Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed Temperament & Health

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large breed of dog that originated in southern Africa. They are known for their distinctive “ridge” of hair that runs down their back, which grows in the opposite direction of their fur. Ridgebacks were originally bred to hunt and protect, and they are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and protectiveness. They have a friendly and affectionate nature, but they can also be independent and stubborn at times. With proper training and socialization, a Ridgeback can make a great companion for an active and experienced owner. However, they do require plenty of exercise and attention to stay healthy and happy. If you’re considering a Ridgeback as a pet, it’s important to do your research and understand their unique personality and care needs.

a dog on a wooden table

Rhodesian Ridgeback personality and temperament

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a really great dog breed with a loyal and protective personality. They’re super friendly and loving with their family, but might be shy around strangers. They’re smart and independent, which can make them a bit stubborn sometimes. These dogs have a lot of energy, so they need plenty of exercise and fun things to do to keep them happy. They were originally bred to hunt and protect, so they love chasing after things and keeping their loved ones safe. That means they’re great guard dogs, but they need to be trained and socialized early on to avoid any trouble.

Rhodesian Ridgeback’s breed characteristics

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a breed of dog that are both intelligent and independent. They’re quick learners and can easily pick up on new commands and tricks, which makes them great problem solvers. However, their intelligence can sometimes lead to stubbornness, which can be a challenge for novice owners. With proper training and socialization, Ridgebacks can become wonderful companions for experienced dog owners.

Their intelligence also makes them great at tasks like hunting, tracking, and guarding. They have an incredible sense of smell and can use their brains to locate prey or protect their family from danger.

Speaking of their independence, Ridgebacks have a mind of their own and like to make their own decisions. They’re not the kind of dogs that always follow their owners around or do exactly what they’re told. This independence can be both a blessing and a challenge for owners – on the one hand, Ridgebacks are not overly clingy and can entertain themselves when left alone. On the other hand, they might not always listen to commands and can be stubborn at times.

If you’re considering a Rhodesian Ridgeback as a pet, keep in mind that they need a lot of early socialization and training to learn appropriate behavior and become well-behaved companions. Without proper guidance, they can develop bad habits and become difficult to handle. But despite their independent streak, Ridgebacks are loyal and loving dogs that form strong bonds with their families. They just prefer to do things on their own terms!

Rhodesian Ridgeback exercise needs 

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are an active and energetic breed, so they require a good amount of exercise to stay healthy and happy. Generally, they need at least two hours of exercise every day, which could include brisk walks, jogs, hikes, or playtime in a fenced yard.

However, the specific exercise needs of a Rhodesian Ridgeback can vary depending on their age, health, and individual personality. Puppies and young dogs may need more frequent but shorter exercise sessions to avoid overexertion, while older dogs may need less intense exercise and more rest.

Rhodesian Ridgeback common health issues

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally a healthy breed, but like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Here are some of the most common health problems that Rhodesian Ridgebacks may experience:

  1. Hip dysplasia: This is a genetic condition that affects the hip joints of dogs. It can cause pain, stiffness, and lameness.
  2. Elbow dysplasia: This is a genetic condition that affects the elbow joints of dogs. It can cause pain, lameness, and arthritis.
  3. Hypothyroidism: This is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. Symptoms can include weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems.
  4. Dermoid sinus: This is a congenital defect that occurs when the skin and spinal cord don’t develop properly. It can cause infection and neurological problems.
  5. Epilepsy: This is a neurological disorder that can cause seizures. It may have a genetic component.
  6. Bloat: This is a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. It requires immediate veterinary attention.

It’s important to note that not all Rhodesian Ridgebacks will develop these health issues, and some may never experience any health problems at all. However, it’s always a good idea to work with a reputable breeder who tests their dogs for these and other health issues before breeding them. Additionally, regular veterinary check-ups and preventative care can help keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback healthy and happy.

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be good with kids, cats, and other dogs, but it depends on the individual dog’s temperament and socialization. Here are some things to consider:

Kids: Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be great with kids, especially if they are raised together from a young age. However, it’s important to supervise interactions between kids and dogs to ensure that both are safe and comfortable. Ridgebacks are large and can accidentally knock over small children, so it’s important to teach kids how to interact with dogs in a gentle and respectful manner.

