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Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Hypoallergenic? Breed Coat & Shedding Explained

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By Nicole Cosgrove

close up of a Rhodesian Ridgeback mixed breed dog

If you are prone to dog allergies, you should consider whether the dog you want is hypoallergenic before adopting or getting one. Unfortunately, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not hypoallergenic even though it has a thin coat and infrequent shedding. However, dogs that don’t shed much tend to be more allergy-friendly than those with heavy coats.

It’s also worth mentioning that different dogs also produce different dander, so it’s possible to be allergic to one dog and not another.

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What Causes Dog Allergies?

The immune system produces chemicals called histamines that are activated when it encounters a reaction towards a certain allergen. The most common allergens include pollen, fur, and dust. Histamines eliminate these allergens by triggering the body to push them out through specific pathways, including your nose, mouth, and eyes. This response creates inflammation, swelling, and reddening, which are the most common allergy symptoms.

When it comes to dogs, they produce harmless proteins through their urine, saliva, and dander that can trigger allergic reactions in certain people. Dander and fur can end up all over the house, and trigger allergic reactions.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks playing a tennis ball
Image By: boumapetrovice, Pixabay

Can Allergy Sufferers Live with a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

Despite Rhodesian Ridgebacks not shedding a lot, people with allergies may risk developing allergic reactions if they share the same living space. However, if you are set on owning the Rhodesian Ridgeback, there are several things you can do to reduce your reactions.

They include:
  • Reduce the time your dog spends in your bedroom and other rooms where you spend a lot of time.
  • Brush your dog often to prevent it from shedding inside the house.
  • Bath your dog often to help remove dander from its coat.
  • If possible, remove any carpets on the floor or wash them often.
  • Invest in a high-quality and efficient particulate air purifier to reduce airborne allergens indoors.

You should also talk to your doctor to determine whether your allergy is high-risk. Many people with allergies can live with dogs with the right allergy medications.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Characteristics

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are confident dogs, given their early history of protection and hunting. They are loyal to their owners and families and are quite protective of young children and smaller pets when well-socialized.

Despite their large size, they are sensitive dogs, and no rough treatment should be imparted to them, especially as puppies. They also make excellent guard dogs since they are aloof strangers and will alert you at the first sign of trouble.

Rhodesian Ridgeback males can reach a height of 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 85 pounds. Females, on the other hand, are slightly smaller, with a height of 25 inches and weighing around 70 pounds.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks walking outdoor
Image By: boumapetrovice, Pixabay

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Everything You Need to Know About Owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback

Owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback is a big responsibility. To be able to care for them, you need to understand some of their basic needs.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally healthy dogs and responsible breeders will avoid significant diseases by careful selection of parents. Some conditions they are at high risk for include elbow and hip dysplasia and thyroid and eye anomalies. Ensure you take them to the vet for regular checkups at least twice a year.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback does not have a thick coat and thus does not shed often. Their grooming needs are, therefore, minimal, and regular brushing once a week will do. The eyes should be cleaned frequently to avoid the risk of infection.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks were initially bred as hunting dogs, and because of this, they have a high prey drive. They can also be strong-willed and domineering, especially towards other dogs, and should be guided with a firm but patient hand. Their large size means they can be challenging to control and handle if not properly trained. Training and socialization should start when they are young to minimize the risk of hurting other pets.

Puppy obedience classes and positive reinforcement are encouraged with this dog. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their strong instinct to explore and love veering off the path when exercising outdoors. Working on recall is, therefore, very important. They should also be properly leashed when walking, especially around other homes.

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog running on grass
Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are strong and athletic and require at least an hour of extensive exercise daily. They love to run and need frequent physical activity to keep them healthy. When provided with daily exercise, they can adapt well to most living situations. To exercise their mind and body, consider engaging them in tracking and agility activities.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback does well on high-quality dog food loaded with proteins and nutrients. The dog’s age will dictate the frequency of feeding. Puppies tend to eat smaller portions throughout the day, while adults can eat one or two meals daily. Clean water should be available to them at all times.

Rhodesian ridgeback puppy
Image Credit: topseller, Shutterstock

What Were Rhodesian Ridgebacks Bred and Used For?

As the name suggests, the Rhodesian Ridgeback originates from Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, and usually has a ridge on its back. The locals used them for hunting lions and other large game, earning them the nickname “African Lion Hound.”

In the mid-1600s, the Dutch East India Company established a port in Rhodesia and adopted Rhodesian Ridgebacks, thus spreading them to other places where they moved. The Rhodesian Ridgeback became popular due to its ability to perform various tasks, including bringing down large game, fending off baboons and monkeys from plantations, herding ox, and protecting homes at night. They are also quite resistant to many diseases and infections, making them the best dogs for harsh conditions.

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The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an excellent companion and a proud guard dog who will protect you and your family. However, if you are prone to severe dog allergies, they are not the best choice, despite not shedding a lot. While you can successfully keep one of these dogs at home if you have allergies, you may want to consider a dog like the Bouvier des Flanders or the Afghan Hound if you have serious allergies.

Featured Image Credit: Denitsa Kireva, Pexels

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