Rhodesian Ridgeback – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Dog Breed Group:
Hound Dogs
24 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder
70 to 85 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Rhodesian Ridgeback is a lean and powerful dog of the powerful statute.

One look at this dog is more than enough to see why this muscular breed is a part of the Hound Group.

Rhodesian Ridgeback is a strong dog with a striking ridge of hair along the back, which is the breed’s trademark.

Seeing this breed isn’t too common, but once you spot the Rhodesian Ridgeback you will recognize him in no time.

Those who appreciate the different traits that dogs come with love seeing this breed.

Did you know that Rhodesian Ridgeback is one of the best dogs to use for bear hunting?

Keep on reading to learn more about this dog’s physique and qualities. First, let’s make a short overview of the breed.

Quick Facts

Real name: Rhodesian Ridgeback
Other names: African Lionhound, Lion Dog
Origin: Zimbabwe
Breed type: Hound Dogs
Weight: 70 to 85 pounds
Height: 24 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Litter Size: 8 – 10 puppies
Color: Commonly light wheaten to red wheaten
Coat: Short and dense, sleek and glossy

Rhodesian Ridgeback History

Rhodesian Ridgeback is originally from Rhodesia, hence the name. Today, the area of Rhodesia is known as Zimbabwe.

These powerful dogs were primarily bred to pursue lions. This is why it’s only fair to say that these dogs are superb hunters.

Due to their ability to hunt lions, these dogs are known as the African Lion Hound. It is fair to say that elegant Ridgebacks are uniquely South African dogs.

They are crosses of native ridged Khoikhoi dogs and dogs imported from Europe. That being said, Rhodesian Ridgeback is in his core a mixed dog, as a result of mixing the ridged Khoikhoi dog with Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, Great Danes, and Greyhounds.

Some dog experts claim that even traces of Terriers can be spotted in this breed’s origin. One hasn’t changed ever since.

Back then these powerful dogs were known for their love and devotion to their families. They are still strongly attached to their family members even today.

Like many other breeds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks were almost extinct at the beginning of the 1920s. The primary reason for this negative trend was linked to the fact that the big-game hunting at the time began to fade in South Africa.

This led to Rhodesian Ridgeback hitting the point of being almost extinct.

Thanks to many dog lovers and responsible breeders the breed survived. They held a meeting in 1922 when the first Rhodesian Ridgeback standard was created.

At that meeting, it was decided that for the perfect Rhodesian Ridgeback the size and appearance will range from Bull Terriers to Great Danes, while the Dalmatian standard was used to standardize the breed that we know today as Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Now, let’s see what you can expect from your Rhodesian Ridgeback appearance-wise.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Physical Appearance

Rhodesian Ridgeback is a strong and muscular dog of great athletic capabilities.

As for their size, these dogs are commonly between 24 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder, and up to 70 to 85 pounds. Overall, this is a powerful and muscular dog who is very upstanding and highly athletic.

This breed will always be symmetrical, with a flat skull and head of fair length. The eyes are moderately apart and round, while the muzzle should be long and deep.

The face will always have black or brown/liver pigmentation located only on the nose, lips, and around the eyes. The neck should be fairly long, while the tail is strong and free.

The coat should always be short and dense. It should also be sleek and glossy in appearance. This breed’s coat should always be silky and smooth on touch and never anyhow curly.

As for the color, the Rhodesian Ridgeback should always have light wheaten to red wheaten.

A little white on the chest and toes are allowed. The hallmark of this breed is the ridge on the back where hair grows in opposite direction to the rest of the coat.

The ridge is always clearly defined and symmetrical. The gait should be free, long, and efficient.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Personality

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are great dogs. Within dog lovers’ circles, they are very appreciated for their many qualities.

Primarily, the traits are seen as those in Hounds, although they are very quiet and rarely bark.

Do not let their calm temper fool you, because this dog is far from being lazy.

If they appear lazy to you it is because they are monitoring their surrounding.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are big-time protectors, and they are calm because they are keeping an eye on everything around them.

If you have experience with dogs, training this breed should be easy and sweet.

These dogs are guardians primarily, so they should be trained as such. If you need protection dogs, you need a different breed.

They have strong protective instincts and won’t mind protecting you if needed.

All in all, as long as you provide early training in proper socialization, your Rhodesian Ridgeback should be a well-behaved canine citizen.

Living With Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are highly tolerant dogs who enjoy the company of both people and other dogs.

