Records show that the original breed was developed by crossing Great Danes, and especially a breed at that time known as 'ridgebacked dogs' ~ imported by Boer settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Reverend Helm introduced two Ridgebacks into what used to be called Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, in 1877. Big-game hunters soon discovered, that if used in packs they were excellent in hunting lions on horseback, hence the breed's other name, the "African Lion Hound."
The dogs did well in the African heat of the day and the damp, cold nights.
This breed of dog was talented beyond their 'hunting' skills. Ridgebacks quickly showed their talent for observation of danger and became but great protectors of their Master's children as well as protecting property and possessions.
Records show that the original breed was developed by crossing Great Danes, and especially a breed at that time known as 'ridgebacked dogs' ~ imported by Boer settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Ridgebacks of today originally lived and partnered with native tribes in South Africa along with other breeds of that era known as Khoikhoidogs, Mastiffs, Deerhounds and Great Danes.
Reverend Helm, travelling internationally, recognized this stunning breed and returned to Europe with 2 Ridgebacks in 1877. The 1st Rhodesian Ridgebacks arrived in the USA in 1950.
• A great, muscular, powerful, ferocious hunter. Great stamina. • This is not a breed suited for everyone. • Rhodesians require solid training, manageability and consistent leadership from their owner. • At home: Calm, gentle, obedient. • Good natured. • Not always good with small children. • Intelligent, skillful and straight forward type of dog. • Loyal, brave and vigilant. • Can be reserved with strangers. • Can be stubborn and willful if not respecting it's owner as the leader. • Great watchdog, but not a great guard dog. • Very protective of their owners. • Can be destructive. • Will do OK with other household pets if introduced and socialized as a puppy with other cats, small dogs in the family. • Are a great jogging/hiking companion. • Hardy breed, easy to groom.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is known as an extremely protective guard dog, in addition to being a keen and versatile hunter. Gentle enough to play with young children it is quite protective of its family, this elegant dog is tough and strong enough to hunt lions while guarding homes and settlements. It is a breed tough enough to withstand cold or heat, explore with the hunter, and hunt in the brushes. Keen eyesight is an excellent feature of the breed, as it accompanies the hunter with silent tracking and determination, able to work in diverse terrains while working together with a pack of hounds.
Strong-willed and powerful, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can become very domineering and strong minded if not trained properly as a young puppy. Otherwise, it is very active and fun-loving, independent in nature yet intelligent enough for most people to work with. When fully grown, the Ridgeback enjoys the company of other animals, such as dogs and cats, protecting what it considers his property against unwelcome strangers, danger, or unwanted intruders.
Even the Ridgeback that is quite mature is enjoyable in its later years. Romping in the back yard or going to the park with its owners, taking naps on the couch, or even training in lure-coursing and agility is still a feat that the Ridgeback is capable of enjoying. As an intelligent breed, this dog is best when its desire to please is recognized and praised through the spirit of adventure, instead of through boring and repetitive dog training exercises that come out of mass-produced books and classes.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not like a Maltese or a Cocker Spaniel. This breed requires a very strong willed owner, as the Ridgeback's will and personality are extremely difficult to deal with. The owner needs to be committed entirely to the breed, the required obedience training, and to provide the dog with stimulation enough for the mind and body.
Exercise is a high requirement for the Rhodesian Ridgeback, even though it is not as high on the level as their watchdog ability or protection abilities. Very hardy dogs built to run and hunt, this is a breed that requires constant and very consistent exercise. Owners such as runners or joggers would make excellent owners for this breed as they can run for very long distances without tiring. And if this is available, make sure their are lots of room for the Rhodie to run and play in, such as a large running yard or walking to parks or special area. This is a breed that needs exercised from the time they are young. They respond well to what their owners want, so working with them is mandatory at a very young age while spending lots of time with them at play.
The Ridgeback's nature requires training done in a fair, firm, loving, and consistent manner to be done correctly, but also is a breed where training is extremely difficult as they are known to be stubborn and can get bored very easily, unless they are at the side of their owners at all time. They are considered one of the most intelligent of all the breeds. They are very much people dogs, and owning one requires a total commitment to time and energy. The correct training is required with obedience, agility, and jumping as demonstrations that they can be successfully trained for shows--clear on down the line to basic commands as a household pet.
This is a breed that very much wants to think on its own, do it on its own time, and then to do what it wants once it makes up its mind. This is the attitude that a person will face when beginning the training of a Rhodesian Ridgeback, so beginning training for this powerful dog at a young age is mandatory. If not, it can become "quite" mischievous and destructive without the proper training or supervision. But the training should be firm and gentle at the same time, as the breed is very tender-hearted and crumbles at the slightest harsh word. Too much harshness, verbal abuse, or physical punishment will destroy the dog's nature and its essence of who it really is.
A very strong breed of great endurance, they make excellent watchdogs or family pets, as long as they are trained to mind and young children are supervised around them. They are not mean, just so large and strong they could accidentally knock down the child or hit them across the face with a strong wagging tail. A friendly and affectionate, the training works as they have a strong desire to please their owners or trainers, being totally devoted to what their owners want them to do. Leash training is a high requirement for this breed in addition to basic commands, as they require daily walks if they are not taken out into the field or a large play/exercise is available.