The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an all-purpose 'Renaissance hound' whose hallmark is the ridge, or stripe of backward-growing hair, on his back. Though the breed was made famous in its native Africa for its skill at tracking and baying, but never, ever killing, lions, today Ridgebacks are cherished family dogs whose owners must be prepared to deal with their independence and strong prey drive.
Beneath the Ridgeback's trademark ridge is a whole lot of hound: Ridgebacks are fast and powerful athletes who can weigh between 70 and 85 pounds, and oftentimes more. They come in only one color, wheaten, which spans every shade seen in a wheat field, from pale flaxen to the burnished red of a maturing crop. Ridgebacks also have two nose colors: black and the less commonly seen brown. The formidable Ridgeback can be strong-willed, independent, and sometimes domineering. Ridgebacks must be guided with a firm but a fair hand from puppyhood. They are faithful friends, protective of their loved ones, and meltingly affectionate with those whom they trust. Still, a Ridgeback can be too much hound for the novice dog owner.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback does shed somewhat, but overall his grooming needs are minimal. Regular weekly brushing will help to remove loose hair and keep the coat glossy, and an occasional bath will help to keep the Ridgeback clean and looking his best. The nails should be trimmed often if not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort and problems walking and running. Many Ridgebacks resist nail clipping, and many respond more positively to a nail grinder.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian's supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog's age (puppy, adult, or senior). Ridgebacks are notorious 'counter surfers,' so be sure not to leave human food unattended. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog's calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog's weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are strong, athletic dogs who require a moderate amount of exercise, and they can adapt well to various living situations when provided with daily outings such as long walks and play sessions with their owner. They love to run, and they need physical activity to help keep them healthy and happy. The breed can also exercise mind and body by participating in canine sports like tracking, agility, and other activities that the dog and owner can enjoy together.