Chris wrote: " Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred to fight (and kill) LIONS for
pity's sake! "
No, there were not - not to kill. The Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred, in part,
to keep a lion at bay and immobilized so that the hunter could kill the lion
with his gun. Not quite the same thing, and there were always at least three
to five Ridgebacks on one lion. The Rhodesian Ridgeback was the Rhodesian
hunters response to the lack of suitable dogs for lion hunting - Local dogs
would not attack a lion. European dogs of the time were either too brave and
would individually attack the lion "mano a mano", to be quickly dispatched
by the beast, or too timid to attack such a strong opponent. The RR, on the
other hand, would work with other Ridgebacks "as a team"- while one dog
attack the lion from the rear, and then quickly retreat when the lion turned
around, two or more would worry the lion from the sides, then retreat when
the lion turned, etc... The lion would eventually give up and stay put,
which is what the hunter wanted. This trait is still in the Ridgeback - last
time I observed that, it was unfortunately at 1:30 in the morning- two of
our dogs kept barking... Worried about our neighbors, and knowing Ridgebacks
do not bark without a reason, I got up to see what was happening: they had a
big Possum stuck between two buildings. As soon as I got there and told the
dogs to go, they did, their
"job done", and the Possum, very p**sed, got on his way, hissing like crazy!
The possum was unharmed.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are both scent and sight hounds. They can and do bring
down smaller game (Jaguar and smaller) on their own. Right from the start,
they were also used as protectors of camps and livestock, by farmers and
hunters in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa.
While any dog can bite, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are usually not on the
"aggressive dogs" list insurance use, and we had no trouble getting house
insurance. The Ridgeback is generally very good with children, and the main
risk is that because of their size (males are usually 95 pounds or more),
they can hurt children by knocking them over while playing.
The only negative is that because of their reputation as "the dog that kills
lions", some people have tried to "crossbreed" them with other breeds (Pit
Bull is the most common) to create a "super-aggressive dog".
Jacques Le Clainche, with current Rhodesian Ridgeback family at:
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