The Rhodesian RidgebackThe Rhodesian Ridgeback is also known as: African Lion Hound
|Group classification: Hound||Country of origin: South Africa||Date of origin: 19th century|
|Weight (M): 85 lb||Height (M): 25 - 27”||Life expectancy: 10 - 12 years|
|Weight (F): 70 lb||Height (F): 24 - 26”|
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General Description of the Rhodesian Ridgeback
Named for the distinctive ridge on its back, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a compelling mix of agility, strength and hardiness. The head is large and smooth, free from wrinkles, and characterized by powerful scissors-bite jaws. The eyes are set well apart, sparkling and intelligent. The front legs are long and extremely straight from the top to bottom with powerful bone structure. The tail is long with a slight curve. The coat is slick and very fine, lying flat against the body with the exception of the ridge which grows forward toward the head. Coloring ranges from red wheaten to llight wheaten; white on the chest and toes is permissible but undesirable.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament
As one might expect from a dog that was bred to hunt lions, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a tough and resilient breed. The dog is intensely loyal to its family and will guard its loved ones at any cost. This means that one should not expect the Ridgeback to warm to strangers right away, and should in fact be careful when the dog is in a situation it may consider threatening. This is not to say, however, that the dog does not have a sensitive side. Quite the contrary: the Rhodesian Ridgeback is very good with children and other pets, so long as it is raised with them from a young age. The breed is also highly intelligent and strong-willed; reports of Ridgebacks opening gates and cabinets to fetch a snack are common and often frustrating for owners. Keep an eye on your Ridgeback and do not leave him to his own devices. Because of the dog’s intensely protective nature, it is important that it be socialized and trained properly in obedience. Without firm upbringing, the dog can become domineering and turn aggressive at the slightest perceived threat against its owner.
History of the Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback traces its origins to crossbreeding between the Hottentot tribal hunting dogs of South Africa and various European breeds, including the Mastiff, Bloodhound, Pointer and Greyhound. During the 18th century, Boer farmers needed a hardy guardian dog that was capable of serving in a myriad of tasks, all while braving the wilds of Africa. Selective breeding of well domesticated European breeds with the somewhat more wild Hottentot dogs produced just such a breed, and by the 19th century the Rhodesian Ridgeback had become a fixture in South Africa. During the 1870s, a contingent of these dogs was brought to Rhodesia to hunt lions, and their great success in this task earned them the name African Lion Hound and causede them to forever be associated with Rhodesia.
By the early 20th century, a proliferation of rather diverse looking dogs all claiming the Rhodesian Ridgeback moniker created the need for a standard, which was drawn up in 1922 and has remained unchanged to this day. The dog was brought to both England and the United States in the 1930s, and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1955. In the last 20 years, the dog has found use as a sighthound and has become a fairly popular breed in the United States, owing to its skills as a protector and its loyal nature.
Caring for a Rhodesian Ridgeback
Like most hounds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is very low maintenance. Grooming requirements are virtually nonexistent and entail a perfunctory brushing once every week or two. Dermoid sinus and hypothyroidism are among the most serious health problems in this breed; canine hip and elbow dysplasia and deafness are also seen in this breed. Like any large and athletic breed, the Rhodesian Ridgeback needs a lot exercise. The dog loves to run and can go great distances without tiring, making it a perfect jogging partner.
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