The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a powerful
animal but is non-aggressive. Loyal and affectionate to its family
but wary of strangers. A good guard but only barks when necessary.
Description & History
The Rhodesian Ridgeback originated in
South Africa - not in Zimbabwe. The breed, once known as the African
Lion Dog, is descended from the ancient Hottentot Ridged Dog and has
been in existence for hundreds of years. Boer farmers crossed the Ridgeback
with Bloodhounds and possibly Greyhounds.
European settlers took the breed to Rhodesia,
where it was further developed. In 1922 a meeting was held in Bulawayo
to standardise the breed. Several owners discussed what they considered
to be the ideal dog. As a result of this meeting the breed standard
was set - and still stands to this day.
They are fine muscular scent and sight
hounds with great endurance, which were used for lion and big game hunting.
These hounds, which are brave but not foolhardy, would track their prey
and drive them towards the hunter. They have also been used to flush
smaller game, such as rabbits, which they drive into nets.
In South Africa in the 1950's they were
successfully used as gundogs. In Australia some years later, the breed,
which is extremely fast, was used for racing. Some Ridgebacks are now
being raced on Greyhound tracks in England and are proving to be as
fast, if not faster, than Greyhounds.
Since the early part of the 1990's some
British police forces have made attempts to train a few members of the
breed. This was at first unsuccessful as the dogs lost interest in their
work when it became repetitive. However, the Somerset and Avon Police
Dog Section have now been successful in training a dog called Spike.
He apparently completed his training in record time and is now on duty
with his handler PC Howard.
The breed has a distinctive feature, which
is a ridge of hair which grows in the opposite direction to the rest
of the coat. It starts behind the shoulders and runs in a tapering line
along the centre of the back up to the hip bones. Two identiical crowns,
placed opposite each other, lie either side of the ridge just behind
A breed which should be preferably owned
by experienced handlers.