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Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix – All you need to know

Do you dream of an energetic dog that is exceptionally loyal? One who loves their family, but has an independent streak? A companion to go on daily jogs or hikes with, as well as act as a family guardian? 

If this is your idea of a perfect pet, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull might be the pooch pal for you. 

History and Where the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix comes from

Photo of a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix
Photo of a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix

Like most designer breeds, there’s no information on when and where the Ridgeback Pitbull originated. This practice is ancient, but the term designer breed is new. These breeds often seem to appear out of nowhere.

Dogs have been cross-bred ever since they became man’s best friend. Two pure breed dogs would be bred to create a new breed, with desired traits from both parent breeds. This is how many of today’s pure breeds began. 

Even though we don’t know the history of the Ridgeback Pitbull, both parent breeds have a rich history that can give you important clues about the breed. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback History 

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a member of the Hound group. In fact, they are also known as the African Lion Hound, and for good reason. 

They originated in South Africa. Boer farmers wanted a dog who could handle the extreme climate and periods of drought. They needed a dog who could hunt, guard their property, and be a faithful companion.  

The Boer began breeding dogs from Europe, including hounds, Mastiffs, and Great Danes, with a native dog that was a companion to the Khoikhoi. 

The native dog had a ridge of hair along its back. When they began cross breeding, they noticed that puppies that inherited this ridge had excellent hunting skills. The Rhodesian Ridgeback was born. 

The Boer began using the Ridgeback to hunt partridge and bring down wounded deer. When big game hunting became  popular, they discovered the dog was an excellent companion for lion hunting. The dog would hold the lion off until the hunters arrived on horseback. 

The Ridgeback became popular in the US after World War 2. Today, they are still used for their hunting and tracking skills in their native land of Africa. In the US, they function as guard dogs and loyal canine companions.  

Pitbull History 

The Pitbull is descended from the English Bulldog. In the 1700s-1800s, bull baiting was popular in England. The Bulldog would go up against a bull, and the event was over when it tired or wounded the bull enough that it could no longer stand. 

This practice was outlawed in 1835. Instead of giving up blood sports, new ones were created. Pits were dug, and rats were placed inside the pits with dogs. The dog who could kill the most rats would win. 

This sport required dogs who were more compact and agile. The English Bulldog was bred with Terriers. The result was what we know today as the Pitbull. 

In addition to ratting, dogs were also fought against each other in pits. Eventually, these practices were outlawed. Unfortunately, dog fighting still occurs underground in the US today.  These blood sports left the Pitbul with an unfortunate and undeserved reputation for aggression. 

However, many discovered that they were wonderful companions. They became popular pets. They functioned as guard dogs and even looked after children, which earned them the nickname “nanny dog”. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Facts

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull has a few shortened names. These include Pitbull Ridgeback or Ridgeback Pitbull. My personal favorite, however, is Rhodie Pit. 

The Ridgeback Pitbull has one Pitbull parent, and one Rhodesian Ridgeback parent. This creates a beautiful pooch with a sweet temperament. 

The Ridgeback Pitbull can inherit the signature ridge from the Ridgeback, but not all do. They make excellent guard dogs and are very loyal companions. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Appearance

Picture of a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix
Picture of a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix

The Ridgeback Pitbull has an intimidating athletic appearance that can cause many people to steer clear of them. In this case, you can’t judge a book, or a dog, by it’s cover. 

They are medium to large dogs, with a muscular body. Like the Pitbull, they have floppy ears that add a little playfulness to their looks. They also have a large tongue, and are well known for smiling when they are happy. 

Their wide set eyes can look intimidating or adorable, depending on their mood. 

Ridgebacks have webbed feet. This helps them walk on the sandy terrain of Africa. Your Ridgeback Pitbull mix may inherit these, or have feet like a Pitbull. 

Coat and Color 

Both the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Pitbull have a short coat, so their puppies will as well. You can expect the coat to be smooth and shiny.   

They may inherit the signature Ridgeback ridge along their back. This depends on which genes are passed from their parents and expressed. 

Ridgebacks have a wheat colored coat that allows them to blend in on the African Savannah. Pitbulls come in a variety of colors, including white, black, blue, red, and brown. They can also be bi-color, tri-color, or brindle. 

The coat color of a Ridgeback Pitbull can be nearly any color present in their parents. Some colors, like blue, require a recessive gene from both parents. This means a Ridgeback Pitbull cannot be these colors. However, this still leaves a wide range of potential outcomes when breeding the pair. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Price and Expenses

The price of a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull typically ranges from $1,000-$3000. If you choose to adopt from a shelter, you can expect to pay $100-$500 for an adoption fee. 

The expense of owning a dog only begins when you acquire one. The costs of dog ownership range from $1,500-$4,500 each year. This includes veterinary care, food, and other supplies. 

The first year is the most expensive, because there are vet bills and one-time purchases, like a bed or crate. The average cost of the first year is $1,400-$2,500. However, it can be higher depending on your dog’s needs and health status. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Rarity

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a rare breed in the U.S., while Pitbulls are common. Breeders for Ridgeback Pitbulls are rarer than the Ridgeback, for a few reasons. 

