The Rhodesian Ridgeback or African lion dog originates from South Africa and Zimbabwe. The name derives from ridge (mountain ridge) and back (back). It is the only registered breed originating from South Africa. This amazing dog hunts leopards, buffaloes, antelopes and even lions with such success that is known as the Rhodesian lion dog. A group of three dogs fearlessly attacks six lions and with great agility withheld them until the arrival of hunters.
The first evidence of dogs with a comb on the back appear in Egypt about 3000 BC. In Ethiopia in 500 AD, they guarded the sheep from lions and large predators.
Hottentots, natives of South Africa, migrated from Ethiopia to South Africa in the 5th century AD. White settlers first saw these dogs at the end of the XVI century. In Colony Cape (province of the Cape of Good Hope) in South Africa, they crossed terriers, mastiffs, bloodhound, Greyhound and Foxhound with the Hottentot hunting dogs. The different crosses gave a combination of rigidity, agility, ability to hunt big game and strength to these dogs. They fought with baboons, hyenas, leopards and lions almost daily, which will serve as an important selective factor. In 1874 the missionary Charles Helm, brought in Rhodesia a couple of Hottentot dogs. The hunter and collector of animals Cornelius Van Rooyen liked the breed and started the breeding process.
The tradition of hunting lions lasted until the late 1960s. In South Africa is the oldest kennel "Glenaholm", which has a subsidiary in the US, but the best puppies for sale in Europe are in the Netherlands and Italy.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a large and muscular body covered with short, thick and shiny hair that grows in the opposite direction along the spine. The coloration is wheat or red. The height of the representatives ranges from 61 to 69 cm and their weight - from 29 to 41 kg. The head has an elongated snout and broad cheekbones. The eyes are painted in different colors, and ears are of medium size, wide at the base and narrow at the end. The neck is thin, and the tail is worn down.
Character and behavior
The Ridgeback is extremely quiet, with a balanced nervous system and rarely barks. Proud, intelligent, reserved towards strangers, but without showing aggression or fear. It loves laziness - hours can sleep and basking in the sun or near the stove, which creates the wrong idea about stolidity. When moving it is transformed - is able to instantly become a flying arrow, quickly catching up rabbit or other game. Solid, fast and brave, this dog has a great endurance and great sense of smell, which makes it very suitable for hunting bears and lions.
Training and education
The Rhodesian Ridgeback isn't easy to train as it carefully considers each command before executing it. Do not use physical punishment during training, because your pet will remember it all its life. This is a very smart dog, but it can refuse to execute a command because something else is with higher priority. You cannot expect an unquestioning obedience, as it always first assesses the situation and then decides whether it is appropriate to do something.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is part of the so-called indigenous breeds which are characterized by a high resistance to disease. This dog is prone to overeating, so you must be careful how much food you give it. The life expectancy is about 12 years.
Grooming and care
The Rhodesian Ridgeback will feel better if you live in a house. The court must have a very high fence as Rhodesian Ridgeback will try to expand its territory and to pursue everything that runs outside. It can be grown in an apartment, but ten minute walks are not sufficient. This active dog must walk for hours, it cannot be allowed to run without reason in a place with many people and other animals, as it is liable to prosecution.
The coat of the Rhodesian Ridgeback needs to be cleaned two or three days with a damp cloth to remove the excess dead hair. It cannot be left out in the cold days because its fur does not protect it from the vagaries of weather.
Children and other pets
This dog gets along well with grown up kids. It is suspicious of strangers and may show aggression towards other dogs.
In the past, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was used for hunting in groups. When there was antelope hunting, people used three dogs. One chased the antelope from the back and the others passed from the sides. So, wherever the prey was trying to run, one of the dogs cut its path.
Dogs of this breed are used in one of the most guarded sites in the United States – the Fort Knox gold reserve. The Rhodesian Ridgeback easily detects intruders and restrain them until people come to catch them.