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question about rhodesian ridgebacks...UPDATE ORIGINAL POST

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  • question about rhodesian ridgebacks...UPDATE ORIGINAL POST

    I've been doing a search on here on ridgebacks as I'm hoping that will be my next dog. My main concern is the prey drive I have read about. My question is: if puppy is raised around horses, goats, chickens,cats ect will they still have desire to go after them? We have a variety of creatures on farm and want all to get along. Is that wishful thinking? I have every intention of doing obediance classes and being as consistant with training as possible. Any info is appreciated. Thanks!

    UPDATE 2/6/13:
    Thank you again to everyone for all your advice. I did end up getting a Ridgeback puppy. Black nosed male named Thor. He is 5+ months now and has been the most amazing puppy ever!! Was so, so easy to crate and house train and only had 1 accident in the house and never messed in his crate! He is so great around all the horses/dogs/cats/goats! Loves to go out to the barn with me and also will sleep for hours in his crate (goes in there all on his own.) He has been attending his obedience classes for a couple of weeks now and his learning fast. I am totally smitten with him (and so is my husband although he would never admit it!!).

    Anyway, just thought I would update and tell everyone what a great ridgie I have and thanks again for all your advice :-)
    Last edited by cbsh13; Feb. 6, 2013, 06:26 PM.

  • #2
    Yes. If they have the prey drive it's instinct. I've had ridgebacks since 1998. It is wishful thinking to get a breed like this and then try to convince it to do otherwise I'm afraid.

    I love them, but having them takes planning.

    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


    • #3
      Depending on who you ask you will get different answers. I know of people who have rhodesians around small animals and livestock with no problem. I also know of a rhodesian that lives on property with 50+ cows and truly out of the blue one day took down a day old calf by the neck in front of the owner.

      Many, many breeds have prey drives. I own a terrier and implicitly trust him with my cat. The two of them are left alone together for hours on end. Yes, of course he could "snap" and go after her but after watching their interactions I feel very confident that the odds of that happening are slim to none.

      A well-trained rhodesian will need supervision around livestock and small animals but I think it can work out just fine. Be honest with the breeder and look for lines that are known for throwing even-temperment and make sure the breeder has successfully placed dogs in pet homes that have small animals or livestock.

      Just my 2 cents.


      • #4
        Most dogs have a prey drive, especially hunting annd terrier types. If they are well socialized and disicplined, they should easily live happily with other animals, big and small. My ridgy cross (who was VERY ridgy), lived her entire life with cats and horses and other things and was great. And was raised by me as a very stupid teenager...she would have been incredible if I had her now!


        • #5
          My policy with dogs is don't get a dog that is bred for a specific purpose if you don't want them to behave as if they were bred for that purpose.

          Terriers are going to hunt vermin and leave them at your feet whether you like it or not. Herding bred dogs are going to desperately want to herd. Dogs who are bred to work NEED the mental stimulation that their breeding predisposes them to.
          It's unfair to them expect to train them out of it (I'm not saying don't train. I think ALL dogs need to go through training. Don't care if they're little yappy slipper dogs whose only job is to pee on the floor and chew up squeaky toys). You wouldln't take a horse who is bred and loves to run and race and expect it to be content to just plod around as a lead line horse or western pleasure horse. Same thing here, though many people do it. The dog gets the short end of the stick in these cases.


          • #6
            Good luck with that, OP!

            While I have not owned a Ridgeback, I have owned another large sighthound breed for many years, and had daily contact with a friend's ridgebacks, walking the pack around our property. The ridgebacks were wonderful hunters, killing numerous rabbits, squirrels, birds, and once, a deer. At their home, they killed numerous chickens IN THEIR COOP, by "straining" them through the chicken wire and biting off their heads (I have known raccoons to do this as well), and two cats.

            They were more predatory than the wolfhounds, and that is saying something! They were well trained, two had CDs and one a CDX (or UD, can't recall). The problem is that predatory behavior, once established, is very difficult to modify, because it is extremely rewarding. There are always exceptions, and I'm sure there are indeed some ridgebacks who live peacefully with a variety of livestock, just as some wolfhounds do. I have even heard of a wolfhound who herded sheep! Some are excellent hunters, but have learned the difference between "legitimate" prey and their owners' off limits pets or livestock.

            If you really wanted to have a ridgeback with chickens or other livestock, you could either start with a puppy and work very hard, or adopt an older adult who lacked predatory behavior towards livestock, they do exist.

            But chances are, you will have a more difficult task in your situation with a ridgeback or other large fast breed that has been developed for its hunting ability that includes killing, than with a breed developed for a less lethal purpose. Just raising them with goats, cats, chickens, is not sufficient, as they will have much exposure to "temptation" and opportunities to engage in it, i.e., the visual stimulus of movement and vocalizations that will elicit predatory behavior- stalking, chasing, grabbing, and killing- very quickly, and ridgebacks can be very quick to complete the predatory sequence and thus richly reward themselves. Less intensely predatory dogs can give you a little warning, focusing, maybe chasing, so you can have a chance to intervene before it has gotten out of hand.

