The German Shepherd has been a well-loved breed even before it was recognized by the AKC…
German Shepherds are a world favorite for many reasons. Not only are they excellent companions but also loyal protectors. They also have strong athletic bodies that make them suited for various types of work.
For all these reasons, they are commonly crossed with other breeds to develop interesting mixes. But what about Rhodesian Ridgebacks? Are they a good choice to cross with GSDs?
This article will discuss the characteristics of a Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd mix to help you decide whether this is the right cross for you!
German Shepherds As A Breed
As its name suggests, German Shepherds (also called GSD’s) originated in Germany where they were developed and used to herd sheep. They were especially valued for their intelligence, which enabled them to work independently and make decisions on the fly.
At home, German Shepherds are known as a loving pet. They are devoted to the family and take on the role of a loyal protector. With proper training and socialization, they are excellent companions for young children and even other animals.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks As A Breed
Rhodesian Ridgebacks (also called RR’s) originated from Rhodesia, a region in southern Africa now divided between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It is best known for the distinctive ridge along its spine where hair curiously grows in the opposite direction. Apart from this unique feature, these dogs have lean, athletic bodies common to large hounds.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks were first developed and used by hunters after big game. They were especially valued for their courage to confront and ability to confound lions, which bought their humans time to properly sight and set off their rifles.
Now that big-game hunting is no longer a popular activity, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are mostly valued as household companions. They are known to be affectionate towards their family and tolerant of young children.
Why Cross Rhodesian Ridgebacks With German Shepherds?
Both German Shepherds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are excellent breeds with remarkable abilities. Breeders that cross them on purpose often try to preserve some of the best traits of each.
For example, crossing these two breeds might result in the work ethic, intelligence, and confidence of the GSD in a leaner and even more athletic body.
Additionally, crossing these two might curb the GSD’s energy levels or tame the Ridgeback’s strong prey drive.
General Characteristics of Rhodesian Ridgeback – German Shepherd Mixes
When German Shepherds are crossed with Rhodesian Ridgebacks, the resulting puppies can be very different from each other. Their physical traits, as well as their general temperament, will depend on which parent they take after.
Nevertheless, here are the characteristics you can expect from a GSD-Rhodesian Ridgeback mix:
Here’s how German Shepherds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks compare in terms of height and weight:
|Breed||Height (in.)||Weight (lbs.)|
|German Shepherd Dog||24 – 26||22 – 24||65 – 90||50 - 70|
|Rhodesian Ridgeback||25 – 27||24 – 26||85||70|
Given these figures, there’s no doubt that crossing these two breeds will produce a litter of large dogs.
Males are expected to be about 25.5 inches tall and weigh approximately 78 pounds. Females are slightly smaller at approximately 24 inches and about 60 pounds.
The coat of the RR – GSD mix will vary between individual dogs. The appearance will depend on which parent it takes after.
They may have the German Shepherd’s medium-to-long coarse hair with dense undercoats. Or, they could have the Ridgeback’s short and smooth coat.
The GSD-Rhodesian Ridgeback can also inherit a variety of coat colors. From the Ridgeback parent, they could take various shades of wheaten (although the lighter varieties are less common).
On the other hand, German Shepherds come in a wide variety of coat colors. Some of the most common ones are black & tan, solid black, and bi-color. GSDs also come in rare colors like blue, blonde, and panda.
Rhodesian Ridgeback – German Shepherd mixes that takes their coat after the Ridgeback parent will be fairly easy to groom. They will need occasional baths and weekly brushing to keep their coat and skin healthy.
On the other hand, offspring that take after the GSD parent will require brushing several times a week. They will also shed profusely twice a year. During those times, they will require daily brushing and more frequent baths.
As with any other dog, regular ear cleaning is required, especially for those that inherit the Ridgeback’s drooped-down ears. Their teeth should be brushed frequently to avoid periodontal diseases.
