Rhodesian ridgeback, sometimes called the African lion hound, breed of large, muscular hound developed in South Africa in the 16th and 17th cent. It stands from 24 to 27 in. (61.0–68.6 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs between 65 and 75 lb (29.5–34.0 kg). Its short, dense coat is glossy and usually tan or reddish tan in color. The ridge down its back is caused by the hair growing in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat. The original ridgeback stock was produced by the crossing of such dogs as mastiffs, bloodhounds, Great Danes, and terriers brought to South Africa by German and Dutch emigrants, and a half-wild, native hunting dog that contributed the characteristic ridge. In addition to its outstanding ability at hunting lions, the ridgeback was prized as a protector of farms from prowling animals. Today it is often a companion dog. See dog.
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