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Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Like To Cuddle? [Temperament Of This Breed]

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their loyalty and sensitive nature. But are they open to a cuddle with their owners? Is there any particular reason why they may want to do so, or strategies that you can try to get them more interested in showing this form of affection? In asking similar questions, I decided to spend some time researching the temperament of this dog breed and their inclinations to hug. Below you will find a summary of what I managed to uncover.

So, do Rhodesian Ridgebacks like to cuddle? Rhodesian Ridgebacks generally like to cuddle. This is because they foster strong bonds with their owners and it can also provide them with warmth and a feeling of security. However, not all Rhodesian Ridgebacks will like to cuddle; it does depend on the dog. This can be due to a strong sense of independence, a lack of trust in the person, or the dog preferring other ways of showing affection. Sometimes a dog prefers to be petted rather than to have a more intimate cuddle.

The act of cuddling is one that humans, dogs, and many other animals share.

In many ways, it’s the ultimate sense of affection and it is something we all want to do with our dogs as owners.

There may be many reasons why a dog will want to cuddle; some of the good and some of them not so much.

Either way; cuddling can help us to feel bonded with our dogs and therefore is something which we want to actively promote.

Nonetheless, training is essential for the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

These dogs are stubborn and can be fiercely independent if left to their own devices.

In doing so, and without putting your dog through appropriate training and socialization, you cannot expect compliance.

Many owners struggle to look after this particular breed because of their independent natures; and as such, forming that close bond is sometimes not obtained.

However, you must remember that these dogs have a sensitive side.

They do want to get close to their owners and will likely look to do so in time under your care.

In the first few days and weeks after you get them, it’s essential to remain calm, patient and not correct them harshly.

In this way, you will be setting up your dog for a long life of close companionship.

Let us now take a closer look at the Rhodesian Ridgebacks, discovering how affectionate they really are before turning to why and why they may not be so fond of cuddles.

By the end, you’ll find some proactive strategies to encourage this behavior so be sure to keep on reading!

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Affectionate?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are affectionate dogs, at least with their family. This is not always true with people that they do not know very well.

It may take time before they warm up to unfamiliar visitors, be they, friends, or relatives.

With their owners, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are affectionate and soft, and they love to spend quality time in their company.

Whether it’s going for a jog or cuddling up on the couch with you; any time spent is enjoyed by this breed.

Showing affection doesn’t come easily for every Ridgeback; for some, they will need additional time, training, and socialization to build their confidence.

Even a shy Rhodesian will make friends effortlessly with early and appropriate socialization.

This dog breed does also needs to be taught how to channel their energy and intelligence wisely.

In doing so, you can expect to receive cuddles from time to time, along with other behaviors that demonstrate their trust and loyalty in you.

This includes leaning, lying at your feet, or even sitting on your lap if this is something you want to permit.

Just consider their size; they’re not particularly small dogs.

It’s essential to keep in mind that many Rhodesian Ridgeback likes to cuddle, but hugging is another matter entirely.

Many dogs hate hugging, and there is a lot of controversy surrounding this debate.

Cuddling is a gentle way for a dog and its owner to get close.

However, hugging can appear threatening to dogs, and it can restrict their movements. It’s not a comfortable feeling for them.

Who doesn’t want their dog to feel comfortable? We all want our dogs to feel at home with us, especially if we’re going to develop a close bond and trust with our dogs.

Why Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Want To Cuddle?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks will want to cuddle for many reasons, it’s a natural behavior that has served them, and other dogs for generations.

Let’s explore some of these reasons in detail to understand the benefits of cuddling for this breed better:


The act of cuddling dates back to the ancient period when dogs required additional sources of heat to maintain warmth.

There were few options to keep warm, and when dogs needed to generate body heat, they cuddled up with other dogs and humans.


Cuddling occurs as soon as puppies are born. The mother cuddles her pups to offer comfort and protection – it is a fundamental instinct.

Therefore your Rhodesian Ridgeback may look to cuddle up to you in periods where they feel anxious, nervous, or are lacking in confidence.

This usually occurs in new settings, environments, and contexts in which they have not experienced before.

Cuddling Releases Feel-Good Hormones

When dogs cuddle with other dogs and humans, it releases a chemical hormone known as Oxytocin.

This literally makes them feel happy and content. Its also known as the love hormone and is sometimes even referred to as the cuddle hormone.

Oxytocin is released during birth and nursing, and it has a calming effect.

Studies show that three minutes of cuddle time between a dog and its owner is enough to release sufficient quantities of Oxytocin in both.

So cuddling benefits dogs and humans alike.

Cuddling Improves The Mind

Studies have shown that dogs that get affection perform better on tasks.

Receiving love and positive reinforcement builds confidence, and it’s good for your dog’s brain to develop positive connections with certain behaviors.

The Downside To Cuddling

If there is any downside to a cuddly Rhodesian Ridgeback, it’s that they tend to cuddle up on their owner’s beds.

Some owners don’t mind their dog enjoying the comfort of sleeping near their master.

However, dogs tend to harbor many types of bacteria – and you don’t want these on your sheets.

Keep In mind that there is a certain style of hugging that Rhodesian Ridgebacks don’t like.

Most dogs have an aversion to bear hugs.

