History & Overview
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed of mixed ancestry as are so many other of today’s purebred dogs. Often called the African Lion Hound, the African Lion Dog, the Ridgehound, and the African Bull-Dog is a native of South Africa. The breed goes back about three hundred years when the Dutch, Germans and French Huguenots emigrated to South Africa. They brought with them:
Crossing with the native dogs with a strange ridge on their backs produced the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The unusual anatomical feature for which this breed is famous is the ridge of hair that grows down the center of its back. The ridge is formed by a reversal of the direction of the hair growth, creating a “crest.”
This is one of the most amazing of all the sighthounds. It works in packs tracking and pursuing the game fearlessly and driving it to the hunters. It also may keep the quarry at bay until hunters on horseback arrive.
The Ridgeback is a clean dog that is easy to keep and train. He is never noisy or quarrelsome and has a strong desire to please his master. He has an aloof attitude around strangers but is a good family dog. However, without proper training, Ridgebacks can be aggressive. They should be socialized with children and other animals. This is not a breed for inexperienced dog owners. Possessing such a strong, alert dog requires complete control by the owner.
In personality, it is fearless, loyal, obedient, affectionate towards its owners, and distrustful of strangers. It is also known for its very intimidating low growl when faced with an intruder. Although the Ridgeback owner must command full control of his dog, this is not achieved by aggressive demands.
The only way to control a Ridgeback fully is to earn his or her full respect. Never mistreat a Ridgeback as it has a long memory. Sometimes, when you think that the independent arrogance in your Ridgeback is going a step too far, remember that he is a proud dog and has a lot to be proud about: the swiftness of the movements making the Ridgeback able to avoid fast-moving dangers; the power needed in a farm dog to fend off both human and animal intruders; the lightness in movements, mile after mile.
No horse-riding tour is too long for a Ridgeback to follow with ease. Then there is an act of fierce courage when the dog’s master is threatened combined with the soft devotion to friends, especially to children. The herding instinct also exists in a Ridgeback, but not at all to the same extent as the hunting and guarding capabilities.