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You won’t find the Rhodesian Ridgeback on the American Kennel Club’s top ten most popular dog breeds list. That has little to do with the qualities and appearance of this independent, affectionate canine, and more to do with the fact that many people just don’t know about them. While this may not be the perfect breed for first-time dog owners, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is an intelligent, devoted, and protective dog and makes an excellent companion for a single person or a family household.

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1. The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a ridge of fur along its back

The first thing you notice when looking at a Rhodesian Ridgeback is its strong, athletic build. Its coat is sleek and glossy and light to red-brown wheaten in color. Look closer, and you’ll notice a clearly defined, distinctive ridge of fur along its spine. This permanent strip of fur is backward-growing hair, a trait that rarely occurs outside of African breeds and is present at birth. This autosomal dominant trait—a dominant mutation—is a hallmark of the breed. Only one parent needs to have the ridge for it to be inheritable.

ridge fur spine rhodesian ridgeback AsyaPozniak / Getty Images
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