7 Things To Know Before Getting A Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian ridgebacks are one of the most unique and fascinating dog breeds in the world, as far as we’re concerned. In fact, this breed is the very reason why we made this site! Also called “The lion dog of Africa”, the Rhodesian ridgeback is a gorgeous and special hound breed that also makes for a great family pet.
Is the Rhodesian ridgeback right for you, however? These dogs may look stunning but they also have a few specific care requirements. But, if you’re up to the challenge, a Rhodesian ridgeback will reward you with a lot of love and countless hours of fun and games.
So, here are the 30 most important things to know about the Rhodesian ridgeback breed.
The 17 key things to consider before getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback pet
- The Rhodesian ridgeback is a very well-built and large-sized dog. Male ridgebacks will usually get as high as 25 to 27" (63.5 to 68.5 cm) and as heavy as 85 pounds (38 kilograms). Female ridgebacks are just a little bit smaller and tend to range between 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 cm) in height and 70 pounds (32 kilograms) in weight.
- These dogs come in a very consistent and beautiful color range known as “wheaten”. It’s called that way because it spans everything from pale flaxen to burnished red – all the colors you can see in a wheat field. Here’s an awesome video to showcase just how gorgeous Rhodesian ridgebacks look.
- Like a lot of hound breeds, the Rhodesian ridgeback is very clever and resourceful. These dogs are problem solvers by nature and are also excellent at following commands. If you want an inquisitive dog that loves to explore, solve puzzles, and perform tasks, the Rhodesian ridgeback is a very cool choice.
- In terms of loyalty, the Rhodesian ridgeback can be a very loving and loyal pet when brought up adequately. Like most hound breeds, this dog can form stronger attachments to a particular family member. However, this doesn’t mean that the dog won’t love everyone else as well.
- Training is something you’d assume is easy with the ridgeback. After all, they are highly intelligent hound dogs, right? Training can be a bit tricky, however, because ridgebacks are pretty individualistic and strong-willed dogs. They had to be if they were to be good hounds. What does this mean for you? It means that training a ridgeback requires a firm hand, patience, and consistency. **This does not include negative reinforcement or punishing your dog, however! **We only recommend positive reinforcement with this breed.
- How much attention and time of day does the Rhodesian ridgeback need? The high intelligence of the Rhodesian ridgeback has one drawback that’s common for other smart dogs as well – separation anxiety. This can be a problem if you work outside of home and you need to leave your dog home alone for hours at a time. We’ll explore a few solutions below but the rule of thumb is that if you can’t give your ridgeback enough attention, you should probably look for a different breed.
- These are very social dogs and they don’t do well if they spend long periods of time alone. You need to be able to spend time with the puppy, or, at the very least, there should always be someone with ridgeback to keep it company.
- Rhodesian ridgebacks are usually excellent with kids. They are very tolerant dogs and have strong protective instincts. Of course, some training and socialization with the child will be needed, but that’s always the case.
Other pets are a bit so-so with ridgebacks, however. These dogs do get along with other dogs but their strong prey drive makes them risky companions to cats, birds, and other animals.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are high-energy dogs. They were bred for endurance, so they need a lot of exercise. At the very least, they need a long walk three to four times a week, and they need playtime in the yard every day. If you want to see just how fast, agile, and energetic these dogs are, take a look at this video of Rhodesian ridgebacks running.
Rhodesian ridgebacks barely shed at all. This makes them an excellent pet for people who don’t want to have to vacuum every day.
- Does their low shedding mean that ridgebacks are hypoallergenic? Unfortunately, no, ridgebacks are not hypoallergenic.
- Are these dogs healthy? Indeed they are! Rhodesian ridgebacks are one of the healthiest dog breeds out there. They are not immune to issues, of course, and there are a few things to watch out for. These include:
- How long will this dog be by your side with the right care? Ridgebacks have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. This is just an average, however. With the right care and a bit of luck, a ridgeback can live up to 15 or 16 years and even more. There are reports of 24-year-old ridgebacks but those aren't 100% confirmed.
- How much do these dogs cost? Rhodesian ridgebacks are not cheap dogs. You can expect to have to pay between $1,700 to $2,500 to a breeder. Even shelters and rescues will often charge about $400 to $500 for a rescued ridgeback. That’s the price of quality, however.
- Consider where you’re going to get your Rhodesian ridgeback from. There are three basic options:
- Shelters and rescues – finding a purebred ridgeback here can take time but you’ll be rescuing a puppy in distress. Plus, the shelter will be able to tell you what the personality of the dog is and whether it’s a good match for you. The low prices (or none at all) are another plus. The main drawback, however, is that you may not get a full health history and genetic background for the dog.
- Professional and reputable breeders – this option is usually expensive but guarantees excellent health and little to no negative genetic predispositions. Reputable breeders will always offer you a health certificate. They should also give you health certificates for the pup’s parents. Meeting the parents and the rest of the pup’s litter is also advisable.
