The Rhodesian Ridgeback
A long time ago, after the first Caucasians ventured to south Africa, they quickly learned that dogs of the Ridgeback variety were being used to assist in the hunting process. The breed is very distinct, as you will notice with the ridge of hair running down the spine. The hair on the ridge is also running in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat. South Africa really began to hunt more and more, and in the 19th century it was plentiful. The hunting in the area of the Limpopo River really flourished, and later that are became known as Rhodesia. It was named that after Cecil John Rhodes, the founder.
Naturally, the dogs became quite popular to hunters in a hurry. These hunters realized that they needed a dog that could trust to bring with them. They knew they could count on a dog that has already proven itself to the locals time and again during battles and things of that nature. No one is completely sure what the breed origin is. Most people have accepted the conclusion that it is a mix between a Hottentot Hunting Dog and a Cuban Bloodhound. The Hottentot part of the mix is the part that provides the ridge that makes this dog such a recognizable breed.
The breed was originally used when hunters (another popular hunting dog is the English Setter) would go on their hunts for lions. They even got the nickname of lion dog. They would be able to use their speed and courage to keep the lions occupied long enough for the hunter to get a shot off. It was widely rumored that the dogs got their name because they killed several lions, but as we all well know, a lion would win that fight any day of the week. Long range rifles were born and the dog had to come up with something else to be useful for. The Ridgeback was considered a guard dog after that.
Indigenous to south Africa, this breed is traceable all of the way back to the early settlers of the Cape Colony in south Africa. These early settlers crossed bred their dogs with the hunting dogs that were native to the area. Shortly thereafter, the breed was distinguished and people took to them very well.
As stated previously, one of the dominant features that you are going to notice right away in the Ridgeback is the patch of hair that runs parallel to the spine. It runs backwards when compared to the rest of the hair on the coat. You will notice that it runs from the shoulders all of the way down to the hips. Unfortunately, those dogs that were not born with this ridge, were discarded. Now days they are not discarded, and are instead simply fixed so that they do not breed with other dogs.
-The Rhodesian Ridgeback usually lives between 10 and 12 years.
-They can range in size from 61cm to 69cm.
-The weight can vary, but tends to come in between 32kg and 36.5kg.
Rhodesian Ridgeback's tend to be very loyal towards one person or family. They are also generally of a playful nature. It is an extremely intelligent dog that learns things quickly. That is what makes it such a valuable companion when you are hunting or just out in the wilderness in general. At the same time, it can put up with children and be very patient when it comes to that sort of thing. You will find that this breed is extremely reserved when it comes to people they don't know, but you can find that in just about any breed it seems. It is a dog that loves to shoot the breeze so to speak, and it will surely bring a certain kind of livelihood to any family environment. It is also a very affectionate dog as well. It will always try and be around you as often as it can.
The Ridgeback is a dog that grows particularly fast, and therefore extra stress shouldn't be put on it when it is a young dog. You can have other domestic animals around them, although they might need some dog training up if you are going to have them around livestock. The one thing you have to remember is, they are a fast and curious dog. This means you need to have secure fences and a overall secure place for them.
The male Ridgebacks tend to range from 63-69cm, and usually weigh somewhere around 85 pounds. Right away their muscular physique is going to be extremely noticeable. This is not a dog that has excess weight. The coat is always going to be a wheat-like color that shines very well. Their tails are strong and they come to a smooth point at medium length. The eyes will usually be the same color as the skin pigment. If you are thinking of the coat, please remember that is not the same color as the skin pigment. Their liver noses are apart of an adorable face with the dark eyes. You will find that the liver noses are not a very common thing with this breed though, a black nose is often more common.
Ridgebacks are always going to be extremely smart and loyal dogs. On the other hand, they can be very protective when they are faced with someone that they have never met before. Even more so when the proper handling is no applied. For this reason, it takes a very passionate owner that is willing to put in the time to own one of these dogs. If you are thinking of getting a dog for the first time, this breed doesn't make a very good companion for a first-dog owner.
You might think that they can stand the outside heat all of the time with their background, but you are still going to need to bring them inside as often as you can. Not just because of the heat, but because they are a very affectionate dog. It will break their hearts to be left outside day after day while the family is inside. Most people really only see them as the athletic dogs that they are, but they have a sensitive aspect to them that is evident. You will be able to discipline/train this dog, but you are going to want to make sure anything you do is justified. Otherwise you may have a hard time raising the dog.
No matter which way you slice it, you are never going to be able to find a breed that is going to suite everyone. The stubborn and independent attitude of the Ridgeback may be enough to keep some people disinterested. This dog likes to be treated as a member of the family, and doesn't want to be walked all over. This is the case with most dogs, but especially Ridgebacks. They can be easy to train, but you are going to need to make sure you are consistent. This breed can easily get distracted if it is not being trained often enough. This puppy is an ideal candidate for those that have children, as it is extremely patient. At times they can get a little over-eager, but that is easily contained. They should not be around the elderly, as they are a bit too energetic to be of use.