Dog Breeds

Rhodesian ridgeback

Rhodesian ridgeback is a strong and quite robust, but not sluggish, a large dog with short hair that grows in the opposite direction on the back, creating a distinctive streak – the breed’s trademark. He is loyal, intelligent but independent and often likes to have his own opinion. Suitable for both watchman and athlete. However, this does not change the fact that the Rhodesians need an experienced and consistent owner. This is one of the oldest breeds – apparently, its roots date back to ancient Egypt, as evidenced by paintings from 3000 BC


The Rhodesian is a balanced dog with a great temperament. Although very attached to the owner, he never acts subordinate to him. For proper development, he needs close contact with his family, which is why he cannot be isolated from it. It is also too independent to be left alone. He gets along well with children – he is tolerant, patient and surprisingly gentle. However, due to their size, they should not be left unattended together.

The representative of this breed feels good in a group of dogs and can share the house with other animals. However, it should be remembered that the male will hardly accept a second male in his area, especially if he has an equally strong character. Rhodesian ridgeback is vigilant, not too noisy and restrained from strangers, therefore it will work as a guardian. He is a brave, but careful dog – he should not show any unjustified aggression or fear in any situation.

rhodesian ridgeback

Active, durable and lively, he needs the right amount of movement and activity. Walking on a leash is not enough, you must be able to run freely. He will gladly accompany the owner in jogging or cycling, but do not force puppies and young dogs (up to about 18 months of age) to do so. Choosing a Rhodesian for the city, it is also worth remembering his strong hunting instinct – when the wind blows an interesting clue, he can move far away from the owner and not respond to the call.


Rhodesian ridgeback belongs to the group of hunting dogs. It was used to hunt in groups for large predators and to guard their belongings. The task of the Rhodesians was not to attack animals – in a direct battle with a lion or cheetah, none would survive. They were to track down the victim, put her on hold and keep her until the hunter with the weapon arrived.

rhodesian ridgeback

Currently, Rhodesian ridgeback is first and foremost companion dogs. In some countries they are used as service dogs in the police – tracking and detecting drugs, as well as rescue. They can be trained in general obedience (PT), but defense training (IPO) is not recommended. Rhodesians are suitable for some dog sports, e.g. agility, obedience, and dancing with a dog. They are also great at coursing, i.e. chasing an artificial hare in the field.

Rhodesian ridgeback. Training and education

This intelligent animal is eager to learn, but you should not expect absolute obedience from him – he can be stubborn and arbitrary. This is one master’s dog, that’s why he works best with the person of his choice. You should start learning with a puppy for several months.

Rhodesian ridgeback

In the descriptions of the breed, there is often a statement that its representatives can not be treated harshly, especially at a young age. They should be allowed to socialize properly with other dogs (e.g. in dog kindergarten), people and new situations.

Who is this race for?

Rhodesian ridgeback is not suitable for everyone – it is a dog with a specific character, requiring appropriate treatment and upbringing. I need an experienced owner, leading a stable and active lifestyle.

Rhodesian ridgeback. Advantages and disadvantages


  • requires devoting a lot of time to it
  • there is aggression against representatives of the same race
  • it can be independent and arbitrary


  • attached to the family
  • tolerant of children
  • intelligent, eager to learn
  • good, not a noisy watchman
  • suitable for some dog sports
  • easy to care for
  • accepts other pets


This dog is generally resistant and durable. However, there are diseases typical for this breed – they include DS, or dermoid sine (dermoid sinus). It is formed as a result of incomplete separation of skin buds and the neural tube, as a result of which a channel is created that penetrates deep into the body, made of changed skin containing hair follicles and sebaceous glands. Most often it ends in soft tissues, but it happens that it reaches up to the spinal cord, which can give neurological symptoms.

Leathery sinuses are usually located in the midline of the back, on the neck, forechest, around the loin or tail. Experienced breeders can find them in newborn puppies. DS is treated surgically, although surgery is not possible in all cases and brings the expected results.

