Rhodesian Ridgeback

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by Michael Russell

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed that no one seems to know how to classify. In some countries this breed is considered a member of the Working Group. In other countries he has been placed in the Hound category. In still others he is a classified as a Gun Dog. Historically, the breed performed all of these duties in its native land. The original country of origin of this dog is Africa. The Ridgeback in Africa was used by the natives to harass the lions on a hunt, being quick and agile and making feints at the lion, distracting him while the natives came in for the kill.

The name “Ridgeback” is because of the very distinct line which is created down the center of the back where the hairs lie in opposite direction from the “lay” of the coat, creating a ridge which is obvious and unique to the breed. Only one other breed, the Thai Ridgeback, carries this “trademark”. The ridge should have two swirls of hair at the top of the ridge, creating the appearance of a crown.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Ridgeback does not enjoy great popularity as a pet. It is strongly independent. This dog happily fulfils the roles of both a guard dog and a hunting dog, but it will do exactly what it wants to do if the owner is not the “leader of the pack”. They are not overly affectionate and do not make friends with strangers. They should not show aggression, but will not fawn over people nor be overly affectionate except to their own household.

The color of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is always a deep red or fawn. White markings, if any, should be small, on the toes or the chest. Males should be 25-27 inches and females 24-25 inches. The “ridge” is of course the identifying characteristic of the breed and must be present and quite obvious. The Ridgeback should move with a long stride and should have good angulation in the rear, he should be agile and able to make quick turns, being of good length of leg for the feinting and quick strikes necessary when on the hunt. The dog’s overall appearance should be that of a well muscled and athletic dog.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback will thrive on country living and makes a protective and fearless guardian of the property. It should never show aggression towards people and this is not part of its nature. This is a dog that should show protective instincts of its territory and should ward off marauding animals. It is fine to have in an urban household if given plenty of exercise. In either case, the Rhodesian Ridgeback needs to have good obedience training as a puppy. they are an energetic and inquisitive breed and can get into a lot of trouble if not kept in a safe fenced in area.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Dogs.

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