Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

If Cato turns out to be a Rhodesian Ridgeback, not a boxer OR a Great Dane, what do I need to know?

Asked by Dutchess_III (44650points) October 22nd, 2019

I’ve been having this uncomfortable niggling feeling that he may indeed be a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and that worries me. He’s awfully aggressive about things that are outside of the house, barking loud and low and growling. Just now he went a little crazy at the mail man, and the fur along his spine was standing straight up.
I’m doing my best to train that aggressive reaction out of him, to replace it with sitting or something else, but I’m afraid I may need some professional help here.
He plays with the cat. He gets a little rough with her, and we back him down, but the cat is not afraid.
He seems to be good with the kids.
Not so good with other dogs, though. He was OK as a tiny puppy, when he was around a bunch of dogs at Rick’s cousins, but that was back in July and he hasn’t been around any other dogs since. We went to the lake recently and he about went apeshit when another dog walked past us.

I just don’t know what to think. Don’t know what to do. I love the heck out of him. He’s smart and he’s affectionate.

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23 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

Interesting bit of information:

”...They started by crossing dogs they’d brought from Europe — such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds, and Bloodhounds — with a half-wild native dog kept by the Khoikhoi, a pastoral people.”
I see all of those things in him, including the hound dawg.

janbb's avatar

Whatever he is, and it’s not likely he’s a purebred anything, it sounds like there are behavioral problems with him that need to be worked on. I would suggest seeking some professional training.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

My neighbor had a few RRs over the years.
They were all good dogs. He socialized them and that is key. They are good guard dogs and were bred to hunt lions.Does he have the “ridge”?

canidmajor's avatar

Ridges tend to have much higher prey-drives than boxers and Danes, but solid firm training will help. Definitely get help on training.

@lucillelucillelucille I’ve worked with Ridgies, they are truly lovely dogs! Came close a while ago to getting one.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@canidmajor – I agree, they are nice dogs.
What kind of dog do you have now?

canidmajor's avatar

I have an Australian Shepherd now, he’s just a big ol’ floofy goober. Very talky, but one of the lazier ones.

Zaku's avatar

I agree with @janbb. If the dog is a mixed breed, then it could have any characteristics. And if you weren’t there for it’s earlier life experience, again you don’t know how it might behave. And individual dogs can behave quite differently from others. Having a good dog trainer at least evaluate the dog seems like a good idea to me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I never said he was “purebred”’ anything @janbb. When we got him from humane society they carried him as a “boxer-lab.”
Then our vet said, “Great Dane.”
Then someone else took a look and said, “Mastiff.”
Sometimes he seemed like a hound dog.

I’ve been observing him for 3 months and the “Rhodesian Ridgeback” kept creeping in to my mind. I researched them all.
Based on his physical appearance and behavior I have come to my own conclusion that he has a very strong RR influence.

And he doesn’t have any behavior “problems” any more than any toddler who hasn’t yet been trained and simply reacts on instinct until he IS trained.

@lucillelucillelucille He was barking at the mailman today (which I put a stop to) and he sure had a ridge then!

In the last week I’ve trained him to not pounce on the house lion cat, or to chase her around the house. She teases him, though, so it takes a great will for him to resist. (I whispered to him later that he can do whatever he wants when they’re both outside!)

I took him to the utility office to pay my bill today. The girls have been wanting to meet him. Lord, he does not like unknown things! First he did NOT want to get in the car, but he did.
Then we drove to the utility office, and then he did NOT want to get out of the car, but he did. But that was that. There was no way he was going through that door into the building! So I put him back in the car. Hillary, one of of the clerks there, came out to meet him. She called for him and he just jumped right out of the car and went right to her. He wiggled all around, so happy to see whoever that was!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Dutchess lll- lol! The hair grows in the opposite direction along their spine so even when not in an aggressive state it is there.There are actually DNA tests to determine the breed out there, if you are curious.

janbb's avatar

Maybe post a picture and the dog people among us can take a guess but I still say it’s not likely a pure breed so breed traits are not that relevant. What you seemed to be asking was if there were problems you needed help with – or do you just want to tell anecdotes about your dog?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course it isn’t a purebreed. I never, ever claimed he was. But the RR seems the most evident. He seems to be showing many of the characteristics of the Rhodesian Ridgeback, from what I’ve been reading. I asked if there something important that I need to know about that breed?
Cruiser got a Rhodesian Ridgeback. If I remember, he got it specifically for it’s “fierce protective instincts” AND agression. That is exactly what I do not want. I don’t want agression for no reason, and regular protective instincts are fine with me!

No need to get snarky and snotty. I’ve been getting ready show you all some pictures, @janbb. BRB.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Here is one. I go round and round with Boxer or Mastiff face or even Great Dane (but I just don’t think Great Dane is it)....or Rhodesian Ridgeback.

