Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Aggressive?

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Aggressive or Friendly?

Have you decided to bring a new dog into the family home?

This is a life-changing experience and a huge responsibility for any family, and getting a pet is one that should never be taken lightly under any circumstance.

Once you have, however, decided that you are ready to accept this responsibility you are more than likely going to have to decide on what breed of dog you would like to get.

If you are leaning towards a Rhodesian Ridgeback, then you may also be questioning whether or not these are friendly or aggressive dogs.

This is especially true when you have young children or other pets living in your household.

The short answer is, in fact, that Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not generally aggressive dogs.

Some of these dogs have been known to be very strong-willed but this is an even-tempered and gentle breed of dog, especially around the people that they live with.

This breed of dog can, however, tend to show aggression around other dogs and can also be extremely territorial.

The History or Rhodesian Ridgebacks

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also referred to as the African Lion Hound and is a native of South Africa.

The history of this breed can be dated all the way back to the 16th century when they were discovered amongst some Hottentot tribes who had domesticated these dogs.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a feature of hair that grows backward along their spines.

This almost looks like a ridge, which is where the name Ridgeback was first derived from.

Features of The Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian ridgeback is typically a strong, muscular, and athletic dog that is capable of great endurance together with a good amount of speed.

According to Hill’s, the male dogs range from 60 to 70cm tall and is about 40kg in weight while the females range from about 60 to 65cm and are approximately 32kg in weight.

This dog is well-known for its even and dignified temperament as well as the trait of being devoted and affectionate to their owners yet slightly reserved with people that they do not know.

The coloring of a Rhodesian ridgeback ranges from light wheaten to red wheaten with a little white on the chest and toes.

What Can Make a Rhodesian Ridgeback Aggressive?

There are two main factors that can contribute towards making a Rhodesian Ridgeback act out aggressively:

Other Dogs

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed that needs a dominant alpha in the pack to lead them.

If the animal has no alpha to assert this strong leadership then they can quite easily assert themselves as the pack leader.

This paired with stubbornness and high intelligence is often when behavioral issues can start to happen.

If introduced to other pets at a young age Rhodesian Ridgebacks can normally get along with other dogs in the same home, especially if they are taught to live cohesively with them.

They can, however, become aggressive with other dogs that they come across who are unfamiliar to them.

It is important to remember that Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred to be guard dogs and can be very territorial.

Protecting Their Family and Their Territory

These dogs will not hesitate to put themselves between their owners and any perceived threat and will protect their master at all costs.

This kind of instinct can also be noticed when it comes to their favorite food, toys, or treats.

The reason for this is that many hound dogs were bred to be raised in packs and therefore had to fend for themselves.

This nurtured a deep inbred desire to protect what is theirs. If a Rhodesian Ridgeback feels that something that belongs to them is going to be threatened or taken away, they may display aggressive behavior towards the perceived threat.

Tips on Preventing Aggression in Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Prevention of aggression in Rhodesian Ridgebacks is possible and there are a few things that you are able to do so as to ensure that they grow up to be calm and comfortable around other people and animals.

Owner Experience

When you become the owner of a Rhodesian Ridgeback it is important to not be timid or become complacent towards your dog.

This behavior can sometimes allow your dog to establish dominance by becoming the leader of the proverbial pack.

This is ultimately something that you do not want if you are trying to prevent aggression in your dog.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are probably not the best choice for a first-time dog owner as they tend to have a mind of their own and need to be taught discipline so as to not get away with anything that they want.

This breed should, in hindsight, be taken on by experienced dog owners who have a good understanding of dogs in general.

As a dog owner, you should be able to know what your dog likes, what its triggers are, and how to control them from when they are puppies.

This behavior control needs to be started from an early age, and structured training and socialization should happen as soon as you take ownership of your new pet.

The younger they are when they start to receive this training, the less likely they are to develop any form of aggressive behavior toward people outside of the family and other pets.

Preventing Boredom In Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Preventing Boredom

Rhodesian Ridgebacks need plenty of exercise in a relatively large area so as to run around and prevent any kind of destruction that can be caused by extreme boredom.

Trying to drain their energy reserves will go a long way in preventing them from being mischievous.

A good idea is to create obstacle courses in the garden or play run and fetch with a chewy ball.

Games such as finding their toys and retrieving treats from hiding spaces are also beneficial ways in which to exercise your canine’s mind.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent dogs and their brains need constant stimulation in order to prevent them from getting unruly.