Cats: Ridgebacks have a strong prey drive, which means they may see cats as something to chase and catch. However, with proper socialization, some Ridgebacks can learn to live peacefully with cats. It’s important to introduce them slowly and under supervision, and to provide the cat with a safe space where they can retreat if needed.

Dogs: Ridgebacks can be good with other dogs, but they can also be dominant and territorial. Early socialization and training are important to ensure that they learn to get along with other dogs. It’s also important to supervise interactions between dogs to ensure that they don’t become aggressive.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be good with kids, cats, and other dogs, but it’s important to socialize them from a young age and to supervise interactions to ensure everyone’s safety and comfort. Additionally, every dog is an individual and may have their own unique temperament and preferences.

How much should you feed a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

The amount of food that a Rhodesian Ridgeback needs will depend on a variety of factors, including their age, weight, activity level, and metabolism. In general, adult Ridgebacks will need around 3 to 4 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day, split into two meals.

However, it’s important to remember that every dog is different, and some Ridgebacks may need more or less food depending on their individual needs. You should monitor your dog’s weight and adjust their food intake accordingly to ensure that they are maintaining a healthy weight.

When choosing a dog food for your Rhodesian Ridgeback, look for a high-quality, balanced diet that is appropriate for their age and activity level. Avoid foods that contain a lot of fillers or artificial ingredients, as these may not provide the nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy.

It’s also important to ensure that your Rhodesian Ridgeback has access to plenty of clean water throughout the day. Dehydration can lead to a variety of health problems, so make sure that your dog always has fresh water available.

what grooming does a rhodesian ridgeback need?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a short, dense, and sleek coat that is relatively easy to care for. Here are some basic grooming tasks that you should perform to keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback looking and feeling their best:


While Rhodesian Ridgebacks do not require frequent brushing, it is important to brush them at least once a week to remove loose hair, dirt, and debris. Use a slicker brush or a rubber curry brush to gently remove any tangles or mats.

When brushing a Rhodesian Ridgeback, it’s important to use a brush that is appropriate for their coat type. A slicker brush or a rubber curry brush can be effective for removing loose hair and debris from their short, dense coat. These types of brushes can also help to distribute natural oils throughout their coat, which can help to keep it looking shiny and healthy.

When brushing your Rhodesian Ridgeback, be sure to work in the direction of their hair growth, starting at the head and working your way down to their tail. Be gentle but firm, and be sure to remove any mats or tangles that you encounter. If your dog has particularly sensitive skin, you may want to use a softer brush or a grooming glove to avoid irritation.

In addition to removing loose hair and debris, brushing your Rhodesian Ridgeback can also be a bonding experience for you and your dog. Use the opportunity to give them some extra love and attention, and to check their coat and skin for any potential health issues. By making brushing a regular part of your grooming routine, you can help keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback looking and feeling their best.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks do not need to be bathed frequently, as their coat is naturally oily and helps to repel dirt and water. However, if your dog becomes particularly dirty or smelly, you can bathe them using a gentle dog shampoo.

When bathing a Rhodesian Ridgeback, it’s important to use a gentle dog shampoo that is free from harsh chemicals and fragrances. A shampoo specifically formulated for dogs can help to maintain the natural oils in their coat, preventing it from becoming dry or irritated.

Before bathing your Rhodesian Ridgeback, it’s a good idea to brush them first to remove any loose hair and mats. This can make the bathing process easier and more effective. You should also make sure that the water temperature is comfortable for your dog, neither too hot nor too cold.

When bathing your Rhodesian Ridgeback, wet their coat thoroughly and apply the shampoo, working it into a lather. Be sure to avoid getting shampoo in their eyes or ears, as this can be uncomfortable for your dog. Rinse thoroughly, making sure to remove all traces of shampoo from their coat.

After bathing, you can dry your Rhodesian Ridgeback with a towel or a blow dryer set on low heat. Be sure to dry them thoroughly to prevent any moisture from getting trapped in their coat, which can lead to skin irritation or infection.

It’s important to note that Rhodesian Ridgebacks do not need to be bathed frequently, as their coat is naturally oily and helps to repel dirt and water. Over-bathing can actually strip their coat of its natural oils, making it more prone to dryness and irritation. In general, you should only bathe your Rhodesian Ridgeback as needed, or when they become particularly dirty or smelly.

