The Rhodesian Ridgeback is the only hound indigenous to South Africa. The breed's long history dates back to the early 16th century when the first European men explored the Cape of Good Hope. They discovered with the Hottentot tribes a domesticated dog with the hair on its spine being turned forward. This condition we now refer to as the ‘ridge' in the modern day ‘Rhodesian Ridgeback'. The only other known dog which has the peculiarity of such a ridge is found in the island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Siam. The evidence available seems to indicate that the ridgeback originated in South Africa and that specimens of dogs with ridges were transported from South Africa to the island of Phu Quoc .

It is not know where the Hottentots first obtained there dogs, but it is common knowledge that the Hottentots had pronounced Asiatic features and that and that their ancestors probably came from the East, bringing the ridged dog with them on their peregrination, until finally reaching Africa.

The foundation Ridgeback stock was developed by the first European settlers in South Africa to produce a serviceable hunting dog in the wilds. The Dutch, Germans and Huguenots who migrated to South Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries bought with them Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds, Salukis, Bloodhounds and other breeds. The settlers needed a dog that was real dual purpose, and that could withstand the rigor's of the African bush, hold up under drastic changes in temperature, between day and night and, if hunting, go for over 24hours without water. They required a short-haired dog that would not be eaten alive with ticks. Out of necessity, these settlers developed by selective breeding between dogs which they had brought with them and the ridged dogs of the Hottentot tribes, a distinct breed of the African veldt, the Hottentot dog thereby establishing the foundation stock of our present day ridgeback.

There is no doubt that the Rhodesians (now people of the country known as Zimbabwe) have developed the breed as we know it today from the original hunting stock, being bred extensively for there instinctive hunting qualities and they were given the name of that country the ‘Rhodesian Ridgeback'.

Their hunting characteristics have proved useful all over the world. Intelligent and always alert, their heads held high with pride and standing on a set of feet that will carry then over any terrain, they are the only breed of dog in the world that can keep a lion at bay for the hunter to kill….and live!!!

Possessing many characteristics associated with hounds, the Ridgeback has a quiet, gentle temperature, rarely barking. Although they enjoy lazing around in a patch of sun, they are instantly alert if a stranger should appear, giving a threatening presence as a watchdog. Developed not only to hunt, but also the protect his family, his affectionate nature makes the ridgeback a trustworthy companion for children. The ridgeback is easily trained, however because they are very intelligent an untrained Ridgeback soon becomes a terrible nuisance! The trained Ridgeback is a pleasure to own as a companion, hunting partner, in the show ring or at obedience trial. However because of the Ridgeback's innate abilities to protect its family, it should not be trained as a guard dog but rather the natural protective qualities should be supplemented with basic obedience training for control.

In 1922 the first Ridgeback Club was founded in Southern Rhodesia , a breed standard was set which differs little from the prevailing standard today.

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