Mixed breed dogs are very popular among dog lovers. For those looking for a brave, powerful, and devoted canine companion, it’s hard to imagine a better choice than the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix.
Does this handsome mix make a good family pet? Do you have to be an experienced dog owner to handle one?
In this article, we’ll look at the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the Pitbull, and the mix. We’ll answer frequently asked questions about appearance, temperament and training, health, and how to find a puppy.
Let’s start with the history of the two parent breeds.
Where Does the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Come From?
The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a fascinating history as a courageous hunting and guardian dog from southern Africa.
Dogs brought to South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) by European settlers were crossed with a native dog called the Khoikhoi to create the breed we know today.
The breed gets its name from the distinctive ridge of backward growing hair that runs down the dog’s back, a trait of the Khoikhoi.
The Pitbull is descended from strong muscular dogs used in the old blood sports of bull and bear baiting.
Most dog breed experts note that the word Pitbull more accurately describes a breed type, rather than an actual breed.
The American Staffordshire Terrier is the AKC-recognized breed that most closely resembles the Pitbull breed type.
The Pitbull Ridgeback mix is what’s known as a designer mixed breed dog. Designer mixes have become popular pets over the past few decades.
Many owners believe that mutts and mixes are healthier than purebred dogs.
We’ll look at health later, but it’s important to keep in mind that the health of your individual mix depends on the health of its parents. This is why choosing a good breeder is so vital.
Fun Facts About the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also called the African Lion Dog. The breed was often used in the tracking and hunting of lions and other large game animals.
The movie star Errol Flynn was a fan of the breed, and he’s thought to be the first Ridgeback breeder in the U.S.
The Pitbull has long been a favorite family pet in the U.S., famous for its loving devotion to its owners.
Famous Pitbulls include Petey from the Little Rascals series and Champion, the three-legged
Pitbull in Parks and Recreation.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Appearance
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a medium to large sized athletic dog that’s a member of the hound group.
Males stand 25 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 85 pounds. Females stand 24 to 26 inches tall and weigh around 70 pounds.
The coat is short and glossy, with a wheaten color that can range from buff to reddish gold. Most Ridgebacks are solid, but some may have some white markings.
The breed standard for the American Staffordshire Terrier calls for a strong muscular dog that stands 17 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder.
The breed standard doesn’t list a weight range. However, a 60 to 80-pound range is common for the breed.
The coat is short and glossy and can come in a wide variety of colors and markings.
Expect your Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix to be a medium to large sized dog with a well-muscled and athletic appearance.
As with any mixed breed dog, height and weight can fall anywhere on the range between both parent breeds.
Your dog’s coat will be short and glossy. Many Ridgeback Pitbull mixes will inherit the solid wheaten Ridgeback coloring, but other coat colors and patterns are certainly possible as well.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Temperament
Temperament is an important consideration when deciding on any dog, but especially a large powerful one like the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix.
Breed experts describe the Rhodesian Ridgeback as an independent dog, loving and protective towards family but somewhat reserved with strangers.
Pitbulls bred by responsible breeders and raised as family pets are famously smart, calm, and devoted.
Unfortunately, some irresponsible owners and breeders did cultivate aggression in certain dogs used for fighting and protection.
How do Pitbulls compare to Ridgebacks when it comes to aggression, and what about the mix?
Dog breed temperament testing data compiled by the American Temperament Test Society shows that 84.2% of tested Ridgebacks passed, while a higher number–85.5%–of American Staffordshire Terriers passed their tests.
There’s no biological reason for a Ridgeback Pitbull mix to be aggressive. Proper training and socialization are the key to good temperament in any breed of dog.
Training Your Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix
What are the best methods for training a large, powerfully built dog like the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix?
All breeds benefit from good training using positive reinforcement techniques (never punishment) and socialization with other dogs and people, beginning in early puppyhood and continuing into adulthood.
There are a few special training concerns for the Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix.
The Ridgeback has a strong prey drive, which means that your mix may be prone to chasing small kids and animals. They can also be strong-willed and generally do best with firm and confident owners.
The Pitbull is known as a smart and eager to please dog, which can make training easier, but the breed’s strength and tendency to chew and dig also require a confident owner with a firm but gentle hand.
What About Exercise?
Both parent breeds are active and athletic dogs that need plenty of exercise. Ridgebacks are especially fond of running and can make excellent companions for owners who enjoy hiking, jogging, and biking.
Pitbulls enjoy participating in play and exercise sessions with their owners. They do not do well left alone in the yard with no human interaction.
Expect your mix to be an energetic dog that enjoys regular play and exercise sessions. Active, involved owners are a great match for the Ridgeback Pitbull mix.
