The oldest record of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is drawing in Egyptian tomb, which dates between the years 3500 - 4000 př.n.l. Apparently it is the ancestor of the dog, which was domesticated by indigenous African Hottentots.
Records from the 16th century describe the dogs from South Africa with a crest of hair on the spine that grows in the opposite direction. According to witnesses aboriginal Hottentots (tribes "Quena" or "Khoi-Khoi") used these semi-wild dogs to hunt for the African steppe.
When the first Europeans, the Portuguese in the 16th century penetrated into the interior of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, observed there "domestic dog living with Hottentots, who has a remarkable trait - the hair on the back facing forward" - a typical sign, known as ridge.
It is not known where this specialty comes from. Dogs of the same stripe of hair also appeared on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, where they apparently came with Siamese nations around 1,000 years ago. But all historical records indicate the origin in South Africa, where these "dogs with ridges" traveled with Arab traders and settlers from South Africa to the island of Phu Quoc.
Original Khoi-Khoi tribe dogs were not similar to today´s ridgebacks. According to contemporary drawings due tended toward the jackals or hyenas.
Dogs played an important role in the life of the early Dutch, Portuguese, German and other settlers in southern Africa. Conditions of life on the newly populated areas necessitated the need for a specific type of dog with capabilities suitable for life in conditions in Africa. The settlers tried unsuccessfully for several breeds of dogs - great dane, mastiffs, greyhounds, saluki and other breeds, which accompanied them on the new territory. These breeds were bred for specific tasks and not so adaptable to a variety of problems that the conditions of life in Africa brings. In contrast, indigenous dog was able to navigate the difficult rocky terrain, he did not mind the hard, stony ground, was not sensitive to local parasites, poisonous insects etc. The Khoi-Khoi dog soon earned the respect of Europeans as agile, tenacious and formidable hunter, exceptionally suited for harsh environment.
The settlers needed a versatile dog that could hunt birds, collide injured deer or protect the farm from wild animals and from occasional attacks by lions in the dry season when the Lions came for food close to the farms. The dog had to be able to monitor, track down and detain barking and rounding up large animals (lions usually) until the arrival of hunters. He must have courage and outstanding intellect - intuitively and physically had to be able to outwit the king of the animals and to keep out of reach of the deadly teeth and claws. Chasing the lion may take several days, but the temperature changes in southern Africa are distinctive - hot days, nights below freezing. This necessitated a dog that could withstand varied weather conditions, which brings African bush, so that the dog could chase animal for miles for several hours a day without shelter or water. It must also be able to make independent decisions in the long absence of hunters, but also be a companion, who remains close to them while they slept in the bush. At the same time should be suitable as a family dog during his stay at the farm.
The settlers started with selective crossbreeding of dogs that they brought with them from their home countries and the semi-wild Khoi-Khoi tribes dogs. In the 18th and 19th century European immigration wave at the end and finished imports of other breeds in Africa. Quality hounds were becoming rarer and their financial and practical value grew. Therefore the efforts of a new breed increased. Records from that period describe this new breed as a "different kind of domestic dog, which in addition to hunting natives used for protection, these dogs were highly valued by Europeans, who are used to protect against wolves, lions and hyenas."
In the mid-19th century, these versatile and courageous dogs became famous under the name "African lion dog". This name lasted until 1920.
Original Khoi-Khoi dogs are the most important factor in final form and characteristics of the new breed. Despite all the breeding and crossbreeding has maintained a typical characteristic of this breed - the ridge.
Breeders at a meeting in Bulawayo in 1922 recognized and written breed standard of Rhodesian Ridgeback, for which most deserves Francis R. Barnes, founder of the Parent Club in Rhodesia. The first rhodesian ridgebacks came to Czechoslovakia around 1987.