Rhodesian Ridgeback

  • Overview

    When European Boer hunters arrived in South Africa, they were drawn to the Rhodesian Ridgeback for their unique abilities as hunters and guard dogs. These dogs worked chasing, harassing and baying lions, wart hogs and baboons in open environments in Africa, but they also watched over their owner's children and protected their families. These strong, athletic dogs stand up to 2 feet, 3 inches tall and can weigh between 70 and 80 pounds.

    Rhodesian Ridgebacks are dignified dogs capable of learning impressive skills. They are energetic and athletic dogs who will prefer living with active owners who respect their strong, intelligent personalities.

  • Personality

    Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be ferocious hunters used to entrapping and bringing down large game like lions and baboons. These African "lion dogs" can also be gentle, relaxed dogs who are protective of their owners and attentive to the environment in their household. Ridgebacks are calm and reserved at home and with people they know. They don't often go out of their way to befriend people they don't know. That doesn't mean that these dogs are aggressive, however. Instead, they are somewhat aloof and disinterested around strangers. Make sure these dogs have plenty of opportunities to socialize as puppies and train them with firm, dominant commands to avoid letting them take over your household.

    These active dogs are exuberant and rambunctious as puppies. They will demand extensive active play and attempt to involve their owners in games and chases. Once these dogs grow up, they mellow significantly. Ridgebacks are still athletic dogs, however. If you're looking for a dog to accompany you on your daily run or your weekend hike, this dog is up for the challenge.

  • Coat Care

    The defining feature of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the "ridge" of hair that runs down their back in the opposite direction of the rest of their short dense coat. The fan-like appearance is formed by two whorls of hair about 2 inches wide that taper down from behind the shoulders to the hipbone. The coat should be sleek and glossy in appearance and slightly smooth to the touch. It comes in shades of wheaten, from a light tan to red.

Rhodesian Ridgeback
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Give your Rhodesian Ridgeback a good once-over with a rubber brush or grooming mitt about once a week to remove loose or dead hairs, and just like that, they'll look stunning. That's really all their coat needs to maintain its naturally distinctive appearance.

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You can also wash them off with a wet towel or gently shampoo them in the bath occasionally.

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Hair Clipping

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Dogs with smooth coats generally only require trims and tidying up in areas of excessive hair growth using a trimmer or blunt scissors. It's always wise to take a dog for a short walk or exercise to calm them down before trimming. Remember to brush the coat first to remove any tangles and mats. Don't forget to trim around the paws, pads, tail, chest and sanitary areas, as needed. The coat should lay flat and smooth against the body when finished.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Some smooth-coated dogs, like Basenjis and Boxers, and dogs with large ears, like Weimaraners and Great Danes, have sensitive ears that should be checked  weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If you have a small dog, like an Italian Greyhound, take special care to  clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes to make sure they are comfortable. Dogs with facial wrinkles, like French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers, should have their faces wiped down at least weekly to prevent infection.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.