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                                                     Breed Information


The first thing people notice about the Rhodesian Ridgeback

 is usually the characteristic ridge that runs down his spine and gives him his name !




Everytime That I have gone up in an aeroplane and looking down have realised that I was free of the ground,I have had the consciousness of a great new discovery."I see," I have thought."This was the idea.And now I understand everything."

-Isak Dinesen



No single breed suits everyone Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be very strong willed but he never forgets love and understanding nor does he lightly forgive harsh treatment .

Your relationship is one of a partner rather than master , servant . He is a dog of noble bearing whose physical attributes should reflect his role as a guardian , companion and hunter .

There you have it , in the right hands the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog to be proud of . Handsome powerful intelligent and loyal to the end . Many people own dogs , a fortunate few own Rhodesian Ridgebacks .

If you are new to the breed, take time to look through this website to find out about the Rhodesian Ridgeback, especially its history, temperament and personality. There is a variety of information about the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed published on our site. We get a lot of appreciation from people who have used the information that we make available here to help with their decision in getting a healthy happy, healthy Ridgeback puppy.  This site will give you a lot of knowledge, which will help you make a sound decision as to whether or not this breed is a good choice for your family



Ridgebacks And Children ?


The Ridgeback is an extremely tolerant , excellent companion for children able to withstand a great deal rough and tumble even from the smallest of toddlers . However , no children should be left unsupervised around any dog , as either may hurt the other unintentionally . Due to its large size , younger and more excitable Ridgebacks may knock smaller children over by accident . The Ridgeback is a gregarious animal enjoying the company of other dogs . They are very good with other pets , if bought up with them . the Ridgeback is an excellent natural watchdog and family protector .



Are They Noisy ? Any Bad Habits ?

Ridgebacks tend to only bark when there is something worthwhile to bark at . They are very athletic , easily able to clear high fences . It is of utmost importance that you have a properly fenced yard . If you have a pool please teach your dog to swim , and teach him which direction to swin to the steps , in the event that he accidently falls in . Your pool should be fenced , and you should never let your pets swim alone . They are Proficient swimmers, and can become an annoyance if you do not want them in your pool!

Give them their own pool they will love u for it .




Are They Good House Dogs ?

The Ridgeback is an extremely clean dog with little odor , and minimal shedding due to the short coat . They do not drool. except in anticipation of food .They are very easy to house train . If allowed they will take over your furniture and your bed , so you must make rules .





Jamie and Bohdi Umkimzulu Backyard Boots I am sure this was just for the photo shoot and she isnt allowed on the furniture at home !!!

Feeding ?



Most Ridgebacks would have to be dead before refusing to eat ! They can drool quite a bit when you are preparing there food . They will inhale food enthusiastically , and they look for more . So you must be very careful to watch the waist line . They can be very cleaver at opening the fridge or cupboard so be prepared to add a lock here and there .We have found that once your RR hits 6 years of age the bin raids and counter surfing starts ,we can't belive it either !


How Much Exercise?

Like any dog they need exercise a daily romp in the back yard or park and also much longer trips to the park and beach would be great . More would be better , but they will adapt to your life style .



Chilli is full flight a joy to watch a joy to own .


Are They Energetic ?

Yes as youngsters they can be a real handful . So you must be firm with them , and they must be taken to obedience training But as they mature they become much more layed back Some say a Ridgeback is happiest when either running flat out across a fields or flat out asleep at your feet . In general they mature into lovely calm dogs that are a pleasure to own .



Finding The Right Breeder

Typical Umkimzulu puppy in her new home .


Approach getting a puppy as if you were adopting a child. Expect a lot of questions and ASK a lot of questions! A responsible breeder is also looking for a responsible owner. how can a potential puppy buyers know wheather they are dealing with a responsible , reputable breeder or simply a backyard breeder ? You dont have to be a detective to pick up the clues .













It was July 1954, in the Tuli Block, Bechuanaland, when "Oom Kaalkop" leaned back in his special canvas chair under a shady tree, he could vividly recall every one of the nine scenes in which his old favourite "Leeuw" had bayed lions for him. As the trail became hotter, "Leeuw" would become more cautious. Silently working his way from the leeward to ascertain the rue position, he would eventually come to a dead point, with raised paw, biding his time and giving his master ample time to come up and be ready. Calculating, cool, almost mischievously he would streak into the lair, nipping the lion into action; defiantly - and successfully - challenging it into the open to a battle of wits and endurance.

