Are Rhodesian ridgebacks good guard dogs?

Rhodesian ridgebacks are fantastic guard dogs. They are highly protective of their property and family and will bark when strangers approach. They are alert, confident, independent and will quickly react if something sees out of place. They are large dogs that can physically intimidate intruders.

My ridgeback is incredibly protective of any house we move to. They will establish their boundaries and will be very wary of any strangers that approach. They will get to know people that you trust and will be happy to let them in over time.

This article will explore the qualities of Rhodesian ridgebacks as guard dogs, what makes them great at guarding and what you should know to train them in the right way.

My 14 year old ridgeback will still guard our yard when strangers arrive

My 14 year old ridgeback will still guard our yard when strangers arrive.

Temperament of ridgebacks that make them a good guard dog

There are many temperament and traits of ridgebacks that make them great guard dogs. This includes the fact that they are loyal to their family, they are aware, alert confident and independent.

Loyal to their family

Rhodesian ridgebacks are incredibly loyal to their family. They will usually become attached to one member of the family usually and will protect the rest. They originally were used to protect families while men were out hunting.

This trait seems to have continued as they will stay as close to their family as possible (even in your bed if you let them) and will there to protect against anything out of the ordinary.

Ridgebacks will be aware of strangers but will be gentle with their family. Always keep an eye on them when they are with children because they are still large dogs.


Rhodesian ridgebacks are highly alert, they can be deeply asleep but will wake up in an instant if a strange noise is heard. They have great eyesight and great hearing so will be aware of any movement outdoors or indoors.

They can jump up from sleep to awake in an instant. They are fast and will react if something strange happens.


Rhodesian ridgebacks are inherently confident. They were bred to have the confidence to chase down a lion on their own as they moved ahead of the hunting party. My ridgeback has always been self-assured, and ready to head off on his own to work out what is going on.


Rhodesian ridgebacks are incredibly independent which makes them great at guarding. They will head out into the darkness to check out noises whether it is rabbits or people moving around. They won’t be scared to keep your property safe and will take the initiate to look out for you and your family.

Wary of strangers

Rhodesian ridgeback will from a close bond with their family but will be wary of strangers. This makes them great at guarding as they will bark at anyone they don’t know.

I have found that with my ridgeback he would quickly get to know those family member and friends that visited often. He would let out a small bark to let us know that someone had arrived but would not bark loudly or stop them from coming into the yard.

On the other hand, if a stranger or a strange car arrived, he would bark loudly and pace in front of them to stop them from coming in.

Physical Characteristics of ridgebacks that make them a great guard dog

Ridgebacks are physically strong, have a tough coat and and large dogs. This makes them perfect for guarding.

Size and weight

Make ridgebacks can grow as large as 90 pounds (around 40kg) and the females can grow 70 pounds (32kg). This makes ridgebacks a large breed, definitely large enough to protect your home. Their head can reach waist heigh on most people and they can jump up high enough to put their paws on adult shoulders.


Ridgebacks have loads of muscle mass and are incredibly strong. This makes them fast runners, agile jumpers and they look intimidating. Male dogs will grow incredibly large and strong shoulders which gives them a regal look. Seeing these dogs front on can stop people in their tracks, which makes them great at guarding.

Rhodesian ridgebacks as family pets

While ridgebacks are fantastic guard dogs they are also incredible family pets. They will protect their family and will be incredibly gentle with kids. While they will jump to alert if a stranger approaches.

They can go from chasing a ball to sleeping all day. They will adapt to your lifestyle and move from being a couch potato to an athlete depending on what you are up to. They will want to spend their time with their family as much as possible and hate being left alone.

They will protect their yard and property with barks and will physically place themselves between a stranger and their family to protect them. They are brilliant family pets and mine has been loyal everyday since we got him for his whole 14 years.

Ridgebacks will play and protect their family.

Training Rhodesian ridgebacks as guard dogs

While Rhodesian ridgebacks are naturally good guard dogs they will need training to make sure they are well behaved family pets.


It is essential to socialise your ridgeback from the time they are a puppy so they do not become aggressive towards strangers or other dogs. While they are great guard dogs, a well socialized ridgeback will not cause harm to any other.

We brought our ridgeback to puppy pre-school when he was 12 weeks old. This helps to continue the socialisation process as he left his brothers and sisters.

They will learn play boundaries, how to successfully relate to other dogs and how to know when the play gets too rough.

Obedience training

It is essential that they learn basic obedience such as coming when they are called and sitting. Because they are so independent they need to know that you are in charge so you can call them back if they head off to bark at a stranger.

Ridgebacks will take a few years to mature and benefit from obedience training for as long as it takes for them to understand basic commands. I found that my ridgeback did not mature until he was closer to 3 years old. He needed constant reminders to do what he was asked before he really understood that he needed to do what he was told.

A ridgeback without training will be a lot of trouble. They need to be set boundaries so they are a pleasure to walk, will come back when they are called and will behave around dinner time.

Agility training

Agility training is a great way to stimulate the mind of your ridgeback, keep them fit and healthy and help them to learn basic commands. While they will guard your property well, they need to know that when you say enough, that they will stop barking and come to you.

Agility training will combine physical training, with challenging their mind and get them to follow commands. This is a great way to bond with your ridgeback and give you something fun to do together. This will also help you to maintain control when your ridgeback decides to guard your property. You can call them back when needed.

Are Rhodesian ridgebacks good guard dogs? | Summary

Rhodesian ridgebacks are fantastic guard dogs without being aggressive.

They were originally trained as lion hunters, they will approach an intruder bark, and even aim to push them in a corner but are not likely to actually harm the person if they are trained. Good training is essential as ridgebacks are large dogs and need to know when to stop barking come back when they are called.