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Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good With Cats? Socialization & Training Tips

Lorre Luther

By Lorre Luther

Puppy Rhodesian Ridgeback lying on white rug with a black cat together

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are stunningly beautiful large dogs with sleek coats, lean muscles, and a ridge of hair that sticks up along their spines. They were bred in southern Africa as hunting dogs, where they were often used for hunting lions. They’re mixes of Khoikhoi dogs, Greyhounds, and various Terriers.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can reach up to 27 inches at the withers, and large males often weigh around 85 pounds. All have wheaten fur, and some have black noses. If you’re considering adopting one of these powerful dogs, you may wonder if they’re good with cats. Some Rhodesian Ridgebacks get along well with cats, particularly those they grow up around. However, others have difficulty controlling their prey instincts, leading them to chase cats when triggered.

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A Brief History of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Hunting breeds native to Europe, such as Greyhounds, Bloodhounds, and Great Danes, accompanied Europeans who settled around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of the African continent. Settlers mixed these dogs with semi-feral Khoikhoi dogs native to the area to create a breed optimized for hunting in Africa.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were developed to be fast enough to keep up with and catch lions and other game. They have the tenacity of Terriers and the prey instincts of hunting dogs. They’re serious athletes, capable of running at high speeds and covering long distances, but they were also welcomed into family circles for protection and loving companionship.

The breed standard was developed in 1922 by breeders in Zimbabwe. The American Kennel Club recognized Rhodesian Ridgebacks in 1955.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks walking outdoor
Image Credit: boumapetrovice, Pixabay

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good for Families With Cats?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks usually make lovely family dogs and are well-behaved around children. They were bred to be good companion animals, so once properly socialized, they often fit right in with families. Their playful, loving natures make them great companions for older children who can appropriately interact with dogs.

If you adopt a Ridgeback puppy, you shouldn’t have issues getting it to befriend an adult cat. Your cat’s personality will also determine if the pair will get along, but most cats will eventually tolerate a new dog in the house. Because Ridgebacks don’t bark often, they’re well-suited for cats that are bothered by loud noises. For adult Ridgebacks, the process of accepting a cat as a companion can take much longer, and in some cases, the relationship may never develop into a friendship. Gradually introducing the animals in steps, with the Ridgeback on a leash, is the best way to get the dog used to the cat. However, some pets may never get along, and re-homing is a sad possibility you may face.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are hunters, and an experienced owner must train one to get along with a cat. You may want to consider another breed if you’ve never trained a massive animal like the Ridgeback before and own a cat.

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Get Along With Other Dogs?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren’t known for being great with other dogs. They have extremely high prey drives due to their hunting dog heritage. When triggered by small animals, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are naturally inclined to give chase.

However, well-trained and socialized dogs can often manage to control their instincts. Some male dogs can become assertive towards other dogs, which sometimes leads to problems in multi-pet households.

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog running on grass
Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

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Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Easy to Train?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are smart, and like many intelligent dogs bred to think and work independently while hunting, they can be stubborn and sometimes difficult to train. Most do best with experienced dog owners who are comfortable with handling large, powerful dogs. And getting started with training while they’re young often makes it easier for Rhodesian Ridgebacks to learn.

Early socialization is essential to ensure these dogs understand how to behave in different environments and around various stimuli. Loving, positive, consistent training is usually the best option for getting Rhodesian Ridgebacks on the right track. Most respond well to reward-based training. Punishment and other harsh training techniques often increase canine anxiety, making it more difficult for dogs to learn. Stress and fear can prompt some dogs to behave aggressively.

rhodesian ridgeback running on the grass
Image Credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock

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Rhodesian Ridgebacks are gorgeous, large dogs bred in southern Africa as hunting companions. Although large and powerful, they’re also incredibly devoted to their loved ones. Most are incredibly relaxed and quite good at judging situations and reacting appropriately. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are often great with children and can be wonderful family pets, but they sometimes have trouble getting along with other dogs and cats. Many are fine with cats they grow up with, but others find it challenging to resist the temptation to give chase.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Tronova, Shutterstock

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