Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Guide

The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is a relatively new designer breed that crosses America’s favorite police dog German Shepherd with a fantastic hunting dog known as the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Also known as the Rhodesian Shepherd, the hybrid dog has a lot to offer.

Thanks to its novelty, this mix is rare in the United States, but it could find its popularity increasing in the coming years as more people show interest in mixed breeds.

It is also perfect for outdoorsy pet parents. If you need a companion for outdoor adventures and exercise, the Rhodesian Shepherd is more than suitable for the job.

However, it isn’t for everyone. There is an ideal owner for it, and many pet parents don’t qualify.

Also, a prospective owner must be loaded with enough information to take care of it. This information is what we provide in our complete guide. 

Rhodesian Shepherd Breed Information

Height22 to 27 inches
Weight64 to 95 pounds
Lifespan10 to 14 years
CoatShort and smooth or medium/long, coarse and dense
ColorsGray, black and tan, gold
TemperamentGentle, independent, lively, brave
Ideal ForActive and experienced pet parents
Puppy Price$1,500 – $3,000

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Puppy Characteristics

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Puppy Sitting on Snow
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HealthHigh
GroomingMedium
FriendlinessMedium
EnergyHigh
TrainabilityMedium

The Parent Breeds

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Sturdy Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog on Grass

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is famous for the ridge at its back, the feature that contributed to its name.

It is a native of the Southern part of Africa and developed by Boer farmers to be an all-around worker and a hunting dog.

It soon was used in lion hunting, a job that gave it its moniker the African Lion Hound.

The breed standard was established in Rhodesia.

In 1911, the first Rhodesian Ridgeback came to America. After the Second World War, more of these dogs came into America.

It got recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1955.

This dog breed is a medium to large-sized breed with a height that falls between 24 to 27 inches and a weight range of 70 to 85 pounds.

Its coat is short and shiny, one that doesn’t emit any offensive odor.

The colors revolve around gold and reddish gold, also known as light wheaten or red wheaten. 

The Rhodesian Ridgeback has some amazing behavioral traits. It matures from a restless pup to a quiet and gentle adult.

Its intelligence and independent spirit make it both easy and hard to train. The owner should be firm without being harsh.

Related:
10 Popular Rhodesian Ridgeback Mixes (w/ Pictures)

German Shepherd

German Shepherd Dog Breed

The German Shepherd has European roots, unlike the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

It was developed in Germany and is a new breed.

Its founder was a man named Captain Max Von Stephanitz, whose goal was to develop a formidable herding dog.

It was Von Stephaniz who also put the German Shepherd on the path of law enforcement and the military.

The German Shepherd got into America years before the war but became popular following its service in the war.

The American Kennel Club recognized it in 1908. 

The German Shepherd is bigger than the Rhodesian Ridgeback and a lot taller.

It weighs between 75 and 95 pounds with a height that peaks at 2 feet 2 inches.

It has a medium double coat that sheds heavily and comes in coat colors like black (and some black mixtures), blue, liver, gray, and white.

Its ears are erect, giving it a slight resemblance to a wolfdog.

The German Shepherd is usually reserved and a bit wary of strangers, but loyal towards family.

This intelligent and courageous dog remains a US sweetheart, as it has been for years.

Related:
30 Popular German Shepherd Mixes (w/ Pictures)

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Facts You Should Know

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Outdoors
@thebolded

1. Rhodesian Shepherds may not be hypoallergenic

The parents of this breed have different coats. While the German Shepherd is a shedder, the Rhodesian Ridgeback isn’t.

This makes it difficult for one to predict if the mix will shed heavily or not.

Because of this uncertainty, it may not be suitable for allergic sufferers.

2. They are not a good first-time dog

Though the mix is intelligent and learns easily, it can be a handful like its parents.

With an independent streak and a tendency towards dominant behavior, it may sometimes be unwilling to obey.

The owner should not be inexperienced or timid, but firm and knowledgeable. 

3. The mix isn’t fit for introverts either

While the mix can stay indoors if it has exercised well, it is meant for the outdoors.

Exercise and work are needed for both parents and the offspring, a situation that may tire out an introvert.

4. They make good guard dogs and watchdogs

The qualities it inherits from both parents make it an asset in security.

It plays the role of both a guard dog and a watchdog.

It is not aggressive unless badly trained but will protect its family when needed.

5. Watch out for separation anxiety

Many owners make the mistake of assuming this mix would love being alone because of its independent spirit.

However, just like its parents, it is used to company.

Being alone can trigger separation anxiety which leads to destructive behaviors. 

Appearance of the Rhodesian Shepherd

Rhodesian Shepherd Dog Lying on Dog Bed
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General Appearance 

The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix doesn’t have a definite appearance, which is the gamble breeders and potential buyers of most designer breeds face.

Because there are no Kennel standards or similarities in the looks of the parents, the puppies will grow to exhibit different physical characteristics.

