Shelter Dog Meal Donation Count:

Learn More

What’s The Bite Force of a Rhodesian Ridgeback & Does It Hurt?

Written by: Ejay Camposano
A college graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Ejay has a diverse background that combines technical expertise with a passion for pets and is now one of the content writers at IHD. Read more
| Published on October 20, 2023

Rhodesian Ridgebacks, with their distinctive “ridge” of hair along their back and noble appearance, are a breed that has captured the admiration of many dog enthusiasts. These dogs were originally bred to hunt large game, including lions, in Africa. As a result, one might wonder about the bite force of this unique breed. Let’s delve into understanding the bite force of Rhodesian Ridgebacks and whether it can be painful.

A Brief History of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

To fully grasp the bite force of a Rhodesian Ridgeback, it’s crucial to understand its historical context. Rhodesian Ridgebacks hail from southern Africa, where they were used by indigenous tribes and later by European settlers. Their primary role? To corner and hold big game—most notably lions—until hunters could approach. This required a combination of agility, courage, and strength. However, it’s worth noting that the dog’s purpose wasn’t to engage in combat with these wild animals, but rather to track, chase, and keep them at bay.

Measuring the Bite Force of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

When evaluating the bite force of any canine, the measure typically used is pounds per square inch (PSI). While the exact PSI of a Rhodesian Ridgeback’s bite might vary from one dog to another, it is believed to be significant given their historical function. For reference, a human bite force is around 120-140 PSI. Larger breeds, like Mastiffs, can exert a bite force of over 500 PSI.

While it’s challenging to find exact measurements for the bite force of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, it’s reasonable to assume that they possess a powerful bite, given their size and muscular build. However, this doesn’t necessarily make them more dangerous or prone to biting than other breeds.

The Pain Level of a Rhodesian Ridgeback’s Bite

Given the potential power behind a Rhodesian Ridgeback’s bite, it’s clear that if they were to bite with full force, it could indeed be painful. Any dog bite has the potential to break the skin, cause bruising, or lead to more severe injuries. The sharpness of a dog’s teeth, combined with the strength of their jaw muscles, can result in significant pain and injury.

That being said, it’s essential to remember that Rhodesian Ridgebacks, like all dogs, have varying temperaments and personalities. Not all Ridgebacks will exhibit the same behavior, and many are gentle and well-mannered, especially if they’ve been trained and socialized from a young age.

Factors Influencing the Bite Behavior of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Several factors can influence whether a Rhodesian Ridgeback might bite:

  1. Training and Socialization: Early training and exposure to various environments and stimuli can help Ridgebacks become more well-adjusted and less likely to resort to biting.
  2. Temperament: Each Rhodesian Ridgeback has its own personality. Some might be more laid-back, while others might be more reactive or protective.
  3. Health Issues: Like all dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can become more aggressive if they’re in pain or experiencing health problems.

Minimizing the Risk of Biting Incidents

For Rhodesian Ridgeback owners, or those considering adopting one, the following steps can be taken to minimize the risk of biting:

  1. Begin Training Early: Ensuring that your Rhodesian Ridgeback is trained from a young age will help instill good behavior and prevent potential biting incidents.
  2. Consistent Socialization: Regularly exposing your dog to different people, animals, and environments can help them become more adaptable and less likely to view unfamiliar situations as threats.
  3. Regular Veterinary Checkups: Ensuring that your dog is in good health can prevent behavior changes due to undetected medical issues.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks, with their rich history and distinctive appearance, are a breed to be admired. While they undoubtedly possess a strong bite force, this doesn’t necessarily make them aggressive or dangerous by nature. Proper training, socialization, and understanding of the breed can go a long way in ensuring a harmonious relationship with these majestic dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rhodesian Ridgeback Bites

1. Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks prone to biting more than other breeds?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks, like any other dog breed, can bite if provoked, threatened, or improperly socialized. However, they aren’t inherently more prone to biting than other breeds. Proper training and socialization from a young age can significantly reduce the risk of aggressive behavior.

2. How can I reduce the likelihood of my Rhodesian Ridgeback becoming aggressive?

Regular socialization, and exposure to various environments, people, and other animals, combined with consistent training, can help reduce aggressive tendencies. It’s also essential to ensure that they aren’t in pain or suffering from any health issues, which can cause behavioral changes.

3. Why does my Rhodesian Ridgeback nip or mouth my hands?

Nipping or mouthing is often a form of playful behavior and is common in many puppies, including Rhodesian Ridgebacks. While it’s typically non-aggressive, it’s essential to redirect this behavior to appropriate toys to ensure it doesn’t evolve into a problematic behavior in adulthood.

4. Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a strong prey drive, leading to biting?

Originally bred to track and corner large game, Rhodesian Ridgebacks do possess a natural prey drive. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate to aggressive biting. Proper training can help channel this drive into appropriate behaviors.

5. Are male Rhodesian Ridgebacks more aggressive than females?

Aggression isn’t determined solely by gender. Both male and female Rhodesian Ridgebacks have individual personalities, and their behavior is more influenced by genetics, training, socialization, and health than by their gender alone.

6. How can I tell if my Rhodesian Ridgeback is becoming aggressive?

Warning signs can include raised hackles, growling, baring teeth, a stiffened body posture, and intense staring. If you notice these signs, it’s crucial to identify and address the root cause, which may require consultation with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

7. Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks bite their owners?

While Rhodesian Ridgebacks are loyal and often form strong bonds with their families, any dog can bite under certain circumstances. Proper training, understanding their needs, and recognizing warning signs can help prevent such incidents.

8. What should I do if my Rhodesian Ridgeback shows signs of resource guarding?

Resource guarding, which can lead to biting, is when a dog becomes overly protective of food, toys, or space. If your Ridgeback displays these tendencies, it’s essential to address it immediately through positive reinforcement training and, if necessary, consultation with a professional.

9. Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks safe around children given their bite force?

When properly trained and socialized, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be gentle and patient around children. However, due to their size and strength, it’s essential always to supervise interactions between dogs and young children to ensure safety.

10. If a Rhodesian Ridgeback bites once, will it bite again?

Not necessarily. A bite can be an isolated incident resulting from fear, pain, or a specific trigger. However, it’s vital to address the underlying cause of the bite and take preventive measures, such as training, to reduce the chances of future incidents.

Recent Articles

Interested in learning even more about all things dogs? Get your paws on more great content from iHeartDogs!

Read the Blog