Eight times he had thus succeeded in pinning down his lion and had emerged unscathed, but he was getting on in years. The old gladiator had to depend more on experience than agility when he cornered his ninth lion on the banks of the Limpopo. An overhanging "wag-'n'bietjie" branch impeded his way as the lion struck and merciless claws pierced his chest, rupturing a lung.

By the following morning, "Leeuw" was dead. His remains are buried where Mopani leaves rustle; where shy, nocturnal Bushbuck browse and the dawn is still greeted by the rolling echoes of the lion's roar. No tombstone there.



Elephant Country ..


Heat and Dust..

I did not want to disturb the silence that followed Oom Kaalkop's story, but had there been, by silent consent I felt the epitaph would have read "One of the noblest of his kind; unflinching companion and understanding friend." Capt. T.C. Hawley







The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a South African breed and derives from crosses between early European sporting breeds and local Hottentot Hunting Dogs of the cape colony . In 1652, when the South African cape was first settled by white newcomers, they found the local Hottentot tribes had their own semi-domesticated camp dog - small,prick-eared, curled tail and a ridge of opposite-growing hair on its back.



Hottentot hunting party , note the ridged dog in foreground .

European settlers crossed their dogs with those of the Hottentots to improve their stock and make them more suitable to face the tough conditions of frontier life . The breed was refined in Rhodesia and was found to be the best at baying lion and tackling other big game .


Today, we credit three men as being mainly responsible for bringing the Rhodesian Ridgeback to where it is today. They were Charles Helm, Cornelius van Rooyen and Francis R Barnes. The Reverend Charles Helm,who lived in Matabeleland . Helm ran the mission of Hope Fountain.In 1879 he brought two ridged dogs from the Swellendam district, , Powder and Lorna. All travelers to the area stopped at the mission, and it was here that Reverend Helm became friends with van Rooyen, the famous lion hunter and game procurer.Helm's two bitches interbred with van Rooyen's hunting pack, these offspring joining his pack. Cornelius Johannes van Rooyen's, pack of hunting dogs originally were mixes of various breeds, he developed a prized pack of hunting dog's that became known as "van Rooyen's lion dog's .




Francis R. Barnes occupies the most prominent place in RR history as the founder of the Parent Club in Rhodesia In 1922 he called together a group of interested Ridgeback enthusiasts to the home of W H Peard , and the Rhodesian Ridgeback club was formed . The official standard was written and then he had the task of getting the breed officially recognized by the South African Kennel Union . In 1926 the Rhodesian Ridgeback (Lion Dog )breed was officially recognized . Barnes obtained his first Rhodesian Ridgeback from Graham Stacey in 1910. These dogs had come from Cornelius van Rooyen . He lived at Eskdale Farm and raised his Ridgebacks using the Eskdale prefix . If you would like more information go to the books links .

Not too long ago the Rhodesian Ridgeback was referred to as the African Lion Dog or the Rhodesian Lion Hound because it was actually selectively bred to hunt lion. Many people think that they were bred to KILL lions . Simply put there isn’t a dog alive that is a match for a full grown lion.












The Rhodesian Ridgeback is the only dog officially recognised as having its origin in Southern Africa. Consequently, it is widely considered to be South Africa's National Dog and has pride of place on the Kennel Union of Southern Africa's official emblem.

Adopted in Australia 1/1/98 Origin: Southern Africa

Standard supplied by Kennel Union of Southern Africa and Zimbabwe Kennel Club

UTILISATION - The Rhodesian Ridgeback is still used to hunt game in many parts of the world, but is especially prized as a watch-dog and a family pet.

BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEW - The Rhodesian Ridgeback is presently the only registered breed indigenous to southern Africa. Its forebears can be traced to the Cape Colony of southern Africa where they crossed with the early pioneers' dogs and the semi-domesticated, ridged Hottentot hunting dogs. Hunting mainly in groups of two or three, the original function of the Rhodesian Ridgeback or Lion dog was to track game, especially lion, and, with great agility, keep it at bay until the arrival of the hunter. The original standard, which was drafted by F.R. Barnes, in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, in 1922, was based on that of the Dalmatian and was approved by the South African Kennel Union in 1926.



