I own 2 Rhodesian Ridgebacks that are currently in quarenteen waiting to be allowed into the UK. I'm writing this review in the hope to totally alleviate any fears that you can not train a ridge back, in fact it's the total opposite of this my ridge backs are less and 18months old and have already mastered the basic commands sit/heel/paw. I don't feel i need to train them any more as they respond to my commands.
The dogs themselves have an amazing temperament I have a 7 months son who prior to putting the dogs in quarantine we could trust the dogs with my child. I've been brought up around dogs all my life so was aware the trick with getting dogs to settle with new children is to given them a couple of dirty nappies, that way they learn their place in the family and treat your child with respect.
The dogs themselves are stunning dogs to own that and are extremely loyal to their owners, the only illnesses known to cause major issues within the breed are hip dysplasia, dermoid sinus and cysts.
If you own or are thinking of getting a ridgeback please do keep in mind they need a lot of exercise I used to take mine out for a walk in the morning 5 mile then I'd cycle with them in the evening, you'll never tire out a fit ridgeback is what I'm learning slowly.
Truly wonderful dog that is feared in South Africa
Im writing this review for anyone who finds themselves in a similar position to me three years ago - wanted to get a dog but what breed?
The situation was I was moving from a third floor flat to a house and knew I would feel more secure if I had a dog. I have never had a dog growing up and whilst I loved them, I was scared of certain breeds and was generally a little wary.
I am ashamed to admit it but I found certain breeds ugly and wanted a pretty looking dog - I say ashamed because now that I have had my beloved Ridgeback for three years I am SUCH a dog lover and think all dogs are beautiful in their own way!
Anyway, at the time I was looking for cute and pretty. But it was important that they be a good guard dog too - not much protection in a pug for instance.
I did about a years worth of research and finally decided on a Rhodesian Ridgeback and Im so glad I did. I just wanted to pass on my experience in the hope of helping and maybe reassuring anyone else in a similar position.
The ridgeback (also known as an African Lion Hound) was originally used to chase lions and assist hunters - NOT to hunt and kill lions as some people seem to think! They are so called because of the ridge of hair that grows along their back - it is not a protrusion of the spine but a line of hair that grows in the opposite direction to their coat.
They are known as a large breed belonging the Hound group. Some quick glance statistics and facts you may find useful:
Height: Dogs 25-27 inches (63-69cm) Bitches 24-26 inches (61-66cm)
Weight: Dogs 80-90 pounds (36-41kg) Bitches 65-75 pounds (29-34kg)
Life expectancy: 10-12 years
Short haired dog therefore easy to groom - does shed though.
Health problems associated with breed: can be susceptible to hip dysplasia, dermoid sinus, and cysts.
Expect to pay between £700-£1000 or thereabouts.
My personal summary:
I have a three year old bitch. At first I swotted up on training but nothing really prepared my for having a puppy. I hated it at first, I was scared I was doing everything wrong but persevered and am SO glad I did because you get the dog that you are prepared to work for.
It is massively important to train and discipline a ridgeback firmly but without aggression - they will remember it if you strike them and there are many other effective ways. In my opinion you should never use violence on any animal anyway.
She house trained in a matter of weeks with the odd expected accident here and there. She slept in a cage at first as she loved the 'Den' feel of it. If you are going to cage train its essential that you dont use it for punishment, you buy one large enough for them to be able to turn round and stand up in. Just read up on it first!
Everyone assumes that large dogs require enormous amounts of exercise but its not true of a ridgeback! Dont get me wrong she gets enough exercise but she is the laziest dog who just loves vegging out on the sofa and in the sunshine - you can, but dont NEED to take them on 2 hour hikes!
Ridgebacks are also not guard dogs, they are watch dogs and there is a difference and should not be tied up in a yard like a guard dog. They will protect your home though always barking that loud bark when someone comes to the door! That said, she has never shown one single sign of undue aggression.
They are fiercely loyal and love nothing more than to be with their owners. They are good with children and if socialised great with other dogs too.
I would never ever have another breed, she is perfect and although it doesnt matter anymore still looks the cutest thing ever - she never lost her puppy features!
I hope this has helped!
