This week, Best Bully Sticks takes you to historical Zimbabwe and back for a surprising look into the history of a great hound dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. This week’s Breed Spotlight is sure to not only inform but create a newfound respect for this graceful and athletic canine.

History & Background: The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s forerunner was first native to South America where the breed is thought to originate from the Khoikhoi people’s dogs. These dogs were known to be extremely fierce and loyal and were used to hunt and bay lions, meaning they would hold the lion until the hunter would make the kill. This dog was also used to bay wild pigs and hunt baboons.

This Khoikhoi dog was first called the African Lion Dog while in the Rhodesia area of Africa and then progressed to the standard Rhodesian Ridgeback we now know through breeding by European settlers and traders. The standard Ridgeback came about in 1922 and was accepted into the AKC in 1955.

Height: 25-27 inches (Males), 24-26 inches (Females)

Weight: 70-85 pounds

Coat: The Ridgeback has a short, sleek coat that is neither wooly nor silky.

Color: This breed has a light red coloring and can sometimes have white on their chest or toes. These dogs also have a black mask, which is the presence of black coloring around the eyes and muzzle.

Appearance: The ridge of hair along this dog’s back is the distinguishing feature of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. This ridge runs in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat and is made by two whorls of fur called crowns. This streak of hair starts at the shoulders, ends at the hips and is no wider than 2 inches. This dog is a strong, sturdy and athletic hound. 

Temperament: This breed is reserved toward strangers, meaning they would most likely ignore than challenge a stranger. They can be independent as well as mischievous dogs. This dog requires a lot of socialization and a very rigorous schedule and wouldn’t be good for first time dog owners.  However, they are very protective and loving toward their owners.

Health: There are a few health issues that affect the Ridgeback which include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and dermoid sinus. Hypothyroidism is a growing problem in these dogs and symptoms include weight gain and hair loss. Dermoid sinus is a skin affliction which is characterized by neural tubes being raised to look and feel like “spaghetti noodles” under the skin. Deafness in the Ridgeback is very rare but can happen as well.

Product Suggestions:  The Ridgeback needs a tough toy that will last for hours of enjoyment. Best Bully Sticks, of course, has just the thing! The Large West Paw Bumi is an “S” shaped toy that bends, floats, bonces and is almost indestructible.  BBS would also suggest our Elk Antlers for a great treat that the Ridgeback will love.