The Rhodesian Ridgeback is one of the most loyal dog breeds and is very distinct, as you will notice with the ridge of hair running down the spine.


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The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed is one of the dog breeds that is said to have a typical temperament. They are strong, canny, brave, and very independent...



Rhodesian Ridgeback History


Jan van Riebeeck established a refreshment station in the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) in 1652. European Settlers arrived and were granted permission to settle on their own farms. They soon realized the value of a good dog in the “wilderness” of Africa. The European breeds soon succumbed to the diseases and dangers of Africa. In their contact with the Hottentots, the Settlers became aware of the quality of the Hottentot dogs. These were medium sized animals, weighing about 40 pounds, reddish in color with a pointed muzzle. They were wary of strangers, extremely vicious and their most distinguishable feature, apart from their extraordinary skill and savagery in hunt, was a ridge, which ran along their backs. Settlers crossed the European breeds with the indigenous African dogs and a useful, hardy frontier dog began to evolve.


Early Rhodesia was lion country and a form of lion hound was urgently needed. The heterogeneous ancestry of the early Ridgeback type made him an ideal candidate.  He possesses a good nose (bloodhound/pointer), speed (greyhound), stamina (fox/stag hound), courage and tenacity (bulldog/bull terrier), dash and spirit (Irish terrier). His skill at tackling predators, hardiness against disease and his hallmark, the ridge, he owed to the Hottentot Hunting Dog.

A Rev. Charles Helm ran the Mission of Hope Fountain in Matabeleland in the southern region of today’s Zimbabwe. In the late 1870's he brought 2 ridged dogs from South Africa, to his new house. The mission was at a stop for travelers that were crossing the region, among whom were the famed “white hunters” including Cornelius van Rooyen, who were hunting the African preys, lions and elephants.

Helm’s dogs impressed Cornelius van Rooyen; he asked Helm if he would agree to cross breed his dogs. This specific breeding provided more ridge dogs that weremore ideal to the hunting needs of van Rooyen. With more breeding this is how the dogs arrived at the name “van Rooyen dogs”. Many of the offspring resembled the modern Ridgebacks, with smooth coats and most with ridges. As van Rooyen’s fame as a hunter grew, so his hounds became equally famous and very much in demand.

Apart from their special ability to bay lions, these dogs were also adept at following and pulling down wounded antelope and other small to medium game. With amazing stamina, they could keep up a steady lope beside the hunter’s horse for many miles across the roughest terrain and were resistant to the maladies of the tsetse fly country. Here, at last was a really versatile “hound of Africa”.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback a.k.a. “Lion Dog” became a recognized breed by the Kennel Union of South Africa in 1924. In November of 1955, the AKC admitted the Ridgeback to its studbook as the 112th breedof dog to be accorded American Kennel Club registration status.


Each year the AKC publishes its annual list of the most popular breeds amongst American families. The latest AKC update shows of the 154 dog breeds registered with AKC the Ridgeback was ranked No. 54 with 2,424 dogs registered in 2005. The 2005 AKC litter registration statistics show the Ridgeback to be ranked No. 67 with 595 registered litters. The breed is no longer considered rare in the United States.







Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies & Breeders

Find US based ridgeback breeders. Please be sure to review all references on any potential breeder.