Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Bark a Lot

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Bark a Lot? A Comprehensive Guide to Their Barking Habits

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a popular dog breed known for their loyalty, courage, and strength. One question often arises when considering adopting a Rhodesian Ridgeback is whether they bark a lot. 

While all dogs can bark, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not known to be excessive barkers and are generally quiet and reserved. 

However, like any breed, dogs may have varying vocalization levels depending on their personality and training.

Although not prone to excessive barking, Rhodesian Ridgebacks will bark to warn their owners of possible dangers as they protect their families.

Additionally, like any breed, they may bark if they are bored, anxious, or need attention. 

Historical Background of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a dog breed that originated in Southern Africa. European settlers developed the breed in the late 19th century by crossing native ridged Khoikhoi dogs with European breeds such as Greyhounds, Terriers, and Bloodhounds. 

The resulting breed was used for hunting large game, such as lions, leopards, and wild boar.

The breed was initially known as Van Rooyen’s Lion Dogs or African Lion Hounds. In the early 1900s, the breed was renamed Rhodesian Ridgebacks after the region in which they were developed. 

The first breed standard was drafted in 1922 by F.R. Barnes in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred to be quiet during hunts, as loud barking could alert the prey and make it difficult to catch. 

The breed has a unique ridge of hair along its back, caused by a genetic mutation initially found in the Hottentot Dog, an extinct breed that the Khoikhoi people used for hunting.

Today, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are still used for hunting in some parts of Africa but are also popular as family pets and show dogs worldwide. The breed is known for its loyalty, intelligence, and athleticism.

General Barking Tendencies

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally known as a quiet breed. They were initially bred to hunt lions, and excessive barking would have alerted the lions and put the dog’s life in danger. 

As a result, breeders specifically selected dogs that didn’t bark as much. However, like all dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks do bark on occasion.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks typically bark less than breeds like Beagles, Basset Hounds, and Terriers. However, each dog’s barking habits can differ based on their personality, surroundings, and training.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can bark for various reasons, such as to alert their owners to the presence of strangers or animals, to show excitement or frustration, or to want attention. 

Owners must recognize these barking patterns and manage excessive barking with appropriate training and socialization.

Reasons Why Rhodesian Ridgebacks Bark

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a distinct deep bark that can sound loud and intimidating.

Although they don’t bark excessively, certain triggers can prompt them to bark more often. Here are some common reasons why these dogs bark:

Hunting Instincts

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were originally bred in South Africa as hunting dogs and still retain much of their hunting instincts today.

This means they may bark when they see or smell prey or are excited by the prospect of a hunt.

While this type of barking is natural and not necessarily a problem, it can be unpleasant to neighbors or nearby people.

Lack of Stimulation

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are smart dogs that need mental and physical activities to stay content and healthy.

They might get restless and bark excessively without adequate exercise or mental challenges. Such barking often indicates a deeper issue and can be challenging to address.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are sensitive dogs that often get distracted by their surroundings. They might bark at other dogs animals, or loud noises such as thunder and fireworks.

Although such barking is a natural behavior, it can become an issue if it’s too frequent or disruptive.

Protective Instincts

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their protective instincts, and they may bark when they perceive a threat to their family or territory. 

This type of barking is usually deep and authoritative and can be pretty intimidating to strangers. While this type of barking is natural and can be a deterrent, it can also be a problem if it becomes excessive or disruptive.

Understanding Ridgeback Vocalizations

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a quiet and gentle nature. However, like all dogs, they can bark, howl, and whine.

Understanding the different types of vocalizations and the situations that trigger them helps you communicate better with your Ridgeback and address any behavioral issues that arise.

Differentiating Between Barking, Howling, and Whining

Ridgebacks, like most dogs, often bark. They use this vocalization to communicate with their owners or to warn them of possible threats.

On the other hand, howling is a more melodic and drawn-out sound often associated with loneliness or anxiety. Whining is a high-pitched sound indicating discomfort, fear, or excitement.

Situations or Emotions That Might Trigger Each Vocalization

Ridgebacks may bark when excited, agitated, or trying to get attention. They may also bark to warn their owners of potential danger or to defend their territory. 

Howling is often triggered by separation anxiety, boredom, or a desire to communicate with other dogs. Whining can signify discomfort or pain or a desire for attention or affection.

Understanding the context of your Ridgeback’s vocalizations can help identify the root cause. Excessive barking might indicate anxiety or boredom, suggesting a need for more physical activity or mental engagement. 

If your dog howls when alone, consider focusing on separation training or offering more chances for social interaction.

Training and Managing Barking

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally quiet dogs but can bark excessively if not trained and managed correctly. 

Early training is crucial to control barking, and positive reinforcement techniques can effectively prevent excessive barking.

Positive reinforcement, such as treats, praise, or affection, rewards desired behaviors like quietness. Clicker training is another method that can teach a Rhodesian Ridgeback to cease barking when instructed. 

This technique uses a clicker to highlight the preferred behavior, followed by a treat or praise as a reward.

Understanding the reasons behind barking is crucial. Barking might indicate boredom, anxiety, or fear. Sufficient exercise, mental engagement, and social interaction can mitigate these triggers.

Consulting a dog behaviorist might be necessary for Rhodesian Ridgebacks that bark excessively due to separation anxiety.

It’s important to note that while training and positive reinforcement are beneficial, one should steer clear of punishment or negative techniques. Such approaches can instill fear and anxiety in dogs, leading to further behavioral issues.

Instead, focus on rewarding desired behavior and managing the dog’s environment to prevent excessive barking.

Environment and Its Impact on Barking

Its surroundings greatly influence the barking habits of a Rhodesian Ridgeback. When the dog is around loud noises like traffic or construction, it might bark more frequently.

Similarly, if a dog is left alone for extended periods, it may develop separation anxiety and bark excessively when its owner is away.

Creating a conducive environment for your Rhodesian Ridgeback is essential to minimize unnecessary barking. Here are some tips:

  • Ensure your dog gets ample exercise and engaging activities to prevent boredom.
  • Offer your dog a cozy and safe resting spot, like a bed or crate, to alleviate anxiety and stress.
  • Teach your dog the correct times to bark using positive reinforcement methods.
  • If you’re away for long durations, consider getting a dog walker or pet sitter for company and activity.
  • Use soundproofing materials, such as curtains or foam insulation, to reduce noise levels in your home.


In conclusion, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not known to be excessive barkers by nature. They were originally bred to hunt lions, which required them to remain quiet and not alert their prey to their presence.

However, like all dogs, they may bark to communicate with their owners or respond to certain situations.

Owners must understand their Rhodesian Ridgeback’s behavior and train them appropriately. Barking may be a sign of anxiety, boredom, or other issues that must be addressed.

Consistent training and socialization can ensure a harmonious relationship between the dog and its owner.

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