You can also enroll your dog in organized canine sports activities like agility and obedience trials.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Health
Will your Ridgeback Pitbull mix be healthy? Both parent breeds can suffer from some inherited health conditions.
Like other medium to large sized dogs, both can be prone to the joint conditions called hip and elbow dysplasia.
Dogs with Ridgeback ancestry can inherit a condition called dermoid sinus, which causes tunnels to form in the skin and connect to deeper tissues (including the spine in serious cases).
The AmStaff can be prone to a serious degenerative neurological disorder called cerebellar ataxia.
Since your mix can inherit some potentially serious health issues from both sides, it’s
important to work with only responsible breeders who health test their dogs for genetic health disorders.
We’ll talk more about how to do this a bit later.
Do Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mixes Make Good Family Dogs?
The Ridgeback Pitbull mix can make an excellent family pet for the right owners, but this mix is not for everyone.
Active adults and families with older children are a better match for this strong, large mix than seniors or families with small children.
Experience owning and training dogs with independent and strong-willed personalities is also a plus. The Ridgeback Pitbull mix may be more than a novice dog owner can handle.
Rescuing a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix
Can you rescue a Ridgeback Pitbull mix? It is possible to find an adoptable Ridgeback Pitbull mix, especially if you are interested in rehoming an adult dog.
Many potential owners will seek out puppies from breeders. Here are some tips on how to find a healthy puppy.
Finding a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Puppy
Avoid getting your puppy from an online advertisement or a retail pet store. Many dogs from these sources come from for profit breeding operations known as puppy mills.
The best way to find a healthy puppy is to work with a responsible breeder who health tests all breeding stock for inherited health conditions.
Health testing can take the form of either DNA tests or physical exams performed by veterinary specialists.
All test results should be shared with clients and filed with a canine health registry like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
Raising a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Puppy
Your puppy will require good training and socialization to ensure that she grows up to be a well behaved full-sized Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix.
Consider taking your dog to formal puppy training classes, especially if you lack experience with larger dogs that can have an independent streak.
Routine care of your new puppy will also require feeding your dog a quality diet and getting her used to regular grooming, including baths, ear and tooth cleanings, and nail trimmings.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Products and Accessories
What should be on your shopping list when you get a new dog? Your checklist should include:
- Food and water bowls
- collar and leash
- crate and carrier
- dog bed
- grooming supplies (shampoo, brush, nail trimmer, toothbrush).
Because Pitbulls can be prone to chewing, getting your Ridgeback Pitbull mix some quality chew toys is a must.
If your mix inherits the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s love of running, it pays to invest in a good strong harness as well.
Pros and Cons of Getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix
The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix can be a lot of dog for an inexperienced or timid owner.
But this dog can be a great choice for a confident, experienced owner who enjoys the challenge of caring for an energetic, intelligent, and strongly built dog.
Similar Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mixes and Breeds
Love the handsome looks of the Ridgeback Pitbull mix but feel a little intimidated at the thought of caring for a large, active, and muscular dog?
You can consider some Rhodesian Ridgeback “lookalikes” such as the Vizsla or Weimaraner.
Breeds similar to the Pitbull include the American Bulldog, Boxer, Keeshond and Bull Terrier.
Or you may want to consider other mixed breeds like the Bullmastiff Pitbull mix or the Pitbull Lab Mix.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Rescues
If you are interested in rescuing a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix, check with your local shelters and rescue groups for dogs that they have identified as the mix.
Shelters and rescues do their best to identify the dogs in their care, but keep in mind that breed identification is not always accurate, especially without DNA testing.
Contact breed-specific rescue organizations for both the AmStaff and the Ridgeback.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the U.S. lists several Ridgeback rescues on their website. There are many Pitbull rescue groups in the U.S. and it’s easy to find one in your area.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue lists available dogs in Canada on their website. As in the U.S., Canadians can find many Pitbull rescues in their geographic area.
In the U.K., you can check out the Rhodesian Ridgeback Welfare Trust for adoptable dogs. Australians can search the Facebook page of Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue Australia.
The American style Pitbull is not as popular in the U.K. and Australia as it is in North America, but dog lovers in these countries can consider rescuing a Ridgeback crossed with a similar dog, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Is a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix Right for Me?
The Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix is a large, powerful, and handsome dog. Is it the right choice for you?
If you do not have a very active lifestyle, you should look at other mixes.
The Ridgeback Pitbull mix thrives with active, involved owners who have the time and dedication needed to own this mix.
Proper training and socialization from puppyhood are essential. Be sure to monitor your dog around other pets and small children.