It is fair to say that they are friendly. However, if your home is a multi-pet household, and you have males you will need to be extra careful.

With males, you can always expect to be an extra struggle. Can they live with a cat around? If they are raised together from puppyhood, there shouldn’t be any issues.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are suitable for apartment living as they tend to be quiet and not bark a lot. They will bark if something frightens them, or if they hear or see something unusual.

These dogs can climb. This is something to address during the training phase if dogs are not allowed on furniture, or if you are not a lover of excessive dog jumping.

Plus, if they notice something interesting on the other side of the fence, they will easily make that jump.

Make sure that your backyard is well-secured so you can prevent any unwanted jumps or run over the fence.

Are they triggered as well? Although they have some terrier blood in them, Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren’t diggers, so your garden should be safe. However, if they have 24/7 access to the backyard they might create ‘caverns’ during the hot summer days.

If you are passionate about flowers and gardening in general, make sure that you know which plants are safe for your Fido, and which ones should be off-limits.

Pro tip: If you are just thinking about gardening, you should learn about the pros and cons of gardening with dogs so you can enjoy the wonderful garden and having a dog around.

Rhodesian Ridgeback With Children And Other Pets

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are great family dogs. As such, they will be polite and gentle with children of all ages.

Since they are classified as large-size dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks may be too unruly for toddlers.

As with any dog, it’s crucial to educate your children on how to behave around dogs.

Dogs should also know how to behave/move around children. Children should know the following:

  • Not to disturb dog while eating, sleeping, resting, or drinking water
  • Not to pull dog’s ears, tail, or skin
  • To know the basic commands

Dogs are more than capable of training dogs next to you. This can be a great bonding experience that will benefit both you, your dog and your child.

No matter how great children and dogs might get along, their interaction should always be supervised.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Training

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are dogs of strong prey drive. Due to this feature, they should always be in a well-secured area.

As mentioned above, backyards should be well-secured, otherwise, your Rhodesian Ridgeback will easily run chasing the first squirrel that crosses his path.

When on a walk, make sure that walks are on a leash, no matter what.

In the dog’s park, you may let your Rhodesian Ridgebacks run freely if the area is well-secured. They can be strong-willed, which is why they need an experienced dog owner.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not dogs for first time dog owners.

To get the maximum out of this breed, you should start early training and implement proper socialization.

Did you know that dogs are capable of mastering basic commands10 Basic Commands Every Dog Must Know as of eight weeks of age? This is the period when you should start training as well.

By the time the window socialization ends, your dog should know the following:

  • Basic commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘come’
  • House dog rules
  • How to behave around strangers
  • How to walk on a leash
  • What house areas are off-limits
  • If jumping on furniture is allowed or not
  • What is a backyard
  • How to use toilet break

If you want to get the maximum out of training sessions, you need to provide training sessions that are:

  • Short
  • Fun
  • Consistent
  • Packed with treats

No dog should experience any harsh training. That being said, focus only on positive reinforcement training and a reward-based approach.

If you feel like you could use support while training your Rhodesian Ridgeback you should think about these two options:

  • Hire a professional dog trainer. This could speed up the training process and provide some valuable inputs on further training.
  • Enroll your puppy in puppy classes. If you go with this option you will get to bond with your Fido further, and learn first hand how to upgrade your dog training skills.

What about exercise? Is this a breed of high-energy levels, or they are satisfied with three regular walks per day? Let’s discover.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Exercise

Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren’t afraid to step in front of a lion. This feature should say enough when it comes to their courage, and their exercise needs.

They are strong, athletic, and thrive on both physical and mental stimulation.

If you do want a highly active breed, like Border Collie is you are in luck.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are dogs of a moderate amount of exercise, which means that they can adapt to different living spaces.

If your apartment is large enough your Rhodesian Ridgeback will enjoy city life as long as you provide regular walks.

As with any dog, three walks per day are mandatory to provide needed mental stimulation and keep those joints strong and healthy.

All in all, provide a minimum of two hours of exercise every day. Now, let’s see if this is a low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Grooming

Before we elaborate further on Ridgeback’s grooming needs, you should know that everything is easier with the right tool.

Make sure that you invest in proper grooming tools that will help you make grooming sessions pain-free and fast.

People often think that just brushing their dog weekly is enough to keep him well-maintained.

Well, you should know that brushing is just a small part of great grooming practice.