I wrote this in response to Elaine's comments about Ridgebacks - but I think it counts as a review as well. I own two Ridgebacks. They are successful family pets. They are also effective guard dogs. Ours have seen off two burglars. I can understand why anybody who had a bad experience with a dog would have strong opinions. I sympathise and agree with some of the comments made be Elaine. Some of these issues are important for anyone to consider before taking on a Ridgeback or any other dog (large or small). But some of the comments are unfounded. They leave a misleading and unhelpul impression. Lets deal with them one by one. Like any other living creature (including human beings) no dog is 100% predictable in its behaviour. Any dog owner who blindly asserts their pet is "bomb proof, harmless" etc is suffering from a dangerous delusion. Before I bought my first Ridgeback I consulted my friend's father who was a retired Vet. His response was "It wouldn't be my first choice with young children but ... I have been bitten by more Spaniels". All dogs have to be taken seriously. Big dogs more seriously. If you want to buy a Ridgeback never forget it. Our male dog is as placid as any Lab or Retriever. He is the most lethargic, easy going dog I have ever met. Far from being cruel to deny him an African habitat I can't imagine any place where he would be more unhappy (no tv, no sofa, no central heating). I never take him for granted. He weighs eight stone. He has a headfull of sharp teeth and he has the potential to make a nasty mess of someone if he chooses. Our female dog is more awkward. She is more intelligent, more alert and has a suspicious nature. She regards most new things as a threat and she takes a serious approach to her role as family guardian. She is neurotic. Very similar to a Border Collie I once owned. She has been through the same socialisation programme as the male, b
ut she required significantly more training, which included one on one lessons for dealing with a dominant dog. The end product is an animal which is very rewarding to own. Her devotion, ingenuity, intensity, affection have enriched our lives. But she knows her place in our pack. She is the most important non human being in the household. When we have visitors she has to be reminded that all human beings are above dogs. This is a straightforward procedure that works very effectively. I am very sorry Elaine had a bad experience - but please don't blame the breed or its hunting instincts or African origin. If the dogs that bothered Elaine could not be controlled the fault lies with the owner. I totally agree that this is a major problem with a dog as big as a Ridgeback. I wish there was some way of licensing owners of large dogs. With adequate training and a sensible owner it is possible to avoid situations where a dog might "turn". But even this is no excuse for complacency. Dogs are dangerous animals and owners (even royal ones) must never shirk their duties. You are always responsibile for your dog's behaviour or potential behaviour. The responsibilities are multiplied in the case of a large dog - but for Ridgebacks there is no excuse for allowing them to upset or bother visitors. Ridgebacks have a termperament that is especially well equipped to combine the role of guard dog and family pet. The nature of the breed is to be sceptical and assertive towards strangers. This is exactly what I want as I live in a secluded location and have to leave my family when I go on business trips. The main reason we selected Ridgebacks ahead of other large breeds was because of their ability to switch off if they are properly introduced to visitors. Our procedure will be familiar to all responsible Ridgeback owners. Firstly, we approach the gate and ask the person what their business is. If they are legitimate and need to come in
, we ask them how they are with dogs. This is a serious question. We are alert to the possibility that the answer might be false. Some people are reluctant to admit their nerves. Nervous behaviour is easily transmitted and is unsettling to a dog. It makes the person unusual and suspicious. The opposite is also true. The over familiar person who asserts their confidence and familiarity can also be a problem. Dogs are pack animals. They don?t appreciate visitors who are too cocky. Whatever the profile of visitor the next step is always the same. Before we open the gates we say. "Look these are very big dogs. They are perfectly ok if you do what we say. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with them let us know and we will lock them up". We make sure they have listened and understood. Then with the gate still closed we say. "When we open the gate just stand still. Don't reach down to them. Don't move suddenly or quickly. Let them come to you. They will sniff you and then they will just walk away. They aren't really interested in strangers once they have been introduced. If you really like dogs you can give them a biscuit. They will like that. They never forget anybody who has given them a biscuit". Then we open the gate. During this dialogue we have been speaking in a friendly way to the visitor making it obvious that the visitor is a friend. If one of the dogs is too inquisitive - maybe muzzling or sniffing our guest too closely we make the dog aware this is not acceptable. The admonishment needed is nothing more than a sharp mention of the dog's name. After this the dogs usually slope off back to their sleeping position - but we are never complacent. Ridgebacks have infallible memories and recognise people who have visited before. They greet familiar guests with affection. But - and this is very important - no visitor is fully trusted. We repeatedly remind our guests to be considerate of
