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Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Beth Crane

By Beth Crane

The parent breeds of Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix

Height: 17–29 inches
Weight: 30–106 pounds
Lifespan: 10–15 years
Colors: Multiple colors, including the red or wheaten of the Rhodesian Ridgeback, black, white, or brindle
Suitable for: Active families with experience in each breed and people looking for an intelligent and agile guard dog
Temperament: Loyal, intelligent, easy to train, confident, strong-willed, good-natured, dog-aggressive

Have you ever wondered what a strong mix of two of the most fearless and loyal dogs would look like? The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull is intelligent, strong, and motivated, and it makes an excellent pet for experienced dog owners. How do these fearless dogs integrate into family life? What are the puppies like? We explore this fascinating crossbreed in more detail in the article below, along with some interesting facts about the two founding dog breeds!

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix is not a dog for the faint of heart. However, both parent breeds that go into these dogs (the South African Rhodesian Ridgeback and the American Pit Bull) are strong, intelligent dogs bred for fighting. They have been controversial breeds in the dog world, but both are strong and loyal dogs that offer their best traits into the mix. These dogs are made for trekking and training, so an active owner is a must for a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Breed Puppies


The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix puppy just doesn’t realize how big it is. These puppies will be as rambunctious and comically clumsy as all large breed puppies are, but with the added vivaciousness and drive for action of their powerful parent breeds added in! Take care around these puppies as they are unaware of their size and strength, particularly in their “toddler” stage.

Socialization of these pups is critical to raising a well-balanced, manageable dog. In addition, these dogs don’t fare well with fear, aggression, or anxiety, so introducing them to all the sights and sounds they’ll experience later in life is very important to their development.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix is a rarer crossbreed than some, but it seems to be increasing in popularity recently (like other designer dogs). Breeders of these puppies are usually well versed in each parent breed’s unique needs, but be wary of “backyard” breeders who might be looking to make a quick buck from the quirky crossbreed. You might be able to find these crosses in shelters, but more and more rescues are unwilling to place the name “Pitbull cross” on any puppy due to the lingering stigma.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix 🧠

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

With proper socialization and training, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix can be the most loyal, devoted family protector you could ever imagine. However, these aren’t the dog for families with small children or elderly family members, as the risk for (accidental) injury is too great.

Active families with older children who can understand and respect this crossbreed’s needs will find no greater companion, particularly since Pitbulls are known to be good with children. Additionally, families adopting a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull will need experience with the parent breeds and large, powerful dogs in general, and they are not recommended for first-time dog owners.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix can get along with other dogs as long as they are well-socialized when they’re puppies. As both parent breeds were initially bred for dog fights and hunting, there might be a higher chance of dog aggression in this crossbreed. Because of this, bigger, confident dogs will fare better with the Ridgeback mix.

Cats that can hold their own against dogs and are used to living with them can live in harmony with these dogs as puppies, but if you’re unsure of your Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull’s history, keeping cats away from them for safety reasons is wise. These dogs should not be around small furry pets as they are large and could accidentally hurt them, plus they have a high prey drive.

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Things to Know When Owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Like any dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull needs a high-quality, balanced diet to thrive. These dogs are usually very active, so they’ll need more food than other crossbreeds to fuel their adventures. A diet high in lean proteins with good fats for energy is best, but be sure to practice portion control to avoid weight gain and obesity.

Because of the crossbreed’s potential joint problems, excess weight can exacerbate any health issues, which can result in reduced quality of life. Giving your Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix a diet tailored to its life stage is crucial to its well-being and development, particularly for growing puppies. Older dogs might need joint supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin to promote good joint health.

Exercise 🐕

As previously mentioned, these dogs are very active! Their energy levels cannot be understated, as both breeds that sire it are made for running and performance. The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull will need plenty of exercise throughout the day, typically around 2 hours of walks and runs.

They make great hiking partners as they commonly have great endurance, and trials or agility courses can help them burn off their excess energy. The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix can become destructive and exhibit problem behaviors if they’re not given enough exercise.

Training 🎾

This crossbreed is intelligent, with the drive and focus to perform for its owners. They’re eager to please and thrive on training and direction, so obedience classes are a big positive for them and can help to curb more “undesirable” traits. In addition, the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Pitbull were bred to follow their owner’s commands, so training and the ability to perform tasks often come naturally to their crossbred offspring.

Grooming ✂️

These dogs have flat coats with short, glossy hairs. Grooming is typically a once-a-week affair to keep the coat free of shed hair and give it a sheen. Weekly brushing of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull’s coat promotes healthy skin and helps to pull natural skin oils down the hair shaft, keeping the coat glossy and showing off its beautiful colors.

It’s important to note that these dogs still shed! Because of the short, straight nature of their fur, the shed hair can be irritating to some. Weekly grooming is vital to keep everyone comfortable (you and your dog included).

