Rhodesian Ridgeback

AKC Hound Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback resulted from crosses between ridgebacked dogs originally kept by native tribes in South Africa and other breeds, such as the Great Dane and various scent hounds, imported by Boer settlers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Rhodesian Ridgeback was used for many purposes. This impressive, protective hound could hunt game, retrieve, take care of children, and guard property, as well as withstand the harsh African climate and conditions. South African hunters discovered that the Ridgeback, used in packs, was very effective against lions, hence the breed’s other name, “African Lion Hound.” The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1959.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large, handsome, muscular hound with a distinctive raised ridge of hair running in a symmetrical strip down the center of his back. The hair in the strip actually grows in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The short, sleek coat comes in light to dark wheaten, sometimes with small white markings on the chest and feet. The head is fairly long; the skull is flat and broad with powerful jaws. The bright, sparkling eyes are round with an intelligent expression. Nose color should be either black or brown, depending on the color of the coat. The ears are pendant. Dogs with black noses should have dark eyes; those with brown noses should have amber colored eyes. The front legs should be very straight and strong, with heavy bone. The strong tapered tail is fairly long and curves slightly upward.

Key Facts

  • Height:  25 to 27 in. (male); 24 to 26 in. (female)
  • Size:  Large
  • Weight:  Averages 85 lbs. (male); 70 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  May take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Hunting, tracking, watchdog, and guarding


Might be prone to dermoid sinus, hip dysplasia, and cysts. Buy only from stock with OFA, PennHIP, or another national hip-dysplasia clearance. Puppies should be checked for dermoid sinus before purchase. Don’t overfeed. Some males can be very combative with other dogs.


A fine hunter, but gentle and calm at home. Good natured and fond of children. Intelligent. This breed needs thorough obedience training, early socialization with people and other dogs, and firm owner leadership to become the excellent companion he can be.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Moderately protective
  • Trainability:  Slightly difficult to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  High
  • Other Pets:  Might be aggressive with dogs of the same sex; do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness:  Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Average barker
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Very little grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Short coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging:  An excellent jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with a large yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Standard


Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the Rhodesian Ridgeback


Rhodesian Ridgeback Gifts