7 Facts About Rhodesian Ridgebacks You Probably Didn’t Know

Written by: Arlene D.
| Published on May 18, 2023

Known for their speed, agility, and characteristic ridge of hair, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a unique breed with a fascinating backstory. But beyond their famous dorsal trait, there are plenty of less widely-known facts about this breed that set them apart. Here are seven facts about Rhodesian Ridgebacks that might just surprise you.

  1. Lion Hunting Companions

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is often called the “African Lion Dog” due to its history as a lion-hunting companion. Despite the moniker, these dogs did not typically engage lions in combat. Instead, they were bred to track and corner the lions, keeping them at bay until the hunters arrived. It was their bravery and agility that made them fit for such a daring task.

  1. Their Ridge Can Vary

Although all Rhodesian Ridgebacks have distinctive hair ridges running along their back, the ridge’s pattern can vary. The ridge can have two identical crowns (whorls) that appear opposite each other, and the length and width of the ridge can differ as well. Notably, the ridge is the hallmark of the breed and is a result of a genetic mutation that is dominant in this breed.

  1. Ancient Lineage

The breed’s history can be traced back to the Khoikhoi dog, a ridged canine that was native to South Africa. The Khoikhoi dog was crossed with European breeds brought by Dutch colonists, eventually leading to the modern Rhodesian Ridgeback.

  1. Sensitive Souls

Despite their hardy appearance and history of tough work, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known to be quite sensitive. They form deep bonds with their families and are known for their loyalty. Harsh training methods can be detrimental to them; instead, they respond well to positive reinforcement and a gentle approach.

  1. The Only Registered Breed in South Africa

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is significant in South Africa’s canine history. It is the only dog breed indigenous to South Africa to be officially recognized and registered by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa.

  1. A Versatile Breed

While known for their history as hunting dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are incredibly versatile and have been utilized in various roles, including as guard dogs, home companions, and even show dogs. Their intelligence and adaptability make them suited to a variety of lifestyles, provided they receive adequate exercise.

  1. All Weather Dogs

The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s short and dense coat does more than just showcase the breed’s signature ridge. It also provides them with a degree of resistance to weather variations. This resilience was essential for their survival in the diverse climates of southern Africa and makes them adaptable to various living environments today.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed steeped in history, from their unique genetic lineage to their brave work alongside hunters. Despite their imposing physique and daring background, they are sensitive and loyal creatures, making them beloved pets in many homes worldwide. These lesser-known facts serve to enhance our appreciation for the Rhodesian Ridgeback, revealing a breed that’s not only physically remarkable but also rich in character and versatility. Whether you’re a Rhodesian Ridgeback owner or an enthusiast, understanding these facts only deepens your admiration for this incredible breed.

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