Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Obedient and Good Off Leash?

It’s hard not to love the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Due to their origins as hunters and protectors of the family, these dogs have a tendency to be very loyal and devoted to their masters.

And, of course, those who need a working dog will find that this is one of the best ones on the planet.

In its native homeland, this breed has become the standard for high-energy and obedient working dogs.

So, whether you want your dog to be a pet, a helper, or both, you may have wondered about this question: Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks obedient and good off-leash?

A Question Of Degree And Trends

Before we even try to answer this question, we should mention that any dog can be obedient if they are properly trained.

Indeed, an uncontrollable breed would probably have been discarded a long time ago, so pretty much all of the dogs that exist today can be trained to become good, obedient dogs.

That being said, there are two ways in which that behavior variates.

First, there is the question of degree.

Some dogs are easier to train than others, as most of us have seen. This is not just a question of intelligence, but also a question of socialization.

Some dogs are just naturally a little more stubborn than others, and we do see certain trends with each breed.

So, you should understand that the obedience and trainability of the Rhodesian Ridgeback will mostly depend on you, the owner.

Ridgebacks Are Known As A Rowdy Breed

Whenever you start reading things from experienced Ridgeback owners, you notice a little bit of a trend.

Many Ridgeback owners will caution other potential owners to make sure they know what they are doing.

Some will say that this is too much dog for a novice handler and that they are best suited for someone who is already skilled at dealing with canines.

Based on this trend, we would say that the Ridgeback is probably not one of the easiest breeds to train.

We often see these kinds of warnings from people who own bully breeds like Pitbulls and Staffordshire Terriers.

As much as these people love their dogs, they also understand that those animals can be a handful.

They also understand that bully breeds aren’t the best option for everyone.

Not everyone has a strong enough personality to control them, and the same is true of the Ridgeback.

When you consider that this dog is not all that far removed from its wild ancestors, this rowdy nature should not be too surprising.

Besides, they often had to deal with some of the world’s scariest predators, many of whom are found in Africa.

In order to survive, this animal could not afford to be a pampered little lapdog. Thus, you should not expect them to behave as such.

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Loyal?

Ridgebacks Tend To Be Very Loyal

The loyal nature of this breed serves as a counterbalance to its high prey drive, which is why these dogs tend to exhibit great loyalty to their masters.

If you can establish the necessary dominance (not through brutality, but through calm control), they can certainly be an exceptionally obedient breed.

It’s all about your ability to harness that loyalty and leverage it into good obedience habits.

This dog has a strong independent streak, but it is still a pack animal like any other. It will naturally fall into line with the pack leader, just like any other canine.

Because of that, we would say that this is definitely an obedient breed when trained properly.

After all, they could never have been used for such dangerous activities as lion-hunting if they could not be fully controlled.

We would simply add that they may require more training and a firmer hand in order to create that level of obedience.

The trick is to establish dominance without going too far.

You have to let the dog know who is in charge, and you must respond to any challenges to your authority.

However, a pack leader who abuses the other dogs may soon find themselves in a very bad situation.

At the very least, they will stop listening to you. At worst, they could even turn their aggression upon you out of fear.

The Leash Question

Now it is time to address the second part of our question: Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks good off-leash?

According to most sources that we can find, the answer is a loud and definite no.

We do not say that because of any inherent problems with the breed, but because of the qualities that we humans bred into them.

As a hunter of seriously dangerous animals, this dog has an abnormally high prey drive. As such, it is far more likely to be dangerous to other animals.

They are not known to be particularly aggressive with people, but they are definitely large enough to do some serious damage when such a situation arises.

It is probably not a good idea to let your Ridgeback run loose and unsupervised.

That being said, a well-trained Ridgeback can definitely be allowed to run without a leash, but only under the right circumstances.

For instance, if you are hunting or engaging in other outdoor activities with your dog, you will probably want to let them run.

Just make sure they have learned certain commands beforehand, with “stop” being the most important in this case.

When you first try to train your Ridgeback without a leash, you should definitely employ a muzzle.

Don’t go with one of those cheap nylon sleeves, either. For a dog like this, you need something made of leather and steel, to be sure.

No, these animals are not vicious or overly aggressive, but you need to be prepared for the possibility of aggressive behavior.

Unless you like the idea of being forced to pry your dog’s jaws off another animal’s neck, we would recommend breaking out that muzzle, at least for the beginning stages of training.

Final Thoughts

So, as you can tell by reading the above, our answer is both a yes and a no in both cases.

This is because canine behavior is not a monolith, and it tends to vary a lot among individuals.

Still, exceptions do not disprove the rule, and all Ridgebacks seem to have the same basic nature.

They can be very obedient dogs, but only if they have been trained properly. They can be good off-leash, but not in most cases.

As we said before, this is not a dog for the novice trainer. We hope that you are a little bit wiser about this breed than you were before.


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