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Rhodesian Ridgeback Appearance
A handsomely built hound with a unique appearance and dignified demeanor, the Rhodesian Ridgeback commands attention. A dog who stands out from the pack, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is easily distinguished by the long ridge of hair growing in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat which starts at the shoulders and tapers down to the hips. This ridge is usually no wider than 2 inches and should be symmetrical. Once utilized as hunting companions and lion hounds in Africa, they have smoothly muscular bodies and have athletic builds. An average Rhodesian Ridgeback will stand about 25-27 inches tall and will weigh in between 70-85 lbs. They have sleek, glossy coats that range in color from light wheaten to red wheaten. While most are solid in color, some may have dark mask-like markings around the eyes. Their round, intelligent eyes typically reflect the color of their coat and their pendulant ears sit high on their heads. A noble breed with unwavering loyalty and impressive stature, the Rhodesian Ridgeback will live to be about 10-12 years old with proper love and care.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Grooming
Due to their short sleek coats, the Rhodesian Ridgeback only requires minimal weekly grooming. A rubber curry brush will easily remove loose, dead hair and a quick wipe with a damp cloth will freshen them up between baths. Their coats tend to be naturally odor-free and shouldn’t be bathed too often to avoid drying out the skin. Their strong nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid painful splitting or breakage. If the nails are audibly tapping on the floor, it’s probably time to trim or file them down. Their ears should also be regularly checked to clear any wax or debris buildup that could cause an infection. Grooming can be a great bonding experience and should begin in puppyhood. Rewarding them for good behavior and making grooming a positive experience for them will greatly help later on when they reach full size.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament
Incredibly loyal, independent, and highly intelligent, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can often seem intimidating to first-time or inexperienced dog owners. Strong willed with a vibrant personality, early and firm training is key in establishing acceptable behavior. They develop strong bonds with their families and are incredibly protective of their loved ones and homes. While they may seem aloof to strangers, the Rhodesian Ridgeback are unwaveringly loving and devoted to their family. They enjoy being included in daily family activities and don’t thrive with extended alone time. Due to their hunting heritage, they still hold a high prey drive and should have a securely fenced yard to play in to keep the Ridgeback from hunting stray animals. Walking them off leash is not recommended as they may be tempted to chase a squirrel or other small animals that cross their paths. Wary of strangers, this breed takes a while to warm up to new people. Their formidable appearance coupled with a loud bark easily intimidate would-be intruders.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Training
It is important to begin obedience training early, especially with a dog who has such a strong personality and will like the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Letting puppies run rampant without any correction may seem cute when they’re little, but those behaviors will be extremely difficult to handle once the dog fully matures. Socialization should also begin early in puppyhood to help them learn how to have healthy interactions with other dogs. Utilizing positive, consistent training methods will result in the best behavior. Correcting bad behavior every time it occurs will help establish boundaries. Rewarding the dog with encouraging praise and small toys or treats will help enforce the habits being taught.
Rhodesian Ridgeback History
Originally, known as the African Lion Hound, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred to be an adaptable hunting companion who would be able to protect their family, land, and also assist in bringing down large prey. Earliest depictions date back as far as the 17th century. The Boer farmers of South Africa began crossing breeds they had brought with them from Europe with a native dog of the land to develop a hunting dog who could adapt to a range of extreme temperatures. Noticing that the dogs with a unique ridge of hair down their backs excelled in their hunting prowess, a breeding program that was initiated by Cornelius von Rooyen in Rhodesia, now present day Zimbabwe. While the resulting dog was an excellent hunter, the Rhodesian Ridgeback of today is more likely to be found cuddled in with their families than taking on full grown lions of the bush.
African Lion Dog, African Lion Hound