Origin and brief history
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed of dog that was established in Southern Africa. The Ridgeback can be traced to early pioneers of the Cape Colony of southern Africa. The pioneers crossed their dogs with the more domesticated ridged hunting dogs of the Khoikhoi. Rhodesian Ridgeback’s were also known as Van Rooyen’s Lion dog, African Lion Dog, or the African Lion Hound. The names came from the Simba Inja in Ndebele and the Shumba Imbwa in Shona, because of the way the dog could hold a lion at bay until the masters could kill it. F.R. Barnes, from Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, drafted the original breed standard in 1922. The standard was based on the Dalmatian and was approved by the South African Kennel Union in 1927.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is intelligent, loyal, and somewhat aloof around strangers. They are not aggressive and if trained properly will ignore rather than challenge. The Ridgeback is a sensitive breed, so training works best when it is a consistent, reward based, positive experience. The Ridgeback must have solid socialization starting when they are very young, as they become very protective. Ridgebacks have a strong will and seem to be a bit mischievous, but with proper exercise and training this is not a problem. They can be trained as guard dogs and will be aggressive if not socialized in proper manner.
Rhodesian Ridgeback’s have a short flat coat. The Ridgeback sheds throughout the year, even during the winter time. The ridgebacks coat is short but should be brushed regularly using a shedding tool. Every four weeks grooming of the ears, nails, and glands should occur. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is very active so it is a good idea to have regular checks of the nails, paw pads, and body to ensure they do not have any cuts or minor wounds.
Specification of breed
The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s unique feature is the ridge of hair running along its back in the opposite direction from the rest of its coat. It consists of an area like a fan formed by two whorls of hair, also known as crowns. It tapers from immediately behind the shoulders down to the hips. The ridge is usually about 2 inches (5 cm) in width at its broadest point.
Male Ridgebacks should stand 63 cm (25 in) to 69cm (27 in) at the withers and weigh about 85 lb. (39 kg). The female Rhodesian Ridgeback has a range of 24–26 inches (61–66 cm) tall and about 70 lb. (32 kg) in weight. The build of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is typically muscular and has a short coat with the colors ranging from lighter wheaten to a red wheaten.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very active breed that was used as a protector from lions and other wild animals. They must have plenty of exercise and because of their intelligence need to be engaged. If these needs are not met then the dog can become bored and may act out, tearing up gardens, digging holes, eating furniture, pulling at the leash, or excessive barking. The ridgeback also must be trained properly; if the dog is not socialized to its environment it can become overly protective and aggressive. All of these things should be thought about carefully before thinking of adopting or purchasing a dog.
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