History of the breed

Noted as a popular hound today for its qualities of hunting, protecting, and companionship, the Rhodesian Ridgeback dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when European Boers came to South Africa. Along with them, they brought breeds such as the  Great Dane ,  Mastiff , Staghound,  Bloodhound ,  Pointer ,  Greyhound , and others. The settlers required a dog that could tolerate extreme temperatures, a limited supply of water, and withstand rough ground cover, while functioning as a hunting and guard dog. These early settlers in encountered Khoikhoi peoples, who had dogs with an unusual characteristic: a ridge of hair along the spine. They began breeding their own dogs with the native dogs of the Khoikhoi.

A couple of decades later, a hunter named Cornelius von Rooyen began a breeding program in what was then known as Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).   In 1922, after Van Rooyen’s death, a group of breed fanciers under the leadership of Francis Richard Barnes developed a standard for the breed, which remains virtually unchanged today.

After World War II, Great Britain was virtually the only country that had knowledge of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. It is during these years that the breed starts to become more widely known outside of South Africa.