A large and muscular dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was not only developed as hunter but also as a family protector. The breed can be light wheaten to red wheaten and are sleek and glossy in appearance. Originally bred to hunt lions the breed is also known as the African Lion Hound.
A Look Back
A native of South Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred by the Boer farmers to fill their specific need for a serviceable hunting dog in the wilds. In 1877 Reverend Helm introduced two Ridgebacks into Rhodesia where big game hunters found them outstanding in the sport of hunting lions on horseback. They raised and bred these dogs with an appreciation for their exceptional hunting qualities, the ridge on their back becoming a unique trademark. In 1950 outstanding specimens were imported to the United States and the breed was admitted to registration by the AKC in 1955.
Right Breed for You?
Due to their short coats Ridgebacks shed very little and require only weekly brushing and occasional baths. The breed is also athletic, requiring regular exercise. Trustworthy with children, they are "people" dogs and like to be where you are, possibly curled up on the couch if permitted.
- Hound Group; AKC recognized in 1955.
- Ranging in size from 24 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and 70 to 85 pounds.
- Lion hunter; guard dog.
© The American Kennel Club, Inc.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Standard
The Ridgeback represents a strong, muscular and active hound, symmetrical and balanced in outline. A mature Ridgeback is a handsome, upstanding and athletic dog, capable of great endurance with a fair (good) amount of speed. Of even, dignified temperament, the Ridgeback is devoted and affectionate to his master, reserved with strangers. The peculiarity of this breed is the ridge on the back. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed.
Size, Proportion, Substance
A mature Ridgeback should be symmetrical in outline, slightly longer than tall but well balanced. Dogs--25 to 27 inches in height; Bitches--24 to 26 inches in height. Desirable weight: Dogs--85 pounds; Bitches--70 pounds.
Should be of fair length, the skull flat and rather broad between the ears and should be free from wrinkles when in repose. The stop should be reasonably well defined. Eyes--should be moderately well apart and should be round, bright and sparkling with intelligent expression, their color harmonizing with the color of the dog. Ears--should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at the base and tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head. Muzzle--should be long, deep and powerful. The lips clean, closely fitting the jaws. Clear faced or masked dogs are equally correct and neither is preferred. A clear face with black or brown/liver pigmentation only on nose, lips, and around the eyes, or a masked face with black or brown/liver pigmentation is correct as long as the color is not continuing with a solid mask over the eyes. A darker ear often accompanies the darker masked dog.
Nose--should be black, brown or liver, in keeping with the color of the dog. No other colored nose is permissible. A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes, a brown or liver nose with amber eyes. Bite--jaws level and strong with well-developed teeth, especially the canines or holders. Scissors bite preferred
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck should be fairly long. It should be strong, free from throatiness and in balance with the dog. The chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious, ribs moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel hoops (which would indicate want of speed). The back is powerful and firm with strong loins which are muscular and slightly arched. The tail should be strong at the insertion and generally tapering towards the end, free from coarseness. It should not be inserted too high or too low and should be carried with a slight curve upwards, never curled or gay.
The shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed. Elbows close to the body. The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and heavy in bone. The feet should be compact with well-arched toes, round, tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads. Dewclaws may be removed.
In the hindlegs the muscles should be clean, well defined and hocks well down. Feet as in front.
Should be short and dense, sleek and glossy in appearance but neither woolly nor silky.
Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes permissible but excessive white there, on the belly or above the toes is undesirable. (see muzzle)
The hallmark of this breed is the ridge on the back which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed. The ridge should be clearly defined, tapering and symmetrical. It should start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to a point between the prominence of the hips and should contain two identical crowns (whorls) directly opposite each other. The lower edge of the crowns (whorls) should not extend further down the ridge than one third of the ridge. Disqualification: Ridgelessness. Serious Fault: One crown (whorl) or more than two crowns (whorls).
At the trot, the back is held level and the stride is efficient, long, free and unrestricted. Reach and drive expressing a perfect balance between power and elegance. At the chase, the Ridgeback demonstrates great coursing ability and endurance.
Dignified and even tempered. Reserved with strangers.
Scale of Points
|General appearance, size, symmetry and balance||
|Legs and Feet||
|Neck and Shoulders||
|Body, Back, Chest and Loin||
|Coat and Color||