Also known as the African Lion Dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is native to South Africa and was originally used for hunting. The native Khoikhoi people (also known as Hottentots), had half-wild dogs who had a ridge of hair along the spine that ran in the opposite direction of the rest of their coat. When foreign settlers came, they brought their dogs with them, which included Great Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds and Bloodhounds. These dogs interbred with the native dogs, resulting in what we know today as the Rhodesian Ridgeback. In the 1870s, the breed was introduced to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where they excelled at lion hunting. In 1950, they came to the United States.
At 85 lbs., Ridgebacks are large dogs, instantly recognizable by the ridge of hair along their backs. They are an athletic breed and require a good deal of daily exercise. Though they can be strong-willed and aloof with strangers, they are loving family dogs, and can be sensitive to harsh training. To be effective, a firm but gentle hand is required, so the Rhodesian Ridgeback may not be the best choice for a first-time dog owner.
Despite their strong wills, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also known for being predisposed to hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect their health – as well as your family’s finances. Some of the conditions and illnesses Rhodesian Ridgebacks are prone to include eye conditions such as cataracts; spinal cord conditions such as dermoid sinus and degenerative myelopathy; skeletal issues such as cervical vertebral instability (Wobbler syndrome); hearing problems such as deafness; and joint conditions such as hip dysplasia.
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Rhodesian Ridgeback inherits anything more than a distinctive ridge of hair, you’re protected.