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Owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback, or two, can be a rewarding experience for some people...and a disaster for others. Being a hound, Ridgebacks can be independent, stubborn and somewhat "feline" in nature. They prefer to think for themselves and make their own decisions. As a result, positive reinforcement training works best for this breed.

Another "instinct" for Ridgebacks is hunting. They have keen eyesight and will chase anything that moves. This prey drive is very strong and can be quite dangerous if the dog is not contained in a suitable fence or on a leash when out walking. When this "chase" instinct takes over your Ridgeback will not return to you on command - in most cases it won't even hear your command. A conscientious owner will realize that this makes the #1 danger for their dog the automobile.


Because, Ridgebacks were selectively bred to be "easy keepers" not requiring a great deal of nourishment, their food quantity requirements are usually low. They cannot be "free fed"- gorging is a big problem. In the wild the dog would gorge when there was a kill and then go hungry for days. As a result, "counter-surfing" and stealing food/garbage is instinctive for them. A Ridgeback will always try to convince you they are starving and this passion for food can lead to obesity and other health issues.


When used for hunting in Africa, the Ridgebacks were hunted in a pack of several hounds.  This "pack" mentality has not left the dog because we've moved them into our homes - we must become their pack.  Their desire is to be part of our family and they should not be considered "yard dogs".  If left to their own lonely devices in the yard they can become destructive and unmanageable when you do spend time with them.  You should plan to include the dog in your family with plenty of socialization, basic obedience training, crate training, exercise, etc.


The Ridgeback is normally a clean dog with no desire to soil their home. A little attentiveness makes housebreaking fairly easy. They also have a clean coat with minimal shedding and no "doggy" smell. The biggest grooming issue are the toenails which can grow long and hard very quickly. Bi-weekly nail trimming is a must. The Ridgeback views this nail trimming as some sort of bi-weekly torture session. Getting control of this grooming task at an early age is a must.

If this dog with such an independent nature is understood and managed in the proper fashion you can hopefully enjoy 12+ years of life with a unique and wonderful breed. Make certain you study and give a great deal of thought to your lifestyle and the traits of the breed before bringing a Ridgeback into your home. Your commitment should be for the dog's lifetime!

Ridgeback Head Study
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