The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a native of southern Africa. Its history can be traced back to the early 16th century when the first Europeans explored the hinterland of the Cape of Good Hope and found the indigenous Hottentot people with a domesticated dog which had the hair on its spine running in the opposite direction to normal this is the "Ridge".
The European settlers developed a distinct breed to meet their needs in the African Veldt by selectively breeding between European dogs and the ridged dog of the Hottentot tribes. The breed was developed for hunting wild game, protection of the hunter and his family, and companionship. It needed stamina, endurance, a short coat, and resistance to the wild temperature swings found on the High Veldt. Throughout the breeds development, the ridge of the Hottentot dog was respected and retained, leading to the "Ridgeback" of today.
The only other known dog which has the peculiarity of such a ridge is found on the island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Siam. Linkage between this dog and the Rhodesian Ridgeback has never been definitely determined.
There is no doubt that the breed we know today developed in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). In 1875, the Rev. Charles Helm, a missionary, undertook a journey from his home in Swellendam in the Cape Province of South Africa to Rhodesia. He was accompanied by two ridged dogs. While the Rev. Helm was in Rhodesia, Cornelius von Rooyen, the big-game hunter and early authority on South African wildlife, borrowed the two dogs to take along on a hunt. Von Rooyen soon concluded that they possessed instinctive hunting qualities and thereupon pioneered the breeding of a pack of the species as hunters of big game for his own use. They were bred on an extensive scale in Rhodesia and were given the name of that country.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback has been described as the Decathlete of the Hound breeds; strong, athletic, big hearted and kind they make a wonderful companion...in the right home.
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