The Rhodesian Ridgeback, sometimes referred to as the African Lion Hound, is a native of South Africa having been bred by the Boer Farmers to fill their specific need for a serviceable hunting dog in the wilds.

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Photographer: Shot On Site




The Dutch, Germans, and Huguenots who emigrated to South Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries brought with them Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds, Bloodhounds, Terriers, and other breeds. For one hundred years from 1707, European immigration was closed, and the native dogs played an important part in the development and ultimate character of the Ridgeback.

Photographer: Shot on Site




The Hottentots, a native race living within range of these early settlers, has a hunting dog that was half wild with a ridge on his back formed by the hair growing forward. There was interbreeding between these dogs and those of the settlers, and this crossbreeding, in due course, established the foundation stock of our present-day Ridgeback.

Photographer: Shot On Site

The Boer settler needed a dog that could flush a few partridge, pull down a wounded buck, guard the farm from marauding aimals and prowlers at night.

Photographer: Shot On Site

He also needed a dog that could withstand the rigors of the African Bush, hold up under the drastic changes in temperature from the heat of the day to nights below freezing, and go a full 24 hours or more without water.

Photographer: Shot On Site

Photographer: Shot On Site

He required a shorthaired dog that would not be eaten by ticks. In addition, he needed a companion that would stay by him while he slept in the Bush and that would be devoted to his wife and children.

Of necessity then, the Boer farmer developed, by selective breeding, a distinct breed of the African Veldt.

Photographer: Pepper Nix

Rev. Helm

Cornelius Van Rooyen

In 1877, the Reverend Helm introduced two Ridgebacks into Rhodesia where the big game hunters, Selons, Upcher, Van Rooyen and others found them outstanding in the sport of hunting lions on horseback. They raised and bred these dogs with an appreciation of their exceptional hunting qualities, the ridge on their back becoming a unique trademark.

A group of Rhodesian breeders set up a standard for Ridgebacks in 1922 which has remained virtually unchanged ever since. Some outstanding specimens were imported to the United States in 1950 and the breed was admitted to registry by the AKC in 1955.