The Rhodesian Ridgeback


The original function of the Rhodesian Ridgeback, or Lion Dog, was to track, especially lion, and with great agility, keep it at bay until the arrival of the hunter. Rhodesian Ridgebacks hunting mainly in groups of two or three. Therefore it was necessarily to breed a fearless nature strong, fast and agile dog.


General Appearance

The Rhodesian Ridgeback represents as a strong, muscular, agile and active dog, symmetrical and balanced in outline and capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed. The emphasis is on elegance and soundness with no tendency towards massiveness. A mature Ridgeback is a handsome, upstanding and athletic dog with a dignified temperament. The Ridgeback is devoted and affectionate to his master but reserved to strangers.


The detail of the breed is the ridge on the back, which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed. 



The ridge

The ridge should be clearly defined, symmetrical and it must start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to a point between the hip bones and should contain two identical crowns (whorls) directly opposite each other. The lower edge of the crowns should not extend further down the ridge than one third of the total ridge. A good average width of the ridge is 5cm (2ins).

Not acceptable ridges
Not acceptable ridges


Size and proportions

A mature Ridgeback must be symmetrical in outline, slightly longer than tall but well balanced.

The desirable heights are:


63cm (25ins) to 69cm (27ins)


61cm (24ins) to 66cm (26ins)


The desirable weights are:


36.5kg (80lbs)


32 kg (70lbs)



The head should be of fair length, the skull flat and rather broad between the ears and should be free from wrinkles when in repose. The width of head between the ears, distance from occiput to stop, stop to end of nose, should be equal. The stop should reasonably well defined. Muzzles should be long, deep and powerful.


The eyes should be moderately well apart and should be round, bright and sparkling with an intelligent expression, their color harmonizing with the color of the dog.


The ears should be rather high, of medium size, rather wide at the base and tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head.


The nose should be black, brown or liver; in keeping with the color of the dog. No other colored nose is permissible. A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes end a brown or liver nose with amber eyes.


The mouth: the jaws level and strong with well-developed teeth, especially the canines or holders. Scissors bite preferred. The lips should be clean, closely fitting the jaws.



Neck, topline and body

The neck should be fairly strong and free from throatiness. The back is powerful and firm with strong loins which muscular and slightly arched.

The tail should be strong at the root and generally tapering towards the end, free from coarseness. It should not be inserted too high or too low and should be carrier with a slight curve upwards, never curled or gay.

The chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious. The brisket should reach to the elbow. The fore chest must be visible when viewed from the site.

Ribs moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel hoops, which would indicate want of speed.

Forequarters, the shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed. The elbows are close to the body.

The forelegs should be perfectly straight with strong and heavy bone.

The feet should be compact with well-arched toes, round, tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes end pads.

Hindquarters, in the hind legs the muscles should be clean, well defined and hocks well down. Feet must be the same as in front.



The hair should be short and dense, sleek and glossy in appearance but neither woolly nor silky.



Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes permissible but excessive white there, on the belly or above the toes is undesirable.