Is a Ridgeback right for you?

Ridgebacks are not dogs for everyone, and we generally do not recommend the breed for first-time dog owners. While they may look like any other dog (except with funny looking hair on their back), Ridgebacks are hounds and with that comes willfulness and independence. The breed originated in Africa, where they were bred to hunt large, dangerous game as well as to protect the family homestead. To perform these tasks, they needed to rely on their intelligence and yes, judgment. While this is one of the great strengths of the breed, it is also one of the challenges as they will quickly take over an unsuspecting household if boundaries aren't set and consistently reinforced.

To pursue large game across the savannahs of Africa, Ridgebacks had to be strong and athletic. In our modern world in the United States, there aren’t many lions hanging around so this means that a Ridgeback needs plenty of exercise or they may become bored and destructive. A Ridgeback plays much like they would have lived in the past – rough and tumble. This is something to consider if your family includes small children or other small animals, as Ridgebacks sometimes don’t know how big they are!

Ridgebacks are highly prey-driven and once they are in “hunting mode” they do not easily leave the chase and return to their owner. This prey drive can also be exhibited inside the home… Ridgebacks are also known as champion counter-surfer, and more than one unsuspecting new Ridgeback owner has stepped out of their kitchen “for only a minute” only to return to find the remains of dinner on the floor.
Ridgebacks are highly independent dogs who like but do not need the constant love an attention of their owners, therefore they are not blindly obedient. They are known to “push back” to test how serious their owners really are. But, they are also a sensitive breed that respond to positive reinforcement, requiring their owners to "outhink" them. Negative training techniques are a sure way to crush the spirit of a Ridgeback and should NEVER be used. Ridgebacks need to understand the “WIFFM” (what’s in it for ME!) of an exercise, and if the motivation is not of interest to the Ridgeback he will simply turn around and walk away. Living with a Ridgeback requires lots and lots of patience.

For more information on the breed, please visit the national breed club website at RRCUS 

In addition, extensive heath information on the breed is available on the RRCUS Health and Genetics site. If you are interested in this breed, please take the time to review this important information.