What gives the name to the breed is the ridge that this dog tends to have on its back, with the hair placed in the opposite direction to those of the body. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also known as Rhodesian Crested Dog or Rhodesian Lion dog.
The Rhodesian comes from South Africa. The appearance of this breed dates back to the beginning of the 16th century, when European colonizers arrived in Southern Africa, and came into contact with local indigenous (Hottenott tribes).
These possessed a type of wild, semi domesticated dog, characterized by a strip of hair shaped like a spear, on the spine, which grew in the opposite direction to the rest of the fur, forming a particular crest (origin of the name “Ridgeback”, which means dorsal crest). It was a tough dog who hunted with the indigenous in the African territory and took care of the cattle at night.
When the first European settlers arrived in southern Africa, they began their hunting safaris carrying with them the dogs brought from Europe; Mastiffs, Hounds, terriers and the Great Dane, but none of them had the courage, the agility or the resistance to try to approach the fearsome African lion, or resist the inclement weather of this aggressive environment. As these European dogs crossed, with the medium sized dog and pointed ears of the natives, they noticed that the offspring improved the characteristics of the crested dog but that unfailingly only inherited their temperament those who had the crest.
In November 1955, the American Kennel Club recognized the Rhodesian Ridgeback, in the United States. From that year on, it began to have a big boom within that country.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a big-sized dog with short, dense hair. It has a well-defined crest that crosses the entire back and is the distinctive feature of this breed. This is composed of a fan area formed by two whorls (called “crowns”) that are narrowed from the shoulders to the level of the hips. It usually measures 5 cm at its broadest point and must be clearly defined and symmetrical.
Its head is long and the skull is broad and flat. It has medium-sized ears that are fairly high-set. The tail is broad at its base and sharpens at its end.
The standard of the breed indicates that the males must be between 63 and 69 cm at the height of the withers, weighing between 36 and 41 kg, and the females a little smaller, from 61 to 66 cm of height and a weight of between 32 and 36.5 kg. The colors go from the pale wheat to the reddish. The color of the nose can be black or brown (liver nose). They may have a black mask. A small white spot is allowed on the chest and toes of the front or rear legs.
Its coat is short, dense, smooth and shiny, without being woolly or silky. The front legs are straight and strong, with good bones and elbows, which makes it a highly resistant animal.
It is a dog of strong presence and structure, muscular, agile and active, of symmetrical appearance, balanced and well-balanced. An adult specimen is able to travel long distances in a considerable speed.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is loyal, obedient and smart, and at the same time, it is stubborn and distant. It’s a watchdog; territorial; and it’ll only bark if necessary. As a puppy, it is playful without becoming hyper. It’s very patient with children and when it gets tired of them, it’ll just walk away.
The Ridgebacks have a strong temperament, and many of them seem to have a special interest in making pranks. They are protectors of their owners and their families. And if they are well-trained, they can be excellent guardian dogs, although this particular trait should not be encouraged. As any dog, they can become aggressive if they are not properly socialized. They are patient with children, but because of their size and strength it is convenient for them to be monitored during their games.
Since it is very little, we must teach the Rhodesian to respect the authority and the rules. It is very intelligent and will always try to get away with it, so it is important for us to put limits. It is advisable to give the puppy toys to bite and make it sleep in a quiet place.
It is a dog that needs to do a lot of exercise and that prefers the life in the countryside than in the city.
Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very healthy dog although there are cases of Dermoid Sinus, a genetic condition that affects the skin.
You can download the FCI (International Cinological Federation) standard at the following link: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/146g06-en.pdf