Bear hugs can come off as threatening, and they can cause anxiety in your dog and lead to destructive behaviors.

Why Would A Rhodesian Ridgeback Not Like To Cuddle?

If you have your heart set on a cuddly dog and your Rhodesian Ridgeback is not the cuddly type; it can be quite disheartening.

The love you have for your dog can seem unrequited, but you must not take it personally.

There are many reasons why your Ridgeback may not be fond of cuddling, and it likely has little to do with you.

Let’s explore some reasons why a Rhodesian Ridgeback may not like to cuddle:

Unsuitable Care From A Previous Owner

Sadly, many Rhodesian Ridgebacks end up in the adoption or foster care system as their previous owners were unsuitable, and were unable to provide the appropriate level of care.

This is often the case with this dog breed- their intelligence and exuberant natures can be overwhelming for some.

Some Ridgebacks are severely abused by previous owners, even unintentionally, which can lead to distrust of humans.

Preference For Their Personal Space

Dogs are not entirely different from humans in the respect that they do prefer some level of distance between themselves and others.

Not every dog likes physical contact, but many appreciate having their personal space.

Petting and other affectionate behaviors vary from pet to pet. Equally, the amount of time a dog wants on their own and how much they are willing to cuddle also ranges.

Feeling Territorial

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be territorial, and their loyalty might be towards another member of the family and not you.

In this case, your dog may see you as a possible invader to their territory.

If your dog shows affection towards another member of your family or if you are just introduced to him, be patient, it may take some time before they warm up to you.

Prefers To Show Affection In Other Ways

Your dog might prefer to show their affection towards you in other ways rather than cuddling.

Cuddling can feel space restricting for some dogs, so some prefer being petted. Others like a belly rub.

Your Rhodesian Ridgeback might prefer spending time with you as opposed to physical contact.

Ways To Get Your Rhodesian Ridgeback To Enjoy Cuddling More

The best way to get your Rhodesian Ridgeback to enjoy cuddling more is to start encouraging them from the time that they are a puppy.

We will discuss this more in a moment, but if your Ridgeback is an adult and a non-cuddler, all hope is not lost.

It will take time for an older dog to get comfortable enough to trust and cuddle with you. That is the essence of what you need to achieve. Trust and loyalty.

In doing so, your dog should be more open to cuddling up with you.

Some owners have a lot of success by tiring their dog out on long walks or through play. This is because exercise helps a dog burn off their excess energy, making them more receptive to your attention.

This will also mean they are less likely to chew, dig, and be destructive; so exercise is important and is something to try.

Others owners have found success with offering treats and spending a lot of time and attention on their dogs.

With patience and persistence, their dogs begin to open up and become more vulnerable; which enables you to cuddle them.

Generally, however, an older dog is likely to be more stubborn and less open to changing their ways. So, if they have never been a cuddler – you will have your work cut out.

You must be open to the possibility that your dog, regardless of being a pup or an adult, may never like cuddling.

Each dog has their own unique personality and preferences, and while we can encourage we cannot ever force them to adopt something which they instinctively do not like.

If this is the case, you must look at other means to bond with them.

But this is generally the exception rather than the norm.

Back to encouraging a puppy to cuddle.

How To Encourage Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies To Cuddle

You must pick up your pup and put them on your lap – do this as often as possible.

Choose a time when your Ridgeback is calm. It’s not good to pick them up if they are boisterous and running around the house.

Rub their head and talk to them in a soothing voice. Most puppies eventually calm down as they like the attention.

Gently cuddle your puppy. If they resist, you can encourage them to stay close or very carefully restrain them. But don’t correct them or be too harsh with him in any way.

Being harsh or overly firm, in addition to holding them, is likely to scare your young dog, and it will put them off this form of affection.

Repeat this process many times each day until your pup enjoys this time spent with you.

Use this time to rub their face and legs, and generally spoil them where you can.

If your dog is used to you touching them, it will also be easier to detect any health problems or injuries that may arise later. So, it is in your interest to do this.

Eventually, your young dog will relish the time they spend with you, and what starts off as a quick pat may soon develop into them snoozing on your lap as you cuddle them.


The striking Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred initially as a guard and a hunting dog.

However, these dogs are kept for companionship and as family dogs these days; primarily due to their temperaments and a range of excellent qualities they tend to hold.

While they make an excellent dog to own, being very smart, they do have a stubborn streak, they are strong-willed and they have an inclination for mischief.

As such, they do require a more rigorous and consistent training and socialization regimen.

It generally takes an experienced owner to bring out the best in this dog breed. But while the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a handful, they are a rewarding dog to take care of.

Despite all these challenges, many Rhodesian Ridgebacks are affectionate and enjoy cuddling up with their owner.

However, just like in any breed of dog, there will be some that are not so affectionate. It could be due to a number of reasons, many of which are out of your control, so it’s important to not take it to heart.

If your dog does appear to dislike cuddling or other close contact, thankfully there are some things you can try to encourage this form of affection and attention.

Be patient and give them the time they need to adjust to you and their environment.

Once your Rhodesian Ridgeback gets used to you, builds trust, and has a better understanding of their new surroundings, you should find them to be much more open to cuddling and a loving, affectionate, and loyal companion for many years.