Choose a responsible breeder who health tests their dogs for inherited health conditions and avoid buying a dog sight unseen from an online ad.
Do you share your life with a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull mix? Did you adopt your dog from a shelter or rescue group? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!
References and Resources
Rhodesian Ridgeback: Illustrations of the Breed Standard as Elaborated. Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States, 2003.
Official Standard of the American Staffordshire Terrier. American Kennel Club, 1936.
ATTS Breed Statistics as of December 2017. American Temperament Test Society, Inc.
Arakaki, M. Let Us Prey. Baxter Creek Veterinary Clinic.
Cachon, T. et al. Risk of Simultaneous Phenotypic Expression of Hip and Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs: A Study of 1,411 Radiographic Examinations Sent for Official Scoring. Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology, 2010.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Dermoid Sinus. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 2011.
Olby, N et al. Cerebellar Cortical Degeneration in Adult American Staffordshire Terriers. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 2004.
Maryellyn Tison says
I have a 2 yo (2022) RR/Pit Bull mix. He is a dear! He has quickly learned to leash walk (I use a martingale harness) and is an accomplished counter shopper. Apparently he had no puppy trraining in his first home…… He loves to run, gets along fine with other dogs at a local (100+ acre) dog park and generally is a good guy, not aggressive around other dogs and gets along fine with toddlers (apparently this was a problem in his first and only home, resulting in relinquishment to a shelter, where we found each other). I’d recommend this breed mix to anyone.
I adopt a pittbull ridgeback mix. It was only a sceleton and a tick an flee taxi. But he is a beauty today. He has no proper training and is very aggressive towards other dogs and is very powerful. One day when I walk with him an original rednose Pitbull jump over the fence and attacks my dog who was on a leash. That day I saw that my mix don’t back down from a fight. Many times when we walk dogs comes and attack him but they get some punishment. I don’t let my dog fight and is highly against dogfighting. And he is great with my sister’s little kid of one years old because I let her feed him. A dog don’t bite his feeder 😂😂.
our dog is a rescue she’s def some pitbull, but we believe ridgeback as she’s taller and thinner than a pitbull with a more elongated face. She has the wheaten color, thin coat, and blacker muzzle. She doesn’t have a pronounced ridge, but she ridges easily and the hair there is coarser and darker. She is literally the sweetest, easiest dog. She’s great with kids and is protective of our kids. She is not high energy and would lay on the couch and snuggle all day. She is very easy to train. We don’t know her history as a rescue, her only issue is that other dogs really like to challenge and try and attack her. Not sure if she puts off some sort of vibe, but our other 2 rescues both separately attacked her and she is definitely the more skilled fighter as they came away with more injuries. She never starts anything but would finish it I guess. The other 2 dogs were older and since have passed. She is now an only dog. She is fine with other dogs when we travel with our families and they bring their dogs. She really loves little dogs – when she was first rescued she was homed with a bunch of chihuauhas. She would probably not do well with cats if we had one – she chases them from inside the house when she seems them outside. She doesn’t really bark at all. She does have lots of allergies and skin issues (I think these are common with pitbulls). She walks really obediently on the leash, never pulls, and never tries to go after another dog.
She will stand patiently and just look the other way if another dog is being leash aggressive. We don’t take her to dog parks because she doesn’t have excess energy, so it’s not really needed, so I can’t speak to how she would do there. Hope this helps for anyone considering the mix. I’d clone her if I could 🙂
forgot to add that she was not super great on the leash when she came to us. I took her out once and showed her what to do and since then, she’s been really easy. I could see at 70lbs that she could be horrible on the leash. I would recommend having a trainer work with your dog if you don’t know what you are doing. I used a “choke collar” – not for every dog/person, and applied pressure when she pulled and let up when she was walking calmly. You can’t just pull constantly either or they will just learn to pull against the choke collar which is not really great for anyone involved.
We adopted this mix as a rescue. We didn’t know what we had until we ran a dog DNA kit – his parents were pure Breda. We were very surprised. Our dog has proved to be a wonderful family pet. He is loyal, playful, very loving, and quite the protector. He announces anyone near the house with a very intimidating bark. I would have never dreamed such a mix would be such a wonder family pet.