I knew I could sneak one of the grandkids in here! He looks kind of small in this one, but it’s a pretty good idea of his body type. He’s a little bigger than that. If I’m sitting down he can come put his nose in my lap without reaching (and he’s not allowed to jump.) He’s 6 months old.

This one and this one were taken a few minutes ago. (Sorry for the mess. The bugger is a chewer and there are bits of shit everywhere! He gets upset with me when I vacuum. His hard earned decorations all go way. However, so far he can be trusted alone in the house and he doesn’t turn on our furniture. He can be alone in the car without ripping up the upholstery.)

Cato as puppy, Random Ridgeback puppy picture from the internet

And have fun! He’s a smart one, but he can be stubborn. Apparently he does like people. Just not people he can’t get to to examine, like on the other side of the door. We’re going to figure out what to do for Halloween. I could lock him in the bedroom, but I’d rather using it as a training tool….Any suggestions on how to proceed with that would be appreciated.

canidmajor's avatar

He looks like a generic mixed-breed street dog. That fawn with dark markings is the classic Heinz 57 look. Your best bet to find out would be a doggie DNA test.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So, according to you, this is a mutt for sure. Except it’s not.

canidmajor's avatar

Oh for pete’s sake, @Dutchess_III, fine. You’re undoubtedly right in whatever you decide he is. I gave you an educated assessment of what he could be, based on the physical characteristics. I think @janbb is right and you just wanted to ramble on about your dog.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@longgone, we’d be better off in chat. Thanks.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If anyone else has something to offer, send a message or we can go to chat.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Socialization, will help. Try to get the dog around as many people, and other animals, as possible.

Some vets, will recommend taking the dog to long lines of people, like at a movie premier, and dog parks. I would keep him on a leash, until he gets more used to everything. Eventually, he will get accustomed, to not being defensive…

janbb's avatar

I would not use Halloween as a training situation. I think your idea of locking him in a bedroom is a better one for that evening. Kids in costume, a doorbell ringing and a strange situation would be hard for even a well socialized dog. You don’t want to run the risk of the dog lunging at a kid or worse.

rebbel's avatar

He looks more like a boxer to me.
His face, that is.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

chyna's avatar


longgone's avatar

Great Danes and Ridgebacks were bred to hunt large animals. Boxers were also hunters, with the additional job of herding and fighting in some parts of the world. All three breeds were used as watchdogs since they are strong and unlikely to back down. Boxers are very energetic, whereas the other two tend to be chill as adults.

So, in short, I’m not sure it matters so much. From the pictures, a Ridgeback seems unlikely to me – but since they are quite rare around here, I’ve only known a couple.

The ridge on Cato is very, very important. It’s a clear sign that he is scared, and acting out of fear. That means he’s not being protective, or even aggressive in its usual sense. He’s being reactive. If he will calmly take treats from strangers, you can try letting everyone you see feed him. However, that might be too much already.

As to dogs, it’s totally natural for a young dog to become reactive if he doesn’t have regular interaction with other canines. If you have any gentle, friendly and confident dogs in your social circles, you might try a leashed walk together and see if you can help him make some friends that way. Letting him interact with unknown dogs is pretty risky at this point, since he might get attacked due to his lack of social skills.

It’s clear to see that he is terrified of the vacuum. I would be very careful there. While it’s great that you’re trying to train him, I would advise against asking him to sit. I know many trainers will tell you to do that. Personally, I think you can get much faster results by using simple classical conditioning. Cato sees person = a treat flies into his mouth.

Sitting in a scary situation seems very unsafe to dogs, as it makes them more vulnerable. Plus, movement is a natural stress-reducer. If you can get him to catch treats in the air or chase them along the floor, that would be best.

Does Cato react to the doorbell yet? If so, it might be a good idea to put him in the bedroom for Halloween, but throw a few awesome treats in there whenever the doorbell rings. I would not let him near any children in costumes. Chances are you’ll have a scared dogs and frightened kids.

I’d give you more ideas, but I really think you need a trainer. In a six month old dog, this behaviour will get worse without an intervention. He’s scared right now. With training, he has a great chance at becoming sociable and confident. If he stays fearful though, and reaches maturity…that’s a scared and confident dog. Not safe.

Here is a link to what might be my favourite dog trainer in America, Emily Larlham. She is not only highly skilled, but also very kind. I think if you send her a message asking for recommendations in your area, chances are she can help you. Good luck, and please don’t let anybody hurt or scare Cato under the guise of “training”.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@canidmajor -MyMIL had an Aussie. Beautiful.soft dog.
From the looks of the photos posted,he does have that kind of street dog look that they get after a couple generations of being out there on their own.
If I had to guess, I’d say he’s got some bully breed in him.

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