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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Dignified, Even-Tempered
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 42 of 194
  • Height: 25-27 inches (male), 24-26 inches (female)
  • Weight: 85 pounds (male), 70 pounds (female)
  • Group: Hound Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Rhodesian Ridgeback standing sideways facing left
Rhodesian Ridgeback head and shoulders facing forward, head turned slightly left
Rhodesian Ridgeback sitting facing left, head turned forward
Rhodesian Ridgeback lying in three-quarter view

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Ridgeback represents a strong, muscular and active hound, symmetrical and balanced in outline. A mature Ridgeback is a handsome, upstanding and athletic dog, capable of great endurance with a fair (good) amount of speed. Of even, dignified temperament, the Ridgeback is devoted and affectionate to his master, reserved with strangers. The peculiarity of this breed is the ridge on the back. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed.

HEAD

Should be of fair length, the skull flat and rather broad between the ears and should be free from wrinkles when in repose. The stop should be reasonably well defined. Eyes – should be moderately well apart and should be round, bright and sparkling with intelligent expression, their color harmonizing with the color of the dog. Ears – should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at the base and tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head.

BODY

The neck should be fairly long. It should be strong, free from throatiness and in balance with the dog. The chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious, ribs moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel hoops (which would indicate want of speed). The back is powerful and firm with strong loins which are muscular and slightly arched.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed. Elbows close to the body. The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and heavy in bone. The feet should be compact with well-arched toes, round, tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads. Dewclaws may be removed.

COAT

The hallmark of this breed is the ridge on the back which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed. The ridge should be clearly defined, tapering and symmetrical. It should start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to a point between the prominence of the hips and should contain two identical crowns (whorls) directly opposite each other.

HINDQUARTERS

In the hind legs the muscles should be clean, well defined and hocks well down. Feet as in front.

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About the Rhodesian Ridgeback

Beneath the Ridgeback’s trademark ridge is a whole lot of hound: Ridgebacks are fast and powerful athletes who can weigh between 70 and 85 pounds, and oftentimes more. They come in only one color – wheaten – which spans every shade seen in a wheat field, from pale flaxen to the burnished red of a maturing crop. Ridgebacks also have two nose colors: black and the less commonly seen brown.

The formidable Ridgeback can be strong willed, independent, and sometimes domineering. Ridgebacks must be guided with a firm but fair hand from puppyhood. They are faithful friends, protective of their loved ones and meltingly affectionate with those whom they trust. Still, a Ridgeback can be too much hound for the novice dog owner.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Rhodesian Ridgeback

Find a Puppy: Rhodesian Ridgeback

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AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Rhodesian Ridgeback should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior).Ridgebacks are notorious “counter surfers,” so be sure not to leave human food unattended. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Rhodesian Ridgeback does shed somewhat, but overall his grooming needs are minimal. A regular weekly brushing will help to remove loose hair and keep the coat glossy, and an occasional bath will help to keep the Ridgeback clean and looking his best. The nails should be trimmed often if not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort and problems walking and running. Many Ridgebacks resist nail clipping, and many respond more positively to a nail grinder.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are strong, athletic dogs who require a moderate amount of exercise, and they can adapt well to various living situations when provided with daily outings such as long walks and play sessions with their owner. They love to run, and they need physical activity to help keep them healthy and happy. The breed can also exercise mind and body by participating in canine sports like trackingagility, and other activities that dog and owner can enjoy together.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Because of their very strong prey drive, Rhodesian Ridgebacks should always be in a safely enclosed area when off leash. The Ridgeback is a devoted companion and needs to live indoors with his human family. They can be strong willed, independent, and sometimes domineering, and must be guided with a firm but patient hand from early puppyhood. Early socialization and puppy training classes using positive reinforcement are recommended and help to ensure that the dog grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their dogs for hip and elbow dysplasia, thyroid function and eye anomalies. Dermoid sinus is a tube-like opening in the skin that is occasionally present at birth; an experienced breeder can palpate, or feel, for this defect.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgeback

History

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a unique creation of southern Africa, resulting from crosses between the native ridged Khoikhoi dog and European breeds brought by Dutch colonists, including Greyhounds and various Terriers. The infusion of native Khoi blood gave resulting generations a resiliency against local pests such as the tsetse fly, as well as an inborn knowledge of how to navigate their new African environs – and outwit its deadly predators.

