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Rhodesian Ridgeback History – The Lion Hunter

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are ancient breeds that originated from South Africa years ago. When first discovered by the Hottentots and the South African Bushman they had medium sized reddish coats with a distinctive ridge of hair going down the center of their backs. Not to mention the fact that they were used for hunting, herding, and guarding. During this time they were also discovered to be great when it came to keeping lions and leopards away.

In 1652, Jan van Rieback came over to South Africa and started trading cattle for the native dogs. As time went on other immigrants came over and started to proceed doing the same thing as Jan. As a result they were able to cross breed their dogs with a variety of high standard dogs to create the perfect dog who could maintain in Africa while also being great at hunting. These dogs were created to be loyal to their families but they also should be great at avoiding diseases, being able to survive on little water in hot temperatures, and be great hunters.

All of these varied breeds were called either teekbaard or Vuilbaard and were used as African farm dogs under the name Boerhounds. By 1830, farmers in the southern part of Africa were able to move and of course they took their dogs with them. When Reverend Charles Helm was on his journey towards the north he ran across some native people who had ridge hounds living among them. He was able to breed his gods with the breed that was said to be very brave and able to hold lions and leopards until the hunter arrive. Furthermore, he bred them with a ton of different dogs such as Greyhounds, Irish Terries, Bulldogs, and Rough Collies. These dogs were known by the name of Van Rooyen Lion dogs.

After Van Rooyen died another group of breeders who were managed by Francis Richard Barnes was able to develop a standard for the breed which is still in place today. This is when they gained the name Rhodesian Ridgebacks and were also classified as the national dog of South Africa. Additionally, in the 1930’s they were moved to England then not to long after they were introduced in the United States. It did not take long for this breed to become popular. Then in 1955 they were classified as a hound under the American Kennel Club. Not to mention that by 1992 they were used as sight hounds in the competitions. is not associated with the American Kennel Club® | Home | Find A Breeder | Privacy | Terms | Contact