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Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament: Confident, Independent, Loyal

If you're searching for a canine companion that's both strong and loving yet independent, look no further than the Rhodesian Ridgeback. These majestic dogs are instantly recognisable by their distinctive ridge of hair along their spine, but their temperament truly sets them apart. With roots in South Africa, this breed boasts a rich history and a captivating personality.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the unique characteristics of the Rhodesian Ridgeback temperament and explore why they make such wonderful companions. We've got you covered, from their fascinating history to potential health concerns and intriguing, fun facts. Whether you're considering adding a Ridgeback to your family or are simply curious about these magnificent creatures, keep reading to discover why they're cherished by so many.

Rhodesian Ridgeback History: Where do Rhodesian Ridgeback come from?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were developed initially in what was then known as Rhodesia, a former British colony in Southern Africa now known as Zimbabwe. The breed was developed by European settlers in the late 19th century who wanted a dog capable of hunting, tracking and baying big game in the African bush, such as lions and leopards.

It is also important to note that lions are powerful predators with sharp claws and teeth, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback would be no match for a healthy adult lion. Therefore, they were used for tracking. In addition, it is not ethical or legal to use dogs to hunt lions or any other big game in most countries. Such practices are generally frowned upon by the international community. Therefore, putting a Rhodesian Ridgeback in a situation where it might have to confront a lion is not recommended.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament
Rhodesian Ridgebacks were initially bred in Zimbabwe

The breed's name comes from the region where it was developed. Rhodesia was named after Cecil Rhodes, a British businessman and politician who played a vital role in colonising Southern Africa.

Rhodes was a proponent of British expansion in Africa, and his vision for a British-controlled corridor of territory from Cape Town to Cairo was known as the "Cape to Cairo" plan.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were originally known as "African Lion Hounds" or "Van Rooyen's Lion Dogs," after Cornelius Van Rooyen, a big game hunter and dog breeder who played a crucial role in developing the breed. However, in the early 1920s, the breed was renamed the "Rhodesian Ridgeback" in honour of the region where it was created.

A few European breeds were believed to have been added to their bloodline, like Pointers, Lurchers or Bloodhounds. But unfortunately, no official records were kept.

Before the breed was perfected and standardised by settlers, the ancestors of the Rhodesian Ridgeback were believed to be the ancient dogs of the Khoikhoi people. Also known as the Khoi, they are an indigenous group from Southern Africa known for their nomadic lifestyle and livestock use, including dogs, for transportation and protection. The Khoikhoi people had several types of dogs for various purposes.

These dogs were highly valued by the Khoikhoi people and played an essential role in their daily lives. The Khoikhoi people believed that these dogs had spiritual powers and were able to protect them from evil spirits and other supernatural threats. A well-marked ridge was a sign of courage.

The first Rhodesian Ridgebacks were brought to the UK in the early 20th century, around 1912. The breed was first exhibited at the Crufts dog show in 1928.

Leonard E. F. "Jack" Williams was the pioneer breeder who brought Rhodesian Ridgebacks to the UK. Williams started breeding the majestic hounds in the UK with a pack of several Ridgebacks imported from Southern Africa in the early 1920s.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament
The UK Kennel Club officially recognised the Rhodesian Ridgeback in 1955.

As a leading figure in breed development in the UK, Williams played a vital role in establishing the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Great Britain in 1927. He was also the author of the first-ever book on the breed, titled "The Rhodesian Ridgeback", published in 1952.

Williams was passionate about maintaining the hunting prowess of the Ridgebacks and preserving their trademark feature, the ridge of hair along their back. He put in immense effort to create a breed standard that was eventually accepted by the Kennel Club in the UK.

Today, Williams' legacy lives on as many of the Rhodesian Ridgebacks in the UK can trace their lineage back to his original breeding program.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known today for their courage, loyalty, and athleticism and are often used as hunting dogs, loving family companions, and show dogs.

Coat colours range from light wheaten to deeper shades of brown and red. Breed standard colours in the UK for showing are wheaten, light wheaten and red wheaten.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was first registered with the UK Kennel Club in 1955.

In 2022, 1,386 Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies were registered with the UK Kennel Club, which is less than last year at the same time. The below table shows the registrations since 2021. The dip in registration is minor, however, and the love for the breed is persistent.

Q1 2021

Q2 2021