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History Of Rhodesian


  The Rhodesian ridgeback's origins are from African hunting dogs which were used to track big and dangerous animals such as Lions, cheetahs, wild boars, mountain lions, bears, coyotes, bobcats, baboons and many other animals. They are one of the only breeds who are capable of tracking a Lion for miles and miles in a drastic climate when very high temperatures during the day change to below freezing at night. They are able to go a full twenty four hours or more without water if they need to. They have such a unique ability to hunt and that's why they earn their name African Lion Dogs.

The origins of the foundation dogs goes as far back in history as around 4,000BC in Ethiopia or the Southern Sudan. There are drawings in Egyptian tombs that show hounds with drooped ears and ridges on their back. It seems to most likely be the ancestor of the domesticated dogs by Khoikhoi (Hottentots) tribe of Africa.

    Diana’s Vow-Rock painting

      The first known evidence of the Khoikhoi (Hottentots) hunting dogs was found near Rasape, Zimbabwe on a rock painting. The Khoikhoi dog were short-haired which protected them from being eaten alive by ticks. It was a strong, brave and quiet hunter who rarely barked. They had great sight and an incredible nose for scent. Those dogs had one unique feature called a ridge. The ridge is on the back and is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge starts immediately behind the shoulders and continues to a point between the prominence of the hips. The ridge contains two identical crowns (whorls) directly opposite of one another. There are dogs who also have a ridge in Thailand, Cambodia and other asian areas but it's impossible to tell if the ridged dogs developed form East African dogs or the other way around The may have also developed totally independently.

   D. Livingstone "Missionary Travels in South Africa"

The foundation stock of Rhodesian Ridgebacks was developed by first white settlers in South Africa. They migrated to the area in 16th and 17th century from Germany, Netherlands and France (Protestants Huguenots) and Portugal. They brought with them their hunting dogs ,Danes,Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, Salukis, Greyhounds, Bulldog, Pointer, Irish Terrier, Airdale Terrier, Collie, and Deerhound and others.

In 1707 was South Africa closed to immigration from Europe until the early-to- mid 1800's. That close the door to possibility to bring more dogs back to Africa. Dogs was nesseserity for the settlers to guard the farms and hunt. They also needed a dogs which could withstand the rigour of the African bush and drastic changes in temperature. In addition,the settlers needed a loyal companion that would stay by him and that would be devoted to his wife and children. The lack of new bloodlines lead to high prices for valuable dogs. That's why settlers started to look for other solutions. They discovered that Khoikhoi (Hottentots') dog , native to African climate and conditions are also outstanding hunters.

D. Livingstone "Missionary Travels in South Africa"

The settlers started to cross breed Hottentots dogs with the dogs they had brought from Europe. The settlers notice that some puppies who was born from this cross breeding had a unique ridge on their back . They also discovered that such a dogs are great companions ,ferocious protectors of the home and family and had the stamina necessary for the long hunt and could bring a lion to bay without getting killed.

The settlers became more selective in breeding such a dogs which lead to first pure bread "African Lion Hounds"

The title "African Lion Hound" stayed with this breed till 1922 when in Rhodesia,a British Colony in central South Africa, Francis R. Barnes and small gathering of other six people met to discuss the problem of differences between each bread dog (differences in color, size, coat ...) The result was the formation of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club. Later on in the same year they wrote the first Breed Standard. But it really wasn't till June 28th 1928 when first dog was registered as Rhodesian Ridgeback.


The foundation of the breed was laid in these years, and the characteristics and the qualities of the breed we admire today in the Rhodesian Ridgeback come to us from those first breeders

The kennels we find in today's pedigree belong to those years:

Avondale of Mr. T. Kedie-Law from Rhodesia

Drumbuck of Mrs. L. M. Dickson who was among the founders of the Club Eskdale of Mr. Barnes

Khami of Mr. G. Stacey

Kumalo of Miss M.J.S. Vigne

Munemi of Captain B.L. Miles, who collaborated with the Club for many years

Revelston of Mr. D. R. Keith from Swaziland

Rhodian of Mr. A. J. Walker, famous for his hunting pack

Sandvelt of Captain R. R. Dendy-Rawlins

Sipolilo of Arthur "Tractor" Smith, great hunter

Umvukwe of Miss Ainslie

Viking of Mr. Vernon H. Brisley, probably the greatest among the breeders of the time and the one who influenced the most the breed in those years.



These years are of fundamental importance for the definitive affirmation of thebreed. Some kennels will in fact produce subjects that left their mark in the pedigrees of next generations. The most authoritative perhaps was the kennel Glenaholm of Mrs. Phyllis McCarthy, Pitermaritzburg, Natal, founded in 1951. This kennel is still active today, after 46 years, run by Loraine Venter, Honeydew Transvaal, Mrs. McCarthy's daughter.

But other kennels greatly contributed:

Isimangamanga Of Mrs. J. B. S. Yeates who started breeding in the 50s

Mindemoya of Mrs. F. H. A. Pritchard in Bulawayo

Rockridge of Mrs. Howard in Johannesburg

Thornbury of the Greens in Johannesburg

Maxwood of Mr. S. Cawood in Honeydew, Transvaal

It didn't took long when this incredible breed start expanding to all around the world. Mainly after World War II when soldiers felt in love with this unique dogs and brought them back to their homes with them. First Rhodesian Ridgeback kennel here in USA was established in Arizona in 1950 by Bill and Sada O'Brien . But it took till November 1955 when the Rhodesian Ridgeback was recognized by the American Kennel Club as the 112th acknowledged pure breed of dog..

Resources and pictures published with a kind promission of :

Sandra Piscedda , Murenga Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Linda Costa , The Parent Club in Zimbabwe

Jana Sedasheva , Noldor Rhodesian Ridgeback

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