Hunting mainly in groups of two or three, the original function of the Rhodesian Ridgeback, or Lion Dog, was to track game, especially lion, and with great agility, keep it at bay until the arrival of the hunter.
THEY DID NOT FIGHT WITH LIONS!
Ancestors can be traced to the semi-domesticated dogs accompanying the indigenous people, the Khoi-San, who lived near the southern tip of Africa
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is one of only two registered breeds indigenous to Southern Africa, the other being the Boerboel.
When the Portuguese discovered the Cape in 1487, and the area was later colonised by Dutch Settlers, these dogs were bred to early pioneers’ dogs and used for hunting and guarding.
From around 1830, when the British colonised the Cape, the Dutch Settlers, fed up with this new governance, began the great migration – “die Groot Trek” into the hinterland, discovering new areas eastwards and northwards as far as the later-named, Rhodesia. These “Voortrekkers” (travelling pioneers) took their dogs with them, which became popular for their hunting capacity
In 1879 Rev. Charles Daniel Helm brought two dogs from Kimberley (a small diamond-mining town in central South Africa) to his mission near Bulawayo in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe. These two bitches are regarded as the origin of what is known today as the Rhodesian Ridgeback. History A hunter, by the name of Cornelius van Rooyen, who operated mainly in Matebeleland (now Botswana), mated these two rough coated, grey-black dogs to his pack and the famous ridge emerged.
Van Rooyen crossed several breeds to create his African Lion Hound because of its ability to keep lion at bay while awaiting its master to make the kill: • Bloodhound and Pointer – for good scenting • Bulldog and Bull Terrier – for courage and tenacity • Airedale and Irish Terrier – for dash and spirit • Deerhound – for stamina • Smooth Collie – for herding skills. Greyhound for speed. History The brown-nosed variety is related to the Pointers that were used and the problem of a kinked tail goes back to the Bulldog ancestry. The dog's usefulness far outweighed its looks or adherence to any particular type, but the ridge continued to manifest itself in most of the litters.
In 1922, a veterinarian, Francis Richard Barnes gave recognition to the Rhodesian Ridgeback as a breed. Barnes asked owners to bring their dogs to a meeting to be held at a Bulawayo Kennel Club Show to endeavor to formulate a breed standard with the object of later recognition by the, then, South African Kennel Union. History A large number of owners attended the meeting and well over 20 dogs were paraded. They were of all types and sizes, and several different colours; reds and brindles predominating. The dog owners were keen to form a club, but reluctant to agree too readily on a breed standard.
Finally, Mr. B.W. Durham – the only All-breeds Judge in South Africa at the time, and possessing some knowledge of the breed, took a dog and suggested that its size and conformation be adopted; then chose another specimen for its head and neck; a third for legs and feet; and, making use of some five different dogs, they built up their aims based heavily on the History Dalmatian standard. Francis Barnes then set down the breed standard and it was adopted by the Kennel Union. This, with some later amendments and alterations is the standard in use today,
In 1924, the first two Rhodesian Ridgebacks were registered with the newly renamed Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA). By the end of 1928, there were already 13 registered breeders with kennel names. History During World War II, the Rhodesian Ridgeback declined in popularity and almost ceased to exist.