The Rhodesian Ridgeback is regarded by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa as their native dog. His distinguishing characteristic is the ridge of hair growing against the lie of the coat down the spine; it starts behind the shoulders with matching opposing whorls of hair behind the shoulder blades and continues to the haunch. Only one other breed, found in Thailand is known to share this feature, and it is thought that this breed derives from hounds taken there by early African traders.
Cornelius van Rooyen, a professional big game hunter created the breed over a period of 35 years from the late 1870s. The native dog, with the distinctive ridge was bred to Greyhounds for speed, the Pointer for scenting and collie, terrier and Great Dane crosses for size, endurance and guarding abilities. His function was to assist in pursuing game, frequently lions.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a handsome hound standing foursquare and unexaggerated and showing a balanced picture. A large breed, the dog stands up to 69cm and weighs up to 85lbs, the bitch somewhat smaller. The colour is light wheaten to red wheaten with small amounts of white permissible on chest and toes.
He no longer has any hunting function and is used as a guard in South Africa and valued elsewhere for this aspect of his personality. Although he is effective as a deterrent it is an aspect of his personality that does not dominate. Reserved with strangers he is quite ready to make friends once he feels secure that the new person is welcome. The Rhodesian Ridgeback makes an excellent family dog; he is protective, sound in temperament and affectionate towards his friends. He requires a reasonable amount of exercise, but once an adult will adapt himself to the family; he does need to have his diet watched to avoid putting on too much weight.
The coat is easy to keep; regular brushing will keep the coat fresh and shining. To read the Kennel Club Breed Standard for the Rhodesian Ridgeback click here.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Clubs
MIDLANDS & NORTHERN RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK CLUB Mrs S M Firth 01457 872520
RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK CLUB OF GB Mrs Maidment 01280 847164
RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK CLUB OF SCOTLAND Miss G Hutcheson 01342 850036
SOUTHERN RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK ASSOC Mrs M R Crunden 01303 268305
Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue and Rehoming
Contact a Breed Club. They should all be able to give you information about hounds requiring homes and procedures for re-homing; if you are in the unfortunate position of having to re-home your own Ridgeback, please go through breed rescue. They will not be judgmental and are best able to find the right permanent home for your hound.
Midlands and Northern Rhodesian Ridgeback Club Rescue
Mrs S M Firth 01457 872520
Rhodesian Ridgeback Welfare Trust
Mr B Davies 020 7485 0691
Southern Rhodesian Ridgeback Association
Mrs Marie Rose Crunden 01303 268305