            It could be a daunting task. Not impossible, certainly, I'm sure there are ridgebacks that could do it, but ask yourself if you are willing to accept the consequences if you are not successful (dead livestock or pet killed in front of you, now what do you do with your Ridgeback?)


            • #7
              Edited to add..

              I would especially never allow the wolfhounds or most ridgebacks I know access to foals or calves. The ridgebacks made me nervous when the horses rolled even though they were behind a fence. I have one wolfhound bitch who is behind an eight foot fence, and the horses are in a four board fence, and when the horses roll, I am thankful for that!

              When the ridgebacks killed the deer, the wolfhounds were behind a five foot fence, but jumped it to join in. They had never done that before.


              • #8
                From Blairasb My policy with dogs is don't get a dog that is bred for a specific purpose if you don't want them to behave as if they were bred for that purpose.

                In a nutshell. Don't set a dog up like that. I mean why get a particular breed with particular traits and hope the traits don't manifest in your dog? Look, I've been all ridgebacks all the time for a very long while. I've had my own, fostered, volunteered, done lure coursing (where they chase a plastic bag rabbit on a motorized zipline, etc.) they are awesome dogs. I would not put one in that situation and cross my fingers. It's not fair to the dog, to you, or to your livestock.

                The idea that you could convince a ridgeback puppy not to chase/kill your livestock when it is grown is wrong. You could no more do that than convince a border collie puppy not to herd. It's instinct. You may be able to find some kind of adult with no instinct, but that's a stretch. Just get another kind of dog.


                He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                • #9
                  Ridgebacks are nice dogs in the right circumstance. I think it takes an exceptional person to own and handle Ridgebacks.

                  OP, what is it about the Ridgeback breed that caught your attention to be your next dog?? What are your goals with the dog you want other than to coexist on the farm, protection?? I love hounds, had a whippet for 14 years, but a hound doesn't train as easily as a dogs from other groups. There is a lot to love about hounds but a big hound with a strong prey drive isn't for every person and every situation.


                  • #10
                    I have a 2yo female Ridgeback. She has a very high prey drive and will chase/kill squirrels and rabbits. She also chases deer but doesn't know what to do with them, so she just runs beside them (it is really funny to watch). I took her to the barn a few days after we picked her up at 8wks of age, and let the barn cat install the fear of God into her so she respects cats and will NOT chase them. She has killed a chicken once when she was loose on the farm with my husband, unsupervised. It was a free ranging rooster. I wasn't there and got an earful about it via text message. I felt AWFUL. Since then we simply do not set her up for failure. If there are free ranging birds or small animals where we are, she goes on the leash. She hangs out in the front yard with us - we live on a small side street with 8 houses and two neighbours have cats. The cats sit in the middle of the road, rolling around with each other and teasing the dog. She has never offered to chase them despite them tormenting her but basically any other small animal is at her mercy.

                    Basically, I think if you train the dog as a young puppy that things are off-limits, you might have an ok chance, but if the chickens start running around and squawking, the dogs instincts might take over. I don't think you can breed a sighthound for hundreds of years to kill small animals and then try to train it out of them in one generation. That is unfair to the dog and you are setting yourself up for failure. Just my honest opinion having owned one of these dogs.

                    Custom Painted Saddle Pads and Ornaments


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post

                      The idea that you could convince a ridgeback puppy not to chase/kill your livestock when it is grown is wrong. You could no more do that than convince a border collie puppy not to herd. It's instinct. You may be able to find some kind of adult with no instinct, but that's a stretch. Just get another kind of dog.


                      OP, look at other breeds. What you're asking isn't fair for that breed of dog.

                      Our BC was a herding machine from the time we got him at age 6 weeks until he died at almost 15. I would never have gotten a border collie if I couldn't deal with that kind of behavior.

                      Nice picture and beautiful dogs, Paula.
                      "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                      the best day in ten years,
                      you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."


                      • #12
                        what is it about the ridgeback that appeals to you?
                        I agree with the above that keeping a sighthound in amongst lots of prey animals is just asking for trouble.
                        Ridgebacks are similar in appearance to Danes, but a Dane would be much easier to train to leave the animals alone. You could look for a small fawn Dane.


                        • #13
                          I think it depends on how much training you are willing to put on the dog, and how good you are at generalizing said training.

                          if people could not channel the various drives dogs have we would never have field dogs, herding dogs, working dogs, etc.


                          • #14
                            A Ridgeback trained well is a wonderful dog and can be trustworthy around livestock--at least while you are present and able to call off the dog, if need be.