We just rescued a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Pit mix approx. 1 1/2 years. A very sweet guy with many puppy traits evident, he gets bored when not with us and gets into mischief. The shelter neutered him, as is the law, unfortunately the wound site was terribly infected. The poor guys has been wearing a cone since we brought him home a week and half ago. We know he must wear it during the healing, but what a nuisance. We have a cat we are slowly introducing them. Thus far, the cat is not impressed, again the cone, it makes the dog so much more imposing. He is fairly good on the lead and we look forward to the training process and LONG walks/runs with this guys. Any tips are appreciated.
is there anywhere i can attach a picture? so u guys can have your oppinion wether my dog may have ridgeback in him hes definately got pitbull in him, but hes taller then his dad whos a red nose pitbull
AJ Carpenter says
I rescued a Ridgeback/Pitbull mix from a shelter at 12 weeks. He is 5 months now and is definitely going to be large. The easiest dog I have ever trained with a great temperament and very social once I started taking him to dog parks. A very gentle dog and does great with kids and hardly barks at all. He does get separation anxiety when I leave him but I’m hoping that will decrease as he gets older and more used to my schedule. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a rhodesian ridgeback or a pitbull so I got a mix and I could not ask for a more handsome, sweet dog with a great drive.
I had this breed of dog years ago when my children were lying in the front yard colouring and this stray dog came and lay down beside my son. Seeing the breed type i kept a very close eye on the kids with this dog whom followed them into the back yard where they began to play ball with the dog. The dog hung around, and even slept on our back porch, so we fed it, and advertised to find the owner. We had the dog for a week, when we got the call from the owner, and returned the dog to its home. Once at the owners home, the owner told us his two dogs had been on the run for 2 weeks since they had gotten out of the yard, and the other had come back after a week. The first dog wouldn’t let the one we had back into the yard, standing at the gate and even fighting to keep the other out. After a few tries, the owner looked to our kids, and then asked me if we would like to keep the dog. My kids were overjoyed, and we took the dog home with us, and found this dog to have been the best all around dog we ever had. This dog was a very big part of our family, and went everywhere with us. I only noticed on one occasion when walking past a man whom was walking a girl land holding her hand kind of pulling her along, our dog stopped and the entire ridge on her back stood straight up, telling me this wasn’t a very nice man.
I was actually really surprised when i found this article, i didn’t think it was such a popular breed. i’ve had my rescue since she was 3/4, she’s now 10/11 and still my best friend. Not exactly sure the exact mix, but definitely ridgeback and staffy/pitbull. I grew up around rescues and strays and knew i could never buy from a breeder, and when i found my dog she was next to be put down, since there’s not much desire for dogs of her breed/ look in the uk. Some of the looks i get disgust me. people, especially with kids, cross the street when they see her, although she isn’t even very big. she comes up to my knees, and although she is rather muscular she isn’t exactly intimidating. if u want a dog of this breed you have to be prepared for the judgement. She has an amazing temperament, but still some issues. She has a problem with bigger dogs, but only really if they’re too close/barking/showing aggression and of course she has the very high drive. i don’t mind tho because she’s a rescue and we don’t know what happened to her in the first 3/4 years of her life, so it’s really not her fault and she’s come so far and is so well behaved otherwise. but other than that she is literally perfect and i love her to pieces. She is actually my first dog(that i’ve actually owned myself) and i highly recommend getting a rescue. although they come with problems they are also amazing and always grateful for everything. everyone who’s met her loves her, but most strangers don’t even take the chance to get to know her. please please please get a rescue dog u will not regret it, no matter what the breed is.
Trisha Lintz says
I was visiting a friend and this little 6 week old puppy was fixing to be thrown in a pit with fighting dogs. Basically he was gonna be ripped to shreds. I grabbed him and ran for my car and got out of town.
This little puppy is adorable full of energy ut he has tripled in size in the two months I’ve had him he is the loveliest sweetest dog but he is a strong little burger.
I am 51 years old I have always had rescue animals and right now I have min pin twins found in a home with a dead body it’s taken 3 years but they are finally out of their shells. I have a senior min pin chawawa mix he hides in a pillow I made with blanket attached, I have a boxer Bassett hound mix and I have had him the longest senior dogs and then there is my tiny fellow named indigo he is the sweetest little puppy well no longer little so eager to learn I am do I g my best but he is tearing up my arms I refuse to put him down I never believe a dog is born mean please help me tell me what I should do
We have experienced similar w/ our Rhodesian/Pit mix pup. Plenty of scratches on legs, arms, hands from jumping on us. Patience is key, along with training. (This is an extremely strong minded breed)! Jasper just turned one year old and is responding much better to commands. He still jumps up a lot, but we have trained him to SIT and then give a treat to deter further jumping. Plenty of exercise is crucial. We take Jasper to daycare two days a week for playtime with other dogs. He also gets a good run/walk every day (weather permitting). I don’t think your pup is mean, it’s simply a phase. Be consistent w/ your training and exercise patience! Good luck! BTW, this breed is super smart, maybe just a bit smarter than we are! LOL
We bought a house and there ended up being 7 puppies left underneath the house. The seller eventually came and got them and we decided to keep one with the ridge. He’s a beautiful orange reverse brindle. It’s daddy is the neighbors beautiful blue bully pit. We have an American pit that’s a little over a year and very active. She is finally learning to tata him and they play well. He was around 4 weeks when we bought the house and he was already 6.5lbs. He is almost pad trained already and he does like to run and chew on everything. I look forward to learning more and do the best I can to train him well.
