I did not know much about the breed of dog known as the Rhodesian Ridgeback until last year when a coworker of my husband who owns 2 of these dogs, told him about one she was trying to find a home for. He was 1 1/2 years old and like his father was being trained to be a show dog. Unfortunately, his owner was battling cancer and could no longer care for him so she placed him in a kennel until a new home could be found for him. My husbands coworker decided to make the drive from her home here in Georgia up to Ohio to pick him up so she could help in the search for a new family. It was then that I got a quick lesson on the breed as we awaited the arrival of a dog I just knew was going to come live with us.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks aka African Lion Hound or African Lion Dog are members of the hound family and were first bred in the 1800's. They came about by breeding the South African hunting dog the Hottentot with various other breeds of dog including the Greyhound, the Mastiff and the Bloodhound. Their name comes from their most distinguishing feature their ridge which is a line of hair that runs along the length of their backs in the opposite direction of their other fur. They have short coats and their colors range from a light coco brown color to a deep red. They are very large and powerful dogs with females weighing it at around 70 pounds and males at around 85. Our dog Zeuss is larger than average and weighs in at about 120. They also have a very unique build especially their feet which are huge with heavy pads and well arched toes that are separated almost like human fingers.
Ridgebacks were originally bred to hunt lions. They are intelligent, loyal, strong and fast. As a breed they will protect their owners at all costs and need to be well trained in order to keep you, your friends and your home safe. A Ridgeback who is out of control can do a lot of damage in a very short period of time. Had our dog not come to us already fully trained, I know there would have been no way that we could have done it on our own. Even with his training, he charges the door and lunges at it when someone appears and occasionally he has been so intent on protecting me from the person that is on the other side, he has actually ended up accidentally injuring me in the process due to his size and his determination. That said, I have no doubt that this dog would not lay his life on the line to protect any member of my family, at any cost.
When it comes to food, these dogs are very crafty and can go as far as opening a cabinet to get something if they really want it. We have not had that happen to us yet but Zeuss can and will clear the kitchen counters if food is left unsupervised and no left over cat food is safe in the bowl. Left unchecked, a Ridgeback will eat anything and everything which can cause them serious problems if they get too overweight. Being as large as they are, additional weight puts a huge strain on their long legs and spine so even though those big sad eyes are sometime hard to resist when you want to give them a treat, do it only in moderation to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Ridgies can be high energy or like mine a huge couch potato. The breed is recommended for athletic and active families and are said to require at least one hour of vigorous exercise each day. They can run long distances and are capable of going 30 miles at a time without stopping and can keep up with a running horse. My dog did not get that memo though and his idea of exercise is watching us chase the ball we just threw at him to fetch. When he does take off after something though like a deer or a wild turkey, there is no stopping him until he decides he wants to stop and he has come close to taking down a deer a few times now.
Ridgies are very low maintenance to care for with very little shedding and grooming required. They are generally genetically healthy and are affected by very few diseases as well as being immune to insect bites.
This breed of dog is not for everyone but I must say after owning one for almost a year now, I would not trade him for the world.