the dogs. Ridgebacks don't like loud and unruly behaviour. They are on their guard if a guest appears to be threatening. If we have lively guests who cannot moderate their behaviour, the dogs are locked up. Usually in the Dining room. Although I am confident we could control the dogs I am certain this is the right thing to do. It is unfair to subject dogs to human behaviour they do not understand or feel comfortable with. I can think of two incidents that illustrate the risk of unforeseen confrontations. On one occasion I was doing the washing up when an electrician who had been working in our house (who was happy to be lefit on his own with the dogs ) suddenly walked into the kitchen towards my back carrying a large screwdriver. The female dog stopped him in his tracks. She jumped up barked got between him and me, lowered her head and growled. That was the end of it but it was a great lesson in dog logic. The second occasion was when a builder approached my wife carrying a shovel over his shoulder. As he stopped to talk to her he swung the shovel off his shoulder in a gesture that looked aggressive to the dogs. They both barked their heads off at him. The girl dog put her mouth around his foot - but did not bite. On each occasion we reassured the dogs but did not punish them. They were doing their jobs correctly and when they had the burglars to deal with this was exactly the behaviour we wanted. The important thing is that we could control them because we had taken the time and trouble to train them. From what Elaine describes I doubt whether the owner of the Ridgebacks in the review was conscientious enough to own the breed. It is also worth noting that all dogs are harder to control if they operate as a pack. Owning and controlling two Ridgebacks requires more attention and effort than owning one. To own three is a major undertaking. Ridgebacks are intelligent and they are Hounds. They are guaranteed to exploit a weak or inattentive owner. T
here is a lady living near us who runs six Ridgebacks off the lead in a woodland area which is frequented by mountain bikes and horseriders - but she is a leading breeder and an expert in the field. Most people would struggle to maintain order and discipline with three Ridgebacks. I do not allow our female dog off the lead in public. The boy will come back immediately on command. I wish I could say the same about many of the dogs we meet on our walks. It is incorrect to assert that because they came from Africa they are too large or untamed to live in this country. They are not big cats. They are not even farmyard dogs. They live inside - with the family. By comparison with most hounds they are incredibly well domesticated. But they do need exercise. Ours get two hours a day. Their behaviour declines rapidly if they are shortchanged. When they are not on duty they are content to lounge around and sleep. They like to sleep in front of the fire and they will tolerate all kinds of disruption to retain their position. They will doze through tv, karaoke, Playstation, musical instruments etc, but they will instantly react to the first sound of food being prepared - or to the sound of tyres in the drive. Sometimes they come into the garden when we play football - but they seldom join in. They like tug of war with a rope but they will not chase a ball of fetch a stick. Their preference is to chase rabbits and search for trails. All of this means it is perfectly feasible to own Ridgebacks in a normal British family home - just so long as you live up to your responsibility to give them proper mental stimulation, affection and exercise. Owning Ridgebacks is one of the great privileges and experiences in my life. But you have to love your dogs to own one. Like any relationship you will be repaid in proportion to the effort you invest. In fact I would go beyond that by saying that no mere human being could ever match the level of devotion that is so free
ly given by a Ridgeback. They demand loyalty in return. I have never put ours in kennels or left them all day on their own. When we go on holiday we have housesitters (the same people come back year after year). We never go out all day on trips to London or the coast. But we don't want to. We love our dogs. They are fully paid up members of our family and they get the same level of respect. Ridgebacks are truly superlative but you should not take on this breed if you are not prepared to give them the time and attention they deserve.
