Rhodesian Ridgeback - is he a "wild colonial boy", a full of energy bushman or maybe an "old colonist, gentleman" with all the charm, elegance and good manners?
In fact he is both the former and the latter, and even much more...
Rhodesian Ridgeback - traits of character and temperament
South Africa settle dogs had to be as versatile as possible. They were expected to serve various functions for which they were created for - from hunter games to taking care of children, when all adults were working in the field. As hound he shows all the traits characteristic of the dog group. It is only a strong instinct of guarding and protecting and far better skills for discipline learning that differentiate him from most of the hounds. Ridgeback is an intelligent dog of a very independent mind. His predecessors had to show independent thinking, cope with diverse situations in bush and react according to the situation, without the possibility of obtaining instructions from his master. Thus ? although it is far more obedient and skilled for learning breed compared to other hounds, he will never conform to its master as it can be observed among other working breeds, such as German shepherd dog or Collie.
Ridgebacks are partners never servants.
At home and its surroundings Ridgebacks are easy to maintain and even considered a bit lazy dogs; happily dozing in the sun or in front of a fireplace. However, only let the wicket gate creak, ring the door bell or a shade pass behind the windows and he will immediately take action with a deep snarl going out of the depth of his throat. Intruder shall you be on guard! Ridgebacks have a deep and loud voice that they make use in a very economical way. They are not barking all the time, thus surely our good relations with neighbours will not be at stake. Ridgeback signals something with barking, his master and neighbour should observe what is going on - for surely the dog has not barked without reason. Ridgeback has an incredible glare; some even claim it is a withering glare. Many of our guests, dropping in rarely or just by chance would feel a bit strange after 30 seconds of RR scrutiny and suspicious glare.
Surely RR is not going to attack anyone without being first extremely provoked. Due to the above, the dogs are considered as being more guarding than protecting. Of course, they can be adapted for working with man, however it is against their natural instincts. The true call of RR is to bring its victim to bay rather than attack, no matter whether it is a squirrel, cat, rabbit or other "toys".
Loving and faithful
Another great advantage of RR is his sincere faithfulness and love for his master. Usually one chosen family member is specially favoured, however, he is unbelievable faithful to the whole family as a pack. RRs are happiest in the company of their favoured man, often following him wherever he goes, just only to be close to him. They do not require a continuous attention and caress and are satisfied when can lie or sit close. Only from time to time a cold wet nose will raise your newspaper so as to his head could lie on your lap for just a couple of seconds and then he will come back to its place near the armchair or fire-place. They are a perfect company for playing, however, when expected they get "invisible" when your life is full of feverish hurry.
It is completely different in the case of strangers. Ridgebacks instinctively keep distance from persons they do not know. Guests-strangers at best are to be tolerated, but generally RRs cannot be considered as "friendly" little dogs. One has to deserve their friendship, and you cannot force them to that. Friendship once given will not be forgotten. Ridgebacks have a very good memory, thus many "friends" after a very long absence would be nicely surprised by an unusually warm welcome. Their natural distrust, reserve towards strangers cannot be mistaken with nervousness that is not to be tolerated in the case of the breed.
Despite the fact that they are considered strong and hard animals, Ridgebacks are in fact very sensitive creatures. Violent and brutal treatment during their early months of life can ruin character of the auguring well animal. They should not be beaten, words of firm reprimand or folded newspaper whiz are enough to stamp just committed "crime". Exception from the above can only be justified by the dog`s inclination to chase and scare livestock. In such case stricter punishment should be applied, however, this cannot be overused so as not to ruin the dog because of a single misbehaviour.
Similarly to all breeds of hounds, RRs have well developed a hunting instinct. In fact, they will chase whatever escapes from them-other dogs, persons, which can be confirmed by many joggers. They tend to chase an animal with long leaps to push down its victim with well-levelled knock to the shoulder blades at the end. Such a picture terrifies the dog master, but it is truly rare that RR does it with evil intentions.
RRs love going mad and while being quite big animals can unintentionally push smaller creatures, including kids. This may result in shouts and complaints of irritated parents / other dogs masters, which require a very tactful and calm explanation and apology. It is simply worth remembering about so as to avoid such a situation. Ridgebacks are incorrigible greedy eaters and even the best food at home will not hold them back from checking the smelly contents of rubbish heap. That is a very difficult habit to root out. Even while sitting round the table it is difficult to get rid of the brown watery eyes and sometimes his head lying on your lap. Nevertheless, food theft is a manner that cannot be tolerated.
How to describe Ridgeback character with just a word? Loyal, brave, sensitive, wise, independent, delicate, hard- so as not to say.... with a good sense of humour? All these terms are pretty much adequate. This is a dog for all circumstances. That is a shear pleasure and favour to have him in good hands.