Breed Group: Hound Group
Shoulder Height: 24-27 in.
Weight: 70-85 lb.
Life Span: 10 years
Colors: Wheaten, light wheaten, red wheaten. The nose can be either black or brown.
- One of the ancient breeds hailing from South Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is also known as the African lion dog.
- The breed was named after their place of origin - Rhodesia, which is now the country of Zimbabwe - and the ridge of raised hair along their back that grows in the opposite direction to that of the rest of their coat.
- They originate from the indigenous African dog, which was crossed with European breeds to produce a dog that would protect people and possessions, hunt small game and taunt lions to make them easier to overcome.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is very loyal dog and can be reserved and aloof with strangers until they get to know them. In spite of their size and confident appearance they are not aggressive, but will defend their owner if needed. They are a calm and even tempered dog, but they can be strong-willed and independent of thought. This means that training is essential from a young age to help your Ridgeback better fit into your life, and they may be a challenge for an inexperienced dog owner.
Their history as hunters means that they are not ideal for a household with cats, but careful socialization, training and supervision can overcome this. Ridgebacks are not suitable for every family and careful consideration should be given before welcoming this breed into your household.
Like any hound dog, regular exercise is necessary to keep the breed healthy and happy. They’re athletic dogs and would make excellent running companions. The short coat does make grooming easy and they tend not to shed much hair.
There are some health concerns in this breed, but responsible breeders are taking steps to reduce their incidence. Potential pet parents need to be aware of the following.
- Hip dysplasia occurs in the breed. It has a genetic component, but is also influenced by a dog’s environment and nutrition as they grow. It does result in arthritis.
- A dermoid cyst is a thin tube of skin that grows from the skin in the area of the ridge down into the spinal column. This can become infected, resulting in the need for surgery and antibiotics. If the infection extends into the spinal column it can cause meningitis, which is potentially fatal. If a dermoid cyst is found in a Rhodesian Ridgeback, it should be removed, and affected dogs should not be bred from.
- Hypothyroidism also occurs in the breed, but the group of genes that increase the risk of this this condition has been identified. This will allow breeders to choose which dogs to mate to reduce the chance of it occurring in future generations.
- A wide variety of celebrities, old and new, have owned Rhodesian Ridgebacks in their lives. Some notable owners include Patrick Swayze, Errol Flynn, and Grace Kelley.
- Isaiah Mustafa, who you would recognize as the actor in the Old Spice commercials, keeps several Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
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