The Rhodesian Ridgeback was first officially recognised as a breed in Rhodesia in 1922 after a campaign by one Francis Barnes. The dog contains elements of the irish terrier, great dane, pointer, greyhound, bulldog and African Khoikhoi dog, from which the breed gained its distinctive ridge. Despite these mixed genetic inputs the dog is very attractive, with short reddish-brown fur and a solid, pointer-type head. Show quality dogs are judged particularly on their ridges, which should be two in number and symmetrical.
The Ridgeback was originally a hunting dog for the great white game hunters of Africa and was known as a 'Lion Dog.' Despite this, the dog actually has a very nice temperamet and make an excellent guard dog as it becomes very attached to family members. It is more accustomed to hunting unprotected leg roasts and slices of pizza than lions, and once mature at about 2 years of age tends to do little other than lie in the sun all day. During their teenage years they can be a handful and have been known to smash wooden fences to matchsticks with their powerful jaws (in order to get at food on the other side) and to repeatedly rip every single item from a clothes line - most Ridgeback owners have similar tales of woe.
The breed is acutely aware of the pecking order in any given situation. Our 60 kilogram specimen was reduced to a neurotic wreck when it perceived that a new Tonkinese kitten was taking its place in the family order. Although they can be ferociously protective and intimidating to strangers they will turn tail and run from anyone who they know and consider 'senior' to them. The dogs are also extremely friendly, but affable advances are often misinterpreted by unreasonable mothers with newborn babies and terrified pensioners as an imminent mauling.