5 Secrets to raising the perfect Rhodesian Ridgeback

Once famous for its specific hunting skill set, the all-purpose Renaissance hound with a trademark ridge is now a cherished and loving companion. The Rhodesian ridgeback is a dignified yet affectionate dog with an even-tempered attitude.

5 Secrets to raising the perfect Rhodesian Ridgeback

However, beneath the unique backward-growing back hair stripe, there is a true hound spirit filled with single-minded independence, go-all-day stamina, and intense prey drive.

So, does that mean Rhodesian ridgebacks are hard to raise?

Well, honestly, the answer is yes. Raising the perfect, well-mannered Rhodesian ridgeback can be a challenging experience.

However, certain secrets can help you make the raising process more straightforward.

Before we dive deeper into the secrets to raising the perfect Rhodesian ridgeback, let us debunk the most popular myth regarding this skilled hunter.

Can a Rhodesian ridgeback kill a lion?

No, it definitely cannot. Strong, enduring, and tenacious, the Rhodesian ridgeback is a robust dog, but killing lions is slightly above its otherwise impeccable hunting skills.

This doesn't sound very reassuring for the Rhodesian ridgeback fans who still prefer calling this dog by its nickname – the Lion dog.

5 Secrets to raising the perfect Rhodesian ridgeback

1. Start by choosing the right breeder

The journey starts by choosing the right breeder – reputable and responsible. The breeder that fits this description will provide test certificates and give information on the puppy's parents and grandparents for several generations.

It cannot be emphasized enough how important the ancestral lineage is.

The right breeder will also help you decide which Rhodesian ridgeback puppy in the litter is the perfect match for you.

Even if you are not planning a show career for your Rhodesian ridgeback, buying from a reputable and responsible breeder is of paramount importance.

Will that ensure my Rhodesian ridgeback grows into a perfect adult?

No, genetics is an integral part of the dog's adult personality and manners, but it is not the only one. Training, socialization, and human interactions are also vital influencing factors.

What about health?

Yes, when it comes to health, buying from the right breeder does ensure a good start in life. Both parents are tested and cleared for the breed's troublesome genetic issues.

However, once again, genetics is only one part of the coin. Lifestyle, nutrition, physical activity levels, stress exposure, are contributing factors.

2. Ensure your puppy gets nothing less than the best nutrition

A high-quality diet ensures the right head start for your Rhodesian ridgeback puppy. You need to choose the right feeding formula and serve an adequate number of meals per day.

In general, diets with high levels of easily digestible proteins and substantial amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are the best choices for this breed.

Regardless of whether you go to the pet store and buy kibble or put on the apron and prepare homemade meals, the food must be appropriate to your Rhodesian ridgeback's age.

Are there any dietary concerns?

Yes, Rhodesian ridgebacks tend to overeat. Plus, they are notorious for their food-stealing skills. There is no counter they cannot climb, shelf they cannot reach, or cupboard they cannot open.

Oh, and if you happen to catch your Rhodesian ridgeback in the act, think about your reaction before reacting. Rhodesian ridgebacks are also notorious for their food guarding proneness.

Is overeating that bad? Don't they burn the extra calories?

Overeating is bad but not because of weight gain problems. Yes, Rhodesian ridgebacks are particularly active dogs, and eating more than the regular portion size is not likely to cause obesity.

However, overheating is a serious problem because of its association with gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) or simply bloat. Yes, just like many other large, deep-chested breeds, the Rhodesian ridgeback is prone to bloat.

Bloat is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach fills with gases and pressures the surrounding tissues impairing their proper function and inhibiting circulation.

3. Remember, repetition is the mother of knowledge, so - train, train, train

One of the most important aspects of raising the perfect Rhodesian ridgeback is training

Do you know how they say there are no naughty kids, only hyperactive kids?

Well, following the same concept is safe to say that there are no untrainable, only selectively obedient Rhodesian ridgebacks.

Same as all hunting dog breeds, Rhodesian ridgebacks have a domineering streak. In fact, their stubbornness, tenacity, and independent thinking are why these dogs are excellent on the hunting field.

However, when a formidable, 80-pound Rhodesian ridgeback decides to defy you, self-mindedness is definitely not a positive personality trait.

So, what is the solution?

As mentioned, training is the foundation of raising the perfect Rhodesian ridgeback. Rhodesian ridgebacks need extensive and consistent training starting from early puppyhood.

You need to be a firm but rational handler. Your authority should be strong enough for the Rhodesian ridgeback to respect you as a leader.

On the other hand, if you are too strong, he may see a competition opportunity and decide to challenge your decisions every step of the way.

