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Before you get a Ridgeback, please consider the adult size of a Ridgeback and whether you and your family members will be able to properly keep the dog and to train the dog to be a great companion and a good canine citizen.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a beautiful, stunning breed of dog to look at and watch. They will immediately capture your attention, and just as quickly capture your heart. Their playfulness, regal poise, and elegant gait is impressive. Their intelligence and wit will leave you speechless at times, or in hysterics. And the loyalty and love for their family and their “pack” is second to none.

But the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed also requires some points to consider before committing to owning one. For instance, their size; they are a large breed dog. Their athleticism combined with their hound instincts requires constant physical activity and exercise. And although they are a short-haired breed, they will shed.

Ridgebacks are not Labradors or Golden Retrievers, they are a poised and sometimes aloof breed. They are loving to their family, but with strangers they may be aloof and guarded until they know your comfort level. As sight hunting hounds, they have a high prey drive. Anything that moves is fair game for a chase! They are independent, intelligent, and confident. However, this same independence also translates to stubbornness and hard-headedness which requires them to be consistently, and often persistently, trained in traditional dog obedience.  
Rhodesians are loving dogs who take pride in their family and their pack. They need to be made part of the family, yet not treated as a human.

Planning for Your Ridgeback is Essential:
Dogs, especially puppies, will make a big demand on your time. It requires time, patience, and love  to properly feed, train and play with your new puppy. Like babies, young puppies get up at night and you will need to let them out to potty several times those first few months. If you work, a new pup might require that you come home at lunchtime to let them out or hire a noon time helper to assist you.

Ridgebacks need plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. You'll need to set aside playtime and time for training. Young puppies need a lot of socialization to be good companions. A weekly obedience training class and daily practice is a must for your Ridgeback to become a welcome member of the community!

If this seems like too much for you and your family's schedule, then perhaps this is not the right time to get a Ridgeback.

Your Ridgeback Will Need Protection:
Ridgebacks naturally want to hunt and have no sense of cars or yard when they go after a squirrel, rabbit, or cat. A secure, fenced yard is important for your dog's safety. Once a Ridgeback starts after a squirrel or rabbit, nothing short of a six foot wall or fence may stop them. Dogs allowed to roam are in danger from becoming lost, of being hit by a car or being poisoned. You certainly don't want your dog to run away or get lost or killed. It's also good idea to have your Ridgeback wear an identification tag or, better yet, to have your dog permanently identified with a tattoo or microchip just in case he manages to get loose despite your efforts. And, of course, whenever he leaves the yard, he'll need to be on a leash.

Your Ridgeback must have adequate shelter if he is outdoors while you are away. Shelters must be cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Ridgebacks Grow to be BIG Dogs:
Puppies don't stay little for long! When looking for any breed you need to consider one that suits your environment and lifestyle. Take the time to research a breed you are interested in....visit in the homes of breeders or individuals who own that breed. Ridgebacks may be appealing to you in a physical sense, but they may not have the temperament suitable to your lifestyle. For example, Ridgebacks at play are very energetic  - they need  lots of space to run and romp, they can easily knock down children and adults when they are rough-housing. If you live in the city, you will need to locate a dog park or area where your Ridgeback can safely run and exercise….. a tired puppy is a good puppy!

Buying any dog on impulse is a huge risk for both the family and the dog! Many people who do, often find they can't live with the dog and decide the dog has to go...this is not fair to the dog! Often it’s these irresponsible owners who further burden rescue with having to take in the dog and re-home or rehabilitate it.

Research the breed and take time to read up on them. Talk with several knowledgeable owners, check the Internet for AKC and RRUCS website information, and contact your local Rhodesian Ridgeback club for information. Try to contact several breeders to discuss ownership and see if the breed is a good fit for you, your family, and your lifestyle. These are all important aspects to the dog’s happiness, and must be considered carefully before moving forward on buying one.

Financial Considerations:
The initial price of a dog is of concern to some, but it’s the lifelong cost that they sometimes forget. In some communities, dogs need a license. Failure to comply with local laws may result in fines or penalties and may endanger your right to keep your dog!

