van Rooyen crossed the following breeds with the Hottentot Hunting Dog.
The Bloodhound/Pointer (having a good nose), the Greyhound (having speed),
the Bulldog/Bullterrier (having courage and tenacity), the Airdale and
Irish Terrier (having dash and spirit) and certainly the elegant Deer-/staghound
(having stamina). The dog's usefulness far outweighed its looks or adherence
to any particular type, but it was noticed that the ridge of the Hottentot
dog manifested itself in many of the offspring of matings between local
and European dogs. As a dominant gene, it recurred generation by generation.
The liver or brown nose in the modern Rhodesian Ridgeback is related
to the nose of a similar colour in the Pointers that were used and the
problem of a wavy or kinky tail to the Bulldog ancestry.
These lionhounds would hunt ordinary game silently, picking up the
scent and following it until the quarry came into sight. When the hunter
drew near the stalk would begin. Hunting mainly in groups of two or
three, it was a case of attack, feint, dodge, worry, snap and retreat,
but above all confine the beast, allowing the hunter to get into position
for a good, clean shot. Only the very fittest and most skilful lived
to pass on their qualities to the next generation.
The most common misconception about Rhodesian Ridgebacks is that they
actually kill lions. Nothing could be further from the truth. No dog,
no matter how courageous, can kill a lion.
A distict "type" of South African frontier dog began to
become more common. Individuals varied greatly but they were generally
medium-sized animals of the hound type, tan or brindled in colour,
fast and sturdy.
The standard was based heavily on the Dalmatian Standard which was
presented to the Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA) in 1922 and
after revision, was accepted in 1926. Francis Barnes from the Eskdale
Kennel is credited with being the principal creator of the Breed Standard.
In 1924, the first two Rhodesian Ridgebacks were registered with the
Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA). Mr L. Herring of Grootedam,
South Africa, owned these two dogs. In the same year several kennel
names were established by the breeders around Bulawayo, Umvukwe, Marandellas,
Eskdale, Drumbuck and Avondale.
By the end of 1928, there were 13 registered kennel names. The kennels
that contributed the most registered dogs to the foundation of the
Rhodesian Ridgeback were Eskdale, Viking, Drumbuck, Avondale and Lion's
Den. All these names will be found behind the dogs of today.
During World War II, the Rhodesian Ridgeback declined in popularity
and almost ceased to exist. Around 1960, Mrs Mylda Arsenis, with the
help of Mrs Irene Kingcombe set upon the task of reviving the breed
in Southern Africa.
The dogs to the North of Zimbabwe are larger whereas those in central
Zimbabwe are smaller and closer to the desirable height and weight
required by the Breed Standard. In South Africa the breed is slightly
larger but not as big as in the North.
This lovely stamp was issued by the Republic of South Africa in 1991.
Most dog stamps are issued as part of a set that usually includes several
breeds. This stamp, however stands on its own and it is deserving of
such a position. The artist, Alan Ainslie was creative in designing
an attractive setting, while highlighting the unique beauty of the
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is steadily increasing in popularity, in Great
Britain, the USA, Spain and other continental countries as well as
in Australia and New Zealand. Today there are few lion left to hunt
and modern aids make the job much easier. However, far from being redundant,
the Ridgeback has once again exhibited
its adaptability and versatility by becoming sought-after companion/house
dogs, family pets and watchdogs… world-wide. Its character and
temperament are dignified, intelligent with an independent mind – they
can evaluate a situation and act accordingly without instructions.
obedient and easily trained, you will never get that instant submission
you see in Working Breeds. Ridgebacks are partners… not servants!!
A sense of humour, aloof and stand-offish with strangers, but showing
no aggression or shyness – unfamiliar visitors are tolerated
at best after proper introduction. A Ridgeback is a creature of grace
and dignity, loyal to the end.