Rhodesian Ridgeback - Information and NZ Breed Standards

Membership ID

Rhodesian Ridgeback

General Information - Rhodesian Ridgeback



11-13 years


very low


Watchdog ability:
very high

Protection ability:
very high

Area of Origin:
South Africa

Date of Origin:

Other Names:
African Lion Hound

Original Function:
Large game (including lion) hunting, guardian


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a native of Southern Africa. The early settlers mated their imported breeds, which included the Great Dane/Greyhound/Collie/Pointer among others, to the native Hottentot Hunting Dog. Hottentot dog. "Hottentot" is a colonial name given to the Khoikhoi people. The Hottentot Hunting dog had hair growing in a reverse direction to the rest of the coat. The Settlers needed a dog that could withstand both hot and cold temperatures, limited water, cope with the rough bush, while performing the duties of guard dog and hunting dog.

In 1879 Missionary Rev Charles Helm journeyed from Swellendam in the Cape Province of SA to Rhodesia with 2 of these ridged dogs. Cornelias Van Rooyan (well known big game hunter and early authority on SA wild life) borrowed the dogs to take on a hunt. He soon concluded that they possessed excellent instinctive hunting qualities and he pioneered the breeding of a pack of the ridged dogs as hunters of big game for his own use. The reputation of the ridged dogs as fearless and efficient hunters was established. The ridge was respected and highly prized, thus retained and refined and found on our present day RR's. Rhodesian Ridgebacks were never expected to bring down a lion, rather they would track the lion and keep it at bay for the hunter to kill.

1922 saw the first Rhodesian Ridgeback Club. A standard of points were set (these differ little from those in use today) based on the standard of the Dalmatian. Today the RR is one of the most popular hunting dogs in Southern Africa. Their hunting characteristics have also proved to be useful in hunting all sorts of game in other parts of the world. Ref: The Rhodesian Ridgeback In Australia by Pauline Sadler The Rhodesian Ridgeback by T C Hawley The Rhodesian Ridgeback 1924-74 by Janet Murray The Rhodesian Ridgeback Indaba by Janet Murray


A fine hunter, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is ferocious in the hunt, but in the home it is a calm, gentle, obedient dog. They are intelligent, cunning but straight-forward dogs that are loyal to the family. They have something of a mind of their own, are brave, vigilant, reserved toward strangers, and possess considerable stamina. This breed needs thorough obedience training, socialisation with people and other dogs, and firm owner leadership to become the excellent companion he can be. Ridgebacks react best to an extremely consistent and equable approach to training. They are intelligent and learn quickly, but they are also strong and a bit stubborn. Training should be gentle and start young while the dog is still small enough to manage. They are also very good watch dogs, but not suggested for guard dogs. They are very protective of owners! This has to be addressed during their early training. This breed can be destructive than if left unsupervised.


The Ridgeback loves to run, and it needs daily mental and physical exercise to keep it from becoming frustrated. It can be a good jogging or hiking companion. The Ridgeback can live outdoors in temperate or warm climates, but it is usually much happier sleeping indoors and dividing its time between the house and yard during the day. Coat care is minimal, consisting only of occasional brushing to remove dead hair.

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