Rhodesian Ridgebacks are confident, quick learners with loads of personality! They also have a mind of their own, and possess a zany sense of humour!
Training is vital!
Obedience classes for your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy are an absolute necessity! If you cannot commit to regular training, then please reconsider owning a Ridgeback! They grow into very large dogs which, if left uncontrolled, have the potential to make your life miserable.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred to be clever and independent, and they tend to have a mind of their own. They therefore need a strong, fair pack leader. Harsh methods will generally not work with a Ridgeback, and training methods using fear and intimidation can actually aggravate behaviour problems.
A puppy cannot know what is expected of him, and will respond to situations in a way that makes perfect sense to a canine. Owners need an understanding of canine hierarchy and learn how to implement firm but gentle, positive interaction techniques.
Socialisation is very important. Vets offer pre-school classes for 8 week old puppies who have vaccination certificates. From 12 weeks (after second vaccination), obedience clubs offer puppy classes and on, right through to older dogs that compete for obedience titles. Ridgebacks do have a desire to please and have been known to excel and reach high levels at obedience (if they want to!).
Protective but sensible
While they can be ridiculously devoted to their families, they are sometimes quite standoffish with strangers and usually don't seek attention from people they don't know. They have a tendency to be protective, but don't make a nuisance of themselves by barking at everything that moves.
Although they're a laid back bunch, loving nothing better than to spend the day snoozing on a comfy bed, they are always eager to go with you. They love free running and have no problem finding adventures!
Destructive if left alone
Like many dog breeds, a bored Ridgie can be very destructive, and because of his free thinking nature, can decide to jump the fence and wander in search of some excitement. Providing puppy with plenty of toys, things to chew and other fun activities will help fill his day. Once puppy is grown, a daily vigorous exercise session is a must! A tired Ridgie is a content Ridgie. Fencing needs to be secure and able to contain a large dog.
Diet and Health
They are generally a healthy breed, with very little special attention required. They don't require a huge amount of food, however, Ridgebacks are food lovers. They believe all food belongs to them and will sneak food if not supervised. Feedings need to be monitored to avoid excess weight gain.
Puppies shouldn't be taken for long walks or runs, as this puts too much stress on growing bones. Backyard games and short walks will give him all the exercise he needs for the first few months. Watch for his signals, if he stops playing and lays down, he is probably tired! Once he is fully grown, he will be a great jogging partner, and will enjoy as much exercise as you can give him. A fully grown dog will need an energetic workout every day to keep him fit and well muscled.
Children in the family
A Rhodesian Ridgeback can be a wonderful family companion and friend for a child. However, as with any dog, constant and vigilant supervision is necessary while child and dog are together. Ridgebacks are very large, strong and fast, and an almost adult-sized six month old puppy can accidentally knock down a child. Tails can also become like whips when wagging, so please be aware of this if small children are around, especially if the tail is at face level of a small child. For this reason, it is often recommended that the breed is unsuitable for families with small children.
In the house
In spite of their size, a Ridgeback makes an excellent house dog! They are usually sensible, quiet and clean. They are happy to sleep in a crate if trained from puppyhood. They do feel the cold, so need a warm place to sleep during winter time.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a neat, clean breed, and require little in the way of dailygrooming. They do love being brushed, however and it'll be necessary at times when they're actively shedding. They usually don't have an overpowering doggy smell, so an occasional bath or shower is all that's needed to keep them smelling fresh.
They usually need their nails trimmed regularly, as normal exercise is unlikely to wear the nails adequately. Running dogs on hard surfaces or concrete in an attempt to wear down their nails, can cause structural problems that may not show up until older age. We recommend the use of a nail grinder - quick, easy and painless!
The 'teenage' Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgebacks seem to go through a challenging teen phase, which begins somewhere around 5 months, and ends around 18 months to two years. Unfortunately, this is when many dogs are surrendered to animal refuges.
Just like human teens, they may be testing the limits, but they do also seem to forget things previously learned. It may be necessary to repeat lessons, but if this is done in a pleasant way, the dog on the other side of this phase will be a wonderful, loyal and devoted companion. Plenty of exercise is vital, together with mental stimulation, and firm but gentle guidance. Plenty of chew toys will help with their teething - permanent teeth are still setting into the jaw until around the age of two.
If you aren't planning to show your puppy, we recommend desexing. The regular heat seasons of the undesexed bitch can be quite messy, and they often suffer with phantom pregnancies. Uterine infections are also a possibility, and these can be fatal. A desexed male is far less likely to escape and wander.