Rhodesian Ridgeback

South African Lion Hunter is Lovable and Mischievous

Unless you’re familiar with Rhodesian ridgebacks, you may mistake the breed for another type of dog — and think that ridge of hair running along its back is actually the dog’s hackles.

Take another look. The Rhodesian ridgeback is probably one of the most fearless, bravest dogs, originally bred to hunt lions alongside their masters.

Today’s Rhodesian ridgeback may only hunt on for fun at the dog park, using its mischievous wiles to distract other dogs from their balls or Frisbees — but don’t underestimate the pooch — he’s still got game.

Rhodesian ridgeback

Unless you’re familiar with Rhodesian ridgebacks, you may mistake the breed for another type of dog — and think that ridge of hair running along its back is actually the dog’s hackles.

Take another look. The Rhodesian ridgeback is probably one of the most fearless, bravest dogs, originally bred to hunt lions alongside their masters.

Today’s Rhodesian ridgeback may only hunt on for fun at the dog park, using its mischievous wiles to distract other dogs from their balls or Frisbees — but don’t underestimate the pooch — he’s still got game.

Considered to be a lovable dog that is very protective of its family, Rhodesian ridgebacks require socialization and training from a young age in order to instill a pecking order at home.

Due to its intelligence and nature, this breed can be strong willed and is prone to mischief — albeit in a playful way. The Rhodesian ridgeback does not respond well to harsh training methods; despite its stubborn tendencies, the breed is also a sensitive one.

Loyal, affectionate and playful with its family, the Rhodesian ridgeback puts its trust in those who love him.

Rhodesian ridgeback

Since Van Rooyen began breeding Rhodesian ridgebacks, their most distinguishing feature has been the ridge of hair that runs from the dog’s shoulders to its hips and is usually two inches at its widest point.

Rhodesian ridgebacks typically have a light wheaten to red wheaten coat, which is short and glossy, not coarse but not silky, either. The breed can have a variety of coat colors, including sable or brindle, with a touch of white on the chest and toes.

On average, a male ridgeback weighs 85 pounds, while female ridgebacks can weigh 70 pounds. The breed is lean with a slightly muscular build.

Rhodesian ridgeback

While these may be common medical conditions, not all Rhodesian ridgebacks will necessarily develop any of those listed below.

  • Degenerative myelopathy is a disease of the spinal cord causing progressive paraparesis.
  • Dermoid sinus is a congenital neural-tube defect that is known to affect Rhodesian ridgebacks, identified commonly a thin "spaghetti noodle" beneath the skin. Puppies should always be screened at birth by the breeder and veterinarian. Surgical removal is an option for affected puppies and adult dogs.
  • Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joints that causes arthritis, is especially crippling in large breeds of dogs. Hypothyroidism is a condition caused by low thyroid hormone production of the thyroid glands. Lack of this hormone causes weight gain, lethargy, poor hair coat, infertility and susceptibility to chronic infections.
  • Stomach bloat or torsion (also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus or GDV) is very serious and often deadly condition where the stomach becomes painfully distended, either due to food, water or gas. The distended stomach then has a tendency to rotate twisting off its own blood supply and the only exit routes for the gas inside. This condition requires immediate, emergency veterinary treatment.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.