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Hound Group Third and Best of Breed: GCHP CH Diablo's Back Alley Brawler CGC, Rhodesian Ridgeback; Hound Group judging at the 2016 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin in Orlando, FL.
David Woo ©American Kennel Club

When you first meet a Rhodesian Ridgeback, the striking ridge of hair along the back and the imposing stature are immediately obvious. This is a strong, dignified, muscular breed, and a member of the Hound Group. Here are 10 Rhodesian Ridgeback facts to know.

1. The Rhodesian Ridgeback Is a Product of Several Breeds

This South African breed is the result of crosses among the native ridged Khoikhoi dog and dogs brought to Africa by European settlers (including Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, Great Danes, and Greyhounds).

2. They Were Originally Bred to Pursue Lions

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a superb hunter. This dog not only tracks their prey but can hold also quarry at bay. The breed is also known as the African Lion Hound due to their history of helping to hunt lions in the savannah.

Rhodesian Ridgeback running in a field.
©Osetrik -

3. This Athletic Breed Loves to Run

Along with the Ridgeback’s hunting skills, they are speedy enough to keep pace with some of the fastest dog breeds. They tend to perform well at lure coursing.

4. Rhodesian Ridgebacks Only Come in One Color

Although you’ll see coats in what appear to be varied colors, they’re really just all the different shades, from pale flax to deep auburn. The breed standard details acceptable colors as “light wheaten to red wheaten.”

5. They Make Excellent Family Guardians

Not only did the original breed hunt in the wild, but they also protected Boer farms and families in an untamed, often hostile environment. The Ridgeback’s formidable presence will make any intruder think twice.

Rhodesian Ridgeback laying down in the yard.
©Tatiana Katsai -

6. Movie Star Errol Flynn Bred Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Famed actor Errol Flynn was among the first people to breed Rhodesian Ridgebacks in America. He purchased his first Ridgeback from an English breeder in the 1930s and raised the dogs on his ranch in Hollywood. Sadly, that bloodline is now extinct.

7. They’re Highly Intelligent

With a strong-willed, independent streak, Rhodesian Ridgebacks require patient and consistent training and a lot of positive motivation. This will start in puppyhood and continue through adulthood.

8. They’re Not Known as Barkers

Rhodesian Ridgebacks don’t usually bark a lot. So if your Ridgeback is barking at someone or something, you’d better investigate, as something may be up.

Rhodesian Ridgeback standing in profile outdoors.
©Nikol -

9. They’re Worthy Competitors in Dog Sports

These dogs are solid competitors across a variety of dog sports. For example, A Touch of Class (called “Penny”), bred by Shadowbridge Rhodesian Ridgebacks in Sacramento, California, took first in the Hound Group at the 2019 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin.

10. They Make Devoted Companions

As imposing as they may look, these dogs are whole-heartedly attached to their families, including children.  These are “people” dogs that want to be wherever you are. They love you deeply, with unswerving dedication and loyalty.

Related article: Best Dog Breeds for Running Companions
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