Breed Standard

General Appearance

Handsome strong, muscular and active dog, symmetrical in outline, capable of great endurance with  a fair amount of speed.  Mature dog is handsome and upstanding. 


The ridgeback should have an athletic body to produce speed and provide stamina for an all day hunt.  A racy body cannot last, while a cumbersome, heavy frame hampers speed and agility.  To ensure a proper balance of endurance and speed, correct proportions are important.  The ridgeback is slightly longer than he is tall.  The distance from the withers to the elbow and from the elbow to the ground should appear to be the same.  Bitches should be decidedly feminine.  Dogs definitely masculine.


Peculiarity is the ridge on the back formed by hair growing in opposite direction to the remainder of coat; ridge must be regarded as the escutcheon of the breed.  Ridge clearly defined, tapering and symmetrical, starting immediately behind shoulders and continuing to haunch and containing two identical crowns only, opposite each other, lower edges of crowns not extending further down ridge than one-third of its length.  Up to 5 cm (2 ins) is a good average for width of ridge.


It should not be forgotten that the ridge is the hallmark of the breed; its most important characteristic feature.  Since the ridge, although nonfunctional, is the identifying mark of the breed, faulty ridges are to be penalized.


Dignified, intelligent, aloof with strangers but showing no aggression or shyness.


An adaptable, loyal and understanding companion, the ridgeback is self assured and devoted to his owner, but reserved with strangers.

Head and Skull

Of fair length, skull flat, rather broad between ears, free from wrinkles when in repose.  Stop reasonably well defined.  Nose black or brown in keeping with colour of dog.  Black nose accompanied by dark eyes, brown nose by amber eyes.  Muzzle long, deep and powerful.  Lips clean and close fitting.


The head must be in proportion to the rest of the body.  It should be strong with an alert intelligent expression, but not overpowering.  The distance from the tip pf the nose to the stop, from the stop to the occiput and the width of the skull should be equal; the planes of the muzzle and skull should be parallel.  The muzzle should be long, deep and powerful.


Set moderately well apart, round, bright and sparkling with intelligent expression, colour harmonizing with coat colour.


The ears are triangular in shape though not pointed at the tips.  They should fall at least to the hinge of the jawbone when alert and should nestle close to the cheeks.


Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.  Well developed teeth, especially canines.


Jaws level and strong with well developed teeth, especially the canines and holders, the lips clean, closely fitting the jaws.


Fairly long, strong and free from throatiness.


The neck should be elegant, muscular and of good length.  It should arch well and blend smoothly into well laid back shoulders.


Shoulders sloping, clean and muscular.  Forelegs perfectly straight, strong, heavy in bone; elbows close to body.


Shoulders should be smooth and powerful without exaggerated muscle or weight.  Sturdy bone is desirable for the speed and agility.  Facing the dog, the front legs should not be as wide as when viewed from the side.  The leg bones should be oval in shape rather than thick and round.  Viewed from the front the legs should be straight from elbow to foot.


Chest not too wide, very deep and capacious; ribs moderately well sprung, never barrel-ribbed.  Back powerful; loins strong, muscular and slightly arched.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a deep chest not too wide between the forelegs and extending to the elbow.  The sternum should be clearly visible from the side.  The ribs extend well back giving length to the body.  The back should be level from behind the withers to the loin with a slight arch over the loin. 


Muscles clean, well defined; good turn of stifle; hocks well let down.


Viewed from the side, the muscles of the rear quarters must be long and well developed with wide thighs.  There should be a balance of muscle between inner and outer thighs.


Compact, well arched toes, round, tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between toes and pads.


The term compact refers to the tightness of the foot and the knit of the bones.  Splayed and weak feet with thin pads are serious faults.   The pasterns should be strong and slightly bent for cushioning.


Strong at root, not inserted high or low, tapering towards end, free from coarseness.  Carried with a slight curve upwards, never curled.


If the tail is set on correctly, off a moderately sloping croup, it will be carried properly.  The tail may be carried level with or slightly higher than the back.


Short and dense, sleek and glossy in appearance but neither woolly nor silky.


Short compact.  Ridge has same texture as the rest of the coat and lies flat for most of its length.


Straight forward, free and active.


Efficient, balanced movement should be straight forward, free and active with a normal amount of convergence.  Good angulation is necessary for smooth action and effortless ground covering strides.


Light wheaten to red wheaten.  Head, body, legs and tail of uniform colour.  Little white on chest and toes permissible, but excessive white hairs here, on belly or above paws undesirable.  Dark muzzle and ears permissible.


The Ridgeback's coat varies among different wheaten shades, all of which are acceptable and none of which are to be preferred.  Black nosed dogs often have darker ears and shading on the muzzle, but the shading must never extend up the face to form a mask over the eyes.  Excessive black hairs in the rest of the coat, including the tail, are undesirable.  White markings should be kept to a minimum.


Dogs:  63 cm (25 ins) desirable minimum height at withers, 67 cm (27 ins) desirable maximum height at withers.  Bitches:  61 cm (24 ins) desirable minimum height at withers, 66 cm (26 ins) desirable maximum height at withers.


The Ridgeback is a fairly large dog, but should never be cumbersome.  Bitches are decidedly feminine although not week.  Dogs are definitely masculine.  Overall balance is of greater importance than actual weights and measurements, keeping functional requirements strongly in mind.  The Ridgeback is a substantial dog whose survival depends on his agility, speed and perseverance.


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 its degree.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

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