Originating from Zimbabwe in South Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was developed from crossing ridge backed dogs imported into the country with breeds like the Mastiff, Deerhound, local dogs kept by the KhoiKhoi tribes and also possibly the Great Dane. In the old days, the breed has been known by other names like the Van Rooyen Lion Dogs, African Lion Hound or African Lion Dog, referring to its ability to distract a lion while its owner moves in for the kill. This is a large, hardy and muscular breed weighing from 65 to 90 pounds and standing at a height of 24 to 27 inches. Its distinct feature is a ridge of hair that runs along its back and in opposite direction to the rest of its coat. It has a broad head, a long and deep muzzle and a pronounced stop. The round eyes are typically brown and the nose is either black, brown or liver depending on the coat colour. It has a deep chest and a tail that is fairly long and strong, carried in a gentle curve backwards. The coat is short, dense, sleek and glossy. Typical coat colours are light wheaten and shades of red. Some white markings on the chest and toes are permissible.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a proud hunting dog, a retriever and a good watch dog. It is intelligent, skillful, brave and can withstand changes in temperature. At home they make excellent companions with their calm and gentle disposition. They are reserved towards strangers but are not unnecessarily aggressive or hostile. They are protective of their owner and the family. Like most large breeds, they are prone to hip dysplasia, cysts and dermoid sinus.