The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a South African hound also known as the Van Rooyen’s Lion Dog, the African Lion Hound, or the African Lion Dog. The breed has been known to hunt anything from upland birds to larger, more dangerous game such as boar, deer, stag, moose, and lions. It is named from its ability to keep a lion at bay while waiting for its master to make the kill. There is question regarding its status as a scenthound or sighthound; the breed does not fit easily into either category, and some say that it is more of a Cur type tracking dog.
The breed may have originated from the Collie, Greyhound, Irish terrier, Airedale, Bulldog, Great Dane, Deerhound and Pointer during the 18th century. It was bred to be a tough, disease-resistant, intelligent hunting breed with a smooth coat to repel ticks and tight paw pads to protect against rough terrain. It was also bred for its speed and size.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback stands 24 to 27 inches tall and weighs around 70 pounds. The coat of the Ridgeback is its most distinguishing feature. It is short, dense, sleek, and generally a red to light wheaten color. The breed has a ridge of hair along its back which runs opposite the direction of the rest of its coat. It tapers from behind the shoulders down to the hips. The eyes of the breed are round; dogs with dark eyes have black noses, and those with amber eyes have liver-colored noses. The tail of the breed is smooth, strong, and curved.
The Ridgeback is a loyal, strong-willed, intelligent breed. It needs proper socialization and consistent training from an experienced, firm, yet kind owner. Training with the Rhodesian Ridgeback needs to be positive, else it might backfire. The breed makes an excellent pet and loving companion.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback generally lives from nine to sixteen years. It has several known health issues such as hip dysplasia, dermoid sinus ““ a congenital neural-tube defect, and a breed-specific form of deafness.