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5 Incredible Rhodesian Ridgeback Colors & Patterns (With Pictures)

Melissa Gunter

By Melissa Gunter

Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a beloved dog breed around the world. These hunting dogs are best known for the ridge that runs down their backs which grows in the opposite direction of their coat. Bred for hunting in South Africa, these dogs are highly affectionate, energetic, and intelligent. You’ll also find that when it comes to colors and patterns, there is a lot to learn about these dogs. Let’s take a look at 5 incredible Rhodesian Ridgeback colors and patterns to help you better understand these dogs, what’s accepted, and just how rare certain colors are in this breed.

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The 5 Amazing Rhodesian Ridgeback Colors & Patterns

Rhodesian Ridgeback Colors
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1. Wheaten

rhodesian ridgeback lying on a wooden table with flower
Image Credit: Frank Schrader, Pixabay

Wheaten is the breed standard when it comes to Rhodesian Ridgebacks. If you plan on purchasing one of these dogs to appear in shows or other types of competitions, this would be the color you’d want. While other colors and patterns do occasionally occur in this dog breed, they aren’t accepted by the AKC or other organizations. If you attempt to purchase a Rhodesian Ridgeback for competition and the breeder has colors other than Wheaten without spay and neuter contracts, it would be best to steer clear of these breeders.

The term wheaten is quite old and was once used mostly by terrier enthusiasts. It’s used to describe reddish-colored banded hair with lighter roots and dark tips. This banded hair color, genetically named agouti, is often referred to as wild thanks to it often being found on wolves, foxes, and coyotes. It’s the agouti protein in Rhodesian Ridgebacks that causes the hair to change coloration as it grows to leave lighter hair on the underside and darker hair at the tips, which is a trait common to the Ridgeback. When a Ridgeback is born with a color other than Wheaten, owners, and breeders will instantly panic as they feel their pups may not be purebred.

In Ridgebacks, you can have light wheaten, red wheaten, and wheaten colorations. Each of these shades of Wheaten can be accompanied by either a black or brown nose to meet breed standards.

2. Brindle

close up of a brindle rhodesian ridgeback dog
Image Credit: Asmodiel, Shutterstock

While brindle patterns are not common in Rhodesian Ridgebacks they can occur. Brindle is a pattern of stripes that when they appear can be fawn and black, red and black, or Isabella and gray. The brindle color pattern isn’t fully understood on a DNA level which leaves breeders and owners of Rhodesian Ridgebacks perplexed when pups are born with this pattern.

3. Black and Tan

In Rhodesian Ridgebacks, if black and tan colorations appear it is a recessive color that appears thanks to the agouti protein. A recessive coloration means that both of the black and tan pup’s parents carried the trait. This solid black coat with tan points is striking and often outlines the ridge down the dog’s back.

4. Silver

Silver, or gray as some refer to it, is actually a dilution gene. Pups of this color are born very silverish but as they grow the color often changes. With maturity, the dog may become browner in color, almost like a paper bag. Often these dogs have blue eyes, but as they age the eyes may change to an amber color.

5. Black Wheaten

Black Wheaten is the rarest color found in the Rhodesian Ridgeback. While you may think these dogs are solid black that isn’t the case. When you get close, you can see lighter colors at the root. According to stories handed down, the reason there aren’t more Ridgebacks of this color is due to an owner of a black Wheaten Ridgeback refusing to part with his dog when a breeder offered to buy it.

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As you can see, Rhodesian Ridgebacks do come in several colors, but only Wheaten and its variations are accepted when showing these dogs. If you own a Rhodesian Ridgeback that has a unique color or pattern, consider yourself lucky. Your pooch may not go out and win any shows, but we’re sure they’ve already won your heart and that’s what truly matters.


Featured Image Credit: imch, Pixabay

Melissa Gunter

Authored by

Melissa was born and raised in the mountains of East Tennessee where she spent her time writing in an old notebook and playing outside with her pets. As an avid animal lover, she has brought many into her home over the years. Currently, she is the mom of 5 fur babies. Her 2 cats, Princess and Pepper are total opposites who demand attention. Her dogs Jazzy, Whitey, and Demon are full of spunk and keep the entire family on ...Read more

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