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Rhodesian Ridgeback Facts: 10 Things to Know About These Hounds

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By Anna Grace

Rhodesian Ridgeback is a distinct breed known for its distinctive “ridge” of hair along its back that grows in the opposite direction. Originating in Southern Africa, it was bred as a versatile hunting dog, excelling in tracking and confronting large game, including lions. This breed is characterized by its strong build, muscular frame, and sleek coat, typically in shades of wheaten.

Known for its loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature, the Rhodesian Ridgeback makes for a devoted family companion and a vigilant guardian. Regular exercise and socialization are essential for a well-adjusted Ridgeback.

Rhodesian Ridgeback: Origins and History

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The Rhodesian Ridgeback, often called the “African Lion Hound,” hails from southern Africa. Bred by the Khoikhoi people and European settlers, these dogs were initially developed to assist in hunting large game, including lions. Their distinctive “ridge” of hair along their back, which grows in the reverse direction to the rest of their coat, sets them apart.

Impressive Physique 

Their powerful and athletic build characterizes these hounds. Rhodesians are a sight to behold with a well-muscled body, deep chest, and sleek appearance. Similarly, their appearance reflects their history as skilled hunters.

Independent and Loyal

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their independence and strong-willed nature. While they can be quite self-assured, they also form deep bonds with their families. Their loyalty is unwavering, making them excellent companions and guardians.

Natural Guardians

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Due to their history as hunters of large game, including lions, Rhodesians possess a natural protective instinct. When properly trained and socialized, they often reserve themselves around strangers and can excel as guard dogs.

Active Lifestyle 

These hounds have an abundance of energy. Routine exercise is essential to keep them happy & healthy. Engaging in jogging, hiking, or agility training can help satisfy their physical and mental stimulation needs.

Grooming Needs

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The short coat of a Rhodesian Ridgeback requires minimal grooming. Routine brushing will help keep their coat healthy and remove loose hair. However, their distinct ridge might need extra attention to remain tidy.


Despite their imposing appearance, Rhodesians are often gentle and affectionate with their families. They can be great playmates for children, especially when raised together from a young age.

Training Challenges

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While intelligent, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have an independent streak that can present training challenges. Positive reinforcement & consistency are key to successful training. Early socialization is also crucial to help them develop good manners.

Health Considerations 

As with any breed, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are prone to specific health issues, including elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, & certain types of cancers. However, regular veterinary check-ups & a healthy lifestyle can help mitigate these risks.

Lifelong Companionship 

When provided with the right care, training, and attention, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be loving and devoted companions for their entire lifespan, typically around 10 to 12 years.

Versatile Athletes

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Rhodesian Ridgebacks excel in various canine sports and activities due to their agility and endurance. Additionally, they can participate in activities like agility, tracking, obedience, and even lure coursing, which allows them to channel their natural hunting instincts in a controlled environment.


While they have a history rooted in hunting, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can adapt well to various living situations, from suburban homes to rural environments. However, their need for physical activity & mental stimulation should be considered when choosing the right living space.

Socialization Is Key 

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Early and thorough socialization is crucial for Rhodesian Ridgebacks to develop into well-rounded dogs. To prevent unwanted behaviors and ensure their confident and approachable adulthood, expose them to different people, animals, and environments.

Unique Ridge Trait 

The “ridge” of hair along a Rhodesian Ridgeback’s Puppies back is a defining trait. Interestingly, not all puppies in a litter will have this ridge. It results from a specific genetic trait, and the ridge can vary in length and prominence from dog to dog.

Responsible Ownership 

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Owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback requires commitment and responsible ownership. They thrive on human companionship and can develop behavioral issues if left alone for a long time. However, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and quality time with their family are essential for their well-being.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a unique & fascinating breed with a rich history and distinctive features. Their independent yet loyal nature and protective instincts make them ideal companions for active families willing to invest time in training, socialization, and care. Moreover, with their athleticism, loyalty, and striking appearance, Rhodesian Ridgebacks continue capturing dog enthusiasts’ hearts worldwide.