FCI Standard

FCI-Standard Nr. 146/08.07.1998/D: Rhodesian Ridgeback 


Southern Africa, standard created by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa and the Zimbabwe Kennel Club.

Publication date of the valid original standard: 12.10.1996


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is still used to hunt game in many parts of the world, but it is especially prized as a guard dog and family member. 

FCI Classification:

Group 6: scent hounds, and related breeds

Section 3: related breeds, without a performance test 

Short historical outline:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is currently the only recognized breed from southern Africa. His ancestors can be traced back to the Cape Colony, where they crossed with both the early dogs of the pioneers and the semi-domesticated Hottentot dogs which had a ridge. Hunting mostly in groups of two or three dogs, the original task of the Rhodesian Ridgeback was to track down big game, mainly lions, and hold them at bay with great agility until the hunter comes. The original standard, set up in Bulawayo, Rhodesian by F. R. Barnes in 1922, was based on the Dalmatian Standard and was then recognized by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa in 1926. 

General appearance:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback should be a balanced, strong, muscular, agile and active dog, symmetrical in profile and extremely enduring at medium speed. The main focus is on agility, elegance and functional form without the tendency of a bulky appearance. The peculiarity of the breed is the back crest (ridge), which arises due to the hair growth in the opposite direction to the rest of the body. The back crest is the coat of arms of the breed. The back crest must be clearly demarcated, symmetrical and narrowing towards the hips. It must start immediately behind the shoulders and reach back to the hips. The back comb may only have two swirls ("crowns"), which have the same shape and face each other. The lower edge of the swirls must not exceed the upper third of the spine. A good average width for the swirls is 5 cm (2 ''). 

Behavior/Character Traits:

Dignified, intelligent, reserved towards strangers, but with no signs of aggression nor shyness. 




Should be of medium length (width between the ears, distance from the occipital to the forehead, from the foramen to the tip of the nose should be the same), flat and wide between the ears, in relaxed posture no wrinkles on the head. 


The forehead should be quite well marked: The profile should not be in a straight line from the occipital to the tip of the nose. 



The nose should be black or brown. A black nose should be accompanied with dark eyes, a brown nose with amber eyes.


The muzzle should be long, deep and strong. 

Flew (Lips):

The flews (lips) should be firm and lay against the jaws.


Strong jaw, with a perfect closing and complete scissor bite. This means that the upper row of incisors closely overlaps the lower teeth of the cutter, and that the teeth are perpendicular to the jaw. The teeth must be well developed, especially at the corner (canine teeth).


No cheeks.


Should be moderately far from each other, round, clear and sparkling, with intelligent expression. Their color should harmonize with the coat color.


Should be set fairly high, medium in size, rather broad at the base and tapering to a rounded tip. They should lay close to the head. 


Should be quite long, strong and without loose throat skin. 





Strong, muscular and slightly arched.


Should not be too wide, but very deep and spacious; the lowest point of the sternum should be at the level with the elbow point.


Should be visible from the side. 


Moderately arched, never barrel-shaped.


Strong at the tail set, gradually thinning towards the tip, not coarse. It is to be of moderate length, set neither too high nor too low, worn slightly bent, but never curled.




The forearms should be completely straight, strong and with strong bones, the elbows near the trunk. From the side, the foreleg should be seen wider than being seen from the front. Strong pasterns, forefoot slightly inclined. 


The shoulders should be at a clear angle and muscular, suggesting a sense of speed. 


The muscles of the hindquarters should be slim, the stifle joints (knees) well angled, the hock joints short. 


Round, with well arched toes, which are close to each other. 


With good room to handle, free and lively.



Should be short and dense, smooth and shiny in appearance, but neither woolly nor silky. 


Light wheat to red wheat colors. A little white on the chest and on the toes is permissible. Extensive white hair here, on the stomach or above the toes is undesirable. A dark muzzle and dark ears are allowed. Too many black hairs throughout the coat are extremely undesirable. 

Size and Weight:

The desired withers heights are:

Studs: 63,0 cm (25 '') to 69,0 cm (27 '')

Bitches: 61,0 cm (24 '') to 66,0 cm (26 '') 


Studs: 36,6 kg (80 Ibs)

Bitches: 32,0 kg (70 Ibs)


Any deviation from the above points must be considered an error, whose assessment should be in proportion to the degree of its deviation. 


Studs must have two obviously normal testicles, which are found completely in the scrotum.