Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks High Maintenance?

Rhodesian ridgebacks are known for their loyalty, affection but they can be high maintenance. They are large dogs that require a lot of exercise and attention. They are highly devoted to their families and love to be with their owners all the time. They like to be indoors with you and outdoors to you. This means that they need to be properly socialized and trained from a young age and not left for long times alone. Their short, dense coat requires regular grooming to keep it healthy.

While Rhodesian Ridgebacks are great dogs, they are not the right fit for everyone. In this article, we will explore whether or not Rhodesian Ridgebacks are high maintenance to figure out if they are the right breed for you. I have owned Rhodesian ridgebacks for over 14 years so I can let you know what they are like to live with.

Understanding the Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a unique breed that originated in South Africa. They are known for their distinctive “ridge” of hair that grows along their spine in the opposite direction of their coat.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are loyal and affectionate dogs that make great family pets. They are known for their independent nature, which can sometimes come across as stubbornness. However, with proper training and socialization, they can be well-behaved and obedient.

You will need to be a strong leader to let your ridgeback know that you are in charge. You will need to take them to obedience training from a young age to learn basic commands and commit time to socialize them throughout their lives.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a high-energy breed that requires daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. They enjoy walking, running, hiking, and chasing, so they are a good fit for active owners. A lack of exercise can lead to destructive behavior and obesity.

I found that with my ridgeback, I needed to exercise him for at least 2 hours per day. This would be a morning and afternoon walk, practising good behaviour as well as some off leash time.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a short, easy-to-maintain coat that only requires occasional brushing to remove loose hair. However, their ears and paws should be checked regularly for dirt and debris, and their nails should be trimmed as needed.

Ridgebacks will shed more heavily twice per year so will need more regular brushing during this time. Their short hair gets stuck in everything so prepare to vacuum often. If they travel in the car, you will need to vacuum regularly to keep the hair out of everything.

Health Issues

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia and eye problems. It’s important to choose a reputable breeder who screens their dogs for these conditions and to schedule regular vet check-ups.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent dogs that respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. However, they can be strong-willed and require a firm approach. Early socialization and training are crucial to prevent behavior problems down the road.

They will need to be introduced to kids, other dogs, cats and other small animals like chickens and rabbits with close supervision if they are to behave well with them when they are older.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a wonderful breed for active, experienced owners who are willing to put in the time and effort to properly train and care for them.

Physical Maintenance of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Grooming Needs

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a short and dense coat that requires minimal grooming. However, they do shed moderately throughout the year and heavily twice a year during seasonal changes. Brushing their coat once a week with a rubber curry brush or slicker brush can help remove loose hair and keep their coat shiny.

Bathing should only be done when necessary, as frequent bathing can strip their coat of natural oils. It is also important to regularly clean their ears and trim their nails to prevent infections and overgrowth.

Exercise Requirements

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a high-energy breed that requires daily exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. They need at least an hour of exercise every day but 2 hours is better. Take them for long walks, runs, hikes, or playtime in a fenced yard.

They also enjoy activities such as agility, tracking, and obedience training. Lack of exercise can lead to destructive behavior, obesity, and health issues.

Mental stimulation is also important for Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training can help keep their minds active and prevent boredom. A tired and stimulated Rhodesian Ridgeback is more likely to be well-behaved and content.

Emotional Maintenance of Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are highly intelligent and sensitive dogs that require emotional maintenance to thrive. In this section, we will discuss their training and socialization needs.

Training Needs

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent and independent, which can make training a challenge. However, with consistency and positive reinforcement, they can learn quickly. It is important to start training early and to be patient and consistent.

Some important training areas for Rhodesian Ridgebacks include:

  • Basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel
  • House training and crate training
  • Leash training and socialization to prevent pulling and aggression towards other dogs.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also highly sensitive to their owner’s emotions, so it is important to use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, treats, and playtime to build a strong bond with your dog.

Socialization Needs

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their loyalty to their family, but they can be wary of strangers and other dogs. Early socialization is important to prevent aggression and fearfulness towards other dogs and people.

Socialization should begin early and continue throughout your dog’s life. Some key socialization areas include:

  • Exposing your dog to different environments, people, and animals
  • Encouraging positive interactions with other dogs and people
  • Teaching your dog to be calm and relaxed in new situations.

It is important to remember that Rhodesian Ridgebacks are hunting dogs with a strong prey drive, so it is important to supervise them around small animals such as cats and rabbits.

Overall, emotional maintenance is crucial for the well-being of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. With proper training and socialization, they can make loyal and loving companions for years to come.

Health Considerations for Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally a healthy breed with a lifespan of 10-12 years. However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues that you should be aware of.

