A Guide to the Rhodesian Ridgeback a.k.a African Lion Dog!

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Rhodesian Ridgeback dog looking out over a hillThe Rhodesian Ridgeback is one of the most beautiful and most unique dog breeds. The guard dog borrows its name from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where it originates from. Its back hair grows in the opposed direction to form a distinctive ridge hence the name Ridgeback.

Introducing the Regal Dog of All Time

The best words to describe the Regal Ridgeback are sleek and powerful because of its tranquil nature, especially after the puppy stage, and its protective personality. They can be a little snobbish with strangers but are particularly passionate about their family.

A brief history of the Lion Hunting Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs

Somewhere around the 18th century, Rhodesian Ridgebacks were known as the Lion Hunting Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. Their breeders, Boer farmers of South Africa, used them to distract lions while they carried out their hunting activities.

Due to the harsh South African climate, the Ridgeback became a versatile dog that could protect families, hunt for food, and protect livestock from lions, hyenas, and other predators.

When the settlers arrived, they began crossing their dogs (Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, and others), giving rise to the present day Rhodesian Ridgebacks. 

The Appearance of These Hunters

Ridgebacks are long, sturdy and have hanging ears. Their back hairs grow in different directions forming a ridge. Their hanging ears should always be kept clean and dry!

They’re prone to developing ear infections, so the services of a veterinary officer may be required when their ears are itching or have a discharge.

Average Size and Weight

On average, male a Rhodesian ridgeback dog is approximately twenty-seven inches tall and has a weight of roughly eighty-five pounds.

On the other hand, female Rhodesian Ridgebacks are approximately twenty-six inches tall with a weight of about seventy pounds.

Cool, Calm and Ready: Ridgeback Temperament and Personality

Ridgebacks are one of the most intelligent and best dog breeds to have. They like to be independent, are extremely curious, and love having fun. Because of their cheerful characteristic especially when playing, they can accidentally topple small kids.

Nonetheless, their hearts are warm and loving and enjoy being in the company of people.

It is safe to say that Ridgebacks are one of the easiest dogs to have. They have smooth coats, which are available is varied shades including red and tan. Their grooming requirements are minimum.

They only need baths (infrequently) and swift weekly brush. Oh, they also require regular brushing of teeth and nail trimming.

Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy hiding behind purple flower

A Ridgie is a lion dog and can be a kid’s best friend, however, its size and weight can be a little too much for smaller kids. The best thing is that this dog breed can learn to adjust its size and energy when around smaller kids, but it is your responsibility to check on your kid and the dog to make sure they’re both safe.

Norwegian Ridgeback vs. Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Norwegian Ridgeback is a particularly scary breed of dragon. You may have come across it in the Harry Potter books or movies. If your Ridgeback spews fire: You got the wrong one!

Rhodesian Ridgeback Mixes Make Wonderful Dogs

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be crossed (mixed) with other breeds to make some amazing dogs. Some Rhodesian Ridgeback mixes include:

Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab Mix

This is a mix between the Southern Africa Ridgeback and the Labrador Retriever that gave rise to one of the best guard dogs. This mix has a very high endurance and is very, very fast.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Boxer Mix

The Southern Rhodesian Ridgeback can also be mixed with a boxer to produce a special dog breed. This mix is fond of running, hiking, and playing. Therefore, it is important to create time for loose leash walks in the backyard every day or random tours to the beach or park.

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix.

This mix has a very strong urge to run after things. Therefore, make sure that you spend enough time outdoors with your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix puppy so that he can run to his full. You can even play ‘go fetch’ with them.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix

This is a mix between a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Pitbull. The result is a more unique lion dog that has all the desirable characteristics from loyalty to protectiveness, especially when around smaller kids.  


The lifespan of a Ridgeback is approximately 10-12 years. However, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are prone to conditions such as hypothyroidism, elbow dysplasia, and hip dysplasia.

2 Facts You Didn’t Know About These Razorback Dogs

  1. Ridgies are the only dogs with a hair ridge on their back.
  2. Originally, Ridgies were bred to help keep the Khoikhoi of South Africa safe from lions when hunting.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies for Sale!

Are you looking to buy this dog breed?  Visit the American Kennel Club to help you find a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, or get one from a reputable breeder near you.

Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies laying in the grass

How Much Does a Ridgeback Puppy Cost?

The price of this African Lion Hound varies from one breeder to another and highly depends on the lineage. Price ranges between $700 to 2,500 US dollars.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Ridgeback Rescues!

If you are looking to buy/own one of these pups, why not visit a local rescue center and adopt one? The adoption fee is roughly $300 to 400 US dollars.

Most rescue centers are likely to have abandoned and rescued Rhodesian Ridgebacks at any time of the year.

Notable rescue centers include:

  • The United States Ridgeback Rescue
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue Inc

Common Questions on Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Where can I buy a Rhodesian Ridgeback? 

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks shed? 

How big can a female Ridgie get? 

Is he a big eater, how do I keep him healthy?

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