Rhodesian Ridgebacks are dignified, athletic dogs whose expressive eyes always look deep in thought. Developed in Africa, this breed was used by lion hunting parties to track, corner, and hold lions. The breed is still used for hunting in some circles, but has come to be more of a family companion than anything else. As puppies they have energy to spare, but with proper exercise and training grow into quiet, dignified housemates. They are not for novice dog owners, as it takes a lot of time and energy to properly train this breed, but for those who are experienced and who are already committed to an active lifestyle, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can be an ideal family dog.
This breed needs a lot of vigorous exercise to maintain health, happiness and an even temperament. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have their roots in Africa, so they can withstand a lot of activity in very high temperatures without slowing down. They require several walks a day and plenty of time to run outdoors. They are athletic enough to jog or accompany bikers. The older they get, the less running they require, but they will always need daily activity. Without proper exercise, this breed can become anxious and destructive.
Hunters can use Rhodesian Ridgebacks in the field to track and point for small game, or to track and corner large game. Non-hunting families should enroll their Ridgebacks in organized activities like agility or lure coursing.
They make excellent hiking and camping companions, happy to engage in outdoor fun and will guard you faithfully while you picnic or sleep.
Training a Rhodesian Ridgeback can be a challenge. They are independent thinkers who also have a tendency to exhibit dominance. They need to be trained with firmness to establish leadership, but never harshness. Strong discipline will cause a Ridgeback to shut down and ignore you completely. 100% consistency is also crucial when training because Ridgebacks will constantly test boundaries, especially in adolescence, and if you bend the rules just once, he'll take that as an invitation to rule the house.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are calm and easy going with their own family members, but are naturally wary of strangers. It is important to properly socialize your dog so that this natural wariness doesn't develop into aggression. Teaching your Ridgeback early on that guests are welcome will help him to be more welcoming later in life.
This breed is often aggressive toward other dogs and non-family pets. He may get along great with your cat, but should a neighbor's cat wander into his yard, he will chase it. Taking your Ridgeback to puppy school and the dog park to socialize him when he is young, can help stave off dog aggression.
Ridgebacks are prone to destructive chewing. This is almost always an indication that he is bored and not getting enough exercise. If your Ridgeback takes to chewing shoes or furniture, you will want to step up his daily routine, and when you leave the house, make sure he has plenty of his own toys and bones to chew on.