Rhodesian Ridgebacks: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Rhodesian Ridgeback temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed

Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


This dignified, muscular dog, a combination of scenthound and sighthound, needs brisk walking every day and the chance to run as often as possible.

This is not a breed to sit quietly in your house or yard all day. Young Rhodesian Ridgebacks are especially rambunctious, bore easily, and can excavate vast holes – in dirt or in couches.

The most territorial of the hound breeds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is aloof with strangers and should be accustomed to people at an early age so that his guarding instinct remains controlled rather than indiscriminate.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be dominant with other animals, especially with other dogs of the same sex. Some individuals are fine with the family cat, while others are predatory chasers of anything that runs.

This breed is confident and independent, inclined to do things his own way, and will test members of the family to find his place in the pecking order. Consistent leadership and obedience training is a must.

Overall, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a splendid, capable companion for assertive owners. However, without ongoing time and effort, exercise, socialization, and supervision, he is "too much dog."


If you want a dog who...

  • Is large, well-muscled, and natural-looking, with one unusual physical characteristic: a ridge of stiff hair along his back
  • Has a short easy-care coat
  • Thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities
  • Is the most territorial and protective of the hounds
  • Is calm and quiet in the home – as an adult

A Rhodesian Ridgeback may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
  • Providing enough socialization so that protectiveness doesn't become aggression or suspiciousness
  • Potential aggression toward other animals and chasing instincts
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge

A Rhodesian Ridgeback may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

If I was considering a Rhodesian Ridgeback, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are well-muscled athletes. To maintain this healthy condition, they need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by barking and chewing. Bored Rhodesian Ridgebacks can make a shambles of your house and yard.
  2. Providing enough socialization. Many Rhodesian Ridgebacks have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without enough socialization, Ridgebacks may become either aggressive or shy and nervous.
  3. Potential animal aggression. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are hunting dogs with predatory instincts. Some Ridgebacks will pursue and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. In addition, Ridgebacks can be dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex.
  4. The strong temperament. Like all hunting hounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are very trainable in the right hands, but they can be willful or dominant (they want to be the boss). You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. Read more about Rhodesian Ridgeback Training.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

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