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How to Groom a Rhodesian Ridgeback – 7 Expert Tips

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Rhodesian Ridgeback on Sand

Owning a dog is one of the greatest privileges, but it also comes with responsibility. Big or small, those responsibilities are what they depend on to live a happy and healthy life. Grooming is essential when owning a dog, and it’s one of the simplest tasks of a dog owner.

When grooming a Rhodesian Ridgeback, you will learn that it is a walk in the park when compared to other breeds. However, that does not mean it can be overlooked. A little help can go a long way, so we have compiled expert tips to help you with your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s grooming needs.

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Before You Start

Some dogs love the grooming process, while some hate it or will take time to get used to it. Starting a grooming routine when your dog is still young will make things easier in the long run. If your dog is ill or injured, it may be best to postpone your grooming session to a more suitable time, and if your dog is resistant, never force it.

Make sure you have a safe area and all the appropriate tools before you begin your grooming routine. Also, ensure you have your dog’s favorite treats available to help reinforce good habits.

Rhodesian Ridgeback
Image Credit: imch, Pixabay


The 7 Tips on How to Groom a Rhodesian Ridgeback

1. Regular Brushing

Every dog breed needs regular brushing. While some may need a lot more than others, they can all benefit from being combed regularly. For large breeds like the Rhodesian Ridgeback, being brushed is essential. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not big shedders, but they shed throughout the year.

Brushing their coat at least once a week will help remove loose hairs and is an opportunity to check their skin and coat health. Make it a routine to examine your dog’s skin after each grooming session. Start by feeling your dog’s skin for any odd lumps or bumps, and look for sores, redness, rashes, bald areas, and signs of parasite infestations.

Brush in the same direction that your dog’s hair grows. Use strong strokes to help remove dead hairs rather than exert too much pressure that would damage your dog’s skin.

close up of a Rhodesian Ridgeback mixed breed dog
Image Credit: Denitsa Kireva, Pexels

2. Bathing

Your Rhodesian Ridgeback won’t need to be bathed too often. Approximately once every 4 to 6 weeks will be frequent enough to keep its coat clean and shiny. However, if your Ridgeback spends more time outside and gets muddy more often, it may need a bath more frequently.

When bathing a Rhodesian Ridgeback, it’s important to use a dog-friendly shampoo and avoid any harsh chemicals that can irritate or cause problems for their skin.

If your dog is not the biggest fan of bath time, try to use treats to coax and reward it. Once it learns that a bath means treat time, you are off to a positive start.

Ensure the bath water is not too hot and cold and that the bottom of the bath has a non-slip surface. Dilute the shampoo with water and work it into your dog’s fur. Be careful of the ears, eyes, and nose, but remember to gently scrub their paws, stomach, armpits, and tail, as they are often forgotten.

Rinse the shampoo thoroughly and apply a conditioner if needed, and rinse. Towel-dry your dog gently using an absorbent towel and allow it to shake off the excess water.

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3. Ear Care

Your dog’s ear health shouldn’t be overlooked, and your grooming routine should include regular ear checks. This is crucial for dogs with excessive ear wax production or dense inner ear hair.

You can keep them clean by gently wiping them with a cotton swab. You can do this when you bathe your Ridgeback and once or twice in between. A Rhodesian Ridgbacks ears are made of an outer and inner region known as the pinnae and tragus. They are both very sensitive and should be treated carefully when being cleaned. Never insert anything into the ear canal, and don’t clean too frequently or too deeply as it may irritate.

If you struggle to care for your dog’s ears or notice anything unusual such as swelling or discoloration, consult your vet as soon as possible.

High-quality wet wipes can help you keep your dog clean from head to tail. Our Hepper Wash Wipes are infused with natural, moisturizing ingredients that will soothe your dog's skin while effectively removing dirt and grime. These soft, hypoallergenic wipes are made in the USA and safe for dogs and puppies of all breeds.

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4. Dental Hygiene

Dental hygiene is crucial and is often forgotten about with dogs. Regular brushing, chewing toys, and a healthy diet are all part of good dental hygiene. Plaque that is not removed can easily build up into tartar, leading to gum disease and tooth loss.

Getting your dog used to dental hygiene from a young age is essential. Proper brushing requires you to lift their lips, massage their gums, and clean their teeth.  When massaging their gums, you can use a finger pad, finger brush, or toothbrush with soft bristles to clean the teeth. Chew toys and dental treats help remove plaque from their teeth and are also a great mental stimulant.

5. Nail Trims and Paw Care

When you hear your dog’s nails tapping the floor while they walk, their nails are too long. Indoor Ridgebacks typically need their nails clipped more often, and it’s best to use canine nail clippers to cut the tip of the nail in a straight line. Avoid cutting the nail past its natural bend to avoid cutting the “quick,” which contains blood vessels.

Check your dog’s paw pads regularly for thorns, scratches, wounds, infections, or debris.

dogs getting nails trimmed
Image Credit: Duet PandG, Shutterstock

6. Regularly Check Your Dog’s Eyes

Regularly checking your dog’s eyes will help you recognize anything unusual such as cloudiness, tearing, or inflammation, which usually indicates a health problem. Take your dog to a well-lit area, and face your dog.

Look into your dog’s eyes and check that the eyeballs are white, well-lubricated, clear, and bright. Each pupil should be the same size, and there should be no discharge or crust in the corners of the eyes. The lining of the eye should be pink, not white or red.

7. Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Grooming Sessions

When you first introduce your dog to a grooming routine, it may require encouragement and positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement will help your dog associate the session with something positive, which makes things easier and more enjoyable as time goes on. Take things slowly, and try again the next day if your dog resists.  This, in turn, requires patience, and as a dog owner, you need to be willing to put in the time to teach them.

A puzzle or slow feeder may keep your dog still while you brush or wash them. A non-slip mat will keep it stable and prevent any slips that may frighten it for its next grooming session. Every time your dog does something you want it to do, reward it with a treat and lots of praise.

rhodesian ridgeback lying on a wooden table with flower
Image Credit: Frank Schrader, Pixabay


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What to Do If Your Dog Doesn’t Enjoy Being Groomed?

Making your dog’s grooming routine a positive experience is essential. However, you may not have the time or patience, or for some reason, you can’t get your dog to come and sit for grooming.

In that case, a professional groomer may be the answer. They have all the expertise, experience, and tools and may be able to offer you advice. It is also an opportunity to expose your dog to a new environment and to be handled by strangers.

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Grooming your Ridgeback is an essential part of healthcare. While some dogs may enjoy the process, some will take time to get used to it. Grooming is an excellent opportunity to keep your dog in good physical health, to check for any unusual marks, bumps, scratches, or discharge, and also a great opportunity for bonding. Knowing how to groom your dog, what to look for, how to make it positive, and, most importantly, patience will create the foundations for successful grooming.

Featured Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

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