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Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good With Kids? Facts & FAQ

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Rhodesian Ridgeback on the beach

A Rhodesian Ridgeback is an affectionate, loving, and loyal watchdog and companion, and it is a great choice when looking for a canine friend. When looking for an ideal pet for a family that has kids, it is very important to consider if the breed is good with children.

Many factors come into play when answering this question, and there is no straight answer. However, Ridgebacks are known to get along with kids and are a relatively good choice. If you are considering adopting a Rhodesian Ridgeback, this article will break down all you need to know to help you make the best decision.

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Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good with Children?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally tolerant and playful with kids, but each dog is individual, and certain factors will determine how good they are with children.

The Breeder

The best place to find out how your puppy will do with children is to ask the breeder you plan on adopting from. The Ridgebacks’ bloodline will play a huge role in how they get along with kids.

Therefore, you should buy your Ridgeback puppy from a breeder who knows their lines well.  When choosing a breeder, you should let them know what you expect from your dog, especially when it comes to children, and the breeder should be able to tell you if their dogs are a good match for your family.

Rhodesian Ridgeback
Image Credit: imch, Pixabay

Temperament and Personality

The temperament and personality of the breed play a role in how good they are with kids. However, choosing a particular breed doesn’t mean you will get a carbon copy of the dog’s personality. It is more of a baseline for you to base your decision on, which can also help guide you in the right direction for training.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks generally have a quiet and gentle temperament and are affectionate, playful, and loyal. The general disposition of the official breed standard can also help determine its general temperament.

The American Kennel Club says the Ridgeback is dignified, affectionate, and even-tempered and gives a 5/5 rating for being good with kids. However, they’re often wary of strangers. While this may suggest that they are good with kids, it is still not a 100% guarantee since other factors are at play.

History and Genetics

The dog’s history also plays an important role in how patient and tolerant they are of kids. However, while each breed can have a generalized temperament, it is also important to consider a dog’s individual personality. Both genetics and life experiences can shape a dog’s personality and behavior toward kids. Genetics will be considered more for families adopting a puppy, whereas their history and life experiences are more important when adopting an older dog.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred to hunt lions and protect homes and families. Their protecting instincts are still very evident today, making them amazing guard dogs and protectors over your children. Their hunting instincts mean that they generally have a high prey drive, which needs to be considered when training and socializing a Ridgeback.

If you are adopting an older dog, it’s important to learn its history and the environment it came from. If the dog comes from a home where it felt threatened by children, it may not be the best fit for your family. If it experienced trauma, it might require a lot more training and patience, especially around your kids.

A Kid’s Behavior

The kids also play a part in how tolerant and playful a Ridgeback will be with them. Dogs and children don’t always get along from the beginning. Parents need to teach and guide their kids in learning appropriate boundaries and guidelines for how to engage with dogs, and they must train the dog how to behave around kids.

No matter their age, expecting a child to be in charge of a dog’s care entirely on their own is unrealistic. When adopting a dog “for the kids,” you must be willing to be the primary caregiver while guiding and teaching your kids what they can and cannot do.

little boy walking with rhodesian ridgeback
Image Credit: MrDragunov, Shutterstock

Things Parents Will Want to Know

Playtime should always be supervised. Ridgebacks can get very excited, and their strength and size can become overwhelming for a small child. They are typically gentle but can be a bit boisterous during playtime.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks usually reach their full height by about 12 months but will continue to bulk out. This is something to be aware of because a small child may not be able to control a dog that may bolt away to try to chase something or if it tries to challenge a stranger or another dog. Their tendency to protect may also pose a potential problem when they have friends over. However, a well-socialized dog with firm training will be more tolerant, patient, and obedient.

It is also important to educate your child on whether playtime is appropriate. They should know not to pull their tail, be too overbearing, or aggravate the dog when it is sleeping, eating, or trying to rest.

rhodesian ridgeback beside a baby carriage
Image Credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock

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Requirements for a Happy and Well-Behaved Ridgeback

A well-behaved and happy Rhodesian Ridgeback is important for its tolerance, patience, and bond with children. Here are some tips to keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback happy, healthy, and safe.

  • Early socialization and training are essential for your dog to grow up well-mannered and obedient. Consider “nature vs. nurture” when it comes to dog behavior. In general, socialization and training are considered “nurture,” but a dog’s breed, inherent personality, and behavioral tendencies are considered “nature.”
  • Positive experiences as a puppy will stay with your dog for life.
  • Your Rhodesian Ridgeback should get at least an hour of vigorous exercise a day.
  • Command train every day to ensure your Ridgeback grows up to be obedient.
  • Your dog should know who the boss is, so you need to be consistent and firm but also loving.
  • Provide your dog with plenty of mental stimulation, including puzzles, nose work, and playtime.
  • Avoid leaving your dog alone for long periods of time.
  • Provide your dog with a high-quality and balanced diet to ensure it is healthy and happy.

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Rhodesian Ridgebacks are an exceptional breed and make excellent family pets. When choosing a breed that is best for kids, you will want to consider the dog’s disposition, genetics, and history. More importantly, early socialization and training will establish a happy and safe companionship with your kids. It is also vital to guide and prepare your kids with the appropriate behavior around your dog. If you follow these guidelines, a Rhodesian Ridgeback can be a wonderful lifelong companion for you and your kids.

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Featured Image Credit: Ivanova N, Shutterstock

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