Rhodesian Ridgeback (African Lion Hound)
We should state right from the start that the Rhodesian Ridgeback is probably not the best choice for a novice dog owner. We'll get more into the reasons in a minute.
But first, the breed got his name from a line of hair shaped like the blade of a broadsword that grows in the reverse direction along the back. The blade has two crowns at the shoulder and a point towards the tail. It is believed that Great Danes, Mastiffs, Blookhounds, and perhaps Greyhounds, Bulldogs, and Pointers were interbred to produce the Rhodesian Ridgeback. However it was a South African native dog that gave the Ridgeback his distinctive reverse hair coat marking.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback was developed in South Africa in the 18th century, although early ridgeback dogs date back at least to the 15th century. This breed was used to hunt big game over vast areas in extreme temperatures. He could go for long periods without food and water. And with the help of his excellent vision and sense of smell, he could detect the approach of either animal or human. Hunters found that in packs the Ridgeback was effective against lions. That's why the breed is often called the African Lion Hound.
This is a muscular hound dog with characteristics of both a sight hound and a scenthound. He is independent, active, often dominant and stubbornly driven, yet surprisingly sensitive. He needs obedience training from day one, and that training must be firm but not overbearing, or he may panic and become passive-resistant. Slow and precise methods are needed. The Rhodesian Ridgeback must know from day one who the leader of the pack is because they are very stubborn. Because of this the dog can be difficult to train. Nervous, submissive and overbearing people should avoid this breed. As a side note, it is a bad idea to get two dogs from the same litter. Litter mates tend to bond closely and will openly disobey the owner in favor of pack loyalties.
If properly trained, this breed can make an excellent family dog and an excellent watch dog. They are good with older children but probably not the best choice for smaller children because they do not like to be pestered or played with roughly. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very loyal breed that is protective of it's owners to the extreme, another reason why early training is a must. He tends to be very suspecious of strangers. Remember also that this dog was bred to challenge lions, leopards and hyenas. This means he can be very dog-aggressive if not socialized with other dogs very early. Neutering the males helps reduce this problem, especially if done before 8 months of age.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are OK in an apartment if they get enough exercise because they are relatively inactive indoors. Outdoors however they are extremely active with great stamina. They are excellent jogging partners and you will tire long before they do. A fenced yard is important, but do not leave this breed alone for long periods because he will become noisy and destructive and will jump a fence.
Common health problems include sinus hip dysplasia, sinus problems and osteochondrosis. They will generally live 10-15 years and have an average litter size of 6-8 pups.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback stands 24-27 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 65 and 85 pounds. He has a large, powerful, well muscled body and a short, stiff coat that does not shed much. Grooming is easy and is recommended once or twice a week. It is a reddish brown color and sometimes has white patches on the chest and feet.
If you love this breed or know someone who does, Your Breed Store has a great selection of Rhodesian Ridgeback gifts and collectibles.
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