Rhodesian ridgeback

Rhodesian also has a tendency to hip dysplasia, elbow and OCD (shoulder osteochondrosis). Hypothyroidism, enostosis (juvenile osteitis), and food and contact allergies occasionally occur. Like all large breeds, it can also be susceptible to gastric expansion and twist.

It is medium resistant to weather conditions. It tolerates higher temperatures well, but can be sensitive to frost, so some dogs should be put on special cups.


Rhodesian belongs to the fast-growing and long developing breeds. Puppies must be fed extremely carefully, because any negligence in this period may later affect their health and condition. You can use ready-made foods from reputable companies for large breeds, or serve food that you have prepared yourself.

Rhodesian ridgeback

Traditional meals must be supplemented with calcium and vitamin preparations containing substances supporting joint development (glucosamine and chondroitin). In the case of industrial feeds, it is not necessary to administer these agents unless the veterinary surgeon recommends otherwise.

Adult Rhodesians should be fed according to their age and lifestyle. Active and sports dogs need a high energy diet, while older or calmer quadrupeds need medium-protein feed. Some breeders successfully use the diet (natural, raw food).

The daily portion must be divided into at least two meals and ensure the dog rest after eating.


This dog usually molts twice a year – most intensively in the spring. The coat is small but quite hard, which is why it sticks into the carpets. Replacing the garment after winter usually takes about a month. During this time, you should comb your Rhodesian even days to get rid of dead hair faster.

Rubber brushes are best suited for this, but it happens that thicker hair in some places needs to be plucked out. A hard-bristle brush and a damp cotton towel will also be good for cleaning. We bathe the pet if necessary in shampoo for short-haired dogs.

Rhodesian ridgeback

Once a week, you should check your ears and systematically shorten the claws if they do not rub themselves. It is also worth giving the dog special biscuits to clean the teeth or get used to the paste and the brush. Rhodesian does not require special preparation for the exhibition – he should be clean and taught how to behave in the ring. We present it on a ring or in a decorative chain and a light leash.


For walks, it is best to take a Rhodesian in a well-fitted collar and on an ordinary, strong leash (growing puppies should not wear braces). We serve food in metal bowls, because plastic can cause contact allergies. Let’s also buy a cage, because small Rhodesians can wreak havoc.

Rhodesian ridgeback. History

Rhodesian ridgeback – a dog with a characteristic ridge on its back – is one of the oldest breeds. Apparently, its roots date back to ancient Egypt, as evidenced by paintings from 3000 BC. Hunting dogs with drooping or standing ears and welts on their backs were immortalized on them. There is also a known rock drawing called ‘Diana’s Vow’ found by archaeologists in Zimbabwe. Researchers believe that in all cases it is probably about the same quadruped – the Hottentots dog, from which the Rhodesian originates.

The first mention in the literature about Rhodesian comes from 1857. This is an illustration in the book of dr. David Livingstone’s “Missionary Travels in South Africa”. Although the dog presented there looks more like a jackal and is much smaller than a modern representative of the breed, it has a ridge on the back. In 1936, during archaeological excavations near the Oranje River in Africa, skeletons of three dogs were found, one of which was extremely well preserved – even remnants of red-golden fur were visible. Interesting is also finding a dog with a similar type on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc.

Hottentots – indigenous people of South Africa, related to the Bushmen – came to Egypt probably from Ethiopia or southern Sudan. They were accompanied by semi-wild hunting dogs with ridges on their backs, which they used to guard their belongings and hunt in the pack for lions, cheetahs and baboons. They were extremely durable quadrupeds – they were able to walk without water for many hours, endure high heat during the day and temperatures below freezing at night.

Hottentots led a nomadic life. In search of new hunting grounds, they wandered through Tanzania, Zambia and Rhodesia (today’s Zimbabwe), up to Cape Peninsula.