Health and Conditions ❤️

Like many other crossbreeds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull is often healthier than its parent breeds. However, some minor and major health conditions are present in the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Pitbull, and they can be passed down to their crossed offspring.

Minor Conditions
  • Skin Conditions
  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV)
Serious Conditions
  • Dermoid Sinus
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hip Dysplasia

Minor Conditions:

Skin Conditions

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix can suffer from several skin conditions related to their short, flat coats. Demodex mange is more common in Pitbulls, which puppies can acquire from their mother. Demodex is a mite that causes crusting lesions, soreness, redness, and swelling of the skin, and in severe cases, can cause hair loss and secondary skin infections. Treatment with Ivermectin (and potentially steroids) is effective.

Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric dilation volvulus (more commonly known as “bloat”) is a condition that typically affects deep-chested dogs such as the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The dog’s stomach rotates and twists after a big meal, closing off the entrance and exit to the organ and causing digestive gasses to build up. This is a severe condition when it occurs, needing emergency veterinary treatment to prevent stomach rupture or necrosis of the organ. Treatment can include placing stitches in the stomach to stop it from twisting again, and not all dogs will suffer from an episode despite having deep chests.

Serious Conditions:

Dermoid Sinus

Dermoid Sinus is a condition present at birth and caused by a defect in the neural tube that connects it to the skin that runs from a dog’s skull to the base of its tail. All dogs prone to this condition should be screened at birth, and surgical removal is often performed as a puppy. If removal is not performed, it can lead to spine deformity or spinal cord infections. These can cause pain, paralysis, or even death.


Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough (or any) thyroid hormone. This leads to various symptoms, including weight gain, temperature sensitivity, and hair loss. In Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Rhodesian Ridgeback crossbreeds, hypothyroidism is most commonly caused by lymphocytic thyroiditis. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is more widely affected by hypothyroidism than many other breeds, ranking sixth most likely to suffer from the disease.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a painful malformation of the hip joints (the ball and socket), leading to reduced mobility, pain, reluctance to walk, and reduced quality of life. In severe cases, arthritis and muscle atrophy can occur. This condition often affects larger or heavier dogs, and any dogs that can potentially suffer from it should be screened at several points in their lives before being bred.

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Male vs Female

Male Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull males are typically larger than females, but that isn’t always the case. Both sexes should be neutered or spayed to help prevent potential hormonal aggression. Because these dogs are classed as “Pitbull crosses,” they are often subject to breed-specific legislation (BSL) that may include mandatory spaying or neutering. In the United States, Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia all mandate the neutering and spaying of Pitbull crosses to keep them in the State.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix

1. Rhodesian Ridgeback Controversy

The breeding of Rhodesian Ridgebacks has some controversy surrounding it due to the breed standard. Rhodesian Ridgebacks without a ridge are automatically disqualified from the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club (of the UK). This led to the culling (killing) of perfectly healthy puppies who didn’t “conform,” even going so far as to be included in the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the UK’s code of ethics. This was quickly revised to state that “no healthy puppy should be culled,” but the sentiment stood that a puppy born without a ridge was somehow “defective.”

2. Rhodesian Ridgebacks Were Bred to Hunt Lions

In Cape Colony, where these dogs were first bred, the first Rhodesian Ridgebacks were utilized to help big game hunters (including Reverend Charles Helm) in the South African Province harass Lions and bait them for hunters to shoot. These dogs were also capable of protecting land from other animals, including Baboons, and they are the only breed native to South Africa.

3. The Pitbull Terrier Was Used for Many Jobs

Pitbull Terriers (mainly American Pitbull terriers) were used historically as bull baiters and working dogs. Despite their bloody history, these dogs are used in the military and as therapy dogs. The Pitbull’s intelligence, sensitivity, and confidence make them excellent police and armed forces dogs, but they are also used for these qualities in less law-abiding ways. For example, criminal gangs often used the Pitbull as an attack dog, and they made history for being prolific fighters in the dog fighting ring.

The parent breeds of Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix
The parent breeds of Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull: Left – Rhodesian Ridgeback (imch, Pixabay) | Right – Pitbull (CrystalHeadbandz, Pixabay)

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Final Thoughts

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull is a dog unlike any other in terms of its loyalty and devotion to its owners. They are physically imposing dogs that require a firm but fair hand when training, but under their tough exterior lies a dog of pride, perseverance, and physical prowess. They are capable guard dogs, but they are generally very eager to please their owners and can be friendly to all people if appropriately socialized as puppies. For those who have the skills and experience to care for a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull, it will make an excellent pet and protector.

See Also:

Featured Photo Credit: Left – Rhodesian Ridgeback (Nina Quka, Pexels) | Right – Pitbull (Caroline Ziemkiewicz, Unsplash)

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