Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rhodesian Ridgebacks

I might have mentioned one or two times that basenjis come from Africa, but guess what!  They are not the only kind of dog that started out there.  Another breed from Africa is the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and today I will tell you some things about them.

If you look at a map that is up-to-date, you will not find a country called Rhodesia on it.  And that is because Rhodesia is now two different countries named Zambia and Zimbabwe.  These countries are kind of in the southeast part of Africa.  They changed their names when they became independent countries, but the Rhodesian Ridgeback did not change its name, which is probably just as well, because it is hard to keep track of names that are always changing.

Anyway, the Rhodesian Ridgeback got started back in the 18th century when this man named Cornelius Van Rooyen got the idea to make a breed of dog that would be good for hunting lions.  So he crossed his dogs with some native dogs owned by the Khoi-khoi people.  These African dogs had a ridge of hair on their backs that grew the opposite way of all their other hair.  I don't know why it grew this way, but I know that this funny ridge of hair got passed down in the genes, and that's why we call these dogs "ridgebacks."

There are some other names for this breed, including Van Rooyen's Lion Dogs, African Lion Hound, and African Lion Dog.  These dogs were good at hunting lions because they were brave and tough, and also they were smart enough not to get eaten by crocodiles or bitten by snakes.  The way they hunted lions was that they were sent out in a pack, and when they found a lion, they kept it cornered and busy until the hunters could come and shoot the lion.

In 1924, Ridgies got their very own breed standard, and they were registered with the South African Kennel Club.  By 1928, they were being shown in Great Britain.  But they didn't get registered by the AKC until 1955.  Rhodesian Ridgebacks are in the Hound Group, just like basenjis are.

You might be interested to know that there are at least three other dog breeds that have ridges of fur on their backs.  These breeds are the Phu quoc ridgeback dog of Vietnam, the Thai Ridgeback, and the Combai of Tamilnadu, India.

Originally, Rhodesian Ridgebacks could be any of several colors, but now the standard says they should be light wheaten to red wheaten.  It's okay for them to have some white on their chest and toes, and sometimes they have dark masks.

Ridgies are intelligent, loving, and loyal, but they don't always like strangers, which is also true of basenjis.  Ridgies like to protect their people, so they can be trained to be good guard dogs.  I have never met a Rhodesian Ridgeback in person, but they seem like they would be nice dogs.  I asked Mom if we could get one, but as usual, she said no.  Sigh.  Some days Mom is just no fun at all.


  1. I have a four year old Rodesian Ridgeback/ Red Nose pit mix. Both her parents were pure breed. She is the best dog I have ever owend. I have lived out in the country, and in the city with her and I have never needed a leash. I have a four year old son, and she is amazing with him. When ever my son is mistreating her she licks him in the face and runs off.
    You are right, she is very protective and does not like strangers. She will not let a person enter my house with out first introducing them to her. She is wonderful with children and was very easy to house break.
    she does have a couple of cons though. She is a dominate dog and will not get along/ submit to another dominate dog. She has been around other dogs with no problems, but she has to establish that she is the boss right away.
    Another con is her coat. She is always shedding. She is two toan so she shows on all fabrics.
    Other than those two things she is perfect. If you want a loyal and loving dog, they are the breed. I can't play with my son with out her trying to climb in my lap and get some loving. she goes swimming and fishing me all the time. You can't keep her out the water. She also loves to tag along for road trips.

    1. Your Rhodesian mix sounds like a really great dog. I'm glad you have her, and I'll bet she is glad she has such a wonderful family of humans to live with!

  2. I have a RR, hes fantastic. Very intelligent and with lack of fear. Fear was bread out of the RR so they would chase lions all day. So where most dogs run from the vacuum cleaner he attacks it, where most dogs fear a man waving a heft stick/broom at them its a big toy to him. (the later was a discovered after a gentleman with a phobia of dogs attacked my dog in the dog park, poor choice of a day out if you ask me, how ever Titan swiftly disarmed the gentleman) He is ok with strangers but that took alot of training. He loves other dogs untill they get within about 6ft of any family member. Thats too close for his liking. I have had many different dogs, and did my research on RR's before getting one. They absolutely need a strong master. These dogs are very strong willed, independent and intelligent. With out a good leader anything could happen. As long as they are well exercised & happy they are outstanding companions. I will never have another breed. They are loving protective and clever. They know exactly what they are doing all the time so dont be fooled by the eyes & the cocked head. He was trained fairly easily but i had to be very constant, even now, give him a inch and he takes a mile.

    My RR is a pure breed, and sheds remarkable little, i of course understand each dog varies but in general the RR breed does not shed that much especially compared with other dogs. I found several sites recommending the RR for those with pet allergies due to its low shed & odour. He is very loving and often goes in a huff when he cant and get close enough to cuddle into us when hes sleepy. He only ever gets to sleep with us when we are camping but he still holds a grudge because he isnt allowed up on the sofa. We get alot of overly dramatic humphs and groans with every shuffle just like a teenager lol.

    RR's are not for everyone, they are very big and powerfull and if not raised & treated properly have very dangerous capacity for trouble, lets not forget little over 100 years ago these dogs were still hunting lions. As long as the owner is responsible then these are by far in my humble opinion the best dogs out there.

    1. Dear Calgacus,
      Thank you for all the information and advice about Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Your dog, Titan, sounds like a great dog, and I think he is lucky to have a wonderful home like yours.
      Sincerely, Piper