Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good With Children? - The Pets and Love

If you have a children you will definitelly wonder: Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good With Children? In this article I would explain what you have to consider.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are an undisputedly fantastic breed. They have an unending love for their owners, great intelligence, a natural loyalty, and are full of exuberant energy. This does not, however, make them the perfect breed for every household, certain factors need to be taken into account.

Factors involved in deciding whether the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the dog for you will vary greatly from case to case. For example, only people who live in an apartment will need to consider if this kind of home is suitable? The same can be said of those with children who will need to decipher are Rhodesian Ridgebacks good with kids?

The answer to this question is that yes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are naturally predisposed to being good with children. However, to what degree they are good with them will depend on several things. To find out more about Rhodesian Ridgeback child compatibility and more read on.

Are Dogs And Children Together In General A Good Idea?

Absolutely yes! Children and dogs make great companions and here are six reasons why.

  1. Having a dog is a fantastic way to teach children responsibility and give them a sense of satisfaction and importance. Feeding, watering, walking, and bathing etcetera also helps build a life-changing bond between dog and child that will grow and develop as both age.
  2. Dogs can and do teach children to be patient. As we know our four-legged friends can be extremely frustrating, especially as puppies, when they chew, slobber, scratch, and create general household havoc. Dealing with these incidents helps children learn not to lose their tempers or hit out, but rather to be patient and teach the dog their behavior is wrong.
  3. Just like humans, dogs feel emotion and pain and are prone to injuries and infirmities during their relatively short lifespan. This means, your child is likely to witness their dogs entire life cycle and likely to grieve their passing. Losing a pet, however upsetting and sad, can be a valuable lesson in compassion for a child.
  4. Dogs can and do teach children about socialization. This is due to dogs being incredibly social animals who need love and affection just like we do. Interacting with a dog can help a child to also interact with other children and strangers. Invaluable for those children who can and do struggle to make social connections.
  5. Interacting with a dog can cheer anyone up, even on their worst days. Their rambunctious, slobbery, and energetic behavior cannot fail to make us happier. A simple wag of the tail and a slobbery kiss will make any sad child feel instantly better.
  6. There are lots of activities that your child and Rhodesian Ridgeback can partake in together that will not only be fun but also healthy and educational. Just a few are:
    • Reading – Believe it or not dogs like to lie quietly and be read to. This activity will also help improve your child’s reading skills
    • Football – Full of fun and a good source of exercise for both your child and dog
    • Agility – Gives your dog a job to do which Rhodesian Ridgebacks especially love and gives your child exercise and a sense of achievement
    • Grooming – Most dogs love being brushed, it makes them feel and look good. Children learn responsibility whilst performing grooming tasks, and also bond with their dog through it
    • Walking – A great source of exercise for both child and Rhodesian Ridgeback who need to burn off their endless energy. Going on walks has also been proven to help children with their problems. This is because they confide their secrets and issues to their dog whilst out on walks. As they say, it helps to talk!

Why In Particular, Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Great With Children?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is undisputedly a great breed of dog to add to your family as a pet and has many admirable qualities. However, what makes them great with children, in particular, has to be:

  • Their undying love for their family
  • Their absolute loyalty
  • Their love of play
  • Their laid back temperament
  • Their natural instinct to protect

How Do I Ensure My Rhodesian Ridgeback Will Be Good With My Child?

Before you can even consider ensuring that your child and Rhodesian Ridgeback will be good together, you need to comprehend the reasons why they might not be, and what the consequences of that possibility are. What follows is not meant to put you off having your child and a Rhodesian Ridgeback in the same home, rather to ensure that you do so responsibly and safely.

It is an unfortunate and sad truth that millions of people are bitten by dogs in the USA every year. Research into these bites has shown:

  • Around 4.7 million bites occur every year
  • 800,000 of those bites need medical treatment
  • 12 people will tragically die from them
  • 70% of all bites occur in the home
  • 80% of all bites are committed by dogs known to the victim
  • Children are the primary victims
  • 76% of children bitten suffer injuries to the lips, nose, and cheeks
  • 10% of adults bitten suffer injuries to the lips, nose, and cheeks

As horrific as those figures are the majority of dog bites, especially those within the home, could be easily avoided in three ways.


