When you ask a hunter now why they chose to purchase a Rhodesian Ridgeback, or Lionhound they will tell you it is because of their characteristics and personality, that have been kept in the breed. The breed has kept their excellent sense of smell and sight, which is highly desirable when being employed as a hunting dog. The hound is not only a great tracker because of his heightened sense of sight and smell, but he can be quiet during his commission. The dog also works well with other dogs when employed as part of a pack.
These dogs not only have a superb hunting ability, but can easily be assimilated into a domestic life because of their temperament. They are well known for being quiet, and will not do much barking. This, coupled along with the fact that they have carried on their ancestors guardian traits and loyalty make them an excellent choice for families. Their lazy and calm disposition makes them a great addition to family life. They are also known for being a great dog for any aged child as well. However, as with any dog – supervision with toddlers is an absolute necessity.
Many breeders will warn that a Ridgeback will need a lot of obedience training and should not be trained as a “guard dog” or hunter, if it’s going to be a domesticated pet. The dog is very smart and needs to be able to use his intelligence for constructive pursuits in order to avoid any trouble or behavior problems within the household. Making sure that the dog gets a good brisk walk a couple of times daily, and an occasional “off leash” run in a safe place will suffice. You will want to make sure that when you train your dog you hone in on his natural guarding abilities and be certain that you have complete control over him. Do not let these traits scare you away from purchasing this hound. They are not only renowned hunters and guarding dogs, but are particularly affectionate and trustworthy toward their owners, as this author can attest.
Once all of the characteristics and traits are recognized and the right training is in place this breed of dog can not only be used for hunting and protection, but can also be entered in dog shows, agility competitions, and obedience competitions as well. A well socialized dog will easily obtain a Canine Good Citizenship award.
While the Rhodesian Ridgeback can be the perfect family or working dog there are some health issues that occur in this breed on occasion. The most common illnesses and health issues that the Rhodesian Ridgeback suffers from is Hip Dysplasia, Dermoid Sinus, and Hypothyroid problems. To a lesser extent, some also suffer from Degenerative Myelopathy and a breed specific form of deafness, both of which can be tested for prior to breeding a litter of puppies. Many breeders and veterinarians work side-by-side to ensure that their puppies are not born with these health problems, or are not carriers for some of the genetic issues. We have an extensive article on this website which will help you in selecting a reputable breeder, which is essential for obtaining one of these animals.
If you are an owner of a Rhodesian Ridgeback or are thinking of welcoming one into your home there are many resources that you can use to learn more about the breed, from those that have hands on experience. Throughout the US, Canada, and England there are many chapters of Rhodesian Ridgeback Clubs. These were formed by owners and breeders ever since the breed was officially recognized by the AKC. The Rhodesian Ridgeback Parent Club is responsible for staying in contact with international clubs as far away as South Africa, England, and Canada. They keep the standard well-known and help people to learn how to work with this breed. Another task that they are known for taking on is to ensure that the breed does not lose its popularity or become extinct. They work with the AKC to keep this hound breed growing in popularity, and to educate people about the breed as a pet or working dog.