I think I may have a Rhodesian Ridgeback Pitbull Mix. I’m not sure though. She’s still tempered and I got her from a rescue. I believe she’s about 6 months old. Not potty trained and is learning her name. I was told she was NC in a kill shelter. My wife thinks she may be too much trouble and we may have to give her back.
I have a Pitbull Ridgeback mix 8 1/2 months old and have raised many Pitbulls and mixes for 40 years. I agree with above: very smart, very stubborn and very strong. I think he will end up being the best dog I’ve ever had, but I will earn it all the way. 87 lbs at last weigh in and 23” tall. Not for the first time dog owner or lazy-trainer.
Where did u get him in looking for a puppy our boy after 12 years passed away
Tara, condolences for the loss of your elder dog. We adopted Jasper soon after our eldest passed from our local Humane Society. We were looking to rescue another pit . . to our surprise, we ended up with a Rhodesian/Pit mix! Check your local paper as well as the shelters. I would imagine a lot of these pups end up being re-homed due to the owners inability to manage their training and/or level of time needed to exercise and train. Good luck!
I adopted this “designer breed” mix puppy from the Humane Society when he was four months old. I have been adopting and training pit bulls and mixes for well over three decades without any training issues. I must say that this pup has been extremely challenging to train compared to my other rescues. Jasper is now seven months old and we are finally making some headway. One of the biggest lessons I learned was to wear him out physically before beginning to attempt any real training. Once he has expended most of his energy, he is then ready to interact with me and focus on training. Did I say this breed needs a LOT of exercise? I couldn’t leash walk him enough, so I purchased a high quality backpack that he can carry on our walks. I use water bottles of equal weight on both sides. Note, do not put more than 10% of your pup’s weight in the backpack!! This little trick gives him twice the exercise than a normal walk would. I also purchased the Chuck It balls (set) and he will chase balls for hours without me having to over exert myself. Jasper also has a plethora of sturdy chew toys available at his disposal. Personality wise, he is a very loving, loyal and smart pup!! Patience is key with this breed . . consistent positive reinforcement is a must, along with a lot of time commitment spent with the pup. If you don’t have the tenacity or time, this is not a breed for you. Just saying. BTW, we have a six year old pit and two adult felines. Jasper and Lucky (canine) get along great!! Jasper has a tendency to chase the cats, but he’s learning to “leave it” (them). We’ve got a long training journey ahead, but I feel confident that Jasper will grow up to be a wonderful adult dog!!
JR Burgess says
This was helpful. 7 month old. 60lbs. Stubborn but smart. I’ll have to try the backpack. Thinking about rollerblades. I’m willing to run him as well.
I concur, stubborn yet smart!! Jasper just turned a year old!! What a journey it has been the past eight months! There were many times I just wanted to give up, but I’m not a quitter and welcome a challenge. Needless to say, he is definitely a challenge. 🙂 As he matures, he is becoming more and more responsive to commands and focus on training. We did hire a dog trainer for several sessions (to help train me) and he goes to daycare to play with other dogs twice a week. We still have another year or so to go in puppy phase, but we have made a lot of progress thus far. Tenacity!! BTW, Jasper weighs about 75# now and is stronger than any pittie I’ve ever had. Not a breed for the faint of heart! Best wishes for you and your pup!!
I have a Pit/ridgeback mix and he is the best dog ever!! He is not high energy, was very easy to train and does not bark…..at all. Well, he does bark when he’s asleep and dreaming. He grew up with a kitten so he just adores cats and has zero prey drive, would hurt a flea! He is very sensitive (does not like to be in “trouble”) and usually you can tell him no once and he wont do it again. His only fault is he loves to visit people, LOL! He makes friends when we meet people on our walks and every time he see’s someone he “knows” he has to go say hi. He also loves other dogs and has no interest in fighting and would rather walk away, but he will defend himself if he had to. Thankfully he has not had to do that. I think he got the best traits of both breeds and none of the “bad” ones!
Al Strong says
I used to have a female Ridgeback/pit mix. She showed the best traits of both breeds but man what a brute! Pound for pound the strongest dog I have ever seen. I am an average size guy and fairly strong but it was all I could do to hold her on a leash.