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7 Crazy Things That Are Perfectly Normal For Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on June 9, 2024

Rhodesian Ridgebacks, often called “Ridgebacks,” are a unique and remarkable breed known for their distinctive ridge of hair running along their back in the opposite direction to the rest of their coat. Originating in Southern Africa, they were initially bred for hunting and guarding, particularly for tracking and cornering lions, earning them the nickname “African Lion Hound.” These large, muscular dogs possess a blend of power, elegance, and independence, making them both formidable and affectionate companions. Despite their dignified appearance and strong-willed nature, Rhodesian Ridgebacks exhibit several quirky behaviors that might seem unusual to those unfamiliar with the breed but are perfectly normal for these loyal dogs. Let’s explore seven crazy things that are perfectly normal for Rhodesian Ridgebacks, shedding light on what makes this breed so special.

1. The Ridge and Unique Coat Patterns

One of the most distinctive features of Rhodesian Ridgebacks is the ridge of hair along their back that grows in the opposite direction to the rest of their coat. This ridge is formed by a strip of hair that grows against the grain and is flanked by two symmetrical whorls or crowns. This unique characteristic is a hallmark of the breed and a source of fascination for many. While it might seem like a quirky physical trait, the ridge is perfectly normal for Rhodesian Ridgebacks and is considered a defining feature of the breed. This ridge is what sets them apart from other dogs and highlights their historical lineage.

2. Strong Prey Drive and Hunting Instincts

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a strong prey drive and hunting instincts, which are deeply ingrained due to their history as hunting dogs in Africa. This behavior can be seen in their tendency to chase after small animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, and even birds. Their keen sense of smell and sight and their powerful build make them natural hunters. This strong prey drive means that Ridgebacks need a secure, fenced yard and should always be kept on a leash outside enclosed areas. Providing them with outlets for their hunting instincts, such as interactive toys and games that mimic hunting, can help satisfy these natural behaviors in a safe and controlled manner.

3. Independence and Stubbornness

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their independence and stubborn streak. While they are intelligent and capable of learning commands, they often prefer to think and act independently. This trait can sometimes make training a challenge, as Ridgebacks may choose to ignore commands if they do not see the point in them. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are essential for training a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Understanding and working with their independent nature rather than against it can help build a strong and respectful bond. This independence is normal to their behavior and reflects their heritage as self-sufficient hunting dogs.

4. Protective and Guarding Instincts

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are naturally protective and possess strong guarding instincts. They are known to be loyal and devoted to their families, often positioning themselves between their loved ones and perceived threats. This behavior can manifest as wariness or aloofness towards strangers, and they can be quite vocal when they sense danger. Proper socialization from a young age is crucial to ensure their protective nature does not become overly aggressive. Understanding their guarding instincts and providing them with appropriate training can help manage this behavior effectively. Their protective nature is a testament to their history as guardians and defenders of their home and family.

5. High Energy Levels and Need for Exercise

Despite their sometimes relaxed demeanor, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have high energy levels and require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. These dogs were bred for endurance and can cover long distances at a steady pace. Daily exercise, such as long walks, runs, or play sessions, is essential to prevent boredom and restlessness. Ridgebacks enjoy activities that challenge them both physically and mentally, such as agility training, hiking, or fetch. Sufficient exercise can help channel their energy positively and prevent destructive behaviors from pent-up energy. Their need for regular activity is a normal part of their behavior and is essential for their overall well-being.

6. Affectionate and Gentle Nature

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their affectionate and gentle nature with their families. Despite their imposing size and strength, they are often called “gentle giants” due to their loving and nurturing disposition. Ridgebacks form strong bonds with their owners and enjoy being close to them, often seeking physical contact and affection. They are particularly good with children and can be patient and protective. This affectionate behavior is a normal part of their personality and highlights their loyalty and love for their human companions. Providing them with plenty of love and attention helps strengthen the bond and ensures a happy and contented Ridgeback.

7. Vocalizations and Expressive Communication

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are quite expressive and use a range of vocalizations to communicate with their owners. While they are not typically known for excessive barking, they will use their voice to alert their family to unusual sounds or to express their needs and desires. Ridgebacks can produce various sounds, including grunts, whines, and even a unique “roo-roo” vocalization characteristic of the breed. This expressive communication is a normal part of their behavior and is often used to convey their emotions and intentions. Understanding and responding to their vocal cues can enhance the relationship between a Ridgeback and their owner, creating a deeper understanding and bond.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a breed full of unique behaviors and characteristics that make them fascinating and endearing companions. Their distinctive ridge, strong prey drive, independent nature, protective instincts, high energy levels, affectionate disposition, and expressive communication set them apart from other breeds. Understanding and embracing these behaviors can help owners build a strong bond with their Ridgeback, ensuring a harmonious and fulfilling relationship. Their distinctive traits and lovable personalities make Rhodesian Ridgebacks a truly special breed, offering companionship and loyalty that is both unique and rewarding.

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