Rhodesian Ridgeback Vs Lion: Can A Ridgeback Kill A Lion?

The fascinating journey of the Rhodesian Ridgeback from a hunter to a companion has always left people in awe.

We’ve heard stories of how these dogs accompanied hunters in search of lions, the so-called King of Animals.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was even named the African Lion Hound and African Lion Dog, proving that it had a big role to play in handling lions.

Modern times have greatly mystified these stories, but the thought of the Rhodesian Ridgeback vs lion still rings in the minds of every enthusiast of this breed.

Since this dog breed was used to hunt lions — can a Rhodesian Ridgeback kill a lion?

Lions have been known to terrorize big herbivores like elephants — would they succumb to a canine attack?

In truth, the chances of a Rhodesian Ridgeback killing a lion is very low. Unlike how the stories appear these days, the Ridgeback did not kill lions even in its hunting days. There is a lot of myth diluting the facts.

Let’s look more into this matter. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback vs Lion: General Facts

FactsRhodesian RidgebackLion
Height24 to 27 inches40 inches
Weight70 to 85 pounds280 to 420 pounds
Bite Force224 psi650 psi
Speed 30 mph50 mph 
FamilyCanidae (Dog)Felidae

Can a Rhodesian Ridgeback Kill a Lion? Who Will Win?

A Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog and a Lion Standing Face to Face on Grass

Judging from the table above, we can rightly conclude that pitting a Rhodesian Ridgeback against a lion would be a heavyweight/lightweight wrestle.

The odds would be against the Rhodesian Ridgeback from the start as the lion surpasses it in height, weight, bite force, and even speed.

Though the Ridgeback is intelligent, it would likely fight with its instinct, which means going head-on.

That’s a death sentence for the lion hunting dog if you ask us. 

Therefore, a Rhodesian Ridgeback can’t kill a lion as it doesn’t possess the right skills.

But Wait!

Should we then dispel every claim that this dog breed had something to do with lion hunt? 

If so, that would cast doubt on every information we get from the internet.

We should then boycott the digital world and go back to flipping dusty books under the watch of a scowling librarian.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do that.

Indeed, lion hunting was a part of the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s history.

Was the Rhodesian Ridgeback Used to Hunt Lions?

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Running

The short answer to this is yes, the Rhodesian Ridgeback hunted lions. That’s one reason it got the name the African Lion Hound. However, that didn’t happen the way modern Ridgeback fans imagine.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was developed in Africa by Boer farmers for hunting.

These farmers wanted a skilled hunter that would be a good survivalist, guardian, and even a companion. 

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred from the crossing of European dogs—like the Great Dane, the Mastiff, Greyhounds, and Bloodhounds—with a native dog of the Khoikhoi people known as the Hottentot hunting hound.

The latter had a unique ridge on its back and was thought to be an excellent hunter. 

The Ridgeback’s first hunting role had nothing to do with lions. These dogs were employed to flush partridges or take down deer.

Lion hunting started in the late 19th century, but Rhodesian Ridgebacks did not kill lions.

Instead, they were to corner the lion and hold it down till the hunters could come to finish the job.

That was when the breed got the name ‘lion dog’.

The Ridgeback was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1955 and has risen to become the 42nd most popular dog breed as of 2020.

It is also the national dog of South Africa.

15 Incredible Facts About The African Lion Dog

Does the Rhodesian Ridgeback Still Hunt Today?

Hunting Ridgeback Dog with a Fox

In the United States, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has long left the woods and integrated safely into people’s homes as pets and companions.

However, we can’t say the same for other countries.

No doubt, this breed still plays the role of a hunter in regions where hunting remains a strong part of the culture.

It is also a formidable guard dog, even in the United States.

Do note that it still has its hunting instincts intact, even after years of being kept as a household pet.

If you’d want to go on a hunting trip with your buddies, the Ridgeback can tag along. 

Some people assume that the hunting instinct of the Ridgeback would have died off with time.

That isn’t true. It isn’t uncommon for this breed to dart after small animals that it considers prey. 

Ultimately, you can own the Rhodesian Ridgeback as a worker, a guard dog, and also a companion.

Is the Rhodesian Ridgeback still a Good Guard Dog?

Rhodesian Ridgeback Guard Dog On Duty

The Rhodesian Ridgeback played the role of a guardian for the Boer and is still trained to do that today.

Many can attest that the Ridgeback is their home’s canine security system. 

However, the American Kennel Club didn’t add the Ridgeback to the list of recommended guard dogs, which might make some wonder if the Rhodesian Ridgeback is as apt at guarding as we think.

To clear all doubts, let us consider the basic traits that make for a good guard dog. They include:

  • Loyalty
  • Territorial
  • Physically active
  • Aloof towards strangers
  • Controlled aggression
  • Strength
  • Stable temperament

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is known to possess all these as it is protective, loyal, in need of daily exercise, and is reserved towards strangers.

It is also strong, calm, and can get aggressive. These traits match the guard dog criteria.

Furthermore, this breed has long learned to warn off approaching danger in the form of lions by barking and leaping around to send the lion to a corner.

This instinct remains today.

Furthermore, the Ridgeback is a dutiful companion and shows affection to every family member, both adults, and children, making them good family dogs.

How Do I Train the African Lion Dog?

Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Giving Her Paw to Girl in Obedience Training

Because it is a good guard dog, some people would want to put it through specialized guard dog training.

However, the risk of that is very high.

This breed can become highly aggressive if it is put through such training.

It already has natural guardian instincts, so trust that it would use that to the max. 

What the Rhodesian Ridgeback needs is basic training, the kind you give any dog.

These include leash training, obedience training, and even boundaries.

If you do not enjoy having your pet jump on your furniture or your bed, you have to train it not to.

The Ridgeback should also go through proper socialization so its natural wariness won’t develop into aggression.

Socialization should start from an early age to get your pooch used to the process. Introduce them to different people, places, animals, and experiences. 

Natural noises like music, the TV, radio, traffic, the washing machine, and others should be a part of your Ridgeback’s daily routine.

How To Socialize An Aggressive Dog (10 Pro Tips)

Related Questions

What can a Rhodesian Ridgeback kill?

The Ridgeback was bred to be a mighty hunter, as was symbolized by the ridge running down its back.

Though it can’t kill a lion, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has taken down antelopes. 

Which dog can kill a lion?

While it is sometimes believed that the Rhodesian Ridgeback could take down a lion, that assumption is false. This breed could only hold the king of the jungle back. 

No dog has enough strength with the bite force combination to kill a lion.

Can a Rhodesian Ridgeback fight?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback has always been a fighter. Alongside hunting, it also protected its owners from predators.

However, a well-trained member dog will not be aggressive. 

Who Wins The Battle? Can an African Lion Dog Kill a Lion?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is skilled in many ways. Agile, strong, and calm, it is a dignified guardian and companion.

As a formidable hunter, it proved its worth by being an opponent to lions. 

However, it is wrong to claim that one Rhodesian Ridgeback can kill a lion. Even a pack of Ridgebacks could only hold down a lion, and not kill it.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is weaker than a lion in many ways, and even weaker in strength when compared to other strong dog breeds like the Rottweiler and the Irish Wolfhound.

Let’s stick to correct history, not exaggerated myths.

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Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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