Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Make Good Guard Dogs?

Have you ever heard of a dog that was bred to hunt the king of the jungle?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback has an incredible history of protecting humans and hunting lions in Africa.

Since their introduction to the U.S., their popularity has grown even more as family-oriented guard dogs.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are loyal and natural guardians.

When faced with danger, the Ridgeback is known to stand its ground and attack when the intruder does not back down.

They are protective of children and other animals in their families. All of these attributes make the Rhodesian Ridgeback good guard dogs.

The African Lion Dogs

During the 17th century, the Khoikhoi tribe of Southern Africa developed a dog breed that could protect them from the dangers they faced every day.

Later on, the tribal dog became admired by settlers and tribes across Africa.

It wasn’t until 1922, however, that the Rhodesian Ridgeback became a recognized dog breed from a stock of tribal dogs that had been crossbred with a European breed known for its hunting abilities.

The trademark of the Rhodesian Ridgeback became the ridge of fur that grows along the dog’s spine.

Dog breeders in Great Britain sought to influence this breed by selecting dogs with the highest qualities for breeding.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was then cultivated to track lions, hunt wild Boer, and even kill the incredibly dangerous baboon.

The breed was then in high demand and brought to countries across the world, including the United States.

The Ridgeback in America

Once in America, the dog breed’s versatility made it a great companion for people of the outdoors.

The dog breed is used to this day by farmers and ranchers, horseback riders, hunters, and hikers.

The breed is even used for dog shows, agility courses, and is becoming a valued family pet.

Is The Rhodesian Ridgeback a Good Match?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is known for being great with older children and other animals if socialized at an early age.

They are hound dogs with a high prey drive that need regular exercise and do not do well living in small areas.

This dog is a power-breed that needs a calm and assertive handler but they are overall easy to train when they are young.

They are known to be very loyal and protective of their families. This dog can also be very vocal and barks or bays when it senses danger.

The Ridgeback is a medium-sized dog, only weighing up to 85 pounds, and has a lifespan of 10-12 years.

It is said to be immune to bug bites and can withstand extreme temperatures. They were also bred for endurance and can have a lot of energy.

Keeping a Healthy Dog

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are relatively healthy, low-maintenance dogs. Their short-haired coat needs minimal grooming and they do not shed much.

Older and very active dogs have developed problems with their hip and elbow joints.

A few rare health conditions found in Rhodesian Ridgebacks include deafness, eye and skin problems, and hypothyroidism.

They can also have problems with obesity if overfed and under-exercised.

Like other large dog breeds, it is recommended that the Ridgeback gets regular exercise of at least one hour per day.

They can be easy to walk if started early; older Ridgebacks can become people and dog aggressive if under socialized.

Rhodesian Ridgeback - The African Lion Dog

Training a Rhodesian Ridgeback

The ideal training plan for a Rhodesian Ridgeback begins when it is a puppy.

As with any dog breed, socialization is the key to having a well-balanced dog.

This is especially true with the Ridgeback as they can become overly cautious of strangers and other animals.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks, especially ones intended to be used as guard dogs, can benefit greatly from socialization.

Ridgeback puppies should be taken everywhere and exposed to as much as possible.

Most importantly, the dog should be around other well-balanced dogs to learn correct behaviors.

Obedience training is also vital in a young dog’s life.

The dog should be taught basic obedience behaviors, as well as to stay out of people’s space when asked.

This basic training is especially important when young children are present in the household.

Do I Have to Train My Ridgeback to Protect Me?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks do not need any special training to be guard dogs.

Once properly socialized and trained in obedience, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can differentiate between threats and guests.

It is advised against having the Ridgeback trained as a guard dog, as this training can make them too aggressive and dangerous.

Their natural and instinctive protectiveness makes them the perfect guard dog without any special training required.

However, it is important, especially if the dog is being used for protection, that it be desensitized to loud noises.

This can include gunshots, someone yelling, and loud vehicles.

Having a dog that is accustomed to these things ensures they will not run away when faced with danger.

For those who are looking for a personal defense dog, similar to a police dog, there are training programs available that help to develop the Ridgeback’s natural guarding instincts.

It is important to choose a reputable trainer, and the handler, as well as the dog, complete the course together.

For some people, additional training is necessary depending on the owner’s lifestyle and activities.

Ranchers and hunters often have to train Rhodesian Ridgebacks not to be gun shy, which animals to track, and to stay with a horse out on the trail.

Bringing Home a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Before bringing home a Rhodesian Ridgeback, it is important to be prepared and set the dog up for success.

Make sure to have everything in order and ready for the new arrival to make the transition into a new environment as stress-free as possible.

It is best to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback when it is around 9 weeks old, usually from a reputable and well sought out breeder.

However, there are rescues out there that specialize in Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

They often have puppies or older dogs that came from good homes where their owners passed away or something unrelated to the dog occurred.

Before adopting an older dog, it is recommended to spend a lot of time with the dog and get as much history on it as possible.

Older dogs can be more difficult to train and behavior problems are a lot harder to fix.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Guard Dog

Any dog that will face off with a lion is surely not one to mess with. They are fiercely loyal, great with families, and easy to care for.

Overall, there are plenty of reasons why Rhodesian Ridgebacks make good guard dogs.


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