Originating in Southern Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred for hunting and tracking game animals, particularly lions. This purpose required them to be not only strong and fearless but also swift and nimble. Over time, their natural aptitude for running developed, making them one of the fastest dog breeds in the world. The question is: how fast can the Rhodesian Ridgeback run?
What’s the Running Speed of the Rhodesian Ridgeback?
The top speed of the fastest Rhodesian Ridgeback in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Fast Coursing Ability Test is 33.37 mph (53.70 kmh). This is a little bit faster than the Belgian Malinois but a lot slower than the Borzoi. The slowest Rhodesian Ridgeback in the AKC 2023 is 13.07 mph (21.03 kph), which is comparable to the slowest Bichon Frise.
What Makes the Rhodesian Ridgeback Fast?
The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s body is built for speed. They have a lean and muscular frame, with a deep chest and powerful hindquarters. These physical characteristics allow them to generate strong propulsion and cover ground quickly. Their long and graceful strides contribute to their remarkable speed, making them a sight to behold in motion.
In addition to their physical attributes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks possess an innate sense of balance and coordination. This natural agility allows them to change direction swiftly and navigate various terrains with ease. Whether it’s chasing after a toy, participating in agility trials, or simply playing in the backyard, they exhibit impressive dexterity and gracefulness.
Contrary to popular belief, the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s unique ridge of hair, which grows in the opposite direction along its spine, is not a speed booster. The ridge is purely a genetic trait and has no impact on the dog’s running ability or overall performance.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks vs. Other Fast Dog Breeds: How Do They Compare?
How do the Rhodesian Ridgebacks measure up against other fast dog breeds? Let’s explore how Rhodesian Ridgebacks compare to some renowned speedsters in the canine world.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks vs. Greyhounds
Greyhounds are often considered the epitome of speed among dog breeds. They are built for high-speed pursuits, with a lean and aerodynamic body. Greyhounds are known to reach astonishing speeds of up to 45 mph (72.42 kmh) in short bursts. While Rhodesian Ridgebacks may not match the top speed of Greyhounds, they can still run at impressive speeds and offer better endurance.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks vs. Salukis
The Saluki is another breed renowned for its speed and elegance. Originating from the Middle East, Salukis possess a slender and streamlined body. Their running speed is comparable to that of the Rhodesian Ridgebacks, but they are exceptional long-distance runners and can sustain high speeds over extended periods. While Rhodesian Ridgebacks may not match Salukis in terms of endurance, they can rival their speed in shorter sprints.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks vs. Whippets
Whippets are often referred to as “miniature Greyhounds” due to their similar appearance and impressive speed. They are smaller in size but possess the same muscular build and agility as Greyhounds. Whippets can reach speeds of around 40(56 kilometers per hour) and excel in sports such as lure coursing and agility.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks vs. Vizslas
Vizslas are versatile sporting dogs known for their athleticism and speed. They have a sleek and muscular build, allowing them to reach impressive speeds. While Vizslas may not match Rhodesian Ridgebacks in terms of pure speed, they are agile runners and excel in activities like field trials and hunting.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks vs. Border Collies
Border Collies are renowned for their intelligence and herding abilities, but they also possess great speed and agility. They are nimble runners and excel in sports, such as flyball and agility competitions. While the Border Collies may not match the speed of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, they have their own unique running abilities.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks hold their own among the fastest dog breeds, combining speed, power, and endurance. They are capable of impressive bursts of speed and can maintain a strong pace over longer distances.
Training Tips to Enhance Running Performance
To unlock the full running potential of your Rhodesian Ridgeback, incorporating effective training techniques is essential. Here are some valuable tips to enhance their running performance and help them reach their peak speed and agility:
Start with a gradual conditioning program to build your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s endurance and stamina. Begin with shorter runs or brisk walks and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time. This allows their muscles and cardiovascular system to adapt and prevents injuries.
Incorporate interval training into your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s exercise routine. Alternating between periods of high-intensity sprints and moderate-paced runs helps improve their anaerobic capacity and overall speed. For example, alternate between 30 seconds of all-out sprinting and 1-2 minutes of jogging or walking.
Consistency and Frequency
Regularity and frequency are key when it comes to training. Aim for consistent exercise sessions at least a few times a week. This helps maintain your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s fitness level and ensures steady progress in their running performance.
Engage your Rhodesian Ridgeback in cross-training activities to enhance their overall athleticism. Incorporate activities, such as swimming, agility training, and playing fetch to improve their coordination, balance, and muscle strength.
Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards and praise, to motivate and encourage your Rhodesian Ridgeback during training sessions. This positive association will make the training experience enjoyable and increase their eagerness to perform.
Focus on Core Strength
Develop your dog’s core strength through targeted exercises. Core stability is crucial for maintaining balance and generating power during running. Incorporate exercises like balance work, sit-ups, and side planks to strengthen their core muscles.
Incorporate different terrains into your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s training routine. Running on varied surfaces such as grass, sand, or uphill trails challenges their muscles in different ways, improves their agility, and helps prevent repetitive strain injuries.
Warm-up and Cool-down
Prior to each exercise session, include a warm-up period of gentle walking to prepare their muscles and joints. After the workout, allow for a cool-down period with a gradual reduction in intensity to prevent muscle soreness and promote recovery.
By implementing these training tips, you can maximize your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s running performance, boost their speed and endurance, and ensure their overall fitness and well-being. Remember to tailor the training program to your dog’s individual abilities and always prioritize their safety and enjoyment during exercise.
Best Dog Sports for Rhodesian Ridgebacks
Rhodesian Ridgebacks’ exceptional speed and agility make them well-suited for various sports and competitions. Their natural athleticism and trainability open up opportunities for owners to engage them in activities that showcase their running abilities. Let’s explore some of the sports and competitions where Rhodesian Ridgebacks excel:
Lure coursing is a sport that simulates the chase of prey. A mechanically operated lure, such as a plastic bag or a stuffed animal, is pulled along a course, and dogs chase after it. Rhodesian Ridgebacks, with their keen sight and incredible speed, excel in lure coursing. They demonstrate their natural instinct for tracking and chasing, making it a thrilling and engaging sport for both the dog and owner.
Agility is a sport that involves dogs navigating through an obstacle course, including jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and more. Rhodesian Ridgebacks’ speed, agility, and intelligence make them excellent candidates for agility competitions. They can quickly maneuver through the obstacles with grace and precision, showcasing their athleticism and ability to follow commands.
Sprint racing, also known as straight racing or drag racing, involves dogs running in a straight line over a set distance. Rhodesian Ridgebacks’ speed and acceleration make them formidable competitors in sprint racing events. These races provide an opportunity to witness their impressive bursts of speed and their ability to reach high velocities in a short amount of time.
Canicross is a sport that involves running with dogs while attached to a harness and connected by a bungee line. It combines the joy of running with the companionship of your Rhodesian Ridgeback. Their natural running abilities and endurance make them ideal partners for canicross enthusiasts.
Obedience and Rally Obedience
While not strictly focused on speed, obedience and rally obedience competitions require dogs to perform a series of tasks and exercises with precision and responsiveness. Rhodesian Ridgebacks’ intelligence and trainability make them capable of excelling in these obedience-based sports, showcasing their discipline and willingness to work.
Engaging Rhodesian Ridgebacks in these sports and competitions not only taps into their natural abilities but also provides mental and physical stimulation, promotes a strong bond between dog and owner, and enhances overall fitness. However, it’s essential to ensure proper training, conditioning, and safety measures are in place to prevent injuries and maximize enjoyment for both the dog and handler.