Ensuring that your and your child’s behavior is appropriate around your dog can, and will, help ensure that your Rhodesian Ridgeback does not behave inappropriately itself. Remember children will often mimic adult behavior so if you do not behave calmly, quietly, and gently with your dog, neither will your child.

It also needs to be said that if children are allowed to be unruly and wild in a household, it is highly likely that the dog will be too. This is only conducive to their being resulting problems such as bites.


All dogs, including Rhodesian Ridgebacks, display body language that can give you a good indication of how they are feeling, and what their next actions may be. Learning how to read this body language being displayed can be key to avoiding a bad situation.

Most people know that a wagging tail, raised head, and making eye contact indicates that a dog is happy to see you and comfortable in your company. Or that lowering their front legs to the floor whilst their bottoms are in the air and tail wagging is an indication they want to play. But, how many of us know how to recognize when our dogs are uncomfortable or scared?

Knowing the difference between ‘I want to play’ and ‘I’m feeling scared’ can be key to avoiding an unfortunate bite. After all, it is true that dogs will only bite when they can see no other way out of what they feel is a bad situation. Signs of worry and fear are:

  • Moving away, avoidance, hiding
  • Tucking the tail underneath the body, looking away, and trying to appear smaller
  • Licking lips, paw raising, and yawning when they are not tired
  • Snarling, growling, flashing of teeth, snapping, and nipping


Providing basic social training to your Rhodesian Ridgeback is important because it will teach them boundaries and help to avoid unwanted incidents. Be aware, however, that Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not the easiest dogs to train and will need a fair but firm hand.

The most important social skills your Rhodesian Ridgeback will need to learn are not jumping up, going to a location on demand, staying away from the dinner table, sit, stay, and heel.

It is also worth remembering that a Rhodesian Ridgeback that has been sourced from a reputable breeder with experience is far more likely to grow up to interact well with your child. Nature, ie good breeding, is just as important in forming well-balanced dogs, as nature.

How Do I Ensure My Child Will Be Good With My Rhodesian Ridgeback?

Ensuring your Rhodesian Ridgeback will be good with your child is not exclusively dependent on the behavior of your dog, and how they interact. It is also a vice versa situation where the behavior of the child is equally as important. This makes it highly essential that some rules are followed by your child to ensure a successful relationship.

  • Rule One – Never allow your child to enter your Rhodesian Ridgebacks crate or safe space with them. This is where your dog can escape to, a place they can feel completely safe and be alone. Dogs, in general, will head for these spaces when they feel scared or fearful and may feel cornered if your child follows them in. A cornered dog with no escape may bite.
  • Rule Two – It is a universal fact that all children want to pick up and carry a puppy around like a living doll. This is undeniably cute behavior and heartwarming to watch but can be harmful to your Rhodesian Ridgeback and child. Puppies have a tendency to wriggle and jump, and kids are prone to dropping things!
    A dropped or falling puppy is highly likely to incur an injury when they hit the ground. Broken limbs are common injuries from occurrences such as these, which not only can be expensive but also traumatic for both child and puppy. The child, in question, will be upset that they have hurt their beloved puppy, and the puppy will undoubtedly be in pain. An all-round bad situation.
  • Rule Three – A Rhodesian Ridgeback that is happily playing with your child may run away and back, basically engaging in a game of chase. However, this does not mean that every time they run away, they are always happy to be chased. Sometimes it can mean that they have had enough and need some quiet time.
    When this is the case, and you will know the difference as the Rhodesian Ridgeback will create a large distance between themselves and the child, do not allow your child to follow. Again, as with when your Rhodesian Ridgeback goes to their safe space they can feel, if followed, cornered.
  • Rule Four – Do not be fooled by a child who promises that they will look after every need their Rhodesian Ridgeback has. This is because, well put simply, they won’t! Feeding, walking, watering, and grooming can become tedious for a child.
    The aforementioned is especially true if you yourself, the adult, also does not have the time or the desire to look after a Rhodesian Ridgebacks needs. They are not toys that you can simply put away and forget about when you become bored with them.
  • Rule Five – Never allow your child’s face to be close to the face of your Rhodesian Ridgeback. This is not because a Rhodesian Ridgeback is likely to bite them, as they are not, but because accidents can happen. All it takes is for your dog to lick, lick, nip, out of pure love and excitement and your child could be hurt. Also, dogs tend to play by hitting out with their paws which, as we know, usually have sharp claws which can cause a painful scratch.
  • Rule Six – Puppies naturally roughhouse with other puppies in their litter to learn about their place in the pack, and by a natural extension do this with their new human families. However, whilst this may be cute when your Rhodesian Ridgeback is a puppy, as they age it can become a danger.
    No roughhousing, as a rule, however, does not equate to no playing. Tug of war, for example, with a long length of rope is a game most Rhodesian Ridgebacks love to play. This game, in particular, allows your Rhodesian Ridgeback to use his strength and energy whilst there is no chance of anyone getting hurt.

