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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Origin: South Africa

AKC Group: Hound

Height: 24 inches (Male)

Weight: Males: 85 pounds (38.5 kg); Females: 70 pounds (31.5 kg) (Male)

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South Africa
Male height: 
24 inches
Male weight: 
Males: 85 pounds (38.5 kg); Females: 70 pounds (31.5 kg)
Short, dense, sleek and glossy, with a distinct ridge of hair along the spine that grows in the opposite direction from the rest of the fur.
Light wheaten to red wheaten.

This unique breed’s country of origin is Zimbabwe(formerly Rhodesia) in Africa. What makes him distinctive, and gives him his name, is the symmetrical ridge that runs along his spine created by fur growing in the opposite direction from the rest of his fur. The Khoikhoi dog, a sighthound who lived with the Khoikhoi (Hotentot) tribe in South African for several hundred years, gave the Ridgeback this unusual characteristic. Other breeds that contributed to his current makeup included the Mastiff and Scottish Deerhound - both of whom came to Africa with Dutch, German and Huguenot immigrants in the 16th and 17th centuries. These settlers came to be known as the Boers, and they were mostly farmers. They needed large, brave dogs who could protect their families and stock from wild animals and marauders and who could also be used for hunting (both tracking and retrieving game). Of necessity, the breed also had to be able to withstand the harsh climate, temperature extremes, and deadly tropical diseases and parasites in the African desert.

With his brave and loyal nature, the Ridgeback can make an exceptional companion. He is a strong and independent-minded dog; however, and needs an experienced and fair leader to help him be his best. Ridgebacks are known to be ferocious hunters, and they possess great stamina and strength. They learn quickly but bore easily. Intelligent and devoted to the extreme, they are very protective of their owners.
At home: 
Although energetic as puppies, most Ridgebacks settle down when they mature and are relatively inactive when indoors. This means that they can make good apartment dogs as long as they have an active owner willing to provide them with the necessary exercise and attention. Ridgebacks deprived of physical and mental stimulation can become destructive. They are generally quiet but will bark to alert their owner of someone's approach. A secure, tall fence is necessary, as Ridgebacks can jump very high and may take to roaming if bored.
The athletic and powerful Ridgeback needs lots of exercise. Several long walks a day are necessary to keep his energy level - and curiosity - satisfied. He loves to swim, and a dip in a pool, lake or ocean is always appreciated.
The rugged Ridgeback is a hearty eater whose weight should be monitored. Because they are notorious "counter surfers," you'll need to watch what you leave out in the kitchen. A high-quality, age-appropriate diet is best.
A Ridgeback's training should start when he's young and continue throughout his life. His inclination to do things on his own will manifest as seeming stubbornness. That's not really the issue, though. Rather, this intelligent breed bores easily. He requires motivational and reward-based training and also needs someone who will be firm yet fair. Socializing the Ridgeback to all kinds of people and other animals from puppyhood is critical.
Although they are great with children when socialized to them, they aren't particularly tolerant of pestering or rough play. Ridgebacks can get along with other pets, especially when brought up with them, but can be territorial with animals they don't know.
The average life span of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include allergic dermatitis; cataracts; dermoid sinus; hip and elbow dysplasia; hypothyroidism; and mast cell tumors.
Fun fact: 

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is one of the most popular dogs in South Africa.

Grooming blurb: 
The short, glossy coat of the Rhodesian Ridgeback needs only the occasional brushing or going-over with a hound glove to keep it looking its best. He is an average shedder.
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.