AKC Rhodesian Ridgebacks Ethically Bred and Raised in our Home. Therapy and Show Dogs raised with Children.

        Hunting Instinct and Prey Drive in Rhodesian Ridgebacks

 One of the most important qualities a person should be aware of when considering adding a Ridgeback to their home and family is the strong prey drive that can be found in nearly all RRs. If not understood this can become a huge shock ! It is not uncommon when asked to describe the qualities people believe they will find in a Hound, for them to list loyal, lazy and loving.  These absolutely fit your average Ridgeback. But you have to factor in Prey Drive.  

The original Homesteaders in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), brought with them prized breeding and working stock from Europe. Many breeds used for guarding, hunting and to a certain degree companionship. However the European Dogs  would retrieve and point from dawn to dusk yet were found to be out of their league hunting in the brush of South Africa.  The Famer and Homesteader found the dogs they could count on needed a different set of skills.  They had to  be able to hunt independently of the Hunter.  Many times they would pursue game through scrub and brush impossible for the Hunter and his party to manage.  The dogs had to work both as a pack and as a single, first directing,  then holding  game until the Hunter could catch up. The ability to scent, track, run, push, anticipate, bay and be versital on the type of game hunted was highly prized. Leaving the European Hunting dogs  often frustrated, unable to see the hunter and receive direction,  many hunts with them were either abandonded, or worse, ended in the death of the dog.  The dog who stood still , pointing at game was a dead dog when it was a lion they pointed at!  Being able to dart in and out, staying out of reach of claw or tusk was essential.  Even Verbal skills had to change. Simply barking at game was not enough. They needed to be vocal to allow the hunting party to do more than simply follow, with different barking and baying the hunt part knew if the dog was in pursuit, holding, challenging even confused. They had to understand what the dog(s) were doing when out of sight. It is not at all uncommon for a Ridgeback owner , even today, to hear their dog and not just recognize them from the bark, but know why and even who or what they  are barking at just from the tone of the barking and baying!         

 Above we have Titus, Lucius and Little Hilde in hot pursuit !! 

 Owned and loved by Sean and Kelley Kotch !

CH. GRCH. SpringValley Extra Duty For Titus JC, GRCH SpringValley Extra Duty For Lucius

and Venatus Hilde ( Jagd Terrier)

Can you imagine the problems that would arise if you thought your adorable hound puppy was going to grow up content to play only your games?  Ridgebacks are very intelligent, I can not stress this enough.  Strong and powerful the last things you need  to discover  while on a casual walk. Being aware of it allows you to train and prepare. Each dog has a different level of Prey Drive,  however it is a topic that rarely comes up when cuddling that sweet chubby little puppy. 

 Below is "Wes" of New Mexico's Cimarron Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Ch Cimarron's Showdown SC FCH.  Wes was named for the Famous Gunslinger, John Wesley Hardin who had 44 showdowns and won ALL of them.  True to his namesake , wes is rock steady. Here he is delivering a Bunny to his Dad, Ross Jones.  Wes understands and is proud of his gift to dad!  Bringing his prize unmauled to Ross despite the large Hiking group together that day. ( About 16 Ridgebacks!!) .    Speaking volumes of his solid nature and intelligence.

 It is even more impressive when you realize a pack of dogs can attempt to strip the prey from another, poaching or outright stealing from each other would not be unexpected in a large pack.  Yet Wes' has the mental  presence to make it plain to the others this was HIS bunny to deliver.  No fighting, no aggression.  Just Intelligent Hounds at work.


  We are fortunate enough to go to the Ridgeback Rodeo every year in Connieutville, Pa at the Scattergun Fishing and Hunting Reserve. Among the many tests we put out stock through is the Hunting Instinct tests HRQ1 ( feather)  and HRA2 ( fur).  We had a wonderful time trying our dogs on the HRQ2, in 2009.  Of the 3  dogs we entered 2 passed. Had we been aware they needed to work muzzled during a portion of the test , ( to prevent injury to the test animals) I could have better prepared the 3thrd dog.  Allowing her to become accustomed to the feel of being in a "Box" muzzle.  However, my ignorance created an unhappy girl who managed to break out of an "unbreakable" muzzle !  Rather than further stress, her we opted to try again in 2010. Zion  managed to ignore the muzzle, and even though  Dreamer refused to work muzzled, she still scored High in Trial for the Day  by acing the Scenting, Tracking and Retreving portions of the test ! Now That is Hunting Instinct. I admit I was enthralled watching and working my hounds.  

CH Southridge Bwana Natl Treasure HIC, TT HRQ2  - Zion catching the scent of the rabbit and tracking....  Once the scent was found he was eager to be away to the chase. In this portion of the test a gun is fired very close to the dog several times before and then as he chases a furry lure at high speed through the brush. The owner is not allowed to give direction or correction.  It is all the dog .

 We co- own Zion with his Breeders and our Good Friends, Kathy Lyons and Linda Winford Of Southridge Kennel in Clarksville, Tn. I can not tell you how greatful we are that Bob was allowed to  have his Soul Puppy.

