An Introduction to the Rhodesian Ridgeback

If you are considering making a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy a part of your life, it only stands to reason that you should be familiar with what you are getting yourself into! The video below will would be a fun video to watch, as it gives you a general feel for the breed. But before you do you really need to read this preface.

Some of the information is inaccurate

That's right. There are statements in the video that are misleading. For example – the video narrator states, that the Rhodesian Ridgeback is “immune from insect bites”. This is just not true, as my friend will attest after having her dog bitten by a brown recluse about 2 years ago. The wound still hasn’t healed. Additionally, Mosquitos love these dogs, as they do any mammal. Its advisable to Check for heart worm each year.  One benefit that I can personally attest to, is that their coats have a tendency to repel ticks and fleas. Many has the time been that I have been out in the field with my Ridgebacks, only to come home and find ticks on myself, and nothing on my dogs! In fact, in 20 years of breeding and hundreds of times in the field, I have found a single tick on one of my dogs only once, and I believe that was because the coat had been damaged in that area due to a small injury a few years prior, making it easier for the parasite to attach to the coat. Ridgeback puppies seem to be a little more susceptible because their puppy coats are not fully developed.

Are you worried that the Ridgeback is "Very High Energy"?

Don't be.

Well, you should certainly not be a couch potato, but you don't need to be a Marathon runner either. A slightly incorrect statement is that the narrator states that the Rhodesian Ridgeback “requires” an hour of “vigorous” exercise every day. I would say that as long as you give them a couple of long walks of about 30-45 minutes, 5-6 days each week and an occasional visit to an off leash dog park, you’ll be fine. Now, there are some blood lines that require much more, so its important to ask your breeder what to expect. My dogs like to sprint around the property for a half hour or so on our 5 acres, but do fine laying around by my desk while I am working. It just depends on the dog.

Are these dogs impervious to temperature?

The narrator of the video also says that the breed can “stand extreme temperature variations”. We have to be a little careful about statements like that. What sort of temperature variations are we talking about here, and how “extreme” is extreme? I would say that you would have to look at the temperature variations in Rhodesia, what is now Zimbabwe, to help with the answer to that question. If you take the time to investigate this claim, you will see that Zimbabwe has pretty normal temperature daytime temperature variation, from a seasonal standpoint. Temperature swings are not really extreme at all. My research showed about 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperature differential during the summer and even less in the winter. Maximum winter temperatures were 54 degrees Fahrenheit and for summer, 100 degrees. That’s not much of an extreme. In fact, my dogs like temps right around 75 degrees, as far as I can tell. Where I live in the States, we can see -20 in the winter and 100 F in the summer. My Ridgebacks are all inside dogs in the extreme part of the seasons. I am not comfortable leaving them out below 40 degrees, or above 90. Besides, this breed is wonderful in the house, calm and stable – and great company too!

Another fable to watch out for is the one that says Ridgebacks can go long periods without water. I have no clue where that one came from. Don’t believe it. Give your Dog as much water as he wants during the day, and then for bladder control, remove water access at around 7PM each night. It works splendidly, and your Ridgeback wont be asking for 2AM potty breaks.

Bred to Kill a lion - NOT!

My all time favorite is the one where the narrator in the video claims that the dog was "bred to take down a lion". This particular statement has caused all kinds of people to crawl out into view. We get calls from people wanting to use Ridgebacks to hunt havalina (basically, a hog) and other large game. One lady thought she would be safe from bears. Its important to understand that Ridgebacks were not bred to attack, and the standard makes the statement that Ridgebacks should "show no signs of aggression". This ought to be a pretty good indication that they are in no way bred for attacking. It is more accurately stated that they track and corner their pray as a pack. They then harrass and goad their prey, keeping out of the way of tooth and claw.

Other than these issues the video is great, and because the breeder chosen for the episode is a good one, you get to see the dogs general demeanor, and what they should look like – overall an great video, but be skeptical of the issues mentioned in this article.

One statment made in this video that I will agree with - "One of the most amazing dogs to walk the face of the earth".

I call that accuracy in reporting!