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Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed Profile

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Other Names
Ridgeback, Lion Dog, African Lion Hound 
Dog Group Kennel Club
Breed Classification
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a member of the hound group. They were originally bred for hunting big game; today they are guard dogs and companions.  
Cost of Ownership
Average Food Cost
£4-7.50 per week
Feeding Requirements
The Ridgeback is an undemanding dog to feed with no special dietary requirements; they generally have a good appetite. 
Other Expenses
The average puppy price ranges from £600 to £800.  
9 - 15 years
The average lifespan is 12 years.  
Average Litter Size
The average number of puppies in a litter is 6. 
General Physical Description
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a medium sized, solid coloured, active dog with a short coat. These powerful, agile dogs have a distinctive ridge of hair along their backs. This ridge runs along the spine as a tapering line.
Height Min Max
Bitch 61cm (24") 66cm (26")
Dog 63cm (25") 67cm (26")
Weight Min Max
Bitch 30kg (66lbs) 39kg (86lbs)
Dog 30kg (66lbs) 39kg (86lbs)
Size Category
Weight Height Range
Dogs should measure between 63-67cms at the withers and weigh between 30-39kgs. Bitches should ideally measure between 61-66cms and weigh 30-39kgs. 
There are a few breed-specific problems and choosing a pup from healthy stock will reduce the possibility of these arising. These problems include hip dysplasia, OCD and sinus problems. 
Common Ailments

Dermoid Sinus  
Susceptibility To Illness
Records show that the Hottentots of South Africa used ridge-backed dogs as hunters and companions from at least the 15th century. They were bred as big game hunters, to track and trap the prey but not to attack. Once they had cornered their prey they would bark to alert the hunter. In the 1800ís European settlers bred these dogs to their own mastiffs and scent hounds thus producing the Ridgeback we know today. Nowadays few of these dogs are used for their original purpose of hunting; instead they are guard dogs and companions. 
They have been said to be a difficult breed to train, however with plenty of time and effort put into the training then the rewards will be seen. It is essential that this dog is socialised and introduced to some basic training as young as possible< 
Show Characteristics
The Rhodesian Ridgeback should have a flat skull, broad between the ears; the muzzle is powerful, long and deep. The jaws should be strong and have a complete scissor bite. The eyes should be round, bright and set well apart. The ears should be high set, medium in size and carried close to the head. The neck should be strong and reasonably long. The chest should be deep but not too wide. The front legs should straight, strong and heavy in bone, the back legs should be muscular and powerful. The feet should be compact, round with well-arched toes. The tail should be carried slightly curved upwards, but never curled. The coat should be short and dense. The ridge of hair which grows in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat must be clear and symmetrical; starting behind the shoulders and running in a tapering line down the spine and ending at the saddle area. There should be two identical crowns of hair, situated across from one another at the start of the ridge at the shoulder area. The colours desired are self-colours in light wheaten to red wheaten. Some white is allowed on the chest and toes, the less white the better.  
Country Of Origin
South Africa 
Famous Examples
Records Held
Overall Exercise
40 - 60 minutes per day.
As a breed the Ridgeback does not require a great deal of exercise, an hour a day will suffice, however they are always ready for more if given the opportunity.  
Distress if Left Alone
Personal Protection
Guard Dog Suitability
Risk of Sheep Worrying
Tendency to Bark
Level of Aggression
Compatibility With Other Animals
Suitable For Children


General Character And Temperament
The Ridgeback is a strong, powerful, large and bold dog. They make an excellent family dog, with their dignified and gentlemanly character. They have to know from an early age who the leader of the pack is, because they can be quite determined and stubborn. Although quite placid and confident at home, they are very wary of strangers. Not the ideal breed for the novice owner. 
Coat Length
Grooming Requirement
Once a week 
Requires Professional Groomer
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an easy breed to groom. Their shorthaired coats can be groomed using a rubber-grooming mitt once or twice a week.  
They can be any self-colour from light wheaten to red wheaten. 
Suffers From Allergies
Tendency to Cause Allergies