Known as the African Lion Hound, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a majestic-looking dog with a line of hair running the opposite direction down its back, which is where the “ridgeback” part of the name comes from. The breed was developed in Africa for hunting lions. Their monikers of Lion Dog and Lion Hound come from their ability to hold a lion while waiting for their owner to take the beast down. Ridgebacks were also traditionally used in hunting other large game such as wild boar and baboons.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Appearance
The Ridgeback is a medium- to large-sized dog; the females weigh around 70 pounds and the males around 85 pounds. Males stand between 25 to 27 inches and the females are slightly smaller at 24 to 26 inches. Their coats are short, dense, and glossy in a light wheaten color, and they sometimes have white chests and toes. The ridge along their spines run from just after their shoulders down to their hip bones. It can be up to 2 inches wide and looks like whorls of hair running down the ridge of their backs. Their tails are long and smooth and are carried high. The Ridgeback has an intelligent face and hanging ears.
Health Concerns For Rhodesian Ridgeback
The most common health concern with the Ridgeback is hip dysplasia, as it is with most medium to large dog breeds, and dermoid sinus. The congenital neural-tube defect of dermoid sinus affects about 8 percent of Ridgebacks and requires surgery to remove the affected neonates. Since this is such a serious health risk, it is highly recommended that any dog that has this defect be spayed or neutered. Ridgebacks also run the risk of degenerative myeopathy, which is a disease of the spinal cord that will eventually lead to paraparesis. Hypothyroidism and bloat are also common in this breed.
Temperament of the Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an extremely intelligent dog that is protective of family. They are sometimes strong-willed dogs — obedience training is a must with this breed. They are muscular, strong dogs that need attention and regular exercise. They do well with families; they are exceptionally loyal, sometimes mischievous, loving, and they make good guard dogs.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Care and Grooming
Because of their short coats, Ridgebacks rarely need brushing or bathing. Brushing can help with shedding and baths are only necessary when they are dirty. Regular nail trimming and ear cleaning is necessary to keep their ears and nails neat and clean.
Also See German Shepherd Facts and Rottweiler Facts
Photo credit: Thinkstock