Genetics plays a major role here.

Some of these dogs may look more like the German Shepherd, others will favor the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Some may combine both features to create an unusual look.

Therefore, you may find some with the erect ears of the German Shepherd or the floppy ones of the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Most get the ridge on their backs, but the face usually is that of the German Shepherd.

Overall, the Rhodesian Shepherd’s posture is that of a warrior dog—elegant and refined.

Size

The Rhodesian Shepherd mix is a medium to large dog breed like its parents. It weighs between 64 to 95 pounds and grows up to 27 inches.

Colors and Coat Type

This hybrid doesn’t have a set coat type either.

It could either be short and shiny like the Rhodesian Ridgeback or a medium, dense double coat like the German Shepherd.

Coat colors include gray, black, liver, and gold.

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Temperament

The temperament of the Rhodesian Shepherd is a combination of its parents.

There could be some differences in the behaviors of every individual.

Also, factors like good training and the right environment influences personality.

That being said, there are some traits you can expect from any member of this mixed breed.

The first common trait is loyalty. This hybrid looks out for its family and is devoted to them.

Loyalty is one attribute that makes it a good guard dog and watchdog, and it would defend its family to the last.

Not surprisingly, it is also protective.

Another good guard dog quality is its wariness towards strangers.

Like its parents, the mix is friendly only towards members of its family or those it knows well.

With strangers, it is aloof.

Socialization stops it from developing aggression towards strangers, but wariness is essential for its guard duty.

It is courageous as well, a trait gotten from both parents.

The Ridgeback hunted lions and the German Shepherd protected flocks against wolves.

You can count on this Rhodesian Shepherd to face danger without hesitation. 

As highly intelligent as its parents, expect this mix to understand and respond to commands with ease.

That is when it isn’t being stubborn. You have to be patient while training this breed.

Are Rhodesian Shepherds Good Family Dogs?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is a loyal and gentle companion, friendly with its family and loving with those it knows.

This mix can defend its family with its life and stay faithful throughout its life.

It is also good with kids, especially when socialized early.

However, its large size makes it unsuitable for toddlers, so it is more ideal to have them in a house with older kids who can respect a dog.

Are Rhodesian Shepherds Good With Other Dogs & Pets?

To get this hybrid to get along well with other dogs and pets, it should be socialized from an early age.

An adult with no prior experience in living with other animals may not fit in well.

The male unneutered dog could also be aggressive towards other males.

With smaller pets, its high prey drive could get in the way.

This is why socialization is vital if you want a home with multiple dogs and pets. 

How Much is a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Puppy?

Because of its novelty and rareness, it is hard to determine the average cost of this breed, or where to find it.

Your best bet is at a breeder who sells German Shepherds or Rhodesian Ridgebacks, but even that isn’t a guarantee.

For the price, the cost of shopping the parents could give you an idea of what to budget.

The German Shepherd’s average price range is from $1,500 to $3,000 while the Rhodesian Ridgeback often stops at $2,500.

The estimated Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix price would be between $1,500 to $3,000.

Cost varies, though, as the breeder could charge more or lesser than our estimate.

Regardless of the cost, the breeder should be reputable. Ensure you get a pup with no underlying medical conditions or undesirable behaviors.

The breeder should have a good environment where he/she keeps the pups, has proper documentation, and answers to your questions.

Some breeders may offer advice and ask questions of their own. Do not buy a puppy based on a guarantee alone. 

Another option is adoption, though with this breed it could be harder than shopping.

That said, you might stumble on a Rhodesian Shepherd in a rescue shelter specializing in German Shepherds or Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Adoption is cheaper and more canvassed for, but you also should ask questions.

Some abandoned dogs suffer trauma from abuse or a medical condition that made the previous owner abandon it.

Know what you’re getting into before you start the adoption process.

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Food & Diet

The Rhodesian Shepherd is a big dog. As such, it requires a rich kibble fit for its size.

While some dogs can manage a poor diet, this hybrid would have health problems if fed a subpar meal.

Keep it hydrated too by providing enough water.

This mixed breed needs 23% protein and at least 14% fat. Supplements like fish oil are also good for its system.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are some other supplements that would help strengthen its bones. 

Like its parents, it can get overweight. So you should regularise its meal and stop it from free feeding.

Human food and treats should be minimal as those can make a dog gain weight. 

There are many meal options you can opt for when drafting your pet’s diet.

You could keep it on a raw meal or give it a blend of dry and wet dog food.

Dry food is usually preferred as the main meal, then wet food adds variety.

Consult a veterinarian or nutritionist to know what to feed your pup.

Another rule of thumb is to know the factors that influence feeding.

Like other dog breeds, do not feed a Rhodesian Shepherd puppy with the same meal or ratio that you would an adult.

The same applies to seniors. That is the age factor.