I first got my Rhodesian Ridgeback three years ago when she was a puppy. She was bred for sale and I saw an advert in the local newspaper. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are the perfect dog for everything. They grow pretty big and the bitches are big enough to be guard dogs. They are great with children and wont hurt any child it sees. Although my dog does have a problem with strange men, she won't bite them but will growl a bit. Rhodesian Ridgebacks originally come from Rhodesia as the name says. They were used to hunt lions so they are pretty strong and can grow to be about eight stone. They are a bit like labradors when they are puppys exept for the colour, these dogs tend to be a red wheaten colour and are darker than labradors but still as cute. They need lots of exercise otherwise they get fat. It requires a lot of care and needs a lot of space. These dogs are affectionate and easily trained if you start when they are young. They are great guard dogs and always protect their owners. I love having a Rhodesian Ridgeback and would definately have more in the future. They are a great dog so if you're looking for an intelligent, affectionate and guard dog, this dog is perfect for you. But remember, a dog is for life not just for christmas!
I am now able to announce that Plumptious the Mugcious has taken delivery of a Rhodesian Ridgeback pup. Ridgebacks were bred for guarding camps and rounding up lions for hunters to shoot. Dogs of this breed vary in size, from slightly taller than an Alsation to about the size of a small mule. The breed they most closely resemble is a boxer, with their smartly flopped ears and satisfyingly large paws. The most distinctive feature of a Ridgeback is its ridge. This is a thin swathe of fur growing the opposite way round to the rest of its fur. It goes along the spine, beginning below the shoulderblades and ending before the tail. There should be two swirls of fur at the beginning of this ridge. This is known as the crown. A well defined crown is a desirable feature. One theory for malformed crowns is that overcrowding in the womb can cause a forming crown to be squished and thus not develop properly. Overcrowding does seem to be a very real threat. My dog was one of a litter of 17. The mother died during the operation, as did two of the pups. The family who owned the mum were left with 15 pups to hand rear. The master of the family was a tree surgeon, and all the pups were named after trees. All except mine. His name is Forest. He is the most catlike dog I have ever met. To begin with, he enjoys sunbathing. Whilst most dogs do enjoy basking in the sunshine, they have nothing on him. He’s a serious sunworshipper. Given half a chance, his ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon is out on the patio with the cats. The breed has a light tan coat, with a white splodge on the chest. The lighter the dog, the more desirable for showing. Unfortunately, these dogs will not tan as easily, and will be prone to cancer. I am relieved to report that Forest is one of the fortunate ones who can get a tan. His fur stays the same colour, but a black background appears. Yes, instead of going brown like a hu
man, his skin goes black. It will revert back to pinkish in the winter. He is the most cold intolerant dog I have ever owned. Being an essentially a desert/hot climate dog, he is designed to stay cool. It is not immediately apparent, as they have a very nice coat, but their fur is very short. Additionally, the lower half of their abdomen is particularly sparsely furred. This may account for why they prefer not to sit on a cold concrete floor, but have a habit of sitting on each other. A pack of Ridgebacks will pile on top of each other when at rest, the way some cats do. This short fur is definitely a plus as far as I am concerned. My Alsation, who had gorgeously fuzzy fur, was a four towel dog. By that I mean that it took four towels to dry him when he was wet. A sometimes onerous task. A Ridgeback, with its lesser water retaining capabilities, is a one towel dog. And to me, that’s a good thing. The local owner of a fully grown Ridgeback seems to have adopted Forest. Consequently, she often arrives in the evening to take me and Forest for a walk when walking her dog. Her dog was rescued from an owner who did not socialise it properly. As a result, it is a bit standoffish, as Ridgebacks can be if left to their own devices. By standoffish, I mean that it is a bit like a cat, and will not necessarily bound joyfully towards you, but will tend to staunter towards you when called. Having said that, it is still a lovely dog. Very gentle with children, who are drawn to it by its size. She will sometimes leap up at me for a bit of affection. But unusually for a dog, she will do it very carefully, without laying a paw on me, and without licking me. All she does is to lay a wet nose gently against my face. By the way, if you ever have to train a large dog, this is a desirable thing to have it do. Leaping up and knocking over people is a very definite no-no, and you’ll save yourself a lot o
f grief if you get this rule established. I am pleased to report that Forest is responding very well to training. Despite the breed’s reputation for being difficult, I have found him more amenable than my Alsation. Obviously, the temperament of individuals will vary, which is why parents and older siblings should be viewed where possible. Rather than playing with dog toys, Forest seems to prefer cat toys. I therefore make an effort to find large toys for him which are essentially scaled up catstyle toys. He does like chewing, but not his toys. He prefers to throw and shake them, the way my cats do with their toys, bounding around in a manner I usually associate with cats. There are lots more little quirks of the breed, but I am beginning to see why they are known as the “lion dogs”. It seems increasingly probable that the nickname may not refer to only what they used to hunt. Despite their tremendous size, they are thus far the most catlike dogs I have ever met.
