The Rhodesian Ridgeback was originated in southern Africa by European hunters, adventurers, and pioneers who needed a fast, strong, intelligent dog to aid them in hunting in the bush. These ridged dogs that had descended from a native Hottentot dog were selected for their abilities to hunt, guard, and accompany their owners. They are also referred to as "lion hounds" or "lion dogs" and deservingly earned the nickname from their ability to keep lions at bay until the hunter arrived for the kill.
Ridgebacks are a large breed dog ranging from 70-85 pounds and 24-27 inches in height. They are an athletic, smart, and sometimes stubborn breed. They are even tempered dogs who are devoted to their owners and can be reserved with strangers. The unique trademark of the breed is the "ridge" of fur on their back that grows in the opposite direction.
They can be classified as both "sight hounds" (meaning they hunt primarily by sight) and "scent hounds" (meaning they hunt primarily by scent). Ridgeback owners jokingly refer to them as "opportunists" as they will use whichever will get them from A to B the quickest - be it their sight or their nose.
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Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue, Inc. (RRRInc) provides the rescue, care, and adoption of Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs in need. Through RRRInc's efforts, displaced Ridgebacks find new, loving, permanent homes. RRRInc is the official rescue program of Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States (RRCUS) and Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Canada (RRCC).
A rescue dog is a dog that needs a new home - it does not mean you are getting damaged goods. Like people, rescue dogs come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have varying needs. Some come from loving homes that can no longer keep their cherished pets. Reasons for surrender may include an owner who dies or must go into a nursing facility, families that are forced to make a lifestyle change or move to place that does not permit pets, some are given up due to divorce. (In these instances, a complete background of the animal's health and temperament is usually available.) Other Ridgebacks are surrendered because the owners were unprepared for the lifestyle requirements of this breed, they did not spend enough time in researching the breed before purchasing one, or they simply did not put in enough time to properly train their dog. Some of the dogs in RRRInc's program were obtained from animal shelters, pet stores, or found as homeless strays.
All rescue dogs in RRRInc's program are temperament tested and evaluated for placement. They are also taken to a veterinarian for a health check-up and immunizations. All rescue dogs are neutered or spayed before going to their new homes.
Most of the dogs available for adoption are adults. Puppies are rarely available through rescue. However, adult dogs have several positive advantages over puppies! They are finished with their teething period and most are already housebroken. Taking care of an adult dog is not nearly as time consuming as raising a puppy, which is a significant benefit for adopters who work outside of the home. Also, an adult dog's temperament and personality are already developed, so you usually know in advance what you are getting.
NEW ENGLAND RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK CLUB
The first step is to do your research on the Rhodesian Ridgeback (size, temperament, exercise requirements, personalities, etc.) and make sure it is the right breed for you and/or your family. If you need help deciding or want to know more about what it is like to live with a Ridgeback, just ask us! Also, our national club, RRCUS, has excellent articles that may help you determine if a Ridgeback would be a good fit for you. RRCUS also has a "mentor list" where you can find other qualified people to contact with any questions or concerns you may have regarding this breed. Conformation dog shows are a wonderful place to meet some of these members and breeders. It is also a great place to meet and greet some of the dogs that may end up being in your puppy's pedigree! If you are interested in attending a show, you can find one near you by visiting InfoDog.
Once you have determined that a Rhodesian Ridgeback is right for you, you will want to begin your research to find the right breeder. Choosing the right breeder is very important! Your Ridgeback is going to live a long time and you want to make sure you have a breeder who will be available to you for the life of the dog. A reputable breeder will be available to help you if any questions or problems arise with your Ridgeback regarding any and all health issues, temperament, behavior, training, etc. Rely on your breeder! They are one of your best sources of information when it comes to your dog.
You can find directories for Rhodesian Ridgeback breeders in your area through RRCUS. Keep in mind that just because a breeder's name appears on a list, it does not automatically make them a reputable, caring, or ethical breeder. You still need to do research to make sure you are investing in a healthy puppy with a good temperament that the breeder will stand behind. A reputable and caring breeder will interview you to make sure that you and your family are a good candidate for this breed. Ridgebacks, although gorgeous and amazing dogs, are not for everyone. Expect that they will have just as many questions for you as you do for them. A good breeder cares where their puppies end up and will want to be certain that you will provide proper care for the life of the dog.
Do not expect immediate results! Although you have decided to add a Rhodesian Ridgeback to your family today, you may have to wait for one. A puppy should never be an impulse purchase. Start your research, choose a breeder that you like and trust, and then wait for the right puppy! Most ethical breeders do not have puppies all of the time and so your name will be added to a waiting list. Be patient, this puppy will be worth the wait!