Common Health Issues

Here are some of the most common health issues that Rhodesian Ridgebacks may experience:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia: This is a common issue in many large-breed dogs, including Rhodesian Ridgebacks. It is caused by abnormal bone and surrounding connective tissues, leading to rubbing and degenerative changes within the joint, resulting in lameness, pain, and weakness.
  • Bloat: This is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can occur when a dog’s stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. It is more common in deep-chested breeds like Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
  • Dermoid sinus: This is a congenital condition in which a tube-like depression in the skin fails to close during embryonic development. It can lead to infections and neurological issues.

Veterinary Care Needs

To keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback healthy, you should take them to the vet regularly for check-ups and preventative care. Here are some veterinary care needs to keep in mind:

  • Vaccinations: Your Rhodesian Ridgeback should receive regular vaccinations to protect against common diseases.
  • Parasite prevention: Rhodesian Ridgebacks are susceptible to parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Talk to your vet about preventative measures.
  • Dental care: Regular dental care is important to prevent dental disease, which can lead to other health issues.
  • Spaying/neutering: Spaying or neutering your Rhodesian Ridgeback can help prevent certain health issues and unwanted behaviors.

It is important to be aware of potential health issues and provide regular veterinary care to keep them healthy and happy.

The Cost of Maintaining a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to understand the financial commitment that comes with it. Here are some of the costs you can expect to incur when maintaining a Rhodesian Ridgeback:

Initial Costs

When you first bring your Rhodesian Ridgeback home, you’ll need to purchase supplies and pay for initial care. Here are some of the items you’ll need and their estimated costs:

ItemEstimated Cost
Crate$50 – $200
Bed$20 – $100
Food and Water Bowls$10 – $50
Collar and Leash$20 – $50
Toys$10 – $50
Veterinary Exam$50 – $100
Vaccinations$50 – $100

These costs can vary depending on where you live and the specific items you choose to purchase.

Ongoing Costs

After the initial costs, you’ll need to budget for ongoing expenses to keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback healthy and happy. Here are some of the costs you can expect:

  • Food: Expect to spend around $40 – $100 per month on high-quality dog food.
  • Grooming: Rhodesian Ridgebacks have short, dense coats that require minimal grooming, but you may need to pay for occasional baths, nail trims, and ear cleanings.
  • Veterinary Care: Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive care can cost around $500 – $1,000 per year.
  • Training: Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent dogs that benefit from obedience training. You can expect to pay around $100 – $200 per session with a professional trainer.
  • Boarding and Pet Sitting: If you need to travel without your Rhodesian Ridgeback, you’ll need to budget for boarding or pet sitting services, which can cost around $40 – $75 per day.

Unexpected Costs

It’s important to be prepared for unexpected expenses that may arise. Here are some examples of unexpected costs you may encounter:

  • Illness or Injury: If your Rhodesian Ridgeback becomes ill or injured, you may need to pay for emergency veterinary care, which can be very expensive.
  • Damages: Rhodesian Ridgebacks are powerful dogs that can cause damage to your home or property. You may need to pay for repairs or replacements if your dog causes damage.
  • Travel: If you plan to travel with your Rhodesian Ridgeback, you may need to pay for additional fees and expenses, such as airline fees or pet-friendly accommodations.

In conclusion, owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback can be a significant financial commitment. It’s important to budget for the initial costs, ongoing expenses, and unexpected costs to ensure that you can provide your dog with the care they need.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be high maintenance dogs. They are also loyal, gentle, and high-spirited watchdogs, making them wonderful companions. When it comes to living in an apartment, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not the best choice. They are large-breed dogs and need plenty of exercise to keep them healthy and happy. They are also not hypoallergenic, so if you have allergies, this may not be the breed for you.

Overall, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are great dogs for families who are willing to give them the exercise and attention they need. They require regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. If you are considering getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback, make sure you do your research and understand the pros and cons of owning this breed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical lifespan of a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks typically live for 10-12 years. However, with proper care and a healthy lifestyle, they can live up to 14 years.

How much exercise do Rhodesian Ridgebacks need?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a high-energy breed and require daily exercise. They need at least an hour of exercise each day but 2 hours at least is best. This includes walks, runs, and playtime. They also enjoy activities such as hiking, swimming, and agility training.

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks prone to any health issues?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally healthy dogs, but they can be prone to certain health issues. These include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, bloat, and skin allergies. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and a healthy diet can help prevent these issues.

What is the average cost of owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

The cost of owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback can vary depending on factors such as breeder, location, and medical expenses. On average, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,500 for a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. Ongoing expenses such as food, grooming, and medical care can add up to several hundred dollars per year.

Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks good with children?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be great family pets and are generally good with children. However, because of their size and energy level, they may accidentally knock over small children. It is important to supervise interactions between children and dogs and to teach children how to properly interact with dogs.

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks shed a lot?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a short, dense coat that sheds moderately. Regular brushing can help to control shedding, and they only need to be bathed occasionally.