Around 1650, ships of Dutch colonizers arrived on the shores of the Cape of Good Hope, who, under the leadership of Jan van Rieback, set up a mission in these areas. The Dutch immediately drew attention to the red-gold native dogs and decided to refine their appearance, crossing them with the quadrupeds they brought from Europe – they were probably mastiffs, greyhounds and saluki, bloodhounds and pointers. In most cases, the offspring of these matings not only inherited the excellent character of the Hottentot dogs, but also the characteristic ridge on the back.

In the second half of the 19th century, Charles Helm brought two bitches to the Hope Fountain Mission in Rhodesia – Lorna and Powder. Soon the mission was visited by hunter Cornelius van Rooyen. His visit turned out to be a breakthrough for the breed – captivated by the character and hunting abilities of both bitches he decided to associate them with his hunting dogs. Puppies born from this combination started kennel van Rooyen and a new breed.

Francis Barnes, who founded the Eskdale farm in Bulawayo, also contributed to the development of the Rhodesians. In 1915 he bought a dog named Dingo, and then a bitch Judy – these quadrupeds gave birth to the famous Eskdale Ridgeback kennel. Barnes first drew attention to the need to develop a breed standard and unify the type.

In 1922, the first club of the race was established. In the same year, a pattern-based largely on the Dalmatian standard was developed, which remained largely unchanged to this day – only brindling from the coat was eliminated and white markings were restricted only to the chest and feet. The first Rhodesian was registered in the South African Breeders Association in September 1924. A year later the first exhibition took place in Bulawayo.

A characteristic stripe for the breed, the so-called ridge is a strip of hair on the back that grows in the opposite direction than on the rest of the body. The ridge may be up to 5 cm wide, it must be clear, symmetrical, dagger-shaped. It begins just behind the shoulder blades, where it forms a regular crown (it cannot exceed 1/3 of the length of the bar) with two symmetrical whirlwinds, then narrows towards the croup and ends at the height of the hips.

The disadvantage is considered too short a band, more or less than two whirlwinds in the crown and asymmetry of their arrangement. Whether the ridge is correct can be seen at the time of birth – too short will not be extended. Rhodesians can also be born without a streak, they are then – like those with a defective streak – excluded from exhibitions and breeding.

The breed was brought to Poland in 1994, at that time it was included in group VIII. FCI (retrievers, flushing dogs and water dogs). Torhusets Cinnamon Ndembela brought from Denmark was the first registered Rhodesian. At the same time, other dogs were also imported – Tek Taka Ibas (Denmark), Bojka from Brod nad Tichou (Czech Republic), Mteni Mireille (South Africa). Later, all pedigrees were already recognized in the sixth grade. FCI (Hounds, houndstones and related breeds).


Rhodesian ridgeback – group VI FCI, section 3, reference number 146

  • Country of origin: South Africa
  • Size: dog height at withers 63-69-cm, bitches 61-66-cm
  • Coat: short, dense, smooth, shiny, neither woolly nor silky
  • Ointment: from light wheat to red crop, slight white markings on the chest and fingers are acceptable (excessive whiteness on the chest, stomach and above the fingers is a disadvantage); and a dark muzzle and ears
  • Maturity: 3 years
  • Lifespan: 9-12 years
  • Weather resistance: medium

Interesting facts

Among the ridgebacks there are two known races: the quite popular Rhodesian ridgeback and very rare Thai ridgeback. The name of both breeds is derived from the ridge of hair on the back that forms the opposite direction than usual.

“Ridge” means “mountain ridge”, “mountain range” in English, and “back” means “ridge”. The dog looks as if his fur was sewn in by mistake the wrong way round.

In Rhodesian, the requirements for the bar are strictly defined: it must have the appropriate length, width and two symmetrically placed at the top of the “crown” (whirlwinds, “hair” from the hair). Different types of welts are allowed in the Thai ridgeback, e.g. in the shape of a sword, violin or leaf, and there may be more “crowns”. Some individuals have a whole back covered with hair growing in the opposite direction. Of course, this feature does not bother dogs.

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