What to Know About Africa's Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Who doesn’t want a dog that embodies grace, strength, and a dash of regal charm? Well, if you are looking for one, then maybe the Rhodesian Ridgeback meets your needs!

Dec 12, 2023By Thalia Oosthuizen
what to know about africa rhodesian ridgebacks

Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Now we know some of you may be thinking, "Rhodesian, what?" Don't worry; you're not alone! After all, out of the American Kennel Club’s 200 breeds, Rhodesian Ridgeback is the 41st most popular. Needless to say, they need some good publicity.

Today, we're on a mission to debunk those myths and unravel everything you need to know about Rhodesian Ridgebacks. So, get ready to fall head over heels for these noble giants; they're four-legged legends ready to wag their way into your hearts!

Roots of Strength: Rhodesian Ridgebacks' African Heritage

ridgeback against sand
Image Credit: Pixabay

Buckle up for a wild ride through the heart of Africa! This is where the epic saga of Rhodesian Ridgebacks begins. Their homes were the sprawling savanna, where the distant roars of lions harmonized with the beat of tribal drums. Okay, maybe it wasn't that dramatic, but it was definitely majestic!

In this enchanting landscape, Rhodesian Ridgebacks made their debut, thanks to the ingenious minds of the indigenous Khoikhoi people. These giants of the dog world were bred amidst the breathtaking landscapes of what we now call Namibia.

Now, these pups weren't just your average canine companions! The African societies hailed them as loyal protectors, the ultimate guardians, and the coolest hunting buddies you could ever ask for. Their super senses and unyielding bravery made them the MVPs of the wild.

Dutch Settlers in Africa Cultivated Ridgebacks’ Popularity

ridgeback dog in field
Image Credit: Freepik

Fast forward to the 17th century and the arrival of European settlers. These new settlers found many things they liked, including these resilient and brainy pooches! They were so impressed by this breed that they decided to make them part of their lives, too.

These furry marvels (known then as “African Lion Hounds”) quickly caught the eye of the world, gaining international fame and eventually transforming into the beloved pooches we now know as Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Exploring Rhodesian Ridgebacks' Distinctive Features

red ridgeback thick collar
Image Credit: Pixabay

There are a lot of things that set the Rhodesian Ridgeback apart from the other breeds, but there is one that stands out above the rest. We want to start with the Ridgeback’s signature feature – the oh-so-cool "ridge."

This ridge isn't just a random quirk; it's Mother Nature's way of showing off her artistic prowess. It is a line of hair that grows opposite to the rest, outlining their muscular physique with a touch of elegance.

These guys aren't just pretty faces – they've got the whole package. The pups' bodies are sleek and versatile, placing them alongside the dog world’s athletes. Their coats are extraordinary, too! They range from wheat to red. These colors are not just for show! They serve as built-in sunblock, protecting them from those scorching sunbeams.

ridgeback in the water
Image Credit: Pixabay

And those eyes, oh, those eyes! They're like little universes filled with intelligence, always sparkling with curiosity. These pups don't just see; they analyze, calculate, and probably solve complex equations in their heads while they're at it.

The Ridgeback’s endurance is pretty epic, too! That is right, they can handle extreme weather like it's a walk in the park! On top of that, they are gifted with well-padded paws and flexible toes. This is a design that shows nature's pure genius! It allows them to strut their stuff on rocky hillsides and sandy deserts like a red carpet.

These features are why we think Rhodesian Ridgebacks are Mother Nature's masterpiece, especially when it comes to dog breeds. They are the complete package, a blend of resilience and grace. They're not just dogs but living proof that elegance and adaptability can go paw-in-paw.

Noble Guardians: Understanding Rhodesian Ridgebacks' Temperament

ridgeback puppy with ball
Image Credit: Pixabay

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are furry pals that are more than pretty faces; they've got a heart of gold and brains to match. First things first, loyalty? Oh boy, these dogs practically wrote the book on it!

Their loyalty is like a warm, fuzzy hug – the kind you get from your grandma, but in dog form. They don't just become pets; they become cherished family members, showering you with endless affection and companionship.

These pups aren't just loyal, though; they're smart too! Ever met a dog that can outsmart you? Well, now you have. Ridgebacks are sharp, quick learners, making training sessions feel like you're teaching the next canine Einstein.

And here's the twist – they've got an independent streak. It's like dealing with a sassy teenager, but way furrier and cuter! Their stubbornness? It's not a flaw; it's a delightful quirk that gives each Ridgeback its own sassy personality. With time and patience, they can master these easy-to-learn dog tricks––among other feats!

ridgeback male brown
Image Credit: Pixabay

Now, let's talk about family dynamics. These dogs are perfect for children and families because they’re heartwarmingly gentle and friendly. Then, when it comes to protection, you can bank on your Ridgeback taking that duty very seriously.

They've got an instinct to guard, making them the ultimate watchful protectors of the household. But they're not just guards; they're guardians. They are like the wise, watchful elder of the family, always ready to stand by your side, assessing situations with a keen eye.

