Why Choose a Ridgeback?
Congratulations! You’re thinking about adding a dog to your family and are wondering if a Rhodesian Ridgeback might be the dog for you. You’ve come to the right place.
Ridgebacks were originally bred in Rhodesia, what is now Zimbabwe, to endure the heat, and to cooperatively (in a small pack) hold big game at bay (tree it or surround it). Ridgebacks are not lion killers or lion hunters. They’re not attack dogs nor are Ridgebacks guard dogs. They were bred to keep lions out of villages. As a pack, they would chase the lions away and keep them at bay until their people came. The following paragraphs provide more information about why you might want to be owned by a Ridgeback.
Ridgebacks are Intelligent.
Ridgebacks are smart dogs who take to training with positive reinforcement. They can become accomplished competitors in conformation, lure coursing, obedience, nose work, and even agility. Ridgebacks are intuitive emotionally and often understand the feelings of their owners. Ridgebacks are often thought to train their owners rather than the other way around.
Ridgebacks are Loyal.
Ridgebacks will typically choose their person in the family (perhaps the person who regularly feeds them!) and will want to be with that person. They also know who their other family members are and will look out for them. Ridgebacks are also loyal to their breed and often find other Ridgebacks for friends and playmates.
Ridgebacks are Aloof.
Ridgebacks are not like Labs. They are typically not all that eager to socialize with everyone in the neighborhood. Crouching down and putting your hand out (like most people do when they meet a new dog) is pretty much the worst way to meet a Ridgeback. That stance makes them uncomfortable as their instinct is to stay back and keep their distance. Ridgebacks do best when new people just ignore them. The dogs get interested on their own terms and will initiate an interaction when they are ready.
Ridgebacks are Hounds.
While officially a sight hound (they can spot a squirrel from seemingly miles away), they are also exceptional smellers and will often hijack a walk in pursuit of a good sniff. Their prey drive is often high and animals spotted running are just asking to be chased. Homes without cats, with dog-savvy cats, and with owners who have patience for slow introductions will do best.
Ridgebacks are Family Dogs.
Though Ridgebacks undeniably enjoy their time outside in the sun, they do not do well as outside-only dogs. They want to be with their families, in the same room, on the same piece of furniture, on the laps of their loved ones. Ridgebacks can be wonderful dogs with children, showing immense patience, but they also are unaware of their size (see lap comment above), and can inadvertently knock down young children --or unsuspecting seniors--during boisterous play.
Ridgebacks are Sensitive.
They do not do well with harsh discipline as it damages the relationship between dog and owner. Ridgebacks also do not do well with electronic training collars and e-fencing. Ridgebacks have very good memories. If there’s an electric fence in the yard and the Ridgeback gets zapped, he will remember it and may refuse to go out into the yard from that point on.
Ridgebacks are both Active and Relaxed.
Ridgebacks are athletic dogs who demand a fair amount of exercise each day (think two half hour walks, minimum, as adults, more as puppies). Ridgebacks are also often quite content to lie on their beds (or the bed of their human) and cuddle.
Ridgebacks are both Low and High Maintenance.
Ridgebacks are relatively clean short-haired dogs with minimal grooming needs. Contrary to popular belief, they do shed (just with shorter hair). Toenails need to be clipped or ground down regularly, and teeth brushed. The high maintenance part comes is related to their intelligence; they need activity to keep their brains occupied. A bored Ridgeback becomes a mischievous Ridgeback, so toys, games, physical exercise, and training are all good ways to stimulate a Ridgeback.