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Rhodesian Ridgeback

Country/Date of Origin: South Africa/1800s

The Rhodesian Ridgeback in spite of its name, is a South African breed. It was developed by the Boer farmers in the Cape Province in the 19th Century for hunting lion that preyed upon their cattle and sheep. Settlers to neighboring Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) brought the dogs with them in 1876 and drew up the standard which bore the name of the dog's new homeland. The hallmark ridge of hair that runs contrary to the rest of the coat is thought to have come from an extinct dog kept by the Hotentot people. Americans imported the Ridgebacks in 1950 and they were accepted in the American Kennel Club registry in 1955.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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African Lion Hound

AKC Group: Hound

Breed Club: Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of America

Rescue Club: Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue

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Body Type:

  • A large, clean lined hunting hound
  • Height: 24-27 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 65-85 pounds
  • Drop ears are not altered
  • Long tapering tail is not altered


  • Dignified and reserved
  • A loyal and protective family pet
  • Can become too aggressive
  • In spite of its formidable powers, the Ridgeback does not usually go looking for trouble with other dogs
  • Very intelligent but stubborn, probably because it thinks it knows best


  • Coat is short, harsh to the touch and glossy
  • The most striking feature of the breed is the ridge of hair that runs along the top of its back in a direction opposite to the rest of the coat. The ridge should be symmetrical with whorls on either side, beginning just behind the shoulders. The hairs of the ridge are especially stiff
  • Color is always that of a lion: red or red wheaten
  • Minimal grooming

Health Concerns:

  • Cysts, called dermoid sinuses sometimes occur near the ridge. These require surgery. Many vets recommend that puppies with these cysts be put to sleep
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eyelid abnormalities such as ingrown lashes
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • The only breed of dog to originate in South Africa
  • Ridgebacks share the color as well as the heart of the lion that was once its quarry
  • An excellent choice for a guard dog

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