Rhodesian Ridgeback 5 personality traits you would love - The Pets and Love

The chances are that you have come across this article because you are considering whether a Rhodesian Ridgeback could be the right dog breed for you! Before you make that decision, however, you want to know what their personalities are like?

The chances are that you have come across this article because you are considering whether a Rhodesian Ridgeback could be the right dog breed for you! Before you make that decision, however, you want to know what their personalities are like?

It’s actually really difficult to define exactly what personality traits a Rhodesian Ridgeback, or any dog breed for that matter, will have. This is because just like anything there are always exceptions to the rule. Every Rhodesian Ridgeback will have its own little personality quirks mixed in with some commonalities.

Which personality traits are Rhodesian Ridgebacks best known for?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are in general an affectionate breed that are good with both children and other dogs. They are exuberant, playful, as gentle as a large powerful dog can be, and like to have people they know around them.

The above description, could, in fact, match many dog breeds out there, none of the traits mentioned are specific to just the Rhodesian Ridgeback. However, when you pair the above with the personality traits that this breed are best known for you get the unique mix that is the Rhodesian Ridgeback. These most recognised traits include:

  • Intelligence – The Rhodesian Ridgeback is widely regarded as a highly intelligent breed of dog. This means they need regular and varied stimulation to keep them engaged and to stop them from getting bored. Puzzles and games are a good way to stimulate your Rhodesian Ridgeback mentally as is just engaging with them in general.
  • Loyalty/Protectiveness – Always featured in top ten guard dog breed lists the Rhodesian Ridgeback will guard those it loves and its territory. This is a natural genetic trait which dates back to its origins as a hunting dog in Rhodesia. They are also incredibly loyal to their families, often more so to one person in the family particularly. This has led to them being regarded as a ‘one-man dog’.
  • High Prey Drive – This is another personality trait that is genetically embedded in the Rhodesian Ridgeback. This is because they had centuries of training to display this very behaviour and were bred specifically for it. Not only were they used to hunt down and corner lions, something they are famous for, but they were also trained to chase smaller prey such as buck, wild boars, monkeys etcetera. This means most small animals such as rabbits, birds, cats, and possibly small dogs will be seen by them as prey.
  • Independence/Stubbornness – Whilst the Rhodesian Ridgeback does not really care for being left alone and would much rather be with people they are also highly independent and stubborn. This means they may not always follow instruction easily and may wander off on their own to do their thing.
  • Standoffish With Strangers – Despite the Rhodesian Ridgeback adoring their family and people they know well they can be aloof with strangers. This again more than likely dates back to the days when they were used not only as guard dogs but also as protectors of the home.

Do any of the Rhodesian Ridgebacks traits make them more challenging to keep?

Every dog breed, indeed every dog, will come with its own set of challenges when it comes to keeping them, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback is no different. They have certain personality traits, in fact, those mentioned above, that can if not addressed correctly become a problem.

Intelligence is, of course, a highly desirable trait for your Rhodesian Ridgeback to display. It makes them fun and interesting to interact with. However, it can also become quite challenging if your Rhodesian Ridgebacks brain is not stimulated enough. Non-stimulation can lead to destructive behaviour such as digging up your garden to the point it looks like the surface of the moon.

Loyalty and protectiveness are both fabulous traits that any dog owner would love to find in their family member. However, this trait should not be accentuated in a Rhodesian Ridgeback with actions such as guard dog training. This can easily lead to your dog becoming overly aggressive leading to a physical altercation. Believe me, when I say guarding comes naturally to a Rhodesian Ridgeback who will protect you to the max without anyone getting hurt.

High prey drive and being aloof with strangers are not necessarily the best traits for your Rhodesian Ridgeback to possess. This is especially true when they are family pets as I imagine they now are for most people. High prey drive can lead to your Rhodesian Ridgeback chasing and harming other animals including pets and being aloof can lead to fear aggression.

To address both of these you should ensure that your Rhodesian ridgeback is well socialised. Take them to training classes and everywhere you can with you. This way they will get used to being around strangers and learn that other animals around them are not prey.

Independence and stubbornness can lead to a Rhodesian Ridgeback that will not do anything that you command and/or wanders off at the drop of a hat. Neither of these are traits that you will want to encourage. Firm and consistent basic training should deal with the stubbornness in your Rhodesian Ridgeback whilst high fences to prevent escape and good recall skills will deal with their wanderlust.

So is a Rhodesian Ridgebacks personality learned or genetic?

The nature (genetic) versus nurture (learned) debate has raged on for centuries with no exact conclusion being reached. There is, however, some consensus in that a person, or dog in these cases, personality being the result of a mixture of both. In a dog’s case, this would be a mixture of:

  1. Inherited traits
  2. The way mum treats them in the first six weeks
  3. The way they are socialised

It is well known that certain breeds have a predisposition to certain traits which would be commonly known as the inherited traits. However, they are also highly influenced by their early environment (time with mum) and their future environment (socialisation). Puppy parents and humans play a huge role in who and what a dog grows up like.

Dr. Jerry Klein, a supervising vet at Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Centre supports this theory and backs up his belief with evidence of his own. As well as being a vet he also breeds Afghan hounds and when two litters were born at the same time noticed something interesting. Though both litters were born in the same environment and were the exact same age, they showed very different personality traits. This could only be down to them having different parents who were raising them a slightly or very different way. A perfect example of nurture playing a huge role in the development of living creatures.

There, of course, is still a heavy argument for the predictability of some genetic traits. Pure breeds as we know are bred especially to display certain traits from generation to generation. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a fine example of this with history telling us that in the 1920s a meeting was held to elucidate the most desirable traits of this breed. Dogs that then displayed these traits were bred together to accentuate them.

Is there any way to ensure the Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy you choose will have certain personality traits?

No, not really. Since personality is a mixture of nature and nurture you can never be 100% certain what you are going to get. You can, however, raise the chances of getting what you require by researching well, choosing a recommended breeder and observing one or both of your potential puppies parents.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Clubs of Great Britain and the United States are a great source of information on the breed and what to look for in a puppy. By knowing the breed and knowing what questions to ask the breeder of your choice you stand a far better chance of getting a puppy close to what you are seeking.

Once with the puppies, you should observe how they respond to you. Are they highly strung, aggressive, friendly, inquisitive? Do they like being picked up and petted? Inquisitive, friendly, happy to be picked up and petted pups are what you are looking for.

You should also if possible spend time with the puppies parents. More often than not interacting with the mother, at least, will be possible, and she will display a fair idea of what your puppy could grow up to be like. Remember, however, that if dad is not around, he can also make up 50% of the puppies genetics so mum’s behaviour and personality holds no guarantee.

As a final note, when it comes to choosing a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy for its personality, always consider that you as the owner/family of the puppy are going to be a huge influence on who your puppy becomes in later life. How you raise the puppy, what you teach it, and how well you socialise your new family member will all play a huge part.

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