Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a regal hunting breed that are very loyal and affectionate. They are best known for their ability to hunt lions, but they are slowly gaining popularity as family pets.
In 2020 they ranked 42 out of 195 in the most popular dog breed ranking.
This breed is still uncommon in America which can make finding breeders difficult.
Because breeders are hard to find puppies can be expensive. There are also many factors that contribute to the price of a Rhodesian Ridgeback. One of the most important factors is whether they even have a ridge or not!
Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about how much do rhodesian ridgebacks cost and how to find the right breeder.
How Much Is A Rhodesian Ridgeback?
The typical price of a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy is $1,700 to $2,500, with an average of $2,100. Rhodesian ridgeback price is normally based on the breeder, bloodline, kennel club registration and appearance of the dog.
While this dog has gained some popularity over the last decade, it still remains a relatively rare breed.
Rhodesian ridgeback puppy price has stayed mostly consistent over the past decade.
Families looking to adopt this breed can normally find reputable breeders who are less expensive than show quality breeders. Typically non-show puppies are sold for between $1,200 and $2,100, with an average being $1,600.
Owners should be wary of any puppy advertised for less than $1,200.
Puppies that are “show quality” and have the potential to do well in conformational shows are the most expensive. These pups are typically 30 to 50% more expensive than “pet-quality” dogs.
Throughout the United States Rhodesian prices are relatively the same.
|Type||Price Range ($)||Average ($)|
|Pet Puppy||$1,200 to $2,100||$1,600|
|Pedigree Puppy||$1,700 to $2,500||$2,100|
|Show Puppy||$2,500 to $5,000||$3,750|
|Senior Adoption||$100 to $500||$300|
The popularity of this breed is very low compared to many other family dogs like French Bulldogs or German Shepherds that rank #2 and #3 in the most popular dog breed rankings.
This lack of popularity makes good quality breeders difficult to find. It also means breeders often have long waitlists.
On the bright side backyard breeders for this breed are very rare. Common family dogs like frenchies are in much higher demand which means that puppy mills and unethical breeders can take advantage of new owners.
Families have only recently started to adopt Rhodesian Ridgebacks as they want a dependable and loving family companion. They are affectionate love bugs who make wonderful pets for owners who have knowledge of the breed. Plus their cuteness makes them hard to resist, especially their big paws and wrinkly faces!
Rhodesian Ridgeback Price Explained
There are many important factors which contribute to the price of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. These factors include:
- Appearance (i.e. genes and colors).
A typical Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy sells for $1,600. This price is a reflection of everything that goes into breeding and raising healthy puppies such as health screenings for the parents, vaccines and kennel club registration.
There are three acceptable colors in the breed standard for the Rhodesian Ridgeback. These colors are wheaten, red wheaten and light wheaten.
Color does not have an effect on the price of the puppy.
However any color other than wheaten, red wheaten and light wheaten is unacceptable.
Reputable breeders will typically breed according to the breed standard. They will not sell puppies that are not standard colors. Sometimes black Rhodesian Ridgebacks are sold as a rare color variety, but be careful. Black puppies cannot be registered with kennel clubs.
Breeders trying to sell black puppies are probably trying to sell a mixed breed dog. They are often part Black Lab mix and can sell from $750 to $1,000.
Puppies that are the wrong color or have undesirable traits will be sold for less, but this does not mean they are bad family pets.
One of the major faults for this breed is a “ridge less” Rhodesian Ridgeback, this is a rare anomaly in the breed. Since this breed is famous for their unique pattern of hair along their back giving the appearance of a ridge, dogs without ridges are not seen as desirable. They can be registered with the American Kennel Club, but only on a limited basis.
Breeders sell “ridge less” puppies for significantly discounted prices as they are not wanted.
For a long time “ridge less” puppies were actually euthanized by breeders. Thankfully this practice is less common and most breeders will now find homes for these puppies as long as the owners agree to have them spayed/neutered. These puppies are normally sold for around $500.
Buying Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies from show quality breeders will be the most expensive option. This is mostly due to the amount of time and money that goes into raising a healthy show-quality dog, but can also be due to demand for specific bloodlines.
Puppies from parents who have won dog shows will be in higher demand and difficult to find. It is not uncommon for potential owners to have to wait over a year for this type of puppy.
“Show-quality” puppies are not only limited to people who want to compete with their dog, but owners who want true Rhodesian Ridgebacks. These dogs are well-bred and maintain true appearance and temperament standards of the breed.
Compared to a typical Ridgeback puppy bought as a family pet for $1,600 a pedigree show-pup from a winning bloodline can be sold for $2,500 to $5,000.
Many breeders will select puppies from their litter at a young age which they think will excel in the show ring.
This can be a difficult job. But puppies should have the signature ridge along their back, proper coloration (either wheaten, light wheaten, red wheaten) and an easy going temperament.
Purebred Rhodesian Ridgebacks from South Africa are more expensive than those bred in America since this is where the breed originated. These dogs are mostly purchased by breeders to enhance and purify their American bloodline.
One of the oldest and most well-known breