WHY OWN A RIDGEBACK By Barbara Sawyer-Brown B e it by coincidence or design, the power, strength and feline agility of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is evident the moment he takes his first steps. Th e Rhodesian Ridgeback owes his heritage to Dutch Boers who began settling in Colonial Southern Africa. A number of di ff erent breeds contributed to the gene pool of the Ridgeback. Among these were Greyhound, Bloodhound, various Masti ff types, Airdale and Africa’s Hottentot Dog and others.
By the 1900s a type had been successfully set, partly by accident, partly by design, and entirely out of need. Th e European settlers needed a multi-purpose dog, a truly fearless hunting hound, on the African Veldt, a watch dog on the farm and a gentle companion in the home. However, he is most famous for being used to track and hold a lion at bay, waiting for the hunter. Th is required amazing courage, agility, tenacity and endurance. He is the only breed of dog that can hold a lion at bay, yet stay out of harm’s way. His color (all di ff erent shades of wheaten) were chosen to blend in with the surrounding grass and bush of the Veldt. His coat is short and sleek, so as to not become entangled and to allow for easy maintenance and parasite removal. He is neither too big to be clumsy, nor too small to render him unproductive in hunting large game. He is a swift runner, able to run at thirty miles an hour! With all of his athletic ability and functional purpose, the Rho- desian Ridgeback is also beautiful to look at—graceful, regal and fearless in appearance. Th e hallmark of this breed is the ridge of hair which runs backwards along his spine, a cowlick that has two whorls (crowns) opposite each other in the upper third of this ridge. In 1924, the South African Kennel Union registered the first Rhodesian Ridgeback. In November 1955, the American Kennel Club admitted the Rhodesian Ridgeback to its Stud Book as the 112th breed to be accorded AKC registration facilities. Th e Ridge- back Standard describes a dog that stands between 25" and 27" at the withers and weighs around 85 pounds. Females should be 24" to 26" at their withers and weigh about 70 pounds. Th e Ridgeback is a wonderful breed of dog; however, not the best choice for all families. Asked if this dog can sleep in a dog house in the yard, my answer is, “Yes, if you are sleeping there, too.” When you tell me you have a two-acre fenced in backyard, I will warn you that your Ridgeback will most likely scratch the siding o ff your house, trying to get back into the house to be with you, or bark at the door, annoying neighbors, or dig out under the fence or leap over it (without a running start—this athlete can clear a six-foot high fence) and knock down every trash can in the neighborhood, if it does not first get killed in tra ffi c (they are not bright about the dangers of the streets). t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& . "3$)
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