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Is a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Right For Your Family?

Whether or not to own a dog is a decision to ponder long and hard and with complete family involvement.  Dog ownership in real life is always different from dog ownership in theory. The following are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself before you become a Ridgeback owner. Click on each question for a detailed explanation of the traits unique to this breed:



Previous experience
Living arrangements


The decision is made.  You want a dog.  Have you had any experience with dogs previously, either you or your husband or wife or partner?  If not, think once more before you consider owning a Ridgeback.  It can work out well, but the Ridgeback is not really suitable to be one's first dog.  A Ridgeback is very large and demanding; this is a very natural animal which offers little in the way compromise.  It is not a Golden Retriever type, a gentle dog that does anything to accommodate your smallest wish.  The Ridgeback requires large quantities of physical and mental stimulation.  Do not misunderstand, the Golden Retriever, and indeed all breeds, deserve respect and stimulation, but they need it in other ways.  Even a rather big breed, such as a Labrador or a Golden Retriever, is at the age of eight to ten weeks still a soft, cuddly baby.  A two-month-old Ridgeback is a high-energy package who asks for more from week to week.




The ideal home for a Ridgeback is a house with a fenced-in yard.  This does not mean that you can avoid the long walks.  It just makes your early Ridgeback life easier for you.  The Ridgeback is a natural, mobile dog.  It assumes that its owner is willing to take the time needed, every day and in every weather, to give it sufficient exercise.  If your reaction is “so this is not a very suitable city dog”, you are correct.  There are always exceptions, with exceptional dog owners, but the Ridgeback is the son or daughter of the open fields.  An exceptional owner would need to give this Ridgeback plenty of exercise and possibly doggy daycare to keep him moving.




Never over-exercise a young Ridgeback.  This breed grows very fast and their bones, hips, and elbows need time to get strong.  Do Not start running with these dogs until they are at least 18 months of age!




The Ridgeback is multi-talented and versatile.  This also means it is not likely to be an absolute top winner in sports that demand a high degree of specialization.  Lure-coursing seems to be one of those interesting exceptions.  On the other hand, your dog loves every activity you offer him, and the more you do it as a team, the more he will love every day of his life.  Being a natural dog and also a strong agile one, a Ridgeback must NEVER, ever be involved in fights with other dogs.  Just as with human beings, situations involving conflict can occur, and it is the owner’s absolute responsibility to train the Ridgeback to obey commands when challenged by other dogs.




The attention span of a Ridgeback is rather short.  Another way of saying it is that the genuine curiosity of a Ridgeback goes with a certain lack of patience, however, this breed is very intelligent and gets bored with training easily.   This means that any training must be done in short intervals, that training a Ridgeback must mean a lot of fun, and also that mixing training themes is an advantage.


Avoid training-or temperament-testing-methods that are developed, for instance, for traditional police dogs or other working breeds.  The Ridgeback’s behavior is different from these breeds and the end result is normally, at least, a frustrated trainer, a disappointed owner, and in the worst-case-scenario a confused and frustrated Ridgeback.  Working breeds work with you, a Ridgeback works for themselves.

A Ridgeback is a natural, balanced guard dog.  It does not require any training for this, particularly training which could lead to the introduction of aggressive tendencies.  These do not come naturally and can result in anti-social behavior.




Ridgebacks are patient and good with children.  This means that it is your responsibility to make sure the children are equally good with the dog.  If you choose to raise a family which included a dog, this dog must have its natural rights. 




Socialization is a very important key with this breed.  You must socialize him, take him/her to puppy kindergarten, let as many people as possible pet your Ridgeback, the old and the young, people in wheelchairs.  Take your puppy for walks where there are lots of people and noise.  This is the best training your Ridgeback can get.




The Ridgeback male is more steady – if this word can ever be used with a Ridgeback.  These dogs are reliable, YES; but steady in the sense of never wanting to play, or have a little extra run or a bit of mischief, NO.  He can be noisy with other males, but this is not an overly aggressive breed.  He is definitely more of a guardsman, with excellent hunting qualities.  It is the female who is the outstanding hunter with excellent guarding qualities.  The male will be more likely to go overboard showing sheer, uncomplicated devotion.  The female always has that little extra twinkle in her eyes, and there is frequently in her a readiness for that little extra fun.  Sometimes you like it, sometimes not!

Patience for training
Male or female
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