The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very unique breed of dog, not to mention they are also very addicting. Once you are owned by one, then you will always be owned by one. The loyalty and love for the family is what makes them such a desirable family dog.
As puppies, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are fun loving, exuberant, inquistive, and somewhat rambunctious. A six month old Ridgeback puppy can unintentionally knock over a toddler. A toddler can unintentionally heap arbitrary punishment upon a young and impressionable puppy. Therefore, parents should exercise a great amount of supervision, so that neither puppy nor baby inflicts abuse upon one another. This holds true throughout the preschool age period of a child and for the first 18 to 24 months of a Ridgeback's life. Mature Ridgebacks and school age children, are best of buddies and friends for life.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a trouble-maker; however, once attacked or threatened by another dog, the Ridgeback will stand its ground and fight if it has to. Most of the time a Ridgeback is only looking for a doggy pal to play with and does not normally view other dogs as a threat. However, multiple, intact males around unspayed females, can create some problems. A Ridgeback is very good with cats, other small dogs, but should be exposed to them when the Ridgeback is young.
As guard dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks use great discretion. They are not frantic barkers and they are not looking to attack anyone. Usually, they will give a couple of loud bellows to get your attention and let you know someone is on the property. They do not bark indiscriminately. When Ridgebacks bark, they have a good reason to do so, but will usually stop when you tell them - unless they are certain you are not aware of what they are trying to tell you. It is always wise to investigate when Ridgebacks bark.
There are two areas that a great many dog owners forget about when attempting to teach their dogs good manners and good behavior. They are: Mistaking the canine brain for the human brain. Failing to be consistent.
Ridgebacks are not stubborn; they are not dumb. Rather, they are independent, and whip smart. The one thing that they have that you should nurture is their desire to please.
As dogs are creatures of habit, you must always keep that in mind. Good habits are learned and so are bad habits. Detect the bad habits early before they become ingrained and work on perfecting the good habits.
Rhodesian Ridgeback History (Famous Lion Hunting Hound). When European Boer settlers arrived in South Africa in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they brought with them such breeds as the Mastiff, Great Dane, Bloodhound, Pointer, Staghound, and Greyhounds, among other different breeds. These settlers needed a dog that could withstand both hot and cold temperatures, limited water, and rough bush, while performing the duties of guard dog and hunting dog. By breeding their European dogs with the native Hottentot tribal hunting dogs (which were distinguished by a ridge of hair growing in the opposite direction along the top of their back) they produced just such a dog.
These dogs hunted by both sight and scent, and were devoted protectors of the entire family. In the 1870's several of these dogs were taken to Rhodesia to hunt lions, chasing and harassing the lion until the hunter could shoot it. The dogs were so successful that the "Lion Dogs" became popular, their distinctive ridge becoming a trademark of quality.
By the 1920's, so many different types of ridged Lion Dogs existed in Rhodesia that a meeting was held to maintain the most desirable points of the breed, which became the basis for the current standard. Dogs meeting the standard criteria were known as Rhodesian Ridgebacks (the dog's former designation as Lion Dogs was deemed to sound too savage). The breed was introduced into England in the 1930's and to America soon after. In both cases, it gained recognition in the 1950's and quickly attracted admirers. In the 1980's, the breed received recognition as a sighthound and became eligible to compete in sighthound field trials. Today it is among the more popular hounds, undoubtedly because it combines the abilities of hunter, protector, and companion in a sleek handsome body.