In the late 19th Century, Rhodesian big-game hunter Cornelius van Rooyen incorporated two ridged Greyhound-like females into his pack of lion dogs. He found that their ridged offspring excelled at confronting and confounding the king of beasts, giving the hunter time to sight in his rifle and dispatch his prey. These ridged dogs were also successful at fending off other dangerous animals such as leopards and baboons, trotting effortlessly alongside horse-mounted riders all day, breaking off to course quick-footed game such as antelope to provide meat for the pot, and protecting the homestead from all intruders. They were known then, as they are today, for their devotion to family, and tolerance and affection for its children.

In 1922, a meeting was convened to write the first Rhodesian Ridgeback standard. By then, big-game hunting had already begun to fade in South Africa, and the breed itself was on the brink of extinction. The dogs convened at this meeting ranged in size and appearance from Bull Terriers to Great Dane, and the Dalmatian standard was used as a template to arrive at the standardized vision of the breed that we know today. 

Did You Know?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a medium-large dog originally bred in southern Africa to hunt large game, including lions. It was previously known as the African Lion Hound.
The first breeder of Rhodesian Ridgebacks in the United States was movie star Errol Flynn, who reared them on his Hollywood ranch in the 1930s. Sadly, that bloodline is now extinct.
Dutch settlers in South Africa, called the Boers, crossed their European dogs to the native Khoi dog, which passed on its signature ridge. Hundreds of years later, the breed was formally developed by…
The hallmark and namesake of the breed is the ridge of forward-growing hair on its back.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback was recognized by the AKC in 1955.
Many breeds are believed to have been involved in the creation of the Rhodesian Ridgeback, including the native Khoikhoi dog, Greyhounds, long-legged Bulldogs, Terriers and, later, Great Danes to add…

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Ridgeback represents a strong, muscular and active hound, symmetrical and balanced in outline. A mature Ridgeback is a handsome, upstanding and athletic dog, capable of great endurance with a fair (good) amount of speed. Of even, dignified temperament, the Ridgeback is devoted and affectionate to his master, reserved with strangers. The peculiarity of this breed is the ridge on the back. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed.

HEAD

Should be of fair length, the skull flat and rather broad between the ears and should be free from wrinkles when in repose. The stop should be reasonably well defined. Eyes – should be moderately well apart and should be round, bright and sparkling with intelligent expression, their color harmonizing with the color of the dog. Ears – should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at the base and tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head.

BODY

The neck should be fairly long. It should be strong, free from throatiness and in balance with the dog. The chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious, ribs moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel hoops (which would indicate want of speed). The back is powerful and firm with strong loins which are muscular and slightly arched.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed. Elbows close to the body. The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and heavy in bone. The feet should be compact with well-arched toes, round, tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads. Dewclaws may be removed.

COAT

The hallmark of this breed is the ridge on the back which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed. The ridge should be clearly defined, tapering and symmetrical. It should start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to a point between the prominence of the hips and should contain two identical crowns (whorls) directly opposite each other.

HINDQUARTERS

In the hind legs the muscles should be clean, well defined and hocks well down. Feet as in front.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
LIGHT WHEATEN Check Mark For Standard Color 120
LT WHTN BLK NOSE Check Mark For Standard Color 467
LT WHTN BRN NOSE Check Mark For Standard Color 468
RD WHTN BLK NOSE Check Mark For Standard Color 469
RD WHTN BRN NOSE Check Mark For Standard Color 470
RED WHEATEN Check Mark For Standard Color 156
WHEATEN Check Mark For Standard Color 224
WHEATEN BLK NOSE Check Mark For Standard Color 471
WHEATEN BRN NOSE Check Mark For Standard Color 472

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MASK 004
WHITE MARKINGS 014

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