A Noble Hunter: A Breed History of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

Category_Breeds_Rhodesian_Ridgeback Category_Dogs Writer_Carrie_Pallardy

Carrie Pallardy
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are sometimes mistaken for Vizslas. Both breeds have similar close, burnished coats of copper and lithe, athletic builds. But, Ridgebacks are larger, and they have the distinctive stripe of fur running down their spines that give the breed its name. Get to know these loyal and formidable dogs.

African and European Origins 

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are the result of mixing many different dog breeds. Their origins can be traced back to the 1600s. Dutch settlers arrived in Africa and took notice of dogs used by locals. These dogs, known as Khoikhoi, had the distinctive ridge of fur running along their back that survives in today’s Ridgebacks, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). Breeds brought with European settlers, including mastiffs, greyhounds, and more, were bred with local dogs.
In the 1800s, these dogs traveled with human companions to Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, according to The Spruce Pets. Here, these dogs continued to carve out their reputation as big game hunters. Rhodesian Ridgebacks helped their human companions to hunt lions and boar. While that no doubt paints a fearsome image of the breed, Ridgebacks did not directly engage with its quarry; rather, they would help to keep the animals at bay for the human hunters, according to the AKC.

The Noteworthy Ridge

The ridge that travels along the breed’s back is formed be fur that grows in a different direction. Unlike some breeds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks come only in one color. It can be described as copper, bronze, or even ginger, but the official name for the coat’s color is wheaten, according to The Spruce Pets. Ridgebacks can vary in shade, light to dark, but the coat is always that same color, perhaps with the addition of white markings on the body and dark markings on the face.

An Athletic Hound


Ridgebacks are imposing figures with females weighing up to 70 pounds and males tipping the scales at 85 pounds, according to the AKC. Inch for inch, these dogs are pure muscle, built for physical activity. These dogs typically live for 10 to 12 years, according to The Spruce Pets.
Given the breeds athleticism, it should come as no surprise that they require a decent amount of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Off leash running and mental stimulation, such as tracking games, help to meet a Ridgeback’s needs.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks as Pets

While Ridgebacks might have a history of stalking lions, they can make wonderful pets as well. The breed tends to be adaptable to many different living situations, but they do have some stubborn and independent tendencies. Consistent training is essential.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue helps to place dogs in need of homes in both the U.S. and Canada. You can also opt to go the breeder route; just make sure to do your research.


Thank you for your time and we hope that you found some value in the article.
If you are a Rhodesian Ridgeback lover, you might like what we have for you!
We designed a cool tee and mug for all the Rhodesian Ridgeback lovers out there! Let us know what you think! If you like it feel free to share! 10% of Proceeds gets donated to the ASPCA! 
10% of Proceeds gets donated to the ASPCA!
10% of Proceeds gets donated to the ASPCA!

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published