FCI - Standard n.146
Date of publication of
the Valid Original Standard: December 10th, 1996 Breed n.
Origin: Southern Africa
Standard supplied by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa
(KUSA) and the Zimbabwe Kennel Club (ZKC)
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is still used to hunt game in
many parts of the world, but is especially prized as
watch-dog and family pet.
Group 6 Scent hounds and related breeds Section 3 Related
breeds. Without working trial
BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is presently the only registered
breed indigenous to southern Africa. Its forbears can be
traced to the Cape Colony of Southern Africa, where they
crossed with the early pioneer's dogs and the semi-domesticated,
ridged Hottentot hunging dogs. Hunting mainly in groups
of two or three, the original function of the Rhodesian
Ridgeback or Lion dog was to track game, especially lion,
and, with great agility, keep it at bay until the arrival
of the hunter. The original standard, which was drafted
by F.R. Barnes, in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, in 1922, was based
on that of the Dalmation and was approved by the South
African Kennel Union in 1926.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback should represent a well balanced,
strong, muscular, agile and active dog, symmetrical in
outline, and capable of great endurance with a fair
amount of speed. The emphasis is on agility, elegance and
soundness with no tendency towards massiveness. The
peculiarity of the breed is the ridge on the back, which
is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction
to the rest of the coat. The ridge is the escutcheon of
the breed. The ridge must be clearly defined, symmetrical
and tapering towards the haunch. It must start
immediatley behind the shoulders and continue to the hip
(haunches) bones. The ridge must contain only two crowns,
identical and opposite each other. The lower edges of the
crowns must not extend further down the ridge than one-third
of its length. A good average width of the ridge is 5 cm
Dignified, intelligent, aloof with strangers, but showing
no aggression or shyness.
Should be of fair length (width of head between ears,
distance from occiput to stop, stop to end of nose,
should be equal), flat and broad between the ears; the
head should be free from wrinkles when in repose.
The stop should be reasonably well defined and not in one
straight line from the nose to the occipital bone.
The nose should be black or brown. A black nose should be
accompanied by dark eyes, a brown/liver nose by amber
The muzzle should be long, deep and powerful.
The lips should be clean, closely fitting [Scissor bite]
Jaws strong, with a perfect and complete scissor bite, i.e.
the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and
set square to the jaws. The teeth must be well developed,
especially the canines or holders.
Cheeks should be clean.
Should be moderately well apart, round bright and
sparling, with intelligent expression, their colour
harmonising the colour of the coat.
Should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at
base, and gradually tapering to a rounded point. They
should be carried close to the head.
Should be fairly long, strong and free from throatiness.
Back Powerful. Loins Strong, muscular and
Chest Should not be too wide, but very deep and
capacious; the brisket should reach to the elbow.
Forechest Should be visible when viewed from the
Ribs Moderately well sprung, never rounded like
Should be strong at the root and gradually tapering
towards the end, free from coarseness. It should be of
moderate length. It should not be attaced too high nor
too low, and should be carried with a slight curve
upwards, never curled.
The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and
well boned, with the elbows close to the body. When
viewed from the side, the forelegs should be wider than
viewed from the front. Pasterns should be strong with
The shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular,
The feet should be compact and round, with well arched
toes, and tough elastic pads, protected by hair between
the toes and pads.
In the hind legs the muscles should be clean, well
defined, good turn of stifle and strong hocks well let
Straight forward, free and active.
Should be short and dense, sleek and glossy in
appearance, but neither woolly nor silky.
Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest
and toes is permissible, but excessive white hairs here,
on belly, or above toes is undesirable. A dark muzzle and
ears permissible. Excessive black hairs throughout the
coat are highly undesirable.
The desirable heights are: Dogs 63 cm (25") to 69 cm
(27") Bitches 61 cm (24") to 66 cm (26")
The desirable weights are: Dogs 36,5 kg (80 lbs) Bitches
32 kg (70 lbs)
Any departure from the foregoing points should be
considered a fault and the seriousness with which the
fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to