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Male or Female Ridgeback - that is the question.

You may have felt that selecting a breed was the biggest decision you had to make before getting a dog. But now that you have made the choice of getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback, you now have a new challenge to occupy you thoughts: Which is best, a male, or a female?
There is an old tongue-in-cheek adage that has been around for a long time among fanciers in general: “If you want a good dog, get a male. If you want a great dog, get a female and cross your fingers.” One thing that must be considered  when evaluating a proverb like this or the differences that may or may not exist between male and female dogs is the influnence of cultural stereotypes. Men and women nuaturally have certain perceptions about each other, and consequently they may have a propensity to project them onto animals in a way that is not entirely appropriate. It is also true that those stereotypes may not be accurate when applied to the opposite sex in people. Nevertheless, this tendency does have to be taken into account whenever you are evaluating statements that supposedly delineate the differences between male and female dogs.
One further caveat needs to be stated, and that is that when we speak of the differences that may really exist between male and female Ridgebacks, it must be understood that these are generalities. While a male or female may be more likely to possess a certain characteristic or behavioral trait, this does not mean these generalities apply in every case. This is why its so important to evaluate puppies dispositons accurately and carefully. The breeder should evaluate every puppy and make a record of individual personalities, and then make a decision based on those facts as to what puppy will best fit a particular lifestyle. If There is one thing that all dog breeders and trainers agree on, It is this: that the personality differences that may between individual dogs have a much wider margin than that which might exist between the sexes.
Bearing all of this in mind, let’s take a peak at some differences that appear to exist, generally speaking, between male and female Rhodesian Ridgebacks.


Many of the male dogs of our breed tend to be more demanding of attention, affectionate, frisky, and focused on human beings than female dogs - but not Always. It is said that females are generally are more independent and inconsistent in their focus on their human companions, but again - not always. Females can be every bit as loving but after sampling their owners affections awhile, they may prefer to go off on their own for some "alone time".
Some breeders report that female dogs are often like cats indicating the some of their repsonses can almost be described as "cat-like". For example, they groom themselves frequently, and may object to stepping in wet areas, such as after a rain storm - although I have watched males do exactly the same things.

One thing that most dog trainers and other experienced Ridgeback owners agree on is that if you already have one dog, your next one should ideally be of the opposite sex. This is because two dogs of the same sex are more likely to get into scraps. However, because of the strength of their territorial instincts, this rule is more applicable to females.

So while it may be possible to bring two neutered male dogs together it can sometimes present more of a challenge to have two females sharing the same domain. It is true that this female-female hostility has its roots in the reproductive instincts, even if you choose to have your female dogs spayed it could still present a challenge for more than one to co-exist in the same household.

A pair of in-tact males can be dangerous, as they feel the need to compete for suitorship of available females. Many are the tale of two males fighting to near death or at least until exhaustion wins out.


It is widely believed that female dogs are easier to train because they are less easily distracted. Male dogs have a tendency to remain like goofy, playful kids their whole lives, and it can be hard to get them to focus on one thing for long. Lots of treats in any case will make for a productive training environment regardless of gender.
One thing must be noted at this point, and that is in the competitive world of dog shows and related events, when it comes time to hand out prizes and titles it is male dogs that have traditionally dominated. (However, on occasion, a conformationally pretentions female can put fear in the handlers of male dogs in the dog show arena.)

It is possible that male dogs may be more eager to please human beings and perhaps at the highest levels this helps them overcome the tendency to be more easily distracted. However, a particular bloodline may or may not amplify this trait in either gender.

It is also possible that training female dogs for competition is too challenging for many because they are untrainable during the times when they are in heat. Also, male champions are more profitable for serious competitors because they can be bred out continuously, whereas female dogs can usually only have puppies once a year. Perhaps things would be quite different if spaying and neutering were the norm for competitive dogs, but of course this is not the case.

Good with Children?

Almost any Ridgeback can be a loving companion for a child. Nevertheless, some believe female Rhodies make a better choice for children because they may be more naturally nurturing and protective of young ones, even if they are from another species. Male Ridgies, on the other hand, may see children only as playmates and they may tend to get a little bit too frisky at times as a result. Additionally, males have an adolescent period from about 5-11 months where they are filled with questions about their role in the human pack. It is natural for them to assume the correct spot in the group. Often this can mean that a child - in his mind - should be relegated to a spot beneath himself. This is why it is often recommended that Ridgebacks, and males in particular, not be placed in families where children are younger than 6 or 7 years old.

Alteration Costs

Here is one area where there is no generalization – it costs more to have a female spayed than it does to have a male neutered. If you are living on a budget, as most people are, this may not be an unimportant consideration.

The Final Analysis

Unless you are a breeder having puppies born in your own home, there really is not that much difference between a male and a female Rhodesian Ridgeback. If you want a championship caliber dog that you can take to shows, history suggests a male dog might be the better choice, while the female might be better if you want a dog that is more balanced in the affection department. Also remember that if you already have a dog you should probably look for a second dog of the opposite sex. But truthfully, the choice should be based on finding a thoughtful breeder who can help place the right puppy in your hands, regardless of the sex.