In a nutshell, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are the whole package – loyal, smart, protective, and bursting with personality. They're not just pets but lifelong companions, enriching our lives with warmth, charm, and unwavering devotion.

Some Tips for Nurturing Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies

ridgeback on couch
Image Credit: Unsplash

Bringing a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy into your life is like adding a turbo-charged, sleek bundle of joy to your household. Now, training these lively furballs might seem like a challenge, but fear not – we've got the insider tips to make it a walk in the park!

Positive reinforcement is your secret weapon. Treats and praise are like magic spells for these intelligent canines. Take it from here; they'll do just about anything for a tasty treat – who wouldn't, right? Socialization is the name of the game!

Think of it as Ridgeback charm school. Introduce them to the big wide world – diverse environments, people, and fellow fur buddies. Puppy playdates? Oh, they're not just fun but essential life lessons disguised as playtime. Plus, they burn off energy, so it's a win-win situation!

two brown ridgebacks
Image Credit: Pixabay

Now, obedience training – the holy grail of a well-behaved Ridgeback. Start young, and be patient. Sure, they might be a bit stubborn; it's just their way of keeping you on your toes. But remember, consistency is key! Keep those training sessions short and engaging, and throw in some interactive toys for good measure.

Oh, and here's the golden rule: routine and positive vibes. These pups thrive on it. Imagine your home as a Ridgeback spa – structured, soothing, and filled with love. Follow this recipe, and you'll raise a Ridgeback that's not just obedient but a delightful, loyal companion.

A Mini Rhodesian Ridgebacks' Care Guide

two ridgebacks together
Image Credit: Unsplash

Taking care of your four-legged buddy is not just a duty; it's a joyride filled with tail wags and canine cuddles. But, of course, every dog, even these lovable goofballs, comes with a user manual. Lucky for you, we have got the Cliff Notes version right here!

First up, common doggy health concerns – every pup's got them. Hip dysplasia is a thing for our Ridgeback pals, but fear not! Regular exercise is like yoga for their joints, keeping them nimble and ready for action. And then there's that sensitive skin – think of it like having a diva in the house. Hypoallergenic grooming products are the VIP pass to a happy, irritation-free pup.

Vet check-ups are like their version of spa days – pampering and essential. And oh, the diet! It's all about balance, folks. These easy DIY meals for dogs offer protein for those active muscles and pearly whites –a Ridgeback's version of fine dining.

Ridgebacks Don’t Require a Lot of Grooming

close up of ridgeback face
Image Credit: Pixabay

Grooming time? Their short coat means less time wrestling with a brush. Weekly sessions keep shedding at bay and give you some quality bonding time. What about baths? Less is definitely more; their natural oils are like their secret sauce for glossy fur. And let's not forget the glamorous world of nail trims and ear checks – routine essentials for the Ridgeback superstar.

Now, food. Ridgebacks love to chow down, but let's talk portion control. They might act like they're perpetually starving, but too much of a good thing isn't great. By preventing obesity in your dog, you're in for years of tail-wagging, exuberant joy.

Adopting or Breeding? Finding Rhodesian Ridgebacks Responsibly

brown ridgeback on grass
Image Credit: Britannica

Choosing your furry BFF is like embarking on a grand adventure, and the first decision? Adoption or responsible breeding – it's a bit like choosing between the thrill of a treasure hunt and creating a masterpiece, one puppy paw at a time.


Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue? Oh, it's like hitting the jackpot of unconditional love! You're not just finding a home for a pup; you're gaining a lifelong companion. These shelters are like Ridgeback matchmakers, connecting pups in need with families craving a tail-wagging buddy. It's a win-win situation, folks – you get a loyal sidekick, and they get a forever home. Gratitude and loyalty? Yep, those come standard.


If you're leaning towards the breeder route, buckle up and choose wisely! Ethical breeders are the rockstars of the dog world. They're like canine health gurus, ensuring every pup is healthy, happy, and ready to conquer the world. Supporting these heroes means you're not just getting a pup but ensuring the breed's future is bright and waggy!

ridgeback puppy green collar
Image Credit: Unsplash

Avoid Puppy Mills

But here's the serious bit, folks: there's a dark side – the dreaded puppy mills. These horrible places are the villains in this story! Profit reigns supreme in these places, and it doesn’t matter if the poor doggies suffer. We're talking about horrible conditions that breed health problems, like kennel cough and other conditions.

So, we are big proponents of steering clear of these places because every pup deserves better! By choosing adoption or ethical breeders, you're not just getting a pet; you're becoming part of a community of compassion.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks: Africa’s Mighty Guardian Dog

ridgeback puppy sleeping
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Throughout this breed's history, they have shown us what true companionship is all about. They're not just your regular pooches; they bring with them loyalty, grace, and love all rolled into one fuzzy package.

The great news is that the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s charm isn't limited to African savannas anymore; oh no, these guys have gone global! They've crossed continents and oceans, leaving a trail of wagging tails and happy hearts. They have a universal language of love that connects with everyone.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading