Is a Rhodesian Ridgeback dangerous?

is a rhodesian ridgeback dangerous

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an intelligent and active dog from South Africa known for the “Ridge” on its back. The large, muscular body, the ridge, and its reputation as a lion hunter may make some people wonder if a Rhodesian Ridgeback is dangerous or a great family dog.

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks dangerous? The Rhodesian Ridgeback is aggressive and dangerous for a reason. The Ridgeback is a stubborn but also intelligent and sensitive dog from South Africa. However, he is territorial and has a strong guarding instinct. The Rhodesian Ridgeback would defend his territory and protect his family in case of emergency. So he can become dangerous for intruders in certain situations. But also a not species-appropriate attitude can be the reason for aggressive behavior.

In this article we take a closer look at the Ridgeback and what could be the reasons for aggressive behavior.

Is the Rhodesian Ridgeback aggressive?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not aggressive. It is a sensitive, intelligent, and above all, an active dog from South Africa that needs a lot of exercise.

Its original task is to guard cattle herds, houses, and yards. He was also used for hunting big game.

However, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not aggressive or dangerous without reason. Today, it is an extremely popular family dog that, if properly socialized, gets along well with children and other dogs.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to explain to children from the beginning how to deal with the dog. After all, it is not a toy.

If your children tug on the dog’s tail or ears for hours, it may become too much for the Ridgeback. Then you can not say that the Rhodesian Ridgeback is aggressive but that he was treated entirely wrong.

Why Rhodesian Ridgeback can be dangerous

Even though the Ridgeback is not dangerous across the board, certain circumstances such as frustration due to too little exercise can cause a Ridgeback also to become aggressive and therefore dangerous.

With the Ridgeback it is like with many other dogs. A Rhodesian Ridgeback can also become dangerous if you do not meet the breed’s needs.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback can reach a weight of 35 – 50 kg at a height of 60 – 70 cm. So it is a big and heavy dog that can cause real damage in the worst case.

Too little exercise

The Rhodesian Ridgeback needs a lot of exercise. When you think about what the Ridgeback was originally bred for, you should immediately realize that they are working dogs that need exercise.

The Ridgeback was and is used for hunting and guarding farms and livestock.

If the Ridgeback has too little exercise and employment in the long run, behavioral problems such as increased aggressiveness can develop.

An underutilized and therefore frustrated and aggressive Ridgeback can then definitely become dangerous.

Lack of socialization

It would help if you got your Rhodesian Ridgeback used to all kinds of situations from the beginning. This includes other dogs, of course, but also other animals, playing children, strange people, etc.

If your Rhodesian Ridgeback has not learned to communicate with other dogs, they may become aggressive in dog encounters.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a strong guarding instinct. If someone breaks into your home or attacks your family, Ridgeback will not hesitate to defend you.

In these situations a Ridgeback can and should be dangerous. After all, that is what he is made for.

Pain / Diseases

If your Rhodesian Ridgeback is in pain due to injury and illness, this can lead to aggressive behavior. So if you notice any behavioral abnormalities you can’t explain, a visit to the vet is recommended.

Energy level / Temperament

The Rhodesian Ridgeback has power. The energy this breed brings can be dangerous for small children. Even if the dog means no harm, too much wild play by the large Ridgeback can lead to accidents and injuries to small children.

How quickly does a dog just run over a child while playing? If it is such a physical power breed, it can end badly.

Hunting instinct/prey drive

The Ridgeback is said to have a high hunting and prey drive. For smaller animals like rabbits or cats the Ridgeback can become quite dangerous.

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks fighting dogs?

Rhodesian Ridgeback is not fighting dogs and is not on the breed list.

As described earlier, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is originally a hunting and guard dog. They are not dogs that were used in dog fighting or fighting other animals.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also not a list dog in Germany. Listed dogs are considered dangerous due to their breed or are suspected to be dangerous.

I think that there are no dangerous dogs in that sense. A consciously aggressively trained dog or simply a poorly trained dog has, first of all, nothing to do with the breed. Of course, certain dogs are more likely to arouse interest in certain people than, for example, a golden retriever, simply because of their appearance.

However, it must be said that a Ridgeback does not avoid conflict. The Ridgeback is well aware of its size and strength.

If another dog, perhaps not well trained, starts a “fight,” the Ridgeback is not a dog that ducks away, to say the least. Good training is necessary so your dog does not jump into all situations.

With our Cane Corso, it is similar. She knows she is big and strong and doesn’t let everyone yap at her aggressively for minutes at a time. However, we are working on making her even more indifferent to these dogs.

Preventing aggression in the Rhodesian Ridgeback

To prevent your Rhodesian Ridgeback from becoming aggressive and dangerous, you can take a few steps to ensure that you get a great family dog from the start.

Sufficient exercise

The Ridgeback needs plenty of exercise and activity. Make sure he gets a daily routine and doesn’t build up stress. Daily walks and sessions on the bike or jogging laps should be on the schedule. Since he has no undercoat, the Ridgeback will need a coat in the winter.


Get your Ridgeback used to other dogs, strange people, cars, etc. while he is still a puppy. If he grows up with these noises they will not bother him later and make him restless.

Be consistent

In daily training, it is essential to be consistent, especially with dogs with a stubborn heads. The Ridgeback does not have the greatest will-to-please and likes to test how far he can go.

If you don’t assert yourself it can quickly happen that your dog takes the lead. In dog encounters, you will soon have an aggressive leash bully.

Consistent means that you make sure that your commands are followed 100%. Consistent does not mean harsh and loud. Remember that the Ridgeback is sensitive. Consistent standards that you make sure that your orders are tracked 100%.

You decide when to play, when he has to stand quietly next to you, or when he has to come to you.

If you don’t know exactly how to train a Ridgeback, a visit to a local dog school or the online dog training by Johanna Esser* is recommended.

Conclusion: Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks dangerous?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a loyal and intelligent family dog that is usually not aggressive and dangerous. However, it is essential to note that the Ridgeback is a guard dog that is very territorial. He would definitely protect you or his territory.

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I am Marco and I have the pleasure of living with 3 large Mastiff-type dog breeds. I would like to share my dog-related experiences on this blog

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