Skip to Content

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Traits And Health

Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix Traits And Health

It’s a crossbreed dog of two very brave and loyal purebred dogs – a German Shepherd and a Rhodesian Ridgeback. If you are looking for their mix, you will quickly learn that these dogs have extremely high loyalty, calm temper, and… very unique physiques.

You must have heard of the dog that has ridges of hair growing in the opposite direction than the rest of the hair on its body.

Well, the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix will also have this unique trademark, and it will also have a unique GSD look. It’s the perfect blend of two powerful dog breeds.

Even though the physical traits cannot be easily predicted, we can tell you with greater certainty the temperamental traits of this mixed dog.

They are endurable, loyal, and trainable.

Are you in need of an excellent hunting dog that can provide protection and guard your home at the same time? You are in luck!

The Rhodesian Shepherd is a dog of those qualities, and it is not that rare because the GSDs popularity, You can find these dogs (unfortunately) even in animal shelters.

But, before you get one, let’s take a look at exactly what this incredible designer dog is.

What Is A Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix?

rhodesian ridgeback german shepherd mix lying on the bed
Photo from: @graceprotze

Any mixed dog that has two purebred parents is called a hybrid dog or a designer dog. This is the case with the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix as well.

They were purposefully bred by breeders to get a dog that will have traits of both parent dogs – loyalty, affection, a working dog, and a good guard dog.

But, because this is a crossbreed, the Rhodesian Shepherd cannot be registered at the American Kennel Club (AKC). They only accept purebred dogs, which means you can register their parents.

But, once you meet the German Shepherd Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, you will find that you don’t have to have proof of pedigree bloodline. You will realize you have an amazing, high-energy designer dog breed just as beautiful and amazing as any purebred dog.

But, if you want to know if this dog is suitable for first-time dog owners, the answer is no, not really. You have to have the experience to know how to handle a dog of this size, strength, and strong prey drive.

It’s time to see where these traits come from…

Who Are The Parents?

rhodesian ridgeback german shepherd in the snow
Photo from: @whitneylynnkathryn

When breeders plan the breeding program of new designer dogs, they try to match the dogs’ size as one of the most important physical traits to be compatible. Dogs that are very different in size can cause a lot of problems during the birthing process.

This is, of course, the case when the female is smaller than the male. The size of the puppies can cause a lot of problems for the female, and it can cause various complications during and after the birthing process.

But, that’s why there is no size problem to worry about when it comes to the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix breed. Both parent breeds are of similar weight and height. In general, this means it doesn’t matter which dog is a female and which one is a male.

Even though German Shepherd dogs are very popular, let’s take a look at some short info about them and Rhodesians in order to freshen our memory. After all, the traits of the GSDs and the Rhodesian Ridgebacks will show up in the Rhodesian Shepherd puppies.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

This is a unique breed of dog for a very interesting reason. They have a ridge of hair that grows in the opposite direction from the other hair. This ridge is on the back; hence, the name, Ridgeback.

The name, Rhodesian, comes from an old name for Zimbabwe — a country in Africa where these dogs originated from. Rhodesians are athletic dogs that can weigh more than 80 pounds, and grow up to 27 inches tall.

This is a large breed that was used for hunting lions. Yes, that’s right — mighty lions! But, they were never actually used to kill lions – just chase them and help people during the hunt. As you can see, this dog needs to have an active lifestyle.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can come in all kinds of shades of wheaten coat color. They can also have either a black- or a brown-colored nose.

Today, of course, people do not use these lovely dogs as lion hunters. They are amazing family dogs — affectionate, and good with other dogs and pets. Although Rhodesians can live anywhere, it would be perfect to have a large yard in order for this dog to truly shine.

German Shepherd

The popular German Shepherd dog… it’s a well-known dog used in all kinds of jobs all around the world. They have proved themselves to be amazing police dogs, guards, protective dogs, and amazing family pets.

Once bred as herding dogs, today, they are mostly used as watchdogs and guards. Of course, this large dog is also an amazing family pet that goes great with children and all other family members. They can weigh around 90 pounds, and grow up to 26 inches tall.

And, they also have unique looks. Everyone knows what a GSD looks like. They have a bushy, low-set tail, a long muzzle, and pointy ears. But, maybe the most distinguishable trait is their coat color.

Apart from the most popular black and tan GSD, there are other coat colors — liver GSD, silver, sable, white, and even an albino.

These dogs also need plenty of exercise to satisfy their high energy levels. It is a great family dog, but just like the Rhodesian Ridgeback, it would be ideal to have a yard for this big dog.

What Do They Look Like?

wet rhodesian ridgeback german shepherd looking into camera
Photo from: @graceprotze

We saw the main traits of both dog parents, from weight to coat colors, and we know the looks of both parent dog breeds, but what about the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix? What will their looks be like?

Are they going to have the ridge or will they completely have the German Shepherd coat type? Well, these and other questions regarding physical traits are harder to predict. We already mentioned that, and the reason is because of the great difference in the looks of the parent breeds.