Burning Out Their Energy

This particular dog does not thrive in small areas or apartment living.

Even if you have a big garden you should regularly take your dog to a large unfamiliar area that has a lot of different smells.

Let your dog run around and allow them to sniff up the many scents that the area encompasses. This will help them to burn up their energy and tire them out.

If you don’t keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback entertained with a lot of physical and mental activity, they can easily start to become destructive out of boredom.

If your dog starts digging up the garden or chewing everything in sight it can be a clear indication that it is under-exercised and has no way in which to release its unspent energy.

Adequate Training

Dedicate some of your time to training your dog properly. This can help you to combat its possessiveness towards their territory, food, treats, and other pets in your family.

It is in their nature to be possessive and this can sometimes lead to aggression if your dog is not trained properly.

There is nothing you can do about your dog’s breeding background, but there is a lot to be said about training your dog and teaching them that any aggressive behavior is unacceptable.

When to Seek a Professional                       

Unfortunately, there are many types of aggression that a Rhodesian Ridgeback can develop if not handled properly.

This type of aggression can include that which is related to territorial, protective, possessive, defensive and even pain elicited factors.

If you have realized that you are dealing with an aggressive dog it is usually time to seek the expertise of a vet or a behavioral therapist.

There are sometimes some underlying diseases that can be the cause of aggression. These can be:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Neurological disorders
  • Other medical conditions

If the vet determines that there are no underlying medical conditions, then your dog’s aggression problem can be purely related to behavioral issues.

It is always better to seek the expertise of a professional trainer to observe your dog and try to pinpoint the reasons as to why your dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior.

It is critical that this type of aggression is dealt with by a professional vet or behavioral therapist.

If you as an owner try to punish your dog it can in most instances only escalate the aggression.

It is instinctive for this dog to try and defend itself if it is being yelled at or hit by its owner.

Take for instance your dog growling in the presence of children.

This can be a clear indication that they are not in a comfortable environment when they are surrounded by children.

If you punish the dog for growling at the children, they could next time just bite the child without any warning because they would associate only their growling to be bad and punishable.

The Best Environment for Rhodesian Ridgebacks

In order for your Rhodesian Ridgeback to behave correctly, it is important for them to be surrounded by a calm, happy, and active family.

This family should have a keen interest in outdoor activities so as to keep their canine constantly active.

This being said, if you are a single person or a couple that works all day, then it is not a good idea to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback.

These dogs need love and plenty of attention in order for them to thrive.

It is also important to have a large-sized garden so that it has the space to run around and play.

Give your dog its own items to play with and chew and try never to give it any of your possessions to play with.

If you do this, they will associate these possessions as belonging to them.

Everyone in the family needs to be involved in the day-to-day activities of your dog from when it is a puppy and each member of the family should spend time playing with it, walking it, and feeding it.

If your dog is left alone in solitude all day, then it can easily fall victim to becoming mischievous.

Is the Rhodesian Ridgeback a Good Choice for A Family Dog?

The Deciding Factors

  • Remember that these are extremely tolerant dogs as well as excellent companions who enjoy the company of people as well as other dogs.

It is, however, important to be careful about having too many male dogs in the family home as this can lead to a number of dominance struggles.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks normally adapt very well to cats when they are brought up together with them.

  • These dogs are very good with children in instances where both child and dog have been conditioned to learn how to co-exist and behave around each other.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are sizeable dogs, so it is important to be aware of them knocking a small child over by accident especially when they are younger and excitable.

  • The Rhodesian Ridgeback is extremely protective of children and other members of the family and can make for an excellent watchdog and family protector.

This is provided that they know that their caregiver is the one who is in charge at all times.

Even though Ridgebacks are not naturally barkers, they are extremely alert to anything unusual or out of the ordinary.

  • These are athletic dogs and can easily climb a wall if they feel that there is something interesting on the other side of the fence.

Although they are not naturally predisposed to dig, they can however dig up some sizeable holes in your garden if left bored and unsupervised.

  • If you are looking for a dog that is extremely clean, relatively odorless, and has minimal shedding, then a Rhodesian ridgeback is a good choice of dog to bring up in your home.
  • Ridgebacks love their food and are not normally fussy eaters.

You may, however, have to watch their calorie intake in order to prevent them from overeating and becoming overweight.

Although Rhodesian Ridgebacks can occasionally be aggressive, only when provoked, this is not a very common occurrence.

These majestic animals are generally loyal, loving, full of fun, and a very beneficial addition to many families.