The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large, handsome, muscular hound with a distinctive raised ridge of hair running in a symmetrical strip down the center of his back. The hair in the strip actually grows in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The short, sleek coat comes in light to dark wheaten, sometimes with small white markings on the chest and feet. The head is fairly long; the skull is flat and broad with powerful jaws. The bright, sparkling eyes are round with an intelligent expression. Nose color should be either black or brown, depending on the color of the coat. The ears are pendant. Dogs with black noses should have dark eyes; those with brown noses should have amber colored eyes. The front legs should be very straight and strong, with heavy bone. The strong tapered tail is fairly long and curves slightly upward.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback resulted from crosses between ridgebacked dogs originally kept by native tribes in South Africa and other breeds, such as the Great Dane and various scent hounds, imported by Boer settlers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Rhodesian Ridgeback was used for many purposes. This impressive, protective hound could hunt game, retrieve, take care of children, and guard property, as well as withstand the harsh African climate and conditions. South African hunters discovered that the Ridgeback, used in packs, was very effective against lions, hence the breed's other name, “African Lion Hound.” The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1959.
A fine hunter, but gentle and calm at home. Good natured and fond of children. Intelligent. This breed needs thorough obedience training, early socialization with people and other dogs, and firm owner leadership to become the excellent companion he can be.