But, there are some general traits that could be expected, and we’re going to mention them. From the head to the general body type, here is what you can expect from your Rhodesian Shepherd puppies.

Size

The size of mixed GSD Rhodesian dogs will be similar to the size of their dog parents. This means they will be large dogs that can weigh from 80 to 95 pounds, and they can grow up to 27 inches tall.

Of course, some puppies can grow to be much smaller or larger than the average size, but this is a common thing with all dogs, not just crossbred dogs. Genes play a vital role, but external factors, such as diet and activity play a certain role as well.

Bottom line… we can say with certainty that you will have a big dog that will need a lot of kibbles to keep its stomach full, and it will need a lot of space to stretch its legs.

Head

The Rhodesian Ridgeback has the looks of a true hunting dog — it has floppy ears and a medium-length muzzle, with a broad and flat skull between its ears.

On the other hand, a German Shepherd has a narrower and longer head, with a long muzzle and pointy ears.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix will have a head that is (most of the time) an equal blend of both head types. But, we can never be 100% certain of the looks.

Some puppies can inherit the broader skull of the Rhodesians while others can inherit the typical GSD skull. Then again, there is a difference between a male and female GSDs head shape, where a male has a distinguishably masculine skull.

Some can also inherit pointy ears, and others… floppy ears.

Because both parent dogs have brown to dark brown eyes, their mixed-breed offspring will also have dark-colored eyes.

All of this means that it is impossible to know exactly what Rhodesian Shepherd puppies will look like.

Coat Type

rhodesian ridgeback german shepherd dog in the car
Photo from: @graceprotze

This is yet another physical trait that can go in different ways.

But, this time, there are fewer possibilities — a new puppy can either have:

  • A double coat type
  • A single coat type

The single coat type comes from the Ridgeback side, and the double coat type from the GSD. The new pup can also have:

  • A short coat
  • A medium-length coat

The medium-length coat comes from the GSD side, but there are long-haired GSDs, so there is a possibility for a long-haired Rhodesian GSD, too, although it has to be said that this happens very rarely.

Grooming

Even though the German Shepherd side can give the mixed dog a double coat of medium length, grooming is not a problem. You won’t be spending time on endless daily brushing. Both types of coat require weekly grooming with a regular brush.

But, GSDs do shed as well as Rhodesians, especially during the shedding seasons, which are in fall and spring. This doesn’t change the grooming techniques of your mixed dog. It simply means that you will have to spend more time doing it to get rid of the hair and remove the tangles.

Coat Color

The color depends on the color of the two dogs used for crossbreeding. If you cross a wheaten Ridgeback with a black German Shepherd, the outcome won’t be a light-colored dog. They will be a dark shade of brown or dark red.

Because there are many coat colors of the GSD, we can only tell you what some of the possibilities are for the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix coat colors:

  • Brown
  • Black and Tan
  • Wheaten
  • Liver
  • Light Brown
  • Light Wheaten

The Ridgeback can only be wheaten, so it all comes down to the coat color of the GSD.

Body

The Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is a dog with a muscular body and a lot of strength. You will be able to see signs that this is a Shepherd mix puppy because of the slope of the back, which is characteristic of the GSD.

But, the back doesn’t have to be sloped — the entire body can be just like a Rhodesian body type. A straight back without a slope.

They will have a deep chest, strong front and hind legs, with a muscular neck. Nothing about this dog says I am fragile. These dogs are sturdy, large, and strong.

This is why it is important to make sure your Ridgeback GSD goes through proper training and socialization. They are strong dogs that need to be trained to be obedient. Luckily, as you will see — training is not too big of a problem.

Tail

Once again, the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix can inherit different physical traits from its dog parents. A purebred German Shepherd has a bushy, low-set tail, while the purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback has a thin and muscular tail.

That means these are the types of tail possible in Rhodesian GSD mix puppies:

  • Bushy tail
  • Think tail
  • Low-set tail (saber curve)
  • Medium-set tail (slight upward curve)

What we do know is that these mixed dogs cannot have a curly tail or a short tail. Genetic mutations can happen no matter the bread, but that’s like saying a person can be born with an extra finger. It is not common, but it can happen.

What Is Their Temperament?

rhodesian ridgeback german shepherd mix dog looking into camera
Photo from: @nelvana_textiles

Their incredible temperamental traits are the main reasons why people are looking to get a Rhodesian GSD mix. And, it is quite understandable when you think about the traits of both parent dog breeds.

These mixed dogs get the best from both, but of course, sometimes a couple of not-so-desirable traits can show from time to time. It is nothing too alarming or nothing that good socialization or training can’t mend.

Family Life

First of all, a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is an excellent family pet. They are:

  • Affectionate
  • Great with children
  • Good with other dogs

If you are looking for a dog to be your loving family doggo and a brilliant big guard dog — this mixed dog is a great choice! They are naturally alert, and they have a natural instinct to protect the family. They are also patient and calm dogs, perfect for young children.

However, it is important to teach the children as well that dogs are not toys no matter how patient and calm a dog is. Both dogs and very young children need to understand some play-time rules.

Socialization

No matter if a dog is naturally protective, calm, and great around children and other family members, every dog has to go through proper early socialization.

That means helping your dog get used to all kinds of smells and noises commonly found in and around a house. We should start with the Ridgeback GSD socialization early on… when they are just puppies.

This way, we ensure that they grow up as confident and calm dogs with a good temperament. They won’t act aggressively towards other dogs, strangers, or when they find themselves in an unknown situation.

If you got your Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix as an adult dog from a shelter with an unknown history — don’t worry. You can train and socialize an aggressive dog, too. If you need help, follow this link for tips and tricks: How to socialize an aggressive dog?

Activity Levels

As mentioned before, this is a crossbreed dog that has a lot of energy. They will require long walks, and a lot of playtime or consistent training in order to keep them happy and healthy.

They not only need physical, but mental stimulation as well. An ideal solution for these dogs would be a yard where they can explore and satisfy their activity needs.

You can keep this dog as an apartment pet as well, but with daily walks and a proper amount of exercise. Not every dog breed needs the same amount of daily walks.

How often you walk your dog depends on many factors, like health, breed, size, and, of course, weather conditions. But, one thing is certain — you shouldn’t leave your Rhodesian GSD mix bored for a long time.

A bored dog gets destructive and disobedient over time. Not to mention that lack of exercise can cause stress, which consequently leads to various health issues and sudden odd behaviors in a dog.

Trainability

This is another good trait when it comes to this mixed dog. They get their trainability genes from both sides, including the great desire to make their owner happy.

If making the owner happy means doing what the owner wants them to do — they will be more than happy to oblige. If you need someone to guard the home or simply bring your newspaper in the morning — you got the dog for it!

But, it is not an almighty dog that learns in an instant. They need training as well, and lots of positive reinforcement to teach them what to do and not do.

They are in the intelligent dogs group because of both parent dog breeds. This makes them trainable and easy to adapt to new situations.

First-time Owners

The big debate when it comes to such strong dogs is whether they are suitable for first-time dog owners or not. They are easy to train, which implies anyone can have these dogs if they are properly trained. But, it takes more than that…

They are strong dogs with a strong prey drive. If they see an opportunity to chase a squirrel in the park or some other small animal, and they sense a lack of confidence in you — they’ll go for it!

You will need to be a confident dog owner who knows how to keep your dog on a leash while in the dog park or anywhere else outside the home.

Also, if you know you don’t have time for this dog and its activity needs, it is better to find a dog that suits your lifestyle better — perhaps a medium-sized, low energy dog like a Chow Chow or a Basset Hound.

What Are The Health Issues?

rhodesian ridgeback german shepherd sleeping on the floor
Photo from: @nelvana_textiles

As with any other dog breed — crossbreed or purebred, these dogs can have some health problems. The most common problem in all large dogs is bloat (Gastric dilatation-volvulus).

It’s a serious health issue that happens when the stomach gets dilated because of the rapid intake of food, liquid, or gas. The stomach inflates and puts pressure on the surrounding organs and their blood vessels, which can lead to vascular shock and death.

Other common health issues are:

Average Lifespan

The life expectancy of mixed dogs depends on the life expectancy of the dog breeds used in crossbreeding.

In this case, we have a GSD that has a low lifespan — up to ten years, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback that has a slightly longer lifespan — around twelve years.

That means their offspring will have a similar life expectancy, from ten to twelve years.

This can be prolonged with proper care, which includes more than regular vet checks. It includes proper daily mental and physical stimulation, lots of love, and high-quality dog food.

High-quality food is food that has a high percentage of proteins and a low percentage of carbohydrates. It also has to have vitamins and minerals to fully support your dog’s immune system.

But, in the end, genes play the main role in the longevity of every species on the planet. We can do everything correctly, but a dog can still only live for ten years, like the GSD. Such a short lifespan is also something to think about before getting a Rhodesian Shepherd.

The Conclusion

As the final thought, it can be said that this dog has incredible temperamental traits. But, they come as a large dog — they can weigh more than 90 pounds! That means no matter how incredible this dog is, they need a lot of space and food.

If you know you have the time to walk this dog daily and give it the proper amount of exercise, which includes mental stimulation, too, then it can be the perfect dog for you and your family.

It doesn’t matter if you have children or not – these dogs are great family pets that go well with children and other dogs. But, in order to keep them friendly with other pets, especially small pets — they need proper socialization from day one.

In general, a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix is a dog that will show great loyalty and bravery, and will have a protective nature towards its entire family, not just one person they bond with.

They can be excellent guard dogs and watchdogs, as well as hiking partners. They will go wherever you go.

In return, you need to give them space, long walks, and lots of love.

Find Out More: The Black Mouth Cur German Shepherd Mix Complete Guide

German Shepherd Vs Labrador - How Different Are They?

Friday 27th of January 2023

[…] dogs, especially because they are so great with young children. This trait is commonly seen in German Shepherd mixes and Labrador Retriever mixes, whether it’s a Great Dane/Lab or Pitbull/Lab […]