It seems that almost every Rhodesian Ridgeback site I visit has the same old history of the breed and technical information about it’s development. If that is what you are looking for, please click here for an excellent article on this subject. Here on this page, what you will find are my own twisted observations and opinions about their personalities.
Many Ridgebacks share personality traits. It amazes me that every time I am in a group of Ridgeback’s people (yes, that is a possessive “s”, we definitely belong to them), I inevitably hear at least one person say “Oh, does your Ridgeback do…” followed by some anecdote of a quirky behavior. Just as inevitably, many members of the group will laugh and say “yes!” With that in mind, I am applying behaviors that I have observed in Jazzy and heard about from other Ridgeback families to the breed as a whole. Clearly not every Ridgeback behaves the same, but I think any Ridgeback family you speak with will identify many of the behaviors I describe below.
Ridgebacks are big dogs with big attitudes and big appetites. Though they would have you believe otherwise, they are too big to be good lap dogs. Of course, Jazzy is either too dumb to realize that, or too smart to give up on trying. Somehow I doubt practice will make her perfect in this area.
Ridgebacks like to chase things. Period. What things? Lint balls, hair balls, leaves, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, lions, bears (Lovfallans Master in the picture on the left). Even plastic bags. No kidding. Check out the photo on the right. Yes, that's a plastic bag (being pulled along on a lure course). Don’t want your Ridgeback to run off out of the yard chasing things? Think fence. Tall fence.
Ridgebacks are part of the sighthound group. I think this is only because there isn’t a food hound group. They love to eat. They love to eat a lot. They love to eat a lot fast. Get the picture? Is that a crumb on your counter? Don’t worry, your Ridgeback will clean it up for you. If this scares you off of the breed, I have heard a rumor that if you name your Ridgeback “Ranger” it protects him from this evil compulsion. If you try it, please let me know the results. I hope to publish a scientific study. One of Jazzy's favorites is popcorn. Too hot on a summer night? Just make a bowl and sit on the couch to eat it. It won't be long before you feel the comforting, cooling effects of drool on your legs as your Ridgeback impatiently awaits a dropped morsel.
Ridgebacks can be very expressive. Even if you are only gone for a few minutes, you can expect to be greeted by a wagging dog when you come in the door. No I didn’t mean wagging tail. I meant the whole dog. They show other emotions too. Jazzy’s face often shows curiosity, frustration, desperation (when there’s food around and she can’t have it, or when there is a chipmunk tormenting her on the other side of the doorwall), excitement and contentment. These emotions are as clear on her face as a smile on a child. Jazzy also clearly mourned when Chowder passed away this past May.
Ridgebacks are intelligent. They are also demanding. Put the two together and you might get stubborn or headstrong. Ignore your Ridgeback’s pleas for a walk and she just might give you a subtle hint: “Jazzy, thanks for bringing me my shoes and socks! Now why are you scratching at the closet door? Oh, is your leash in there?”
I’ll share one of my favorite stories to demonstrate Jazzy’s intelligence. We were watching a home video tape that had Jazzy playing with another dog. There was a third dog that wasn’t playing, but walked across the screen from left to right. Jazzy, who had been watching with us, got off her couch and went to the right side of the television to see where the dog went. When she didn’t find her, she went off and searched all of the rooms of the house to the right of the TV. Still not finding her, Jazzy came back and sat down to watch the TV until she came back!
Generally speaking, Ridgeback’s want to be at the center of the action. Whether you are cooking, eating, playing, watching TV, reading or sleeping, the most likely place to find your Ridgeback is the most comfortable spot within visible distance of you. Keep in mind that most Ridgebacks think that the most comfortable spot in the family room is on your lap, and the best spot in the kitchen is laying on your feet.
Ridgebacks love beds. Particularly when they are sharing it with their human. Of course, it’s not enough to be on the bed. They usually want to be covered. Don’t want to cover him? That’s all right, it’s a simple scooping motion with the nose as they dive under…works like a charm.
Because they are so intelligent and so highly food motivated, Ridgebacks are easily trained. They respond extremely well to positive reinforcement training techniques. Whether you are interested in a Ridgeback for conformation, obedience, lure coursing, hunting or simply as a companion, you will be able to train the dog relatively easily.
Have you had the chance to pet a Ridgeback? The softness of their coats takes many by surprise. Particularly around their face. Martha tells me that the black mask makes their muzzles look like velvet. We both think they feel like it.
are very loving. Our Ridgeback was a great addition to our family. She
makes us smile and laugh every day. It’s hard to come home grumpy
when you are greeted by 76 pounds of wagging dog ready to bury her face
as deep into your chest as she can. Every chance she gets, she reminds
us how lucky she is to be with us and how lucky we are to have her.
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©2003 Micah Shawn. May be reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as this copyright information is included.