Friendly enough to romp in a yard with group kids and yet courageous enough to take a pride of attacking lions in Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has been the subject of fine artists since the mid-sixteenth century because of its unusual markings and friendly attractive demeanor. It is a fine beast to walk at the end of your leash as it is a protective, yet well-behaved dog that is easily socialized.
This courageous yet calm canine is a regal subject for a portrait because of its noble bearing, big soft friendly eyes and smooth caramel to gray coat. Its fur is beautiful and silky and drapes with the hand. However it is also a legendary creature with one very special anatomical feature that is found in no other canine breed.
If you look at the back of a Rhodesian Ridgeback you will see that it boasts a long narrow ruff of fur that stretches from head to tail along the length of spine. If you look at this ridge closely it almost seems like one long scratch from a single pronged lion’s nail had raised the nap on the fur in the opposite direction and the hair has stuck up in a ruff permanently.
In fact, the legend of the how the Rhodesian ruff came to be is the scenario that you will see immortalized in old European paintings. In these works of art will often see scenes of a pride of lions attacking a single Rhodesian Ridgeback or you will see a group of Ridgebacks taking on a single lion. Always in these scenes, the back of Rhodesian Ridgeback as it is being attacked is being scraped during a scuffle with a lion.
This long reverse ruff is a symbol of the dog’s bravery that has remained with it and that we can see and feel every time we run our fingers through the Ridgie’s fur. The ruff itself can be quite beautiful with little streaks or whorls about it; it is like a scar of honor that is always there on every puppy that is born as a reminder of the dog’s heritage as a hunter and protector.
There is the legend and then there is genetics of how this beautiful ruff came to be. The Ridge’s full official name is the Rhodesian ridgeback because immigrants to that area of Africa owned them.
German and Dutch emigrants believe the original ridgeback stock produced by the crossing of such dogs as mastiffs, bloodhounds, Great Danes, and terriers brought to South Africa. In addition to its outstanding ability at hunting lions, the ridgeback was prized as a protector of farms from prowling animals.
No matter what its origins there is no doubt whatsoever that the Rhodesian Ridgeback is one of the most beautiful and well composed of mutants, both aesthetically and in terms of temperament.
The Ridgie a smart sensitive and loyal dog, soft and cuddly like a big cuddly teddy bear yet at the same time a loyal watch and guard dog. However unlike the some guard or watch dogs the Ridgie is more mellow; also has the characteristics of a companion dog which makes it a truly unusual pet. The Ridgie truly a masterpiece of breeding and that ruff from head to tail is your indication that you are about to buy one of the best behaved, friendliest and loyal of puppies that exists