Owning this wonderful, large, intelligent hound should not be undertaken lightly. They can be a loving, loyal companion for, hopefully, a long time ( a lifespan of thirteen years is not unusual) but you must be prepared to put in the groundwork, and have the time and patience to walk, groom, feed and go to training classes.

Training classes are vital for socialisation and for working with your dog in an environment other than your home, but it is important to attend a training class where you feel happy with the approach the trainer takes. Attend the class first of all without your dog, decide if you like what you see, and whether the dogs and owners look like they are enjoying themselves. Assess what breeds attend the class, the more varied the better, and how the trainer reacts to the idea of training a Rhodesian Ridgeback. You will be able to find a list of local trainers at your vets, local pet shop or visit www.apdt.co.uk.

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As a member of the Hound Group, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is particularly prey driven, if something runs away from them they are very likely to chase it. This "prey" can include anything, such as other dogs, cyclists, joggers and livestock. Sometimes they do not even need to see what they are chasing, they can pick up a scent and potentially follow it for miles.

Another hound trait is to work independently of their owners. Whereas some other breeds, such as Border Collies and Retrievers, will look to their owners for direction, hounds will decide for themselves where they are going and what they are going to do. People sometimes believe that Ridgebacks are not as intelligent as some other breeds. The truth is that they are very intelligent, they are just reluctant to do things simply because they have been asked. They need to know what is in it for them, and if they can’t see the benefit of doing something they are loathe to obey

Many books about the Rhodesian Ridgeback describe them as sensitive, and they are. They like routine, and, if they are not socialised well at a young age, they can find aspects of modern life stressful. They are naturally aloof with strangers and can be wary of the unknown. Remember, in the role for which they were originally bred, their reserved alert nature is what kept them alive. Many Ridgebacks also have a strong guarding instinct, but because of their independent nature, they do not make good guard dogs in the way that some other breeds do.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a proud, self-assured breed who are incredibly loyal. They are always at their happiest when they are no more than a few feet from you and they can make exceptional family dogs. However, a Ridgeback owner needs to be firm, fair and consistent in order to get the best from them. They do not respond well to harsh handling or aggressive demands - do any of us? - but will respond well to patience, understanding and the odd bit of bribery.

There are many good books about Rhodesian Ridgebacks which will explain most facets of the breed including it’s history, health and genetics, but one of the most informative publications on how to achieve a happy hound that is a pleasure to own, is Sue Craigie’s booklet “The Imbali Way of Raising and Training Your Ridgeback Puppy”, which is available to order at www.imbaliridgebacks.co.uk.

If you would like to learn more about the breed it is often a good idea to attend a dog show, especially a breed club show. At championship shows, which are held throughout the year in most parts of the country, you will usually be able to see over a hundred Rhodesian Ridgeback exhibits and meet their owners. Another place to meet Ridgebacks and owners is at Discover Dogs. This is held twice a year, in March at Crufts and in November at Earls Court in London. The breed clubs or the Kennel Club which are listed on the links page will be able to give you dates of dog related events. Most breeders will also be happy for you to visit them at home, by prior arrangement, to meet their hounds and discuss all things Ridgeback.

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If you feel that a Rhodesian Ridgeback is the dog for you, the next question is whether to have a puppy or an older dog through one of the breed rescues. Every year many Ridgebacks lose their homes for a variety of reasons. Sometimes an older dog will suit your circumstances better and if this is the case please visit one of the breed rescues listed on the links page.

If you prefer a puppy the breed clubs are often the best starting point as they will be able to give you details of members who have litters planned. The breed club websites also contain lots of useful information about the breed. A breeder will want to make sure you are going to be a suitable owner for one of their extended family for the whole of the dog’s life, so do be prepared to be asked a lot of questions about your family and lifestyle.

If you would like to discuss any of the above please don’t hesitate to
contact us.