- Pet stores and puppy mills – this is the middle-of-the-road and worst option. Pet stores will give you better prices than reputable breeders but the dogs are in worse health. They are also kept in worse conditions so they are usually not well-adjusted and socialized. Last but not least – shopping from a pet store supports a cruel industry that mistreats their puppies to maximize sales.
- Is the Rhodesian ridgeback the right dog for you? This depends entirely on whether you’re ready to meet this dog’s exercise and sociability needs. If you love spending time outside and you want a canine pal with you – this breed may be perfect for you.
6 tips to help you prepare for a Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Puppy-proof your home before you get your ridgeback. This includes things such as:
- Hide all electrical cords
- Move houseplants from puppy level
- Lock cabinets
- Make sure all medicines or chemicals are either locked or are placed up high
- Keep anything you want to protect above puppy level
- Get a garbage can with a locking lid
- If you want to avoid the nightmare that is separation anxiety, you’d do well to readjust your schedule before you even get your ridgeback. Working from home is ideal for this dog. If you can’t do that, it’s important that there’s another family member at home when you’re out.
- Look into the availability and prices of dog sitters and dog walkers in your areas. This is important for when you
need to leave your Rhodesian ridgeback alone for too long.
Alternatively, you can arrange for playdates with another dog owner. Or – you can also get a second dog to keep your ridgeback company!
- Get enough toys to keep your pup occupied. Remember that Rhodesian ridgebacks are very intelligent and energetic dogs. They need various toys not just to have fun but also to grow into the smartest, healthiest, and best-adjusted dog possible.
- Stock up on other standard dog-owner inventory too. This includes items such as:
- A dog crate
- Collar, leash, and a harness
- Dog blankets
- Food and water bowls
- Some kibble if you want to give your ridgeback both wet and dry food
- Puppy treats for training and rewards
- Puppy pads for toilet training
- Grooming supplies such as a brush or a grooming mit, as well as dog shampoo. Ask your vet for recommendations based on your dog’s coat and skin condition.
- It’s smart to find a good vet ahead of time. All vets specialize in dogs but the Rhodesian ridgeback is not the most common dog breed. Doing some research to find the best vet near you is always going to be worth the time.
The 7 crucial things to successfully look after a Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Socialization is incredibly important for Rhodesian Ridgebacks. If they haven’t been properly socialized as a puppy, then they tend to be badly adjusted adults. This can result in them being aloof and unable to cope with other people, animals, or places. You need to have a lot of time to socialize your puppy properly.
- Training is one of the most important things to think about. Your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy needs consistent training. You should also consider taking your puppy to obedience training classes, especially if you’ve never owned a Rhodesian Ridgeback.
- The best diet for your Rhodesian ridgeback is the rawfood diet. This diet has numerous well-established benefits such as better nutrition, a healthier gut, a better immune system, and more. There are some risks too if the diet isn’t prepared properly, so you’d do well to read up on dog rawfood diet. As for a feeding schedule - a standard adult Rhodesian ridgeback of 70 to 85 lbs (32 to 39 kg) of weight should eat about 1.4 to 1.7 lbs (640 to 780 g) of food per day.
- Exercise is crucial if you want to raise a healthy and happy dog. This means at least 2 hours of time outdoors per day every day. You should always keep your ridgeback leashed when outside but you can also let the dog run in a properly fenced dog park. If no such park is available and all 2 hours need to be on a leash, you’d do well to jog or bike with your dog a bit too. Aside from those two hours, a ridgeback will also need quite a bit of (fenced) yard time a day too. A longer hike or a trip out of town once or twice per week will also be very helpful.
- Always be careful not to let your Rhodesian ridgeback run loose outside. These dogs have a very high prey drive. This can be helpful in terms of training, but it can also mean that your puppy will get himself into trouble. Always have your Rhodesian Ridgeback on a leash when you’re out in public. He can easily become so focused on his ‘prey’ that he won’t watch for cars or other dangers.
- The grooming needs of this breed are minimal as the ridgeback sheds very little. Still, a nice weekly brushing will keep that shedding to an even lower minimum and will maintain a shiny and healthy coat. A bath every once in a while will also be needed as this is a very outdoorsy type of dog. Keep good care of that beautiful coat and you won’t need to visit professional groomers a lot if at all.
- As for some additional care – clipping your dog’s claws shouldn’t be necessary as all the time outdoors will keep them short and dull. So, the main thing is to keep a close watch on your ridgeback’s eyes and ears and clean them with a wet wipe when necessary.
And that’s about it! Do you think the lovely Rhodesian ridgeback breed is right for you? If so, we hope we’ve given you all the know-how and tools you’re going to need to make your ridgeback the happiest dog out there. And, if you think we’ve missed anything, do let us know!