Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large, powerful dog with a distinctive line of hair that runs along its spine. It originates from South Africa and forms part of the popular hound dog category.

Rhodesian Ridgeback breed group


Size of the Rhodesian Ridgeback


Colour varieties of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

The breed comes in just a handful of colours including:

  • Light Wheaten
  • Red Wheaten
  • Wheaten

Country of origin

South Africa

Time of original development

The Ridgeback was believed to have been created by crossing a native Hottentot or ‘ridged’ dog with dogs that were taken to South Africa by Europeans in the 16th century. The Rhodesian Ridgeback was recognised in South Africa as a breed in its own right in 1922.

Rhodesian Ridgeback introduction and overview

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also known as the African Lion Dog or Hound. It was used to assist in the hunting of large game including lions. It did not kill its prey, merely caught and restrained them (baying) until their human companions arrived. Today, the Ridgeback is kept as a guard dog especially in its native Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is the native dog of South Africa, and remains popular in Africa. The breed is well loved in the UK and is the 4th most popular choice of dog breed in the hound group with 938 dogs being recorded with the Kennel Club in 2015.

The Ridgeback has an unusual line of fur that runs along the spine of the dog. This line of hair actually lies the opposite way of growth to the rest of the coat.

The Rhodesian is a large, stocky and well-muscled dog with a short coat. It is fast, powerful and intelligent. It can be a little stubborn and strong-minded, requiring a firm and experienced owner.

Size and weight of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

Height bitch 61-66cms

Height dog 63-69cms

Weight (kilos) bitch 30-35kgs

Weight (kilos) dog 30-35kgs

Exercise requirements of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

High. This breed is not for the less active dog owner, requiring at least 2 hours of good quality and vigorous exercise every day. It’s a breed suited to a rural lifestyle with adequate open spaces to achieve the physical activity it requires. It would also appreciate a large, secure garden. This is not a suitable dog for town dwellers or cities.

Rhodesian Ridgeback temperament, socialisation with children, other dogs and other pets

The breed is generally placid and fun loving in the home, enjoying the company of adults and normally excellent with children if socialised from an early age.

It is good with other dogs, rarely displaying aggressive behaviour , and generally sociable. Cats are not normally compatible, and smaller pets are not suitable house companions with this breed.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is wary of strangers and makes a good guard dog around the home.

Is the Rhodesian Ridgeback a good dog for a first time dog owner?

Not recommended. This breed like most in the hound group are driven by their hunting instinct, and not the easiest dog to own or train.

This dog is best suited to an owner with experience and knowledge of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The sheer size of the Ridgeback, may make it unsuitable for many family homes.

Rhodesian Ridgeback coat length


Rhodesian Ridgeback Grooming requirements

Low. The close, short coat requires little grooming to keep it in good condition. A quick polish with a chamois leather or hound cloth will add a lovely sheen to the coat.

Ears should be cleaned and checked regularly for any sign of infections.


No. The Rhodesian Ridgeback sheds hair steadily throughout the year, making it an unsuitable choice of dog for allergy sufferers.

Health issues in the Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Ridgeback is a fairly healthy dog, but do consult your breeder on known health issues recorded in the breed including:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bloat
  • Dermoid Sinus
  • Myelopathy

As with all pedigree dogs, it is very important to obtain a puppy from a reputable source where you can be guaranteed that it has been bred with a view to avoiding the inherent physical and psychological diseases of the breed.

Average lifespan of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

A healthy dog should expect to enjoy a life expectancy of up to 10 years.

Approximate Rhodesian Ridgeback pedigree puppy price

Expect to pay around £850-£1,000 for a puppy and litters are often available. There are generally 7-8 puppies in an average litter.

Estimating how much a Rhodesian Ridgeback would need to be fed each day and weekly cost

A bitch weighing 30kgs requires 365gms of complete dry food per day.

A dog weighing 35kgs requires 402gms of complete dry food per day.

The cost of feeding a 30kgs bitch is around £9.00 per week.

The cost of feeding a 35kgs dog is around £9.90 per week.

Our figures are based on feeding an ‘above average quality’ and popular complete dry food bought from a leading supermarket. A good quality feed is suggested for the energetic dogs in the hound group.

Other financial costs to consider when owning any dog breed

Remember to budget for essential pet treatments and procedures that are not covered by pet insurance policies including:

  • Worming and fleas preparations
  • Annual vaccination boosters
  • Neutering or spaying
  • Microchipping
  • Dental treatment