What About Other People’s Children And My Rhodesian Ridgeback?

It needs to be remembered, firstly, that children visiting your home that don’t have dogs are highly unlikely to have any knowledge or education on how to behave with one. This is not their fault, or their parent’s fault, rather just a result of circumstance, and one that needs to be handled in the right way.

On a first visit, it is always recommended that you limit interaction between a child and your Rhodesian Ridgeback to virtually none. Rather, you should settle your dog, encourage them to go to their crate or a quiet place, and not rush any contact between dog and child. Be sure to let the visiting child know that your dog is in their quiet place and they are to be left alone.

Of course, if the visiting child is going to be a regular visitor or an overnight guest you cannot expect them to have no contact with your dog forever. You also cannot reasonably crate your Rhodesian Ridgeback for every visit or for lengthy durations. This means you are going to have to establish safe interaction between the child and dog.

To start off with interaction should be limited with your Rhodesian Ridgeback being allowed to approach the child when they are ready rather than the other way round. As you probably already know, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be aloof with strangers and should be allowed to accept the new visitor in their own time. Always ensure you are ‘right there’ when your dog does decide to say hello so you can monitor the situation and be prepared to step in if either child or dog become unsure.

It goes without saying that no matter how well a visiting child and your Rhodesian Ridgeback begin to interact together that you should never leave them alone together. Even if you only need to nip to the car to retrieve something and you will only be gone two minutes, you should separate the child and dog. Always remember that children can be as unpredictable as dogs can and that an ‘incident’ can happen in just a few seconds.

It is also worth remembering that there are certain activities that you should never allow a visiting child to partake in with your Rhodesian Ridgeback. These include:

  • Chase games
  • Wrestling
  • Sneak up and surprise
  • Teasing
  • Hitting or hurting
  • Cuddling
  • Taking toys away
  • Getting into bed with the dog
  • Attempting to comfort the dog when they are hiding

Whilst it may have surprised you to find teasing, hurting, and hitting on this list, it shouldn’t. You would be surprised at the number of dog owners who allow other people’s children to behave inappropriately with their pets for various reasons.

You should also not allow a visiting child, or your own for that matter, to interact with your Rhodesian Ridgeback when:

  • They are eating
  • They have a toy
  • They have puppies
  • They are sleeping
  • They are in bed
  • They are sick or injured
  • They are trying to move away

Please note that if you are having a party for your child and there will be lots of children in the house with your Rhodesian Ridgeback, the interaction should be nil. Instead, you should either settle your Rhodesian Ridgeback well away from the ensuing party or even better take them out for the afternoon.

Related posts