Below is my young girl , Bwana's Champagne Dreams HIC, TT, HRQ2 - Dreamer  . Don't think for one minute That our Sweet D plays fetch, she would laugh at the thought of such an silly game. However she quickly understood after finding the scent, tracking it and then running it down she even returned her prize to me with great pride!

My understanding was Dreamer  was the only Ridgeback tested that day, who successfully retreived in the Fur Trials. Unphased by the repeated close range gun fire, Dreamer kept her head on the concept. This is the same dog who is unhappy with fireworks.  The pistol is fired closer and closer. By the end of the trials the forrested area , smells strongly of  gun smoke and excited dogs . They begin the test in groups of three. To finish individually on the scenting, tracking and pursuit of prey. The test animals are carefully protected, to assure no harm comes to them.   

Dreamer's placement in the High in Trial was beyond my expectations. Because we keep such a tight lead on our pack, the most I was hoping for was strong interest.

To have her independently comprehend what we desired was a thrill. Watching the instinct, intelligent response and physical skill, all products of careful genetic engineering by the creators of our beloved breed clearly exhibited by my hounds left me breathless.

While niether my husband or I hunt, these trials offer a clear understanding of what the hound is capable of.

If you have the chance to enter a Hunting Instinct Trial we highly reccommend it !  In the United States , Ridgebacks are used in hunting a large variety of prey. Because they are both sight and scent hound they have been used with great success on deer, puma, coyote, javelina, wild boar, and birds. (I know they are used with other prey,but this list is one from friends who have actively hunted themselves.) You can imagine just how varied the techniques must be for each of the animals in the list I have included.  Add the danger factor and it is really very impressive.  The worst dogs need worry about when working birds are hunters who are poor shots, however deer have been known to maim animals careless enough to get within kicking range.  A puma can slash and kill as effectively as the lion they were genetically engineered to challenge in the begining. The javelina and boar are just scary! While javelina are considered a smaller version of wild pig ( belonging to the peccary family) they average about 35 to 50 pounds. They have tusks that can be a couple of inches long , The wild boar of course is in no way to be confused with "Babe" this is an invasive species, they root and scar the areas in which they live and are considered a violent and aggressive animal by most.  Ranging swamp, forrest and mountain they can  range from 77 to 440 pounds, the tusk is normally 3-5 inches but have been recorded up to 9 inches !


Obviously it takes a powerful and intelligent animal to challenge a Wild Boar!

Dogs used in hunting Birds do so with even more skills. A soft mouth, the ability to scent, locate then flush the bird are crucial, upon flushing the bird into flight the dog must then visually track the bird in order to retrieve it once shot. Here are some photos of more dogs taken at the  2009 Ridgeback Rodeo. It is at the top of our "To Do" list for 2010! 


"Khoi"  Intrigue'd Khoisan By Tam Lyn SG CGC HIC TT

HRQ1 and HRQ2  Owned and Loved by:

Correy Burgess of Semper Fi Kennel, Maryland, USA


 You can see the bird just Flushed by Khoi in flight above and to the right you see just a small sample of the brush that Khoi and the other RRs worked in for their Hunting Instinct Titles.  What a Truly Lovely Boy he is ! 



I hope this link works it is a wonderful video of the Hunting Instinct Testing for Birds again, at the Ridgeback Rodeo .  Contributed By Mathew Valdivia.

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I put a call out to the RR commnuity and asked for any photos that might give folks a feeling of how the dog feels when working as it was intended to .... and here you are...

 Cherie Starr and Ross Jones of Cimarron Rhodesian Ridgebacks in Alburquerque, New Mexico  often have large gatherings to allow the dogs a chance to truly work as a pack... this was a 16 dog day !!    

Kicking up a sand storm !  Running and scenting thru the gulleys and dry river beds.  The Cimarron Pack show True Hunting Instinct, scenting tracts, locating burrows, focused, happy dogs.


There a amazing "critters" in the dessert.  With common sense about snakes and heat any dog can  wander with their owners and have a day to remember.  The Cimarron Dogs are really lucky to be able to enjoy pack play on a fairly regular basis. Keeping them Show Fit and Happy!

  As Often as Folks read about or hear me speak about the Ridgeback Rodeo I was very happy to have several incredible photos sent from: Karen and Eric Watson of TerraCotta Kennel at the Scattergun Fishing and Hunting Reserve in Connieatville, Pa.  I can not reccommend this event enough !


This is "Kali" as a Senior,  DC Kalimba Kizuri of TerraCotta CD TT        The Scattergun, once an Amish farm has a handbuilt Barn , I call her the "Grey Lady", She is beyond beautiful, however pigeons not only agreed but attempted to take her over. Kali was an important part of freeing her from  her feathered terrorists!

Very few older dogs are offered the dignity of  knowing they are part of taking care of the homestead...  one of the primary goals the early Ridgeback Breeders attempted to breed into every Ridgeback. A dog who stayed , not because of fences or leashes , but because they knew they belonged and were needed.  " Good Dog"  what every dog needs to hear.


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