One of my Ridgebacks was upset when I wouldn't let her have a mobile phone. No, she's not precocious - she has a thing about plastic. In her first year she ate three alarm clocks. When we go to the Vet's people start laughing. On the other hand the younger of our two Ridgebacks is fixated on fabric and given half a chance will eat the clothes from your back. I'd better start at the beginning, hadn't I? You'll want to know a little bit about the breed. Well, it's generally considered to be a native of South Africa. Early in the sixteenth century European explorers in the interior of the Cape of Good Hope encountered a domesticated dog with the Hottentot tribes which had the hair on its spine turned forward against the rest of the coat. As Europeans settled in the area they took with them their own hunting and guard dogs and these were selectively bred with the native Hottentot dog to produce a breed capable of withstanding the rigours of the African bush with its fluctuating temperatures. These dogs were the foundation stock of the breed now known as the Rhodesian Ridgeback. By the nineteenth century they were being used to hunt big game and they're still the only breed of dog capable of holding a lion at bay and living to tell the tale. This they did by shouldering the lion to the ground - unfortunately they have been known to use this ability on joggers and cyclists to shocking effect and it's one of the reasons why any Ridgeback needs to be well trained if it's not to be a nuisance. Rosie (full name: Rosie O'Hooligan Magee) was my Christmas present in 1998. We'd loved the breed for a long time, and knew them quite well as we have friends who breed them. The other good thing was that we weren't inexperienced owners. We already had a rescue dog (a German Shepherd Cross) who'd been very badly treated, and even the Vet said that he couldn't believe what a good dog she turned out to
be. No, don't start applauding, I just want you to know that we didn't go all gooey-eyed over a little puppy, and then wonder what we'd let ourselves in for. She was seven weeks old when she came to us, beautiful with a black muzzle that appears to have been dipped in a bucket of soot and dark eyes that look as though she's wearing far too much mascara to be decent. I spent the first three months trying to find the receipt so that I could take her back. I have never known a dog to be such hard work. Even a seven-year-old rescue dog who'd never been house-trained or been outdoors was a doddle in comparison. Our sanity was saved when we managed to get her into a really good dog-training class, which worked on the principle of rewarding good behaviour, ignoring what you can of the bad behaviour, and distracting from what you can't. We worked hard at getting her to mix with other dogs and hard at the training in general. It paid off. By the time that she was a year old I was happy to take her anywhere and we loved having her. What I wasn't quite so happy about was the amount of time that I was spending at the Vet's. No, not the plastic, I'll tell you about that later. It was the spots. It started with just a few on her head. The spots would dry out, and the fur in that area would come away. Within a matter of about three months her skin was bright red all over, and her coat was pitifully thin even by Ridgeback standards ? their coat is quite fine and short and requires little in the way of grooming. I was paying so much out to the Vet for various tests, treatments and prescription foods that I'm sure I was keeping him in holidays. Finally we worked it out for ourselves, using the Internet and assuming that she was human. She has a severe house dust mite allergy. Apparently allergies are not uncommon in Ridgebacks. We've controlled it largely by replacing the vacuum cleaner. They are a big, stron
g dog though and I'd be reluctant to have the breed around a small child, not because they're vicious (far from it) but simply because of the sheer force with which they move around. As puppies, too, they have very sharp teeth. I don't mean 'ouch' sharp. I mean surgical scalpel sharp allied to the jaw power of an alligator. Most breeders recommend crate training for puppies, not least because it allows you to leave the house without wondering if it will have been dismantled by the time you return. You might think that the cushions you put on a shelf just under ceiling height are safe. I can tell you from personal experience that they are not. It does have to be a large crate, though ? think in terms of something the size of an oblong dining table which gives the dog room to move around and sleep in comfort. Don't think, either that you could leave the dog in the garden unless you can cope with returning