Additionally, their nails should be checked once a month and clipped if they aren’t naturally worn down.
The GSD-Rhodesian Ridgeback cross does not only have a strong, solidly built body but also a powerful bite, which it inherits from both parents.
The average bite strength of a Ridgeback measures at 224 psi while a German Shepherd’s is even more forceful at 238 psi.
German Shepherds run fast and, in fact, can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are slower at 25 miles per hour.
Nevertheless, Rhodesian Ridgeback – German Shepherd mixes are expected to run fast, show incredible agility, and have remarkable stamina.
For working dogs, these traits can be very useful. For household companions, however, this needs to be addressed through exercise.
The GSD Rhodesian Ridgeback mix will need plenty of exercise. They love to run, play with their humans, and go on long walks.
The more opportunities they have to burn off their excess energy, the happier and healthier they will be.
Apart from physical exercise, these dogs need mental stimulation. They enjoy puzzle games as well as regular training sessions. Additionally, they do well in canine sports like flyball, rally, and agility.
These activities aren’t just good exercise but also sharpen the mind and hone their natural abilities.
The GSD – Rhodesian Ridgeback cross will be a very intelligent since GSDs are among the world’s smartest breeds.
They typically need fewer than 5 exposures to learn something new. And, they obey that command at least 95% of the time.
On the other hand, Rhodesian Ridgebacks do not place very highly in the dog intelligence ranking. It may take them up to 40 repetitions to master a new trick and obey only 50% of the time.
Nevertheless, their willingness to learn new things and eagerness to please their humans make training them enjoyable and fulfilling.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback – German Shepherd cross is a protective dog that is ever vigilant of potential threats. They are wary of unfamiliar people but may welcome their presence once they are accepted by the rest of the family.
Despite their protective nature, these mutts are very affectionate. Early socialization and proper handling also make them excellent companions for the entire family, including young kids and other animals.
Like other large breeds, the GSD – Rhodesian Ridgeback mix can be prone to bone and joint issues like hip and elbow dysplasia. The best way to avoid this is to screen both parents before mating.
Other than that, you should avoid jumping and running on uneven surfaces while their bones are still developing.
Other health issues this cross can inherit are poor thyroid function (from the Ridgeback) and bloat (from the GSD).
A RR – GSD cross has an average life expectancy of 10 – 12 years. Ridgebacks typically live between 10 and 12 years while the expected lifespan of German Shepherds of between 7 to 14 years.
Nevertheless, dogs often surpass their expected lifespans. With a high-quality diet, ample exercise, and regular access to veterinary care, a happy Rhodesian Ridgeback-German Shepherd mix can easily live well beyond 10 years old.
The American Kennel Club does not recognize this mix solely because it’s a crossbreed.
Nevertheless, these dogs can participate in AKC events by enrolling in the Canine Partners Program. Activities that the RR – German Shepherd cross might excel in include AKC Scent Work, Tracking, and Obedience.
How Popular is the Rhodesian Ridgeback German Shepherd Mix?
Although Rhodesian Ridgeback – German Shepherd mixes are typically excellent dogs with an even temperament and stable health, finding one won’t be easy. You might find a breeder mating these two breeds in pursuit of a designer working dog. However, that’s not very likely.
Each of these two breeds is more valuable as purebreds. For this reason, their respective breeders find no motivation in crossing the two. If you’re lucky, you’ll find these crosses as a product of accidental mating.
The German Shepherd Rhodesian Ridgeback mix is a large dog with an incredible work ethic as well as the courage and stamina unique to hunting dogs. This cross needs plenty of opportunities to exercise but can also switch off to relax. Additionally, they are adaptable, trainable, and protective of their home and family.
If you’re interested in a dog that’s part GSD and part hound but aren’t quite sure that a cross with an Rhodesian Ridgeback is your best option, check out what to expect when you mix German Shepherds with Bloodhounds, Coonhounds, or Greyhounds.