Brief History

Rhodesian ridgebacks were born out of the Dutch colonization of South Africa, when European breeds were introduced to the partially domesticated hunting dogs used by the native Khoikhoi people. The European bloodline of the ridgeback is believed to include greyhounds, pointers, bulldogs, terriers, and great Danes. Though the interbreeding of the European and Khoikhoi dogs began in the 1860s, it wasn’t until 1927 that Rhodesian ridgebacks were recognized as a breed by the South African Kennel association. In the 1950s, a couple from the Arizona introduced ridgebacks to the United States, and Americans soon fell in love with the breed.

Physical Features

The most distinguishing feature of a ridgeback is the hair running down its spine that grows forward, in the opposite direction of the rest of the hair on its body.  This trait was passed down from its Khoikhoi ancestry.

  • Height: Males average around 25-27 inches, while the slightly smaller female frame averages 24-26 inches
  • Weight: While males weigh around 85 pounds, females generally weigh closer to 70 pounds
  • Coat: Ridgebacks have a glossy wheaten colored coat  that adds further sleekness to its athletic frame
  • Coloring: The coloring of most ridgebacks is somewhere between a honey color and a reddish wheaten color. Rarer colors include black & tan, black, brindle (striping), or silver & grey. Much of the variation has to do with the varied ancestry of the breed.


While Rhodesians give off quite the regal appearance and may appear disinterested towards strangers, with those they love they are loyal and protective.  Ridgebacks need socialization and firm handling when being trained, as they tend to be stubborn and independent. They are extremely athletic dogs, and do well keeping up with active owners on long runs and hikes. Though ridgeback puppies can be quite mischievous and energetic, as adults they are calm and quiet.