The Lion Hunter: Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Info

What would you say about a dog that was literally bred to hunt lions? The thought alone might make the Rhodesian ridgeback seem like an intimidating dog, but the truth is much different. This impressive breed is certainly strong and athletic, but also playful, affectionate and adventurous. They are considered a great family dog and good with kids.

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Bark a Lot?

One of the most common questions people have when learning about a dog breed is about barking. Do they bark a lot? Are they nervous barkers, and can they be trained to curb unwanted barking? Of course, all dogs vocalize to communicate, but some breeds are bigger barkers than others.

So do Rhodesian ridgebacks bark a lot? The Rhodesian ridgeback is a hound, in fact, it is sometimes referred to as the African Lion Hound. Hounds bark as a form of communicating the presence of the prey they are tracking. So while they bark, they tend to do it only when there is a reason to make some noise, which is why they are considered a low-barking, quiet breed.

When a ridgeback barks, it is usually to let you know about an intruder or something that seems threatening. They may also bark to tell other dogs to back off. They don’t bark for the sake of barking and are not known to be nervous barkers. The American Kennel Club (AKC) rates their barking level as two on a scale of five, mostly barking as an alert.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Facts

The origin of the Rhodesian ridgeback dates back to the 16th century in South Africa, where European settlers used them to hunt lions, tracking and cornering them until their human counterparts caught up. They would also protect settlements from all sorts of dangers in the largely untamed land.

rhodesian ridgeback with a white paw

  • How big do Rhodesian ridgebacks get? Males’ height reaches up to 27 inches, and females reach up to about 26 inches. The Rhodesian ridgeback average weight is 70 pounds for females and 85 pounds for males.
  • Life expectancy of a Rhodesian ridgeback: The expected life span is from 10 to 12 years. They are also considered a healthy breed with relatively few known health issues.
  • Rhodesian ridgebacks’ colors and coats: Their coats come in varying shades of wheaten, ranging from light to red. The distinctive ridge going down their back is caused by hair growing in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat.
  • AKC group: Hound Group

Are Rhodesians Easy to Train?

The Rhodesian ridgeback is a strong-willed and independent dog, which makes sense given their roots as a large game hunter. Even so, they are clever and take to training quite well as long as you’re consistent and patient. You’ll find that they have a strong prey drive, which also goes back to their lion hunting days. This means they have a need to chase down things, so they can get distracted if anything moves in their field of vision. Like all dogs, you’ll get the best results if you start training while they are puppies.

Rhodesian Ridgeback temperament

While Rhodesian ridgeback personality tends to be strong, and they look a bit imposing, they actually have a gentle and even temperament. As natural alert dogs, they are watchful and curious, paying close attention to their environments. They are loyal, protective and very affectionate to their trusted humans, making them a great companion animal. Obedience training is helpful for the Rhodesian ridgeback, as they tend to be boisterous and need to have a clear sense of who’s in charge.

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks make good pets?

The Rhodesian ridgeback is a protective and loyal dog that enjoys being with their human families. Their even temperament and gentle nature makes them a good family pet, but they are curious, clever and energetic. This means they need daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent unwanted behavior. They are protective of children, but require supervision around small kids because their energetic behavior can be a bit overwhelming. An excited ridgeback might accidentally knock down a small child. They live well with other dogs, but too many males can lead to power struggles. They can even live with cats if they are raised with them.

rhodesian ridgeback laying in a garden

Is the Rhodesian ridgeback a good watch dog or guard dog?

The Rhodesian ridgeback makes a good guard dog thanks to their watchful, protective and loyal nature. Their athletic build and size can also be imposing, giving would-be intruders reason to think twice. Bred to hunt lions and protect settlers, they have a natural tendency toward being alert, vigilant and protective of their owners. They are wary of new people, so a friendly face or a treat from a stranger won’t win them over.

How much exercise do Ridgebacks need?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an energetic dog that needs plenty of exercise and activity. They do best with active families and make good jogging companions, as they are natural runners. They are also intelligent and curious dogs, so they also need mental stimulation to keep them engaged and happy. Without positive outlets for their energy and curiosity, they will find undesirable ways to keep themselves busy.

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Need Grooming?

The Rhodesian ridgeback has a short, glossy coat that is generally easy to care for with minimal work. They shed a little, but it can be controlled by giving them a good brushing once a week. An occasional bath can keep their coat nice and clean, but brush them prior to bathing to get rid of shedding hair and make the bath more effective.

Their nails may need to be trimmed if they aren’t getting worn down naturally through activity. You will probably have to experiment to find the easiest way to do this, as some dogs do better with a nail grinder than they do with a guillotine-style clipper. A quick lesson or refresher in how to trim nails can help you find the best way to trim nails and keep the experience from becoming traumatic, for you and your dog!

Do Rhodesian ridgebacks shed?

Rhodesian ridgeback fur is short, and they are not excessive shedders, but their short coat does shed. Fortunately, this is minimal and can be controlled with a good weekly brushing. Just make it a habit to brush them down every week to remove loose hairs. Giving them an occasional bath can also help reduce shedding and keep their coat looking glossy and healthy.

Rhodesian Mixes

People try to highlight or reduce certain characteristics through breeding the Rhodesian Ridgeback with other breeds. This is a common practice with all breeds, but in reality, there is never a guarantee about how any mix will turn out.

While you might see all sorts of hybrids, here are some of the more popular breeds that are crossed with the Ridgeback:

Resource Links for More Rhodesian Ridgeback Info

rhodesian ridgeback mix likely labrador