Issued by the Republic of South Africa in 1991. Most dog stamps are issued as part of a set that usually includes several breeds. This stamp, however stands on its own and it is deserving of such a position. The artist, Alan Ainslie was creative in designing an attractive setting, while highlighting the unique beauty of the Rhodesian Ridgeback.





GENERAL APPEARANCE - The Rhodesian Ridgeback should represent a well balanced, strong, muscular, agile and active dog, symmetrical in outline and capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed. The emphasis is on agility, elegance and soundness with no tendency towards massiveness. The peculiarity of the breed is the ridge on the back, which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat.

CHARACTERISTICS - The ridge is the escutcheon of the breed. The ridge must be clearly defined, symmetrical and tapering towards the haunch. It must start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to the hip (haunches) bones. The ridge must contain only two crowns, identical and opposite each other. The lower edges of the crowns must not extend further down the ridge than one-third of its length. A good average width of the ridge is 5 cm (2ins).

TEMPERAMENT - Dignified, intelligent, aloof with strangers, but showing no aggression or shyness.


HEAD AND SKULL - Cranial Region: Skull - Should be of a fair length (width of head between ears, distance from occiput to stop, stop to end of nose, should be equal), flat and broad between the ears; the head should be free from wrinkles when in repose. Stop - Should be reasonably well defined and not in one straight line from the nose to the occipital bone.

Muzzle - Should be long, deep and powerful.

Lips - Should be clean, closely fitting the jaws.

Cheeks - Should be clean.

EYES - Should be moderately well apart, round, bright and sparkling, with intelligent expression, their colour harmonising with the colour of the coat.

EARS - Should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at base and gradually tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head.

MOUTH - Jaws strong with a perfect and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws. The teeth must be well developed, especially the canines or holders.

NECK - Should be fairly long, strong and free from throatiness.

FOREQUARTERS - The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and well boned, with the elbows close to the body. When viewed from the side, the forelegs should be wider than viewed from the front. Pasterns should be strong with slight spring.

Shoulders - Should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed.

BODY - Back - Powerful.

Loins - Strong, muscular and slightly arched.

Chest - Should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious; the brisket should reach to the elbow.

Ribs - Moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel-hoops.

HINDQUARTERS - In the hind legs the muscles should be clean and well defined with good turn of stifle and strong hocks well let down.

FEET - Should be compact and round with well arched toes and tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads.

TAIL - Should be strong at the root and gradually tapering towards the end, free from coarseness. It should be of moderate length. It should not be attached too high nor too low and should be carried with a slight curve upwards, never curled.

GAIT/MOVEMENT - Straight forward, free and active.

COAT - Hair - Should be short and dense, sleek and glossy in appearance but neither woolly nor silky.

COLOUR - Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes is permissible, but excessive white hairs here, on belly or above toes is undesirable. A dark muzzle and ears permissible. Excessive black hairs throughout the coat are highly undesirable.

SIZE - The desirable heights are: Dogs 63 cm (25 ins) to 69cm (27 ins) Bitches 61cm (24 ins) to 66cm (26 ins) Weight - The desirable weights are: Dogs 36.5kg (80lbs) Bitches 32 kg (70lbs)

FAULTS - Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportions to its degree.

NOTE: Male animals should have two apparently normally developed testicles fully descended into the scrotum.













Rhodesian Ridgeback By Ann Woodrow


The Complete Rhodesian Ridgeback By Peter Nicholson & Janet Parker


The Rhodesian Ridgeback In Australia Pauline Sadler


Janet Murray

The Rhodesian Ridgeback 1924-74

Dog Tails from at home and Abroad

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Indaba

An Omnibus Of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

A Rhodesian Ridgeback Handbook

At Home and Abroad Dog Tails

By Ms J N Murray


Rhodesian Ridgeback Frank C Lutman M.D 1989


How To Raise & Train A Rhodesian Ridgeback 1966 Frank C Lutman M.D

An Owners Guide To A Happy Healthy Pet By Eileen M Bailey


The Rhodesian Ridgeback Today By Stig G Carlson


The Rhodesian Ridgeback The Origin,History & Standard By Major TC Hawley


Guide To The Rhodesian Ridgeback By The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club Of Great Britan .


The Difinitive Rhodesian Ridgeback By David Helginson .


Ridged Dogs In Africa By Mylada L Arsenis