Rhodesian Ridgebacks are dignified, athletic dogs whose expressive eyes always look deep in thought. Developed in Africa, this breed was used by lion hunting parties to track, corner, and hold lions. Ridgebacks were prized because of their evident lack of fear of the big cats and their high prey drive. These traits are still evident in today's Rhodesian Ridgebacks; the breed is still used for hunting in some circles, but has come to be more of a family companion than anything else.
As puppies they have energy to spare, but with proper exercise and training grow into quiet, dignified housemates. They are not for novice dog owners, as it takes a lot of time and energy to properly train this breed; but for those who are experienced and who are already committed to an active lifestyle, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can be an ideal family dog.
This is not a breed to sit quietly in your yard all day. Young Rhodesian Ridgebacks are especially rambunctious, bore easily, and can excavate vast holes.
The most territorial of the hounds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is aloof with strangers and should be accustomed to people at an early age so that his guarding instinct remains controlled rather than indiscriminate.
This breed needs occasional vigorous exercise to maintain health, happiness and an even temperament. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have their roots in Africa, where it is thought they developed an ability to withstand high temperatures without slowing down. This is not always true of today's Rhodesian Ridgebacks. As with all pets, owners need to use common sense when exercising in extremely hot or cold temperatures.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks love to run, and love to chase. They are athletic enough to jog or accompany bikers and long distance runners. The older they get, the less running they require, but they will always need daily activity. Without proper exercise, this breed can become anxious and destructive. Because of the high prey drive present in some individual dogs, always supervise your Rhodesian Ridgeback when in the presence of young, playful children or the family cat!
Hunters can use Rhodesian Ridgebacks in the field to track and point for small game, or to track and corner large game. Non-hunting families should enroll their Ridgebacks in organized activities like agility or lure coursing. They make excellent hiking and camping companions, happy to engage in outdoor fun and will guard you faithfully while you picnic or sleep.
Training a Rhodesian Ridgeback can be a challenge. They are independent thinkers who also have a tendency to exhibit dominance. They have a high prey drive instinct which can make off-lead recall undependable. They need to be trained with firmness to establish leadership, but never harsh- ness. Strong discipline will cause a Ridgeback to shut down and ignore you completely. 100% consistency is also crucial when training because Ridge- backs will constantly test boundaries, especially in adolescence, and if you bend the rules just once, he'll take that as an invitation to rule the house.
This breed is confident and independent, inclined to do things his own way, and will test members of the family to find his place in the pecking order. Consistent leadership and obedience training is a must.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are calm and easy going with their own family members, but are naturally wary of strangers. It is important to properly socialize your dog so that this natural wariness doesn't develop into aggres- sion. Teaching your Ridgeback early on that guests are welcome will help him to be more welcoming later in life.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be dominant with other animals, especially with other dogs of the same sex. Some individuals are fine with the family cat, while others are predatory chasers of anything that runs. He may get along great with the family cat, but should a neighbor's cat wander into his yard, he will chase it. Taking your Ridgeback to puppy kindergarten and positive socialiation when he is young, can help stave off dog aggression.
Ridgebacks are prone to destructive chewing. This is almost always an indication that he is bored and not getting enough exercise. If your Ridgeback takes to chewing shoes or furniture, you will want to step up his daily routine, and when you leave the house, make sure he has plenty of his own toys and bones to chew on.
Overall, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a splendid, capable companion for assertive owners. However, without ongoing time and effort, exercise, socialization, and supervision, he can be "too much dog."
Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2011