First, there’s the rarity of the parent breed. This means there’s a smaller pool of potential breeders. Since they are a new designer breed, the Ridgeback Pitbull isn’t well known or popular. This also makes breeders less likely to decide to breed them. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of a Ridgeback Pitbull is 10-16 years. This is due to the life expectancy of the parent breeds. 

The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a life expectancy of 10-12 years. The Pitbull has a life expectancy of 12-16 years, with most Pitbulls reaching 12 years or older. 

Some Pitbulls have an incredibly long lifespan. In fact, the longest living Pitbull was Max, who lived for 26 years. 

It’s important to note that breed is only one factor that affects your Ridgeback Pitbull’s lifespan. The genetics passed on from their parents, their lifestyle, diet, and exercise also play critical roles. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Size and weight

Image of a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix
Image of a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix

Pitbulls grow to 17-21 inches, and weigh 30-60 pounds. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is larger, with a height of 24-27 inches, and 70-85 pounds. 

Most Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbulls get their size and weight from the Ridgeback parent, being only slightly smaller than the Ridgeback. 

A male Ridgeback Pitbull can reach 25-27 inches tall, and weigh up to 85 pounds. A female can grow to 24-26 inches tall, and weigh around 70 pounds.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Health

Mixed breeds are often considered healthier than purebreds. One reason for this is it creates a larger gene pool. The other reason is that some genetic diseases must be inherited from both parents, which is more likely if they are the same breed.  

The Ridgeback Pitbull is considered a healthy breed, with a  low risk of serious health problems. However, there are some issues you should be aware of.  

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is common in many medium or large dog breeds, including the Pitbull and Ridgeback. Genetic testing can reveal the likelihood of a dog developing the disease. 

Hip dysplasia occurs when the ligaments around the hip are too loose. This prevents the hip joint from functioning properly. It can cause pain, particularly when walking or running, and limited mobility. 

Dermoid Sinus

This is a condition the Rhodesian Ridgeback is prone to, and can be passed on to Ridgeback Pitbull puppies. 

Dermoid sinus occurs when a tube that runs from the neck, down the back, and to the tail doesn’t develop properly. It is present at birth, but is sometimes not noticed until later in life. 

It isn’t painful or harmful, unless it becomes infected. An infected dermoid sinus can cause serious pain and health concerns. 


Pitbulls are more prone to allergies than most breeds, and can pass them on to their puppies. They can develop allergies to food, environmental irritants, or chemicals. These allergies will often cause skin or coat problems. You may notice them licking or frequently, a rash, or hair loss. 


Bloat is a life threatening condition that can affect any breed of dog. However, it’s more common in larger breeds. Both the Pitbull and Ridgeback are at a higher risk of the condition than other breeds. 

Bloat occurs when gas gets trapped in the stomach. As food digests, the pressure and gas build. If the pressure becomes too great, the stomach will twist. This is life threatening. 

The causes of bloat aren’t completely understood. In addition to breed, eating very fast, stress, and eating too much at once are risk factors. 


Over half of all dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Both Pitbulls and Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a higher than average risk of becoming obese.

Part of the reason for this is that they may not appear to be obese to the untrained eye. Both breeds should have a muscular but sleek appearance. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Behavior/Characteristics/Temperament

Picture of a Pitbull Rhodesian Ridgeback Mix
Picture of a Pitbull Rhodesian Ridgeback Mix

Despite their aggressive appearance and large size, the Ridgeback Pitbull is actually gentle and affectionate. 

Both breeds can be protective and territorial. They should be introduced to family members and other pets early. They should also be socialized with strangers and other animals. If they aren’t socialized, they can be aggressive towards strangers. 

They are excellent guard dogs, but they must be trained on how to guard. If they aren’t, they will develop their own conclusions. 

The Ridgeback Pitbull needs plenty of attention. Pitbulls are highly affectionate. Ridgebacks can be a bit aloof and independent.

Your Ridgeback Pitbull mix may be on either end of this spectrum. They are generally very friendly and affectionate. They may not do well with being left alone for long periods of time. 

They may be very calm, to the point of seeming lazy. They can also be on the energetic side, and live for play sessions.  

Are Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbulls Aggressive? 

Pitbulls have an undeserved reputation for being aggressive. The Rhodesian Ridgeback goes up against lions. Both breeds are tenacious and fearless, but does that make them aggressive?

No, they are not aggressive. The American Temperament Test measures several temperament factors, including aggressiveness and friendliness. Individual dogs are tested, and the results are compiled to give information about the breed as a whole. 

86% of Pitbulls pass the Temperament Test. 85% of Rhodesian Ridgebacks pass the test. 

To get a better understanding of what this means, we can compare it to a well known family breed, the German Shepard. 85% of German Shepards pass the Temperament Test.  

Since both parent breeds have nonaggressive temperaments, you can expect the Ridgeback Pitbull to be nonaggressive as well.  