                            A Ridgeback is a very, very difficult dog to train well.

                            This is what I tell horse people who inquire about Ridgebacks after meeting mine: if you can take a rank, adult stud horse and turn it into a respectful, mannered stallion, you can manage the training it takes to turn a Ridgeback into a respectful, mannered dog.

                            And even if you DO think you can do that, DON'T expect the dog to be good and reliable (even predictable) until it's over three years old. You might get lucky and have an "easy" dog that is reliable earlier, but don't count on it.

                            Ridgebacks are great dogs, but Ridgebacks are also TOUGH TOUGH dogs. It takes a lot of time, commitment, skill and effort to have a nice dog in the end.


                            • #15
                              I volunteered for ridgeback rescue for some time and I'll tell you that we got young dogs. Just about 18 months is when you get the call "Come get this (*&^** dog!" Why? At 18 months you have a full sized pup who is untrained. It's all good for those of use who have been sucked into the RR trap, but the dog can be intimidating for others. One thing, sighthounds were meant to be independent so as training goes, they really don't give a crap what you want. You can't approach them directly as you might a GSD. There's no "What is your bidding, Master?" in ridgies. That's fine with me, but that's not fine with many.

                              So don't set up your dog for failure.

                              He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                                I think it depends on how much training you are willing to put on the dog, and how good you are at generalizing said training.

                                if people could not channel the various drives dogs have we would never have field dogs, herding dogs, working dogs, etc.

                                Now Threedogpack...why are you messing this thread up with logic?

                                The answer is TRAINING!! If you aren't up for the task, don't get the dog.
                                I have owned 6 Ridgebacks over the last 25 years, and been around many more of them during that time. Two years ago I lost my 8 year old male (whom I'd owned from a puppy) to Lymphoma, who was great with the horses & never killed a cat,chicken or any other creature. Our most recent Ridgies are a 6 year old male shelter dog and a 10 year old foster female (owned 2 yrs and 1 plus yrs respectively). Neither of them had ever encountered horses or free range chickens in their previous homes, and may or may not have encountered cats. The male showed an inclination to chase the chickens when we first got him, but understands now that they are off limits. To this date, all animals are present and accounted for. He is however allowed to chase rabbits, and he IS well aware of the difference between the off limits animals and the "go get' em" type. He has not to my knowledge actually ever caught one. The female can't even be bothered to look at them, much less chase them. My earlier Ridgies were very similar to the male dog I have now...as soon as they understood the rules, they could be trusted completely. I have four cats, five horses and 40 chickens, so they get plenty of temptation. Even my german shepherd is trustworthy with the animals, with the small exception of "horse herding" on occasion.
                                DON"T expect the dog to be something it's not, but absolutely expect it to be a well trained individual, regardless of the breed.
                                Last edited by chism; Sep. 27, 2012, 08:56 PM.
                                "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                                  One thing, sighthounds were meant to be independent so as training goes, they really don't give a crap what you want.
                                  I disagree with this, actually.

                                  Ridgebacks aren't like Border Collies or Labs or any of the typical "trainable" breeds, but I HAVE found that once I have that one on one connection with the dog, they are VERY attentive to what I want.

                                  Once the connection is there, I have never had a Ridgeback just blow me off. They will, however, completely and totally ignore OTHER people, or, at the very least, check with ME before obeying a command from someone else.

                                  For me, that connection is what having a Ridgeback is all about. Building that connection takes time and being super consistent and fair when working with the dog. I think it's also important to set the dog up to succeed and never really give them the opportunity to blow you off, until you know they won't.

                                  Caveat: I have always gotten my dogs as puppies and I have always had females.


                                  • #18
                                    I must of had 3 duds then. I worked for a man that imported 3 young Ridgys from Zimbabwe and not a one went after the horses, other dogs, cats, wildlife. What they DID go after were the lawn guys. We would be out riding and see a lawn guy up a tree with one of the Ridgys barking up the trunk.

                                    of the 3 (2 females, 1 male) that were imported we had 2 litters of pups, after the litters were weaned we PTS the 2 females. They just could not be trusted with strangers or men that they sort of knew.

                                    The male that was imported was neutered and given to a friend of mine and he lives a wonderful life. Very laid back, nothing bothers him, an easy peasy dog.


                                    • #19
                                      Why do people insist on getting dogs that are inappropriate for their lifestyle? Want a farm dog, get a breed that's bred for what you want it to do on the farm. They come in small and large sizes, short and long hair.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                                        Why do people insist on getting dogs that are inappropriate for their lifestyle? Want a farm dog, get a breed that's bred for what you want it to do on the farm. They come in small and large sizes, short and long hair.

                                        Don't tell my Ridgebacks that they're inappropriate for farm life, then it will be nothing but work, work, work all the time for me.
                                        "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville