The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large, muscular hound whose distinctive raised ridge of hair runs in a strip down the center of the back. This ridge is formed by whorls of hair that grow in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat. Ridgebacks range in color from light to dark wheaten, and some have small white markings on the chest and feet. Occasionally they may be brindle or sable. The head is long, the skull is flat, and the muzzle is long, deep and powerful. The sparkling round eyes are set wide and the color should harmonize with the color of the coat and nose. Dogs with black noses should have dark eyes, and those with brown noses should have amber eyes. The medium sized ears are set high atop the head, are wide at the base and taper to a round point. The tail is long, tapered from base to tip, and curves upward ever so slightly.
Size and Weight
Male Ridgebacks should stand from 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh 85 pounds. Females should stand 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh 70 pounds. Rhodesian Ridgebacks should be slightly longer than they are tall.
Coat and Color
The coat of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is short, shiny, and carries virtually no odor. They shed lightly year-round, but dogs who spend a great deal of time outdoors are subject to heavy seasonal shedding. They may come in a variety of colors and patterns, including brindle or sable. They range in color from wheaten (buff) to red wheaten (gold/reddish gold). Some dogs may sport black on the muzzle, ears, or around the eyes. Specific breed standards vary by organization, and should be consulted before showing.
The distinctive ridge of hair that grows down the middle of the back grows in the opposite direction of the coat, starting behind the shoulder and tapers to a point between the rise of the hips. The hair grows in two whorls, or circular patterns called crowns, and each dog should have only two crowns in the ridge. One crown, or more than two crowns makes a dog ineligible for the show ring, though has no bearing on his ability to be a long term family companion.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They need to be brushed once per week with a rubber brush and then wiped down with a damp cloth. They only require full baths as needed, which, when owners stick to a brush/rub down regimen, can literally be once or twice per year.
Check the ears on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean the ears with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails monthly if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally outdoors.