to find a crater where you once had shrubs. Their digestive systems are cast-iron and they will eat anything that hasn't moved out of the way. I've found definite plusses and minuses to the fact that they are not fussy eaters and that's without taking into account their enhanced level of methane production. They scavenge, too. An American described his Ridgeback as a 'counter-surfer' and I knew exactly what he meant. I once had a momentary lapse of concentration when making a sandwich and found that the bottom half had been removed as I was in the process of applying the top half. Ridgebacks are surprisingly quiet. Mine rarely bark and if they do I know that it's something that I need to check out urgently. Although not a guard dog they have an intense loyalty to one person and a firm allegiance to the family unit. The young man who was looking for a (probably non-existent) tennis ball yesterday evening near a rather secluded window certainly thought twice about staying to look
for it when he met Rosie. When you see a Ridgeback lying in the sun you could be forgiven for thinking that they're just a big lazy dog, but at the first sign of danger they're instantly alert and ready for action. Exercise? Yes, they do need quite a lot, but it's the quality of the exercise that matters, rather than the length. Rosie and Kia exercise with two German Wirehaired Pointers every day, and so long as they get their chasing, hunting, boxing and general play they're both fine. A Ridgeback is a not a dog that will be satisfied with exercise on a lead. Once again size of garden doesn't matter overmuch, because it's the getting out and about that they need. They're not expensive to feed. A 15kg sack of a good quality dog food feeds Rosie for 6 weeks, but I supplement this with vast quantities of raw fruit and vegetables. She eats about 3 kilos of carrots a week, plus red peppers, grapes, celery and apples. Weighing in at about 42kg she's not one of the skinny Ridgebacks that you see, and this diet seems to suit her. Kia is still a puppy so her consumption is greater ? a 15kg sack of Junior food lasts for about three weeks, but this will lessen once she is fully grown Rosie's got the best temperament of any dog that we've ever had. She'll make a noise if someone comes to the house, but she'll turn away from any sort of aggression. (I have promised her that I will NOT tell you about the time that she was chased by an elderly cat, so we won't mention that.) The greatest danger from Rosie is her tail, which has earned her the nickname 'Miss Whiplash' from those who've stood behind her when she's been excited - another reason why I'm reluctant to have Rosie near a child! She also tries to lick you, and it's rather like being massaged with wet sandpaper. Kia (full name: Kia Mischief Magee) is a different personality and is substantially different in looks.
She's what's known in the breed as 'a liver'. Instead of the dark muzzle and dark eyes she has a pink nose and her eyes are hazel. She came to us after Luce, our German Shepherd Cross, died. Her previous owners had taken on two Ridgeback puppies and couldn't cope, so Kia was returned to the breeder. We've had her for two months and that's the longest that she's been anywhere in her six months so it's early to talk about her temperament. What is apparent though is that she has a great sense of fun. You're still wondering about the plastic, aren't you? When she was a puppy Rosie's favourite food used to be a nice bit of plastic. For a snack, she loved curtain hooks. If this could be prefaced by pulling the curtain down, and chewing the hooks out individually, so much the better. Her record is 32 hooks at one sitting. We only use metal hooks now. Second favourite snack was telephone cable, which she removed from the wall, and ate. The BT engineer laughed until he cried the second time it happened. It's all secured behind wood now. Radiator valves are a little meatier, but handy because they don't move and are at a suitable height for eating. I can see that you're thinking about the alarm clocks. I'm sure you're saying 'I can understand her getting one, but why let her get three?' Well, ask yourself this: would you remember to put the alarm clock away in the drawer at six o'clock each morning? If the answer is 'No', then really I don't think I've done too badly in only forgetting twice, have I? Does all this plastic hurt her? Surprisingly we've never had a problem - and even the Vet can't understand that. I'd recommend a Ridgeback to an experienced owner who felt able to cope with an exuberant dog. We've found their companionship extremely rewarding - even though they have tried to eat most of the house! Now, where
did I put my phone...?
