Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed

Rhodesian Ridgeback At-a-Glance

Rhodesian Ridgebacks originally came from Southern Africa, in the region we now call Zimbabwe. While they are not one of the giant dog breeds, these very brave canines were bred to hunt big game such as lions. Their job was to track and corner their prey until their human hunting companions could come in for the kill. They are still used as hunting and tracking dogs today but are more popular as family pets and loyal companions.

Weight (pounds)
Male: 75-85
Female: 65-75
Height (inches)
Male: 25-27
Female: 24-26
Lifespan (years)

Dog Breed Group

Characteristics Ratings

We rate 19 characteristics for each breed, divided into three categories:
Highest Rated – Characteristics for which this breed is rated 4 or 5 stars (on a 5 star scale).
Neutral Rated – Characteristics that rated 3 stars.
Lowest Rated – Characteristics that rated only 1 or 2 stars.

Highest Rated

  • Good Family Dog
  • Kid Friendly
  • Good With Other Dogs
  • Low Drooling
  • Protective Nature
  • Handles Change Easily
  • Easy to Train
  • Low Amount of Barking
  • Good General Health
  • High Intelligence

Neutral Rated

  • Low Shedding
  • Friendly to Strangers
  • Likes to Play
  • High Energy Level
  • Tolerates Cold Climate
  • Tolerates Hot Climate

Lowest Rated

  • Suitable for Small Yards/Apartments
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Tolerates Being Left Alone

General Overview

When properly trained and socialized, Ridgebacks are excellent family dogs. They adore their families and make excellent watchdogs and guard dogs. They were originally bred to protect their homes from predators, so they have a strong natural protective instinct.  

With children, they are generally patient and make good playmates because they like to run around and play. But like all large breeds, they should be supervised around little ones to avoid accidental injuries.

This is a fearless breed that will defend its home and family against any perceived threat. This means they are only moderately good with strangers. They tend to automatically view strangers as potential threats at first, which is a common trait with protective breeds.

With other dogs, Ridgebacks are a mixed bag. Generally, they are good around most dogs. However, they have a high prey drive and should be watched around small dogs and other small animals.

Maintenance with Ridgebacks is fairly easy. They don’t shed excessively and are low droolers. Weekly brushing is all that’s needed.

On the downside, Ridgebacks have a low tolerance for being left alone. These are very social dogs that get very attached to their humans. As a result, they do suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for a long time.

They also do not do well living in apartments or houses with small yards. These are large, fairly active dogs that need to be able to stretch their legs. They can adapt if you provide a lot of exercise and playtime, but they are much better suited to large yards and outdoor spaces.

And while they are very loving and loyal companions, they can be very strong-willed and independent, which means they are not a good choice for first-time dog owners.

We rate Ridgebacks as being medium to high-energy dogs. They were bred for hunting, so they have a lot of stamina and endurance. They need lots of exercise to burn off that energy and remain happy and healthy.

That said, some Ridgebacks have a more laid-back personality and don’t need as much exercise. Be sure to determine in advance the energy level of your potential choice so that you’ll get a good match for your lifestyle.

Ridgebacks are near the top when it comes to intelligence. This is one smart breed! They quickly learn new commands and tricks.

However, this is offset a bit by their tendency to be somewhat stubborn and independent-minded. This means training can be more challenging with Ridgebacks than with other breeds and requires a patient and consistent hand. This is another reason they aren’t a good choice for a first-time owner.

Fortunately, Ridgebacks enjoy good overall health. Like all large breeds, they can experience some joint problems, but with good nutrition and care, they can live up to 12 years, which is not bad for a big dog.

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