Rhodesian Ridgeback Information

Throughout the middle of the seventeenth century there were people, known as the Khoikhoi, occupying the Cape Peninsula . At this time the Dutch arrived and set up a trading post. These Khoikhoi people had dogs used for guarding abilities as well as for hunting local game. The Dutch were impressed by these dogs for their ferocity at guarding but also captivated by a line of hair that grows in the opposite direction along the length of its back. During the 1860s other European decided to settle in this part of Africa, bringing with them other breeds, Bloodhounds, Greyhounds, various terriers and Great Danes. These bred with the local indigenous species and those of the of the Khoikhoi s’ producing a Boer hunting dog, the foundation of our modern Rhodesian Ridgeback. A Reverend Charles Helm, visited the Hope Fountain Mission, based in Rhodesia, during the 1870s and took with him two of these dogs. There they stumbled on a big game hunter, Cornelius van Rooven, who noticed them and became very interested in using them to improve the guarding abilities of his very own dogs. The resulting off-spring, with their lovely red-brown coats, ridge and their keen ability to guard, became the foundation of a very successful kennel for about 35 years breeding dogs with the capability of holding at bay lions and other large prey allowing the hunter to the kill the animal. The breed standard was drafted in Bulawayo in 1922 and so was acknowledged by The South African Kennel Union in 1926


Warning!  It has come to the notice of the breed clubs that some unscrupulous breeders are passing off Rhodesian Ridgebacks that are not the correct colour as “rare”. Please be careful, the colours are wheaten to red wheaten and not such colours as black and tan (Doberman colouring) or brindle. Occasionally, due to a gene silver / grey coloured puppies are born. They should never be shown and should never be used in a breeding programme. They should be registered as a non standard colour and their purchase price should reflect this. The Kennel Club recommends that these puppies should have their registration documents endorsed.
Credit; The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Great Britain – http://www.rhodesianridgebacks.org/

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a characteristic feature that of a ridge along its back of hair grown in the opposite direction to the rest of his coat. Behind the shoulders there are two whorls, known as ‘crowns’, these taper down as far as the hips. He is a medium to large dog and is very muscular; his back is straight and level with no sign of dipping in the middle. The smooth but dense coat comes in light wheaten or red wheaten, he may sometimes have a small white marking on his chest and some on the toes; his nose is black or brown. The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s eyes are somewhat round and dark although in the case where his nose is liver in colour he can have amber eyes. His tail is strong and smooth which he carries in a moderate curve.

IMPORTANTA  Rhodesian Ridgeback with exaggerated features is the result of bad breeding.   CreditThe Breed Club Connection.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can get certain health conditions. Not all Ridgebacks will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed. If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog’s been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
ELBOW DYSPLASIA; Elbow Dysplasia is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It’s thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem, or medication and weight loss to control the pain.
HIP DYSPLASIA; Hip Dysplasia is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by a veterinary Orthopedic specialist. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can be worsened by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors.
DERMOID SINUS is a congenital skin defect in which a cyst or narrow tube-like structure occurs along the spinal area. It can penetrate the skin to varying degrees, and some reach into the muscle tissue and can be attached to the spinal cord. If the dermoid sinus becomes infected it can cause other problems. Some puppies with this defect are euthanized, but others are treated with surgery.