Personality Variations 

It’s impossible to completely predict the personality of any dog, even if they are a pure breed. However, mixed breeds are a bit more unpredictable, because they can inherit personality traits from either of their parents. 

 Even dogs from the same litter will have significant differences in their personality, no matter their breed. 

When choosing a Ridgeback Pitbull, be sure to get to know them as an individual, in addition to knowing the breed standard. 

How to care for a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix

Before you get a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull, it’s important to understand the care that they require. You’ll need to understand their needs, and be sure you are up for the challenge of meeting them. 

How much exercise do Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mixes need?

The Ridgeback Pitbull is an energetic breed, but they are also calm and relaxed. These traits are also present in their parents. 

Both parent breeds require a moderate amount of exercise. When they get enough exercise, they are relaxed most of the time. They will play energetically, and are easy to settle the rest of the time. 

They need at least 1 hour of exercise each day, and can do well with 2 hours of exercise. You don’t have to do this all at once. You can split it up into 2 or 3 sessions each day. 

In addition to physical exercise, these pups need plenty of mental stimulation. Both breeds are intelligent, and will get bored without enough mental exercise. 

You can provide exercise by walking, jogging, or playing with your dog. Mental exercise can be provided by puzzle toys, games, and training sessions. Both needs can be met with obstacle or agility courses. 

Do Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mixes shed a lot?

Ridgeback Pitbulls shed very little, like their parents. They will shed throughout the year, in small amounts. 

Do you need to groom Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mixes often?

Ridgeback Pitbulls require little grooming. They will need to be brushed at least once a week. Their short coat makes this process easy.

They will need a bath once every 2-4 weeks. The Pitbull’s sensitive skin means it’s a good idea to use dog products formulated for sensitive skin when bathing them. 

You should brush their teeth 2-3 times a week. Dental chews can also help keep their mouths clean. 

Their nails should be clipped once every 4-6 weeks. 

Do you need to train Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mixes a lot?

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbulls do require training. The Ridgeback is very independent, and has a strong stubborn streak. These traits are expected in a hunting hound, because it’s necessary for them to hunt correctly.  They are highly intelligent, and can learn easily. When they want to. 

The Pitbull is typically eager to learn. They have a strong desire to please, which usually calms their own stubborn streak. If they love and respect you, they are easy to train. 

The Ridgeback Pitbull may be at either end of this spectrum. Both parent breeds require a strong owner who is clearly in control. You will need to establish yourself as the pack leader from the beginning. 

Training is essential for this breed for a few reasons. First, they are medium to large, powerful dogs. If they aren’t trained properly, this makes them quite a handful. It’s difficult to control them physically when they are adults, so you’ll need to rely on them to follow commands. 

Another reason why training is so important is that both dogs are territorial and protective. If they aren’t trained and socialized when young, they may act aggressively towards strangers or other animals. Proper training and socialization can prevent these issues.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Diet

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull needs a high quality dog food to be at its best. Puppies should be fed 3 times a day, and should be given puppy food. 

When they reach 12 months old, you can switch them to an adult food. It’s a good idea to choose a food designed for medium or large sized dogs. You can feed them twice a day as adults. 

Both parent breeds have a big appetite, and aren’t picky eaters. They may overeat if they are allowed. Keep an eye on how much they are eating to avoid excess weight. 

Are Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mixes good family pets?

Yes. A Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull makes an excellent family pet, as long as they are properly trained and socialized. They are very tolerant and affectionate. 

They make great companions, and will protect the family. They also make great playmates for energetic children, without being in a constant state of high energy. 

How do you buy a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix?

There are two ways to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix. You can adopt one from a shelter, or buy one from a breeder. 

Adopting a Ridgeback Pitbull 

Adopting a Ridgeback Pitbull can be challenging, because they are rare. However, Pitbulls are common in shelters. This is partially because many areas or housing developments prohibit them. The Ridgeback’s large size and energy level increase their risk of being in a shelter as well. 

This means it is possible to find a Ridgeback Pitbull in a shelter, but it may take quite a bit of searching. 

Purchasing a Ridgeback Pitbull from a Breeder 

Unfortunately, not all breeders are ethical. The simplest way to find a breeder is through Google search. However, you’ll need to do some research to determine if the breeder is ethical. 

Unethical breeders are only concerned about profit. They show little to no care for the dogs, or the breed as a whole. They will not take precautions to ensure the puppies are healthy and have a good temperament. 

Ethical breeders, on the other hand, focus on the  health and temperament of the parents first. They take excellent care of their dogs, and will avoid breeding unhealthy dogs. 

One way to find an ethical breeder is to check the AKC registry. You’ll find Rhodesian Ridgeback breeders on the directory. You’ll have to contact them to see if they breed Ridgeback Pitbulls, however. 

A registered Ridgeback parent is a good indication the breeder is ethical, but it’s not a  requirement. You should ask them how they ensure the health of the puppies. Are the parents genetically tested? Do the puppies have a health certificate? 

It’s also a great idea to visit the dogs’ homes. Ethical breeders will ensure the dogs are living in good conditions.