In general, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement techniques are the best way to start.

Are there any other specific training concerns?

Yes, in fact, there are several.

First of all, Rhodesian ridgebacks get easily bored. This trait is often confused with a short attention span. They are not the same.

Rhodesian ridgebacks are highly focused; otherwise, they would not be called all-purpose hounds. However, they do not think that every activity deserves their focus and undivided attention.

Therefore, the training sessions should be short and entertaining. If the training plan for the day is boring, your Rhodesian ridgeback will find himself something better to do.

Secondly, you need to be mindful of the environment. If there are distractions, your Rhodesian will not be able to put his potential into the training.

So, it would help if you had a calm and enclosed training environment. Enclosed because you do not want your 30 mph running Rhodesian to leave the class before the lecture is finished.

Finally, it is crucial to organize the training at the right time of the day. Just like you, your Rhodesian ridgeback is not always in the mood to learn.

4. Be prepared to spend some quality time outside

Your Rhodesian ridgeback needs tons of physical activity and challenging mental stimulation. This is important for proper development and preventing boredom.

What if my Rhodesian ridgeback gets bored?

A bored Rhodesian ridgeback is a destructive Rhodesian ridgeback. And destructive Rhodesian ridgebacks are creative in terms of finding worthy entertainment options. Add his tenacity and teeth power, and you got a recipe for disaster.

You can prevent boredom and the disasters they follow by ensuring your Rhodesian ridgeback gets at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

It is like Rhodesian ridgebacks have a built-in engine that keeps telling them "go, go, go". Equipped with muscular legs and indisputable internal motivation, Rhodesian ridgebacks are the real athletes of the canine world.

Can my Rhodesian ridgeback be my running partner?

Yes, Rhodesian ridgebacks enjoy all sportive activities, including running and hiking. You can plan a 10-mile hike, and your Rhodesian ridgeback will feel like you were just warming up.

Should I let my Rhodesian ridgeback run off-leash?

No, not unless you can reach a running speed of more than 30 miles per hour.

Plus, Rhodesian ridgebacks are true to their hunting heritage. They are instinctually driven to chase smaller animals. Therefore, all it takes is a cat or a rabbit, and your hiking trip will turn into a chase and pursuit mission.

What about mental stimulation?

Walking, hiking and running are primarily physical challenges. However, Rhodesian ridgebacks and dogs, in general, are curious and perceive the world through their senses – smells, sights, sounds.

These activities or, more precisely, the outdoor environment triggers your Rhodesian ridgeback's senses, thus offering a certain level of mental stimulation.

However, if your Rhodesian seems interested in some next-level mental challenges, it is a good idea to invest in some puzzle games for dogs.

5. Don’t forget the importance of socialization

Extensive socialization is one of the critical aspects of raising a well-mannered and well-adjusted Rhodesian ridgeback.

Considering the Rhodesian ridgeback's exceptionally strong prey drive, socialization should begin as early as possible, especially if you are a multi-pet household.

Doggy daycares, frequent visits to the dog park, play dates – there are many ways of reinforcing positive social skills in your Rhodesian ridgeback.

We should mention that socialization includes more than just dog-to-dog interactions. To raise your Rhodesian ridgeback into a socialized adult, you need to ensure frequent exposure to new people, experiences, and environments.

Can I leave my Rhodesian ridgeback home alone?

Theoretically, yes, you can, but practically, it is easier to hire a dog sitter or enroll your Rhodesian ridgeback in a daycare facility.

Not only will this help with his socialization process, but it will also prevent boredom-induced destructions and shenanigans.

What about leaving him outside, in the yard?

Once again, yes, you can, but it would not be the best idea. First of all, despite their pronounced independence, Rhodesian ridgebacks form a strong bond with one family member.

Staying outside and spending most of the time separated does not positively affect their socialization and overall well-being.

Finally, Rhodesian ridgebacks are excellent landscape artists. They can dig gigantic craters in no time and completely rearrange your garden.


Raising the perfect Rhodesian ridgeback, just like raising a child, is a responsible task. It takes time, consistency, and lots of patience. However, the love and devotion you get in return are definitely worthy of the challenges you occasionally encounter.

Plus, there is a reason why you chose a Rhodesian ridgeback. You wanted a devoted, faithful, affectionate, and athletic breed. The independence and stubbornness are just accessories that come with the strong dog package.

After all, with a good approach and now that you know the secrets to raise the perfect Rhodesian ridgeback, you are on the right track. Your Rhodesian ridgeback parenting experience will definitely be memorable.

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