Size is another, and you should also determine the energy level of your mix while establishing its diet.

Rhodesian Shepherd Exercise Needs

Rhodesian Shepherd Dog Playing with Toys
@brockandluna

As a worker mix, Rhodesian Shepherds need regular exercise.

Though it isn’t highly energetic like many other worker breeds, it shouldn’t be deprived of physical and mental activities.

A bored and restless Rhodesian Shepherd is a recipe for destruction. 

It loves the outdoors and should be taken outside numerous times a day.

This is a win for you if your hobbies involve stepping out of the house, not board games and binge-watching series.

It is advisable to keep your mixed dog on a leash, at least till it is well trained to obey a recall command.

Its high prey drive may push it to dive after a smaller animal.

It needs at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Sometimes it could get to an hour or more, depending on your dog.

Some activities fit for the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix include walking, running, hiking, swimming, playtime at a dog park, or games like fetch.

These borders on the physical.

Mental activities like puzzles, herding, and even scent games can keep your pup’s mind challenged. 

Age and size also determine how much exercise this crossbreed needs.

It is advisable to start small with a puppy and stick to light activities.

As for size, an obese dog would need a different exercise requirement than its slimmer counterpart.

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Training & Socialization

One challenge many pet parents face is training.

For this Rhodesian Shepherd, training is both easy and frustrating.

It is easy because of its intelligence, but frustrating due to its stubbornness.

The best way to start training is when your pooch is still a puppy—if you adopted it as an adult, you would have a different set of challenges.

Ensure your pup knows its place in the human-dog relationship and acknowledges you as the leader.

Only then would you make headway with this stubborn breed. As usual, obedience training and socialization are a must.

Let your pet learn simple commands and respond to them. It should also get to meet new people and visit foreign places.

For this breed, training has to be consistent, not random.

You’ll get more positive results if your dog adapts to a training routine. 

This mixed breed is sensitive to harsh words, yelling, and punitive methods—so you must keep your cool and be patient while training.

Use treats, praises, pats on the back, and other forms of motivation to encourage it.

Also Read:
Complete Guide To Training Your Puppy

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Grooming Needs

Rhodesian Shepherd Dog Bathing
@brockandluna

Grooming this mix can either be easy or challenging, depending on the coat type.

If it inherited the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s short coat, a simple brushing would suffice. It won’t shed too.

However, if it tilts towards the German Shepherd parent, then expect shedding and more effort brushing.

Bathing should be minimal, no matter which coat type your hybrid inherits. Too much bathing can clean off the oil on its skin.

As a general rule, only bathe your dog when it is dirty. 

Its ears also need attention, especially if it gets the floppy ears of the Ridgeback, which is more prone to infection.

Remove the excess wax regularly, and be observant for signs of infection.

Besides the ears, take care of the teeth, nails, and eyes. All these contribute towards keeping your pet clean and healthy.

Rhodesian Shepherd Health & Conditions 

The Rhodesian Shepherd lives up to 14 years which is long by doggy standards.

Like other designer breeds, it tends to be healthier than pure breeds.

However, there are some conditions this crossbreed inherits from both parents. They include:

  • Hip dysplasia: Very common amongst medium and large dog breeds, hip dysplasia is a problem of the hip joint that happens when the ball doesn’t fit into the socket. 
  • Dermoid Sinus: Dermoid Sinus is a common illness of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. It is a skin condition that often occurs on the dog’s back, neck, and tail. 
  • Deafness: The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also vulnerable to this. Deafness has no known cure, but can be managed. 
  • Infections: This Mix is susceptible to various eye, ear, and skin infections. While grooming, check out for any unusual symptoms.

Related Questions

How big is a full-grown Rhodesian Shepherd?

The Rhodesian Shepherd is a medium to large mixed dog breed. When fully grown, it weighs up to 95 pounds and gets as tall as 27 inches.

Do German Shepherds have ridgebacks?

The purebred German Shepherd has no ridgeback at its spine as it is a feature of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. A Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix, however, can have a ridgeback.

What is the best mix for German Shepherd?

Besides the Rhodesian Shepherd, there are other German Shepherd crossbreeds, some of which are popular.

One such hybrid is the Golden Shepherd, a cross between the Golden Retriever and the German Shepherd.

Is the German Shepherd Rhodesian Ridgeback Mix aggressive?

Both parents are not known to be aggressive, so the mix shouldn’t be too.

That being said, poor training can lead to aggression in this crossbreed, which is undesirable behavior.

Wrap it Up

There are many designer breeds in the world today, and as breeders cross more pure breeds, we expect to see more in the future.

The German Shepherd Rhodesian Ridgeback mix is a new and relatively rare hybrid that possesses the best characteristics of both parents.

Fit for an experienced and outdoor person, this crossbreed is a perfect pet for families that can meet its needs.

Other German Shepherd and Rhodesian Ridgeback Mixes

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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