Last Updated on February 22, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
This article runs through 9 vital facts about Rhodesian Ridgebacks that all future owners should know about before bringing their gorgeous puppy home.
As with all breeds, there are certain quirks, traits, and requirements that owners must know about to avoid surprises.
9 Things You Should Know About Owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback
This article covers the 9 most crucial things that all future ridgeback owners need to know about. Some of the following facts are more obvious than others, but for all future owners, I recommend reading every single one.
Being prepared and knowing what to expect will make raising your ridgeback easier down the line!
1. Ridgebacks have a strong prey drive & love to chase ⭐
As most could have imagined, Rhodesian ridgebacks have a very strong prey drive and LOVE to chase anything.
Managing a dog with high prey drive requires the owner to be “on the ball” and situationally aware of what’s happening, especially if you are in public. Any rapid movement from anything small including other animals, other dogs, or even children will trigger a ridgeback to chase.
Depending on what it is your ridgeback is chasing, could either mean playtime or dinner time. Dogs with high prey drives must receive firm recall training and leash training for the owner to have any kind of reasonable control in a potentially dangerous situation.
It must also be noted that instinctual behaviors, like the prey drive, can never really be fully trained against, so it will always be there from puppy to senior.
Many breeds have prey drives, and by no means does this make a ridgeback unmanageable. It just means the owner must be aware and switched on.
2. Rhodesian ridgebacks require A LOT of stimulation! ⭐
This stimulation comes in two forms, physical and mental. Stimulation both physical and mental is absolutely CRUCIAL to the overall happiness, wellbeing, and behavior of any Rhodesian ridgeback.
In terms of physical stimulation (exercise) Rhodesian ridgebacks need a solid 2 hours per day, preferably split up into 1-hour chunks in the morning and evening. Anything less than this, especially for healthy adults in their prime, is cutting them short.
Then we have mental stimulation which usually gets left in the shadows of physical exercise… This often proves to be a huge mistake that many new and experienced owners make.
Mental stimulation includes things like command training, socializing with strangers and other dogs, playing brain games, using puzzle toys, and even general engagement. And without a sufficient amount of it every day (at least 1-2 hours) a ridgeback will quickly become frustrated, hard to manage, anxious, disobedient, and destructive.
90% of behavioral issues I talk about with owners, just so happen to be resolved with an increase of physical or mental exercise…
Recommended Read: How much are Rhodesian ridgebacks? Full puppy price breakdown
3. Rhodesian ridgebacks LOVE kids! ⭐
Many are surprised to hear that ridgebacks are actually exceptional with kids and young children. But as always, caution is still needed.
If you have young children then a ridgeback will be their new best playmate. They will truly keep each other engaged and occupied for hours on end. And I’m not just saying this, rhodies really are one of the best breeds we know of with children.
One thing, however, is that ridgebacks are of course very strong, large, and powerful, even puppies. Dog’s tend to play a little differently than children and it’s common for things to escalate and get a little rough and ready. This is when accidents happen.
There’s never any malice involved with this, but for a young child, rough play can be incredibly overwhelming and scary with tears never far behind. So it’s something to keep in mind.
4. Rhodesian ridgebacks are very protective & territorial ⭐
Something that all future owners must be fully aware of is a ridgeback’s protective and territorial nature.
A ridgeback won’t think twice about protecting its family or property from something they perceive as a threat. And because ridgebacks have guard dog qualities, it makes them highly suspicious of anyone they don’t know… meaning a lot of potential threats every day.
For the owner, this means exposing your ridgeback to plenty of strangers and new dogs from a young age. They must be purposefully socialized so they become approachable, less suspicious, and friendly with strangers (which they can become with plenty of socialization).
Training is also a part of this, and it’s imperative to build up your ridgeback’s recall and general obedience to a high level. With a dog that’s very naturally protective, it’s crucial that you have full control.
5. Ridgebacks are seriously food motivated AND greedy! ⭐
Rhodesian ridgebacks have taken a page out of the labrador’s book with this one. These lion dogs will continuously eat until they make themselves sick.
This goes for their own dog food, treats, chews, and any kind of food you or your family leave out.
Although this isn’t a big problem, it can take some time for the household (especially kids) to get used to keeping cupboards shut, the garbage bins secure, and keeping counters food-free.
Additionally, due to how greedy ridgebacks are, it often tricks owners into thinking their Rhody needs more food than they actually do. This is something to be careful of as Rhodies are also prone to obesity if their calories are not kept in check.
One positive about this is that training becomes very easy and they are so motivated by food. A tasty treat will have them learning and respecting commands in no time at all.
6. Ridgebacks DO NOT cope well when left alone ⭐
This is a big one… Ultimately, we all end up leaving our dogs home alone from time to time, it’s normal.
While it’s no big deal if you have to go to the supermarket or run errands here and there, it is a big deal if you need to leave the house empty every day for work.
For those that have long work hours or need to go to college, a ridgeback is not a dog you can get away with leaving alone.
They quickly get stressed, anxious, and this doesn’t just end when you return home. This can really change their temperament, overall behavior, and ability to be trained.
Leaving your ridgeback home alone for hours on end can lead to destructive behavior, disobedience, stress, anxiety, and worst of all, a dissatisfied ridgeback.
And to address a big misconception, getting a second dog is not a quick fix to this issue! In the end, you’ll just have two dogs craving for their owner instead of one.
7. Ridgebacks need CONSISTENT rules & a firm leader ⭐
For the most part, ridgebacks are usually a dream to train, but this is when they have a clear leader who is firm and consistent. This is crucial to understand.
Any rules or boundaries that you set must be committed to 100% if you want your ridgeback to respect them. For example, if you don’t want her begging for food (in general), then she should NEVER be allowed table scraps, eating from your plate, or next to you when you are eating. Half-hearted rules, do not work.
Additionally, ridgebacks are incredibly smart, but also stubborn. This means training must be rigid, firm (but always fair), and on a regular basis.
If a ridgeback feels like you aren’t in control, they will outsmart you, take advantage, and will push boundaries.
This is why it’s crucial that you are the authoritative figure and good leader for them. As long as they know their place and what’s expected of them, they will respect that and your Rhody will be a dream dog.
8. Ridgebacks crave A LOT of attention ⭐
If you love cuddles and snuggles then a ridgeback will be the right dog for you. They are very affectionate and are love being close to their owner, physically and emotionally.
This is such an important part of their wellbeing and happiness, that it needs to be something you can ensure.
What I mean by this, is that ridgebacks are not cold dogs that can simply remain outside by themselves for the entire day.
These dogs need and want to be close to their owner. So this level of attention and affection must be something you want to give them, can give them, and commit to giving them.
9. Ridgebacks are surprisingly QUIET ⭐
Last but not least, is more of just a fascinating fact than anything else!
Despite their size, and ability to produce a scarily loud bark, ridgebacks are actually naturally very quiet.
This is a great trait to have, as there’s nothing worse than training against excessive barking.
This also adds to being such a great watchdog and lookout. As you won’t often hear your ridgeback bark, when you DO hear them bark, it’s guaranteed to be something that warrants it.
Rhodesian ridgebacks are AWESOME
Let’s just wrap this up by clarifying that Rhodesian ridgebacks are truly an awesome breed. They are beautiful dogs outside and inside.
As long as the owner is committed to training, socializing, being a good leader, and being there for them, a ridgeback will be a dream dog.
Here’s some additional info on Rhodesian ridgebacks from VCA Hospitals: Source