Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix: The Right Hunting Dog for You?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is the result of breeding two large dogs – the GSD, and the popular hound – The Rhodesian Ridgeback.

A relatively uncommon mix, this muscular breed is known for having a sense of purpose and a strong desire to be on the move and constantly doing something.

The parent dogs of the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix are both known for being skilled hunters, tireless workers, and loyal companions.

The German Shepherd is known for its intelligence and ability as a rescue dog, while the Rhodesian Ridgeback is known for its great tracking behavior according to the AKC. With this mix, you are sure to have a great hunting dog and family friend by your side.

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Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix: Quick Facts 

HeightWeightAppearanceCoatHealthFamily Friendly?TemperamentTraining & Exercise
27 inches tall on average (2 inches less on average for females)95 lbs on average (10-15 lbs less on average for females)Large dogs with an imposing presence. Facial features tend to resemble the GSD, while the body takes on Ridgeback qualities. You can expect this mix to have a shorter coat than a GSD, and a less muscular body. Colors will often include shades of brown, and the sable or dark GSD coloration.These mixes are fortunately not heavy shedders. Brushing them once per week is often enough.Lifespan: up to 14 years on average. Prone to obesity. Genetic diversity will improve overall health, but the mix will still be at risk for hereditary conditions like hip & elbow dysplasia.With proper training & socialization - yes. This mix can be great for families, and can get along well with kids.These high-energy dogs will form close bonds with their owners. They're lively, intelligent, nosey, friendly, and brave.An hour of daily exercise at minimum is recommended to help curb destructive behaviors. Regular training & socialization from puppyhood is also recommended.

Getting to Know The Parent Dogs

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed

The Rhodesian Ridgeback originated from Southern Africa, and its ancestors were the hunting dogs of Khoikhoi. These dogs were officially named Rhodesian Ridgebacks in 1922 in Zimbabwe.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback breed is known for its distinguishing feature – the ridge of hair running along its back. This ridge stands out as it is composed of hair that is growing backwards.

An adult Rhodesian Ridgeback can grow up to 27 inches tall, and can weigh up to 80 pounds, while its female counterpart can grow up to 26 inches tall and can weigh up to 71 pounds.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback can be aloof to strangers but is very loyal to its owner. It is intelligent and teachable.

When it comes to health, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are at high risk of developing dermoid sinus, degenerative myelopathy (a neurological condition affecting the spine), hypothyroid, and gastric dilatation-volvulus.

Dermoid sinus is a condition that can be screened for at birth. Affected puppies can be saved through a surgical operation where the affected dermoid sinus is removed.

The life expectancy of Rhodesian Ridgebacks is roughly 10 years.

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Beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix named ‘Yukon’. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago at the age of 13. Big thank you to his owner Erik for letting us post this great picture! R.I.P. Yukon ❤

German Shepherd Breed

The German Shepherd originated from Germany, and is an active dog that loves playing and working. Originally used as a working dog and a herding dog, German Shepherds are now often seen with the police, patrolling malls and areas where security is of utmost protection.

This breed is known for its handsome and well-built features. It is hardworking, fearless, obedient, and trainable according to dogster.com. If you are energetic with an active outdoor lifestyle, this is the pet for you.

An adult German Shepherd can grow up to 25 inches or 63.50 centimeters in height, and can weigh up to 85 pounds or 38.56 kilograms.

This type of dog doesn’t need to take a bath every day since daily baths can dry its skin. It has a thick coat that sheds heavily throughout the year, and blows its coat twice per year.

Regular brushing will be really important with GSDs, and is thankfully all you need to do for coat maintenance for the most part.

When it comes to health, GSDs are at high risk of developing elbow and hip dysplasia, and skin allergies. German Shepherd can live up to 12 years on average.

Getting To Know The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix

The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is a combination of two large breeds which crosses a dog from Zimbabwe and a dog from Germany.

Although this a relatively well-known breed, it is not yet popular because there are very few breeders who focus solely on producing Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mixes.

For more information on the differences between these two breeds, feel free to read our comparison article: Rhodesian Ridgeback vs German Shepherd.

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Appearance

Hubpages.com describes the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix as a dog that looks like a ‘warrior’. It stands like it is ready to fight at all times!

Its face and head will more so resemble that of the GSD, but their backs will have the famous Ridgeback line. The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix often has the Rhodesian Ridgeback brownish color and the sable or dark GSD color.

These are obvious signs to look out for when trying to identify a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix.

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Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Height

The possible height of the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is up to 27 inches tall, and it can weigh up to 95 pounds. The average lifespan of this mix is up to 14 years according to shopforyourcause.com.

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Personality

Dogs in Depth describes the personality of a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix as lively, intelligent, nosey, friendly, and brave.

Since GSDs and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are both known for their overall strength, power, and love of active lifestyles, we can expect the mix to be quite similar in this regard.

The offspring of a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a German Shepherd can look like a GSD but with a thinner coat and less of a muscular body. Most Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mixes have tall lean bodies, and will be brown/black in color.

This breed LOVES to play! Although German Shepherds are used extensively in police work, the same cannot be said for these mixes – these are strictly house pets.

In terms of exercise, these dogs love running outdoors and playing with other dogs.

Just like its parent GSD, it is best to allow a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix to play outdoors in order to curb its aggressive behavior and excessive energy levels.

Keeping it locked up inside all day can be very stressful for this breed – it is highly recommended to get these dogs at least an hour of exercise every day.

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Health

One of the common health problems that medium to large dogs face is dysplasia, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is no different. It is at high risk of developing both hip and elbow dysplasia.

Before accepting a puppy from your breeder, verify if the parents have gone through the required genetic testing designed to identify dogs that could potentially pass on heritable health issues to the puppies.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also prone to having dermoid sinus – so this mixed breed will also be at risk of developing the condition. Always have your puppy checked every six months to correct possible dermoid conditions.

Both breeds are also susceptible to skin, ear, and eye infections – try your best to be on the lookout for any signs of irritation or infection on these body parts. If your pup continually scratches any of these areas, you may need to have it checked out by your veterinarian.

Tip: Great breeders always ensure that they are breeding from healthy parents. They should have the proper documentation proving that their breeding dogs are healthy, and without genetic conditions that can affect the cross-breeds.

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Ideal Diet

A raw diet is ideal for this type of breed. Feel free to check out this YouTube video from Dogs Naturally Magazine for tutorials on how to prepare a raw diet for your dog.

If preparing a raw diet is simply not feasible for you, you can still purchase high-quality commercial dog food that will be relatively healthy for your dog.

You can also ask your vet for any advice regarding ideal brands for Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mixes. Depending on your dog’s medical condition, your vet might suggest a different diet, so it is best to ask first.

You should also be careful when giving your dog a treat during training – the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix can easily become obese like its parents.

Despite being active all day, eating too much sugary food can lead to high sugar levels and their bodies might not be able to break it down naturally.

Their diets should ideally be high in fish oil, glucosamine, and chondroitin supplements to help lower the risk of joint problems like hip and elbow dysplasia.

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Who Should Get A Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is a large breed that may not be ideal for first-time dog owners because of its sheer size and strength.

These dogs are best for people who are looking for a friend that they can run with and take on hikes, since this breed thrives on vigorous amounts of daily activity. They’ll love to go around exploring with you!

This breed also tends to embody the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s territorial and protective nature. Combining this with the German Shepherd’s bravery pretty well guarantees you will have one great guard dog by your side.

Despite this, one of the the best traits Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mixes have is the ability to just chill out and remain pretty calm when around its owners. They will absolutely love spending time with their families.

They are perfectly capable of staying quiet at home so you can ‘couch potato’ with your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix during Netflix time!

Why A Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix May Not Be For You?

According to YourPureBredPuppy website, you should not get a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix if you are:

  • An introvert who doesn’t want to spend time outdoors
  • You hate energetic and rowdy dogs
  • You don’t have time to spend with your pet
  • You don’t have enough space at home because you live in a condo
  • You have other animals at home like cats and small dogs

Caring for a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix

Caring for a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is not simple. This dog needs constant attention, an energetic owner, and mental distractions from time to time.

Leaving a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix on its own for too long may not be the best idea since these dogs can be prone to separation anxiety. Unfortunately, when this happens, these dogs can be prone to destructive behaviors.

You should also bath your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix at least once per month. There is no need to give it a daily bath because it will dry its skin out.

Most Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mixes have thin coats so there is no need to brush them too often. Brush it once a week to give it a shinier and softer look.

In terms of physical activity, this hunting and guarding dog loves moving around! Its parents are active dogs so expect the cross-breed to be very active as well, loving long hikes and runs. Aim for one hour of activity per day.

You can also run with your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix in the morning. It will help your dog child release some energy before you leave for work.

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Signs That Your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Is Stressed or Sick

When in pain or bored, your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix (or any dog for this matter) can become stressed. Here are signs that your pet dog is feeling stressed.

Whining – a GSD whines when it is bored, and when it wants to go outside. As the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is from a family of intelligent breeds, expect it to whine when it cannot do what it wants.

Pacing – when your dog continually walks back and forth, it is a sign that is stressed or anxious. Iheartdogs explains that this happens when a dog is in a very small enclosure or on a leash, and they are feeling suffocated.

Lip-licking – lip-licking or lip flicking (they bring their tongue in and out for no reason) is also a sign that your dog is stressed. It is either that they are hungry, want to move around, or something is bothering them on their skin.

Lowered-Ears – this trait is from GSDs. If you see your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix with its ears down, it is a sign that it is feeling anxious over something.

Barking – the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix barks at people they are not familiar with. If your dog keeps on barking when there is no stranger around, then it means it is feeling off about something.

Drooling – drooling can mean two things – your dog is not feeling well or is anxious and nervous. If you notice that your GSD and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix is drooling for no reason, take it to your vet immediately.

Scratching – if your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix continually scratches its ears, tails, or a part of its body, check it out for any signs of rashes and other infections.

Tail-chasing – this behavior is common to German Shepherds. They often chase their tail when they are bored or anxious.

Displaying excessive behavior – this hybrid produces a very active dog. However, if your dog keeps on moving around, barking, and drooling, put it on a leash and bring it to your vet immediately.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Ridgebacks aggressive?

Any dog breed can be aggressive if it hasn’t been trained or treated properly. Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren’t generally aggressive dogs, but this cannot be said for every dog in the breed. 

Historically, Ridgebacks were bred to be hunting dogs. This means that they are naturally territorial and protective dogs, however, this does not translate into aggression.

Instead, they are generally well-mannered and even-tempered, making them a great breed for families with or without kids. 

While they were bred for hunting and have excellent predatory instincts, Ridgebacks are fairly gentle and sensitive dogs that aren’t usually aggressive or loud.

They are extremely intelligent, which means that they might be able to suspect an intruder or bad energy from a person, where they might become somewhat aggressive. However, this is only due to their territorial nature. 

In short – no, Ridgebacks aren’t aggressive. It all depends on how the dog has been trained and treated. Despite their hunting background, Ridgebacks are tender and gentle dogs who are highly protective over their companions. 

Can Rhodesian Ridgebacks be left alone?

As Rhodesian Ridgebacks are such loyal and affectionate dogs, they can be prone to separation anxiety. If you haven’t trained your dog long enough to understand that you will return once you leave them alone in the house, you might return to some chaos. 

It’s only because they are so loyal and love their companions so much. They want to protect you at all times, so when you aren’t around, they don’t know if you are safe or not. This can result in separation anxiety. 

The best way to tackle separation anxiety is to bite the bullet and leave them alone in a room for an hour every day. This time should increase after a couple of days.

Even if you’re in the room next to them, they need to get used to being alone and knowing that you will return. 

When you do return, make sure not to excite them with praise. You should walk into the room and ignore their excitement, as this will help them to normalize you wandering in and out of the house.

Eventually, they will learn that you will return and there is no point worrying. 

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks easy to train?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent dogs, but this doesn’t mean that they can be trained easily. In fact, their intelligence makes them notoriously difficult to train! However, this doesn’t mean that they cannot be trained – you just have to work really hard. 

It’s important to start training them from a young age. This should include simple recall training and obedience training, so you can learn to trust them off the leash. 

These dogs don’t generally respond well to negative reinforcement. Still, they need to learn that they can’t chew furniture and shoes, and they can’t pee wherever they like, and they shouldn’t dig holes in the yard.

To tackle this, you must commit to consistent training until they get the hint. While it will take a long time, the results will be worth it!

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks bark a lot?

Any dog is likely to bark if they haven’t been trained to not bark excessively. However, despite common misconceptions, Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren’t a noisy breed.

They don’t tend to bark a lot unless it’s for an emergency – and this is purely down to their defensive and territorial instincts. 

For example, if they can sense an intruder or a suspicious person, they will probably bark to threaten them. However, they aren’t likely to bark at other dogs or humans in the park. It’s not their area, so they won’t get defensive. 

Final Thoughts & Our YouTube Video On The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix

If you are into hunting dogs because you love duck hunting or bird hunting, the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is a great choice. This dog won’t just help you with your hunting, but will be a great friend as well.

You can enjoy up to 14 years of great companionship with this hunting and guard dog. Reduce risks of common medical problems like dysplasia and infection by giving your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix a proper diet, vaccines, and plenty of exercise.

Don’t let its size fool you. This large dog is gentle and very loyal to its owner. Just like its parent, the German Shepherd, the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is the ultimate protector.

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