This means that regular brushing is mandatory, next to other grooming aspects that must include:

  • Monthly nail trimming or grinding
  • Weekly gums check
  • Daily eye check for any sign of eye discharge
  • Bathe time when needed
  • Teeth cleaning if recomended

If this sounds like too much work for you, you can always think about professional groomer services. This may be a bit pricey option, but it will save you a lot of time and energy.

Since grooming comes with a short coat weekly brushing is mandatory. They will shed throughout the year, including winter.

All in all, Rhodesian Ridgeback should be a breed easy to maintain.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Health

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are considered to be healthy dogs, but there are still some factors to think about.

Many internal and external factors will directly influence a dog’s health.

For example, if you miss providing the right parasite control, your dog might experience some disturbances.

Even if you provide the best care and nutrition possible, your dog might eat something rotten on his walk and spoil his stomach.

This is why it is important to know your dog’s regular behavior and to react whenever you notice something unusual.

If you want to be really sure that your puppy is healthy you should deal with reputable and responsible dog breeders only.

Responsible dog breeders will present you with medical documentation on the puppy, show you the facilities, and let you meet the bitch.

They will also ask you a lot of questions to make sure that you are the best fit for their dog.

Reputable and responsible dog breeders aren’t fast to give their puppies to anyone. They really care about their dogs, and they want them to find a safe and loving home.

Last but not least, regarding breeders – trust your gut, because if something seems or feels shady it usually is.

Avoid puppy mills no matter what. You may pay less for a puppy, but you will pay more in the long run.

As mentioned above, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are healthy dogs, but there are some conditions that are frequently seen in this breed, such as:

Does this mean that your dog will experience any of the listed issues? Of course not.

In most cases, Rhodesian Ridgebacks reach their senior years without major health issues. However, you should be well aware of these conditions and do your best to prevent them from appearing in your dog.

To keep your dog healthy and strong, provide the following:

  • High-quality food
  • Healthy treats
  • Regular walks and exercise
  • Regular grooming
  • Flea and parasite control
  • Regular veterinarian check-ups

All in all, if you manage to implement all of these steps, you can be sure that your Fido will reach his senior years without major health issues.

Frequently Asked Question About Rhodesian Ridgeback

1. Can Rhodesian Ridgeback Really Hunt Bears

Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred to hunt. Today, they’re mostly full-time house pets, who love being surrounded by people.

They are fast to stand in front of a lion without any percent of fear.

As for their hunting skills today, it all depends… They are hunting dogs of a choice and can be found across the globe being hunting companions.

2. Is Rhodesian Ridgeback Good For Hiking

Rhodesian Ridgeback will be more than happy to follow you wherever you go.

They aren’t afraid of rough terrain as long as they get to spend their time with you.

This is why Rhodesian Ridgeback is a great hiking partner.

Long hiking trails are a nice fit challenge for this breed. Make sure that you prepare him for hiking and follow the hiking rules.

All in all, know that this breed hates being left alone too frequently or too long, and as such, they are prone to separation anxiety.

3. Is Rhodesian Ridgeback A Good Running Dog

Rhodesian Ridgeback can tolerate the heat to high levels, which makes them a really good running partner.

If your dog is fit and in great shape, he should be able to run six to eight miles. Puppies shouldn’t be forced to run as they are growing and their limbs are developing.

You don’t want them to go through an injury, so be careful. If you are unsure if your dog is ready for more regular running, make sure you talk with your veterinarian.

Once you get the green light learn how to run with your dog and how to prepare for running sessions with your dog successfully.

4. Where Is Rhodesian Ridgeback From

Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog breed from the Southern Africa region. These dogs are from today’s region of Zimbabwe.

5. Are Rhodesian Ridgeback Good Guarding Dogs?

Yes. These powerful dogs are great guarding dogs. Keeping their family safe is their primary duty.

Is Rhodesian Ridgeback For You?

If you are a first time dog owner, the Rhodesian Ridgeback isn’t for you. This breed is recommended only for experienced dog owners who know their way around powerful and active dogs.

This breed isn’t for you if cannot deal with vigorous exercise needs, destructiveness when bored and potential aggression toward other animals.

On the other hand, if you want a large dog, who is easy to maintain, and quiet at home, then a Rhodesian Ridgeback may be right for you.

Popular Rhodesian Ridgeback Comparisons

Compare Dog Breeds: