility to keep the children safe, a responsibility they usually take very seriously!
Many specialist guarding breeds are stocky and strong rather than fleet of foot, but the Ridgeback is both quick and strong, which combined with their high intelligence levels, makes for a formidable combination. They are great at learning and executing skills and commands, but they do require an experienced handler who knows how to train an intelligent working dog breed, and that can adapt their training regime to suit the individual dog.
They also need plenty of exercise, and will not thrive within a sedentary lifestyle or one where they are indoors a lot of the time or are not able to work off some mental and physical steam. This means that they suit rural properties with outside land and secure fencing much better than they do suburban life.
The well-trained, properly managed Rhodesian ridgeback is responsive, obedient and generally a pleasure to be around, but if improperly trained or left to their own devices, they can quickly become hard to manage. The breed is naturally bold and confident and will naturally take the alpha position if it has not been filled, which can lead to them being stubborn, dominant and even snappy if they don’t get their own way, something that not everyone can manage adequately.
The properly trained and managed Ridgeback can do pretty much anything they turn their paws to, from working roles to canine sport to life as a pet for active families. However, they are not the right pick for everyone, and if you have never owned a dog before you should think very carefully about ridgeback ownership and do lots of research so that you can be sure about what you are getting yourself into.
For experienced dog owners that have a good understanding of the breed and that can meet their needs for exercise, training and mental entertainment, however, they are the most loyal and rewarding of breeds to own.