With regards to this opinion; I have recently had a comment that has made me rethink the manner in which I write the following opinion - My apologies, as I never intended to mislead anyone - I am not insinuating that I have ever owned a Rhodesian Ridgeback or that they are dangerous to their adult owners, rather I just wanted to comment on my experience with them and my personal (and arguable ) opinion that these dogs are a too big, too boisterous and IF not trained correctly, too dangerous to have in a house with young children. I did not mean to offend any dog owners out there. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are among the most terrfifying breed of dog I have come across! They are very big, very territorial and very expensive! Not to mention that when there are more than one of them they will naturally "hunt" any visitors to their house (it's not your you know - its theirs!" I know that with good training and breeding people consider dogs to be their most loyal companions, however, I do not think that Rhodesian Ridgeback are in any way the ideal family pet. I feel it is wrong to keep these huge beasts who originally came from Africa and were lion-hunters, in a domestic British environment.(By this I mean a small family home with little garden - they need ample space, in the same league as a Great Dane) Perhaps on a farm or vast estate where guarding is part of their reason for being there. But I don't think that it is right that these dogs are kept as pets. They are simply too big and if they "turn" (I know that many owners will argue that their dogs will never "turn" on them - and they may be right), but IF they turn - my God they will kill you. They are very strong and you should know that they are not easy dogs to keep. (I have never owned them - but my boyfriends father does) That said they are the best guard dogs - NO-ONE will get into the dogs territory - no bit of steak is going to sedate these dogs - they are ju
st not that stupid or disloyal.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are descended from Thai Ridge dogs, and were used by colonial hunters to hunt lions in packs. They are therefore extremely powerful, muscular hounds who thoroughly enjoy the great oudoors and require a lot of exercise. They can also be very effective guard dogs, as when they want to be, they're quite fearsome. Any potential owners should be aware of the fact that the cuddly pups grow into pretty big animals - larger than a Lab, but not as big as a Great Dane. Some people find them intimidating, but as long as they're well trained they are on the whole good-natured and extremely affectionate dogs. They of course have a distinctive ridge running down their spine where their hair, which is reddish brown in colour, grows in the opposite direction. At the top of the ridge their should be two crowns, or circles of hair, and although it can be difficult to tell when they're very young - a good ridge with complete crowns is a sign of pure breeding. These dogs have an enormous appetite, and they are pretty expensive to buy from a reputable breeder. It's therefore wise to consider whether you have the necessary funds, the right kind of space and enough time and patience to own one of these great companions.
Ridgebacks, as they are alos known, are probably the most perfect famiy dog that anyone could have. They have rated top in recent "dog leagues" for their loyality. They rated top in "the best family dog" and top in "the best guard dog" (given the chance, a trained to do so a ridgeback is an awesome opponent to any burgular.) But it is their quiet, unbashful and faithful loyality and compasure that strikes me about ridgebacks. My dad had one from 6 weeks old and when I came along she adopted me, and my brithers! She was very gentle and hardly ever barked. Beware of buying a bitch though - as with most breeds, if you get a bad bitch you get a "bad dog" - they can tend to have an attititude but that depends on the breeding so be careful to reserach the history well. (that goes with any dog not just ridgebacks). For me there is no better companion and family faviourite (maybe apart from the Flat Coated Retreiever) - it will lie down with your children but rip the burgular apart. It can be trusted (provided it is trained well) - beware that if you are lax with training from an early age they will take advantage of you. These are big dogs - not for the first timer.
I am on my second Ridgeback. My parents got the first when I was about 7. My father got the second when he retired. Tamba is now 7 and lives with me, my husband, my 9 month old son, our 3 labradors and 3 cats. Ridgebacks are wonderful dogs as long as they are brought up understanding the rules. They are intensely loyal, prefering to ignore anyone outside of their family group. They do have special friends who are allowed to pet them, but these are few and far between. They require regular excercise and a good diet. They are intelligent, have a good sense of fun and make good guard dogs. The are not naturally noisy and rarely bark Rules must be laid down as soon as the puppy comes into the home and striclty adhered to. They must be given proper training as they can quicky become uncontrollable, which in a dog this size is dangerous. They will also take a mile if an inch is allowed. I know of one who at 7 months was returned to the breeder because he had been allowed to jump and nip at the children in play and had subsequently bitten all 3. Brought up properly, I think the only dog to match them is a Labrador but thats probably because I have 3.