Nail trimming

Regular nail trimming is important to prevent your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s nails from becoming overgrown and causing discomfort or injury. Trim their nails every few weeks or as needed, being careful not to cut the quick (the blood vessel in the nail).

Nail trimming is an important part of Rhodesian Ridgeback grooming, as overgrown nails can cause discomfort or even injury to your dog. When trimming your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s nails, it’s important to use a sharp pair of dog-specific nail clippers, as dull clippers can crush the nail and cause pain.

Before trimming your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s nails, be sure to locate the quick, which is the blood vessel that runs through the nail. You’ll want to avoid cutting the quick, as this can be painful for your dog and can cause bleeding. If your dog has light-colored nails, you may be able to see the quick as a pink or reddish line running through the nail. If your dog has dark-colored nails, you may need to trim a little bit at a time, stopping when you see a black dot in the center of the nail, which indicates that you are getting close to the quick.

To trim your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s nails, hold their paw firmly but gently, and use the clippers to cut off the tip of the nail. Be sure to avoid the quick, which is located near the base of the nail. If you accidentally cut the quick, apply some styptic powder or cornstarch to the nail to stop the bleeding.

You can also help to keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s nails short by taking them for walks on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. This can help to wear down their nails naturally, reducing the need for frequent trimming. If you’re unsure about how to trim your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s nails, or if your dog is particularly anxious about nail trimming, you may want to consider taking them to a professional groomer or veterinarian for help.

Ear cleaning

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be prone to ear infections, so it is important to clean their ears regularly to prevent wax buildup and infection. Use a cotton ball or soft cloth dampened with a gentle ear cleaner to wipe out their ears.

Ear cleaning is an important part of Rhodesian Ridgeback grooming, as their floppy ears can trap dirt and moisture, which can lead to ear infections. When cleaning your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s ears, it’s important to use a gentle, dog-specific ear cleaning solution and avoid using cotton swabs, which can push debris further into the ear canal.

To clean your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s ears, start by holding their head steady and gently lift the flap of their ear to expose the ear canal. Use a soft cloth or a cotton ball moistened with the ear cleaning solution to wipe away any debris or wax from the visible parts of the ear. Be sure to avoid touching the ear canal with the cloth or cotton ball, as this can be uncomfortable for your dog and can push debris further into the ear.

If your Rhodesian Ridgeback has particularly dirty or smelly ears, or if they are prone to ear infections, you may want to consider taking them to a professional groomer or veterinarian for a more thorough ear cleaning. Your vet may also be able to recommend a specific ear cleaning solution or provide tips on how to prevent ear infections in your dog.

You can also help to prevent ear infections in your Rhodesian Ridgeback by keeping their ears dry and well-ventilated. After swimming or bathing, be sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly, and avoid letting them spend long periods of time with wet ears. By keeping your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s ears clean and dry, you can help to maintain their overall health and wellbeing.

Teeth cleaning

Regular teeth cleaning is important to prevent dental problems such as tartar buildup and gum disease. Brush your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s teeth at least a few times a week using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste.

Teeth cleaning is an essential part of Rhodesian Ridgeback grooming, as proper dental care can help prevent dental diseases such as periodontal disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. Poor dental hygiene can also lead to other health issues in your Rhodesian Ridgeback, including heart disease and infections.

One of the most effective ways to maintain your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s dental hygiene is by brushing their teeth regularly. You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. Start by allowing your dog to sniff and taste the toothpaste before applying it to the toothbrush. Once your dog is comfortable with the toothbrush and toothpaste, begin brushing their teeth in a circular motion, focusing on the outer surfaces of their teeth. Be sure to brush gently and avoid brushing too hard, as this can cause discomfort and damage to their teeth and gums.

In addition to brushing, there are other dental care products available, such as dental chews, dental toys, and water additives. These products can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup in your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s mouth, as well as freshen their breath. However, it’s important to remember that these products should not be used as a substitute for regular brushing.

Regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian are also important for maintaining your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s dental health. During these check-ups, your vet can perform a thorough dental exam, clean your dog’s teeth, and identify any potential dental issues before they become more serious.

By maintaining your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s dental hygiene, you can help ensure that they live a healthy, happy life.

Adam Docherty

Hi I'm Adam. At Pet Know How we aim to help you learn everything you need to about your pets.

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