In addition to the purchase price of your dog, you must plan for food, grooming, collars, a leash, some toys, and a special bed. And don’t forget to add in regular vaccinations, vet care, and those training lessons!

All dogs need annual vaccination, heartworm medication, and regular vet checkups. Sometimes, dogs require flea and tick treatments or expensive treatments for unexpected ailments or illnesses. Ask yourself if you can afford a dog.

Ridgebacks Need Companionship:
Friendship is a two-way street. Your dog deserves plenty of attention! If he gets your love and devotion, he'll be less inclined to bark, chew your belongings, or run away from home. Dogs are emotional beings and to neglect them by banishing them to a lonely life in the yard, on a chain or in a run, is cruel and abusive. Just like children, you have to love and instruct them on proper behavior to have a well-adjusted, happy Ridgeback.

Ridgebacks Need All of the Above For Their Lifetime:
The average life span of most Ridgebacks is ten to twelve years, but some have lived for sixteen years! So, your dog will depend on you for love and care for a long time. Being a responsible dog owner is an important job and requires your serious commitment.

What are the Pros of owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

  1. Ridgebacks have a short coat, don't shed much and are practically odor free -- great for hot climates.

  2. They are quite discriminating in who or what they bark should ALWAYS go check it out.

  3. They are not fussy eaters and have virtually "cast-iron" digestive systems.

  4. They love living with people and are generally quiet in the house.

  5. Ridgebacks are intelligent and want to please their owner.

  6. Ridgebacks are easily house-trained.

  7. And, of course, they are the most handsome of dogs!

And the cons are…

  1. As puppies they have surgical-knife sharp teeth and the jaw power of a Doberman Pinscher. Rough play with humans should always be discouraged. They can do major damage to coffee tables, shoes and anything else they can find to chomp on.

  2. Crate training is a must to protect home furnishings while you are not at home. As juveniles, if left unattended, they can cause your house to least, it may appear that way! If left in the yard, they will find things to chew on that you may not even know you own until it ceases working. A bored Ridgeback is a major disaster waiting to happen. 

  3. They are capable of digging ranch-sized holes, biting the limbs off shrubs and ripping up small trees. People who love to garden must contend with the fact that their backyards will belong to the dog! 

  4. They are not fussy eaters and have cast-iron stomachs - and you thought this was a good thing -- NOT! It also means they will attempt to eat anything that doesn't eat them first. They are master counter-surfers...nothing is spared and they are fast. Ridgeback owners have a tendency to overfeed their dogs, causing gas - not the most pleasant aspect of dog ownership. Remember, a Ridgeback always thinks it’s hungry! You have to feed on schedule and stick to a healthy feeding plan that keeps your dog at a healthy weight. An overweight dog is unhealthy and can lead to more health issues.  

  5. Ridgebacks are "people" dogs, which means they should be treated as family and not made to live solely alone in the yard, otherwise, you wind up with a big, powerful, pushy creature of your making! An adult RIDGEBACK can clear a five foot fence if they want to. A bored dog is going to look for something to do, even if that means outside your yard.

  6. Ridgebacks grow to be big dogs and must attend obedience classes with you. Learning good manners is essential for your dog to be a good family member. Teach your dog to walk on a loose lead at an early age, it’s unsafe to be drug around by a big dog. 

  7. Ridgebacks are intelligent. Read: they are fully capable of training you before you can train them! They are quite clever and can be willfully disobedient. The earlier the obedience classes the better. Again, a bored Ridgeback can be quite destructive and may develop bad habits of chewing, escaping, barking out of boredom, and generally making a pest of themselves. It is essential that you commit to giving them the time and attention they require and deserve. Ensure they get a good amount of exercise… As endurance dogs, they love hiking, training, running or walking. Remember to keep them on a lead, as any random bunny, squirrel or cat will be chased! 

  8. Ridgebacks must be introduced to cats and even so, may be aggressive towards strange felines.

Before you get a Ridgeback, please consider the adult size of a Ridgeback and whether you and your family members will be able to properly keep the dog and to train the dog to be a great companion and a good canine citizen.

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