The Rhodesian Ridgeback is native to Africa, where it was bred as a hunting and guard dog. They tracked lions and kept watch over their owner’s homes. They are a member of the hound family and their disposition is similar to other types of hounds.
This breed is quite large in size, with adult males weighing about 85 pounds and adult females weighing about 70 pounds. They are light brown in color and have a trademark “ridge” of fur along their back (hence the “ridgeback” in their name). Rhodesian Ridgebacks are very powerful and athletic, which makes them great for hunting companions. In the US, they often compete in agility contests, as their intelligence and agility makes them excellent for these tasks. They can also be very strong-willed and domineering, and training and consistency is important for this breed. They are extremely loyal to those they trust, making them a great family pet.
Ridgeback Food and Health
To ensure optimal health, feeding a Rhodesian Ridgeback a high-quality commercial dog food is recommended. He will enjoy either dry kibble or canned food, but the primary ingredient should be pure animal protein, such as turkey, chicken, or fish. Other ingredients should include fiber and carbohydrates, as well as natural vitamins that can promote health joints. Some excellent commercial food options for this breed include Blue Freedom Grain Free Dog Food, Diamond Naturals with Real Meat, and Taste of the Wild High Prairie. Whichever type of food you choose, stay away from animal byproducts and fillers, as they can lead to health complications.
On average, Rhodesian Ridgebacks should eat between 2 and 5 cups of food a day, split into two individual meals. The amount you feed him should be based on his age, size, and activity level. For example, puppies and active dogs should consume more calories, while older, less active dogs should eat less. Also, keep in mind that this breed loves to eat. Ridgebacks are constantly on the search for food and will eat whatever they can find. To avoid overeating or a potentially hazardous situation, avoid leaving food out on countertops and tables, as this dog will attempt to reach it.
Generally, Ridgebacks are considered healthy dogs. Compared to other breeds, there are few conditions that they are genetically predisposed to, and these include hip and elbow dysplasia, and congenital defects of the spine. Since these dogs tend to be active, there is always a risk of injuries. To avoid having to pay for the high cost of veterinary care, consider purchasing pet insurance. With this coverage, your insurance provider will assist with medical bills. There are several companies that offer this type of insurance nationwide, such as Geico. Consider where you live when choosing your plan, as some providers offer better rates and coverage for certain areas; for example, Embrace Pet Insurance offers some of the most affordable rates in North Carolina, while Healthy Paws Pet Insurance offers better rates in New York.
Leashes and Collars for your Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are quite intelligent, powerful, and can be domineering. As such, training is extremely important. The type of collar and leash you use makes all the difference in the world with training, as well as with the overall safety and security of your pet.
For training purposes, a high quality e-collar or choke collar can be extremely effective. Make sure that you stick to products that have received excellent reviews and offer thoughtful designs and high-quality construction for the best results. Good choices are the Educator E-Collar or this rechargeable shock collar.
When you aren’t working on training, or if you are just taking your dog for a walk, switch to a standard collar. A collar made of leather is a great choice for this breed, as it will withstand the Ridgeback’s strength and their active lifestyle. Make sure you measure your dog’s neck before choosing a collar. Use a tape measure and wrap it around his neck to determine the size you’ll need. Opt for a collar that is adjustable to get the perfect fit. You should be able to fit two fingers between your pup’s neck and the collar.
When choosing a lead, consider your needs. For example, if you are training your Ridgeback, a five- or six- foot lead is recommended, as it will afford excellent control. If your dog is already trained, you can purchase a longer leash, as it will offer him more freedom to move about and explore; two things that this breed really enjoys.
Whatever type of leash you use, a durable construction is important. As mentioned, these dogs are extremely powerful and you want to ensure you choose a collar that will withstand his strength. For your comfort, you might want to opt for a collar that offers a padded handle, such as this Dual Handled leash.
Best Crates, Beds, and Doghouses for Rhodesian Ridgebacks
A crate is a very useful training tool, and training is of utmost importance for a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Crates also offer security for these dogs when they are left alone or frightened (during a thunderstorm, for example).
You’ll want to choose a crate that is made of durable materials; however, even more important is the size of the crate. It should afford enough space for your pup to stand up and turn around with ease; but, there shouldn’t be too much space, as there’s a risk that he will soil one side of it and remain on the opposite side. Measure the height of your dog, from top of the head to the floor, and the length, from tip of the tail to the tip of the nose. Add four inches to each measurement to figure out the size of the crate he will need.
For bedding, Ridgebacks like to sprawl out. A pillow or cushion style bed would work well for this breed. If your dog is experiencing joint discomfort, an orthopedic dog bed can offer the support and comfort that he needs. Great options include the BarksBar Gray Orthopedic Dog Bed and the Keet Fluffly Deluxe Pet Bed. Always consider the size of your dog when purchasing a dog bed, as you want him to have enough space to find a comfortable sleeping position.
Keeping a Rhodesian Ridgeback in a dog house is not recommended, as they enjoy being with their human companions. However, if you do have to leave your pup outside, make sure that it is in a yard that offers plenty of space and has a security fence. Also, make sure that you offer a dog house that will provide the shelter he needs. Consider the area you live in when determining what type of dog house to purchase, as well as the size of your dog. For example, if you live in a climate where the weather is cold, a house that has heating and an elevated floor is a great choice, as it will keep him up off the floor and warm.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Toys
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are quite playful, very energetic, and smart. As such, they should have access to a variety of toys to keep them entertained, to prevent them from getting into mischief, and to provide them with the exercise they require.
There are a variety of toys that can be used with this breed. Rope toys and balls made of durable materials are ideal for playing fetch; a game thatRidgebacks find very enjoyable. You can also invest in a mechanical fetch toy, such as the Playball Automatic Ball Launcher. These toys are automated to launch balls, making them an ideal option for your dog to play with when you are not home or when you can’t play with him.
Treat toys are also well received by Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They are made of high-quality materials, such as rubber, and feature pockets or pouches that treats can be placed in. Your dog has to manipulate the toy in order to release the treat. Treat toys can provide a Ridgeback with long-lasting entertainment.
Grooming Insights for Rhodesian Ridgeback owners
The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a coat of short, flat fur that sheds all year long. Since their fur is short, grooming is rather easy; but it’s important because it maintains the health of their skin and their coats.
Brush or comb your Ridgeback every few weeks, or as needed. A tool that is outfitted with de-shedding teeth will ensure that you are removing the buildup of dead fur.
When bathing a Rhodesian Ridgeback, use a hypoallergenic shampoo to avoid any issues with his skin. If he is experiencing any sensitivity to his skin, use a medicated shampoo such as SynergyLabs Medicated Shampoo to ease his condition and promote the health of his skin. Avoid perfumed shampoos.
You can apply a hydrating spray to his coat after bathing if you desire.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Accessories
There are plenty of accessories available for dogs, and many can be useful for Rhodesian Ridgebacks. For example, a paw balm can help to protect his pads. This product is particularly beneficial if you live in cold or hot climate, or if the terrain is rugged; for example, if you live in the Rockies of Denver, or the mountains of Alaska.
Accessories that are designed for temperature control are also useful with this breed. For instance, a cooling vest is great for use in hot locations, and insulated vests are ideal for cold areas.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks make excellent companions. With the right care, your dog is guaranteed to enjoy a happy life.
To learn more about other large breeds like the Rhodesian Ridgeback, check out our breed hub page!