Ridgebacks can make great family pets in the right environment! They’re natural watch dogs and have a high prey drive that may make them less suitable for younger children and smaller pets, but this breed is usually laid back in the home. They love being involved with their families and whatever is going on at the time. This breed is a great companion for families with older children who know how to behave around a dog and for those with active lifestyles. They love to entertain and play. Ridgebacks socialized properly from a young age are also great with other dogs and a ridgeback raised around cats will tend to do well around the animals. As always, proper socialization and exposure from an early age are key to have a well rounded adult dog.
These dogs require at least two hours of vigorous exercise a day and a lot of mental stimulation to be happy. This makes them not suitable for people who aren’t active or work a lot. They’ll need a lot of time and attention to make sure those needs are met and as puppies they’re boisterous and tend to mature slowly. That means extra time looking after and training a puppy. You’ll also need to look into puppy-proofing your home. You’ll be spending a lot of time with a rambunctious puppy and don’t want them to get into trouble. Ridgebacks do best in a house with a large and secured yard for them to exercise in and someone to spend time with them. These dogs are prone to separation anxiety due to the strong bond they form with their families, though they can be taught that being alone doesn’t have to be stressful for them. They’ll do fine on their own for a few hours, but shouldn’t be left alone long term. Stress can lead to destructive and unwanted behaviors over long stretches of time.
This breed can also be a challenge to train due to their independent nature, but if their handler understands their needs, it can be a good experience for both parties. They’re an extremely intelligent breed and training is important to keep them happy. The more diverse the training, the more interested the dog will be and the easier it will be to keep training them. Though, this breed responds best to a calm and consistent approach with plenty of positive reinforcement. They require someone who’s dedicated to starting training at a young age and taking their time with it. They need a gentle hand and understanding from their handler.
Grooming is extremely easy for this breed. They have a short and glossy coat that requires minimal maintenance. A good brushing and a wipe down once a week is all it will take to keep this breed looking its best. Of course, they may require a little more grooming when they shed, but this breed doesn’t do too much extra shedding and should be easy to keep up with.
Ridgebacks are relatively healthy dogs, but suffer from hereditary problems like all purebred dogs. The biggest problems to be on the lookout for are hip and elbow dysplasia. The likelihood of these can be lessened by good breeding, but there’s no way to rule them out entirely. Dermoid Sinus is another condition to be on the lookout for. This condition can result in painful abscesses around the dog’s neck and along the spine. Puppies can undergo surgery to correct the problem if necessary, but it’s best practice to have two experienced breeders examine puppies for the congenital condition before selling them. Ridgebacks are also prone to bloat. This is caused when a dog eats too quickly and gulps air while eating and is cause for a vet trip. Though, there are ways to help prevent it! It’s important to make sure you feed your dog twice a day and a standing dish may make it easier for your large dog to eat than a bowl on the floor. There are also slow feeder bowls on the market to slow a dog while eating with crevices or other obstacles by preventing them from getting large mouth fulls. It’s also a good idea to not exercise your dog just before or after eating to help keep risk low. Other conditions to be on the lookout for are epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and congenital deafness.
So, to recap the pros for this breed, they are: great for families with older kids, good for those with an active lifestyle, easy to groom, and relatively healthy. The cons are that they are: not good for those with a sedentary lifestyle, prone to separation anxiety, a challenge to train, and may develop a couple severe medical complications.