Are Rhodesian ridgebacks good with chickens? (My Experience)

Rhodesian ridgebacks were originally bred as hunting dogs so it is unsafe to leave them unattended with chickens. They can see them as pray or may chase them. Ridgebacks are large and can easily hurt a chicken even if they don’t mean to.

I had introduced my ridgeback Cooper to chickens when he was a puppy. They could share a backyard as they got older but would not be unattended. Ridgebacks are playful and will run and jump and can easily hurt the chickens.

Separate ridgebacks and chickens with a dog proof fence. This is will help to keep your chickens safe and can also help to keep foxes out.

Rhodesian ridgebacks and chickens

Rhodesian ridgebacks are playful dogs that have a natural instinct to chase small pray. This could be rabbits, wild birds and even chickens. Chickens are not usually fast enough to get away from ridgebacks when they run their fastest.

Ridgebacks and chickens can share an area but should always be kept separated. This will protect your chickens and keep your ridgeback out of trouble.

My chickens and ridgeback grew up together. The chickens got used to having Cooper around and would not run scared away from him. They knew they were safe because he couldn’t get into their cage.

My ridgeback would take the opportunity to eat chicken feed if he got a chance. That is why it is important to keep the lid of the feed and your ridgeback out of the chicken cage.

Are Rhodesian ridgebacks good with chickens?

Rhodesian ridgebacks can be trained to ignore chickens but they should not be left alone together. Ridgebacks are large with big paws. They run fast and can easily hurt a chicken if they are together. Ridgebacks are great with other dogs but are not good with small animals like chickens.

As my ridgeback got older, he learned how to behave around small animals. Young ridgebacks however are immature and will quickly jump on and play with small animals. Male ridgebacks can be uncoordinated, and can lose control of their limbs as they are playing. It is important to keep ridgebacks and chickens separated to avoid accidental damage.


Precautions when keeping ridgebacks and chickens

If you are planning on keeping both chickens and ridgebacks, here are some important tips.


It is essential to supervise your ridgeback and chickens when they are near each other. Even when they are separated by a cage, ridgebacks can still scare chickens. Ridgebacks can run at the cage, bark or jump which can frighten your chickens. A frightened chicken can even stop laying eggs, so it is important to supervise.

When your chickens and ridgeback are both in the yard, keep an eye on them both. Makes sure your ridgeback is well trained, will come when they are called and will sit on command. This will help to keep your chickens safe.


Separating your chickens from your ridgeback is essential. Keep your chickens in dog proof cage. This should be at least 8 feet tall, be dug into the ground 2 feet and be held tight with strong posts and wire clips.

A solid fence or cage is essential to keep your chickens safe. Make sure they have a quiet, waterproof and dark place to roost and lay their eggs. Keep your ridgeback away from the cage when your chickens are laying eggs. They need the space and a safe environment to lay.

Training your ridgeback to be with small animals

Ridgebacks can be trained to be safer with small animals when they are supervised. Check out these easy tips.

Basic training

Basic training is essential if your ridgeback will be around small animals like chickens. The need to know when to come, sit to drop and to stay. This will allow you to call them back from an area if they are getting too close to small animals.

This will be important if you live in an area with wild birds, farm animals and cats. While ridgebacks should always be supervised with small animals they can learn to be near them safely. It could take 2-3 years of basic training until they are mature and well trained enough to be near small animals like chickens.

Socializing them with chickens

It is possible socialize ridgebacks with chickens from early on. Puppies that grow up with chickens will get used to seeing them around. They will need to learn that they are not pray or playmates. The best thing is for ridgebacks to learn to ignore the chickens. They can then co-exist on a property without the chickens freaking out when the dog runs by.

Start by separating the chickens and dogs with at least 2 fences or by keeping your ridgeback on a lead. This will stop them from running and jumping up against the chickens cage and scaring them. Over time your ridgeback may learn to be safe on the outside of the chicken cage but should always be watched.

Ridgebacks can get silly and can quickly change their behaviour and scare the chickens.

Are Rhodesian ridgebacks good with chickens? | Summary

Rhodesian ridgebacks can learn to be near chickens but they always need to be separated and supervised. Over time they can be trained to behave around chickens. But remember they are still dogs and sometimes their hunting instinct can kick in and they can be dangerous to chickens.

My ridgeback has spent his life around chickens. He spent many years on a large property where we had chickens separated in their own enclosure. They also had a safe henhouse that sat away from the fences so the chickens could have a safe space to lay their eggs.

Over 2-3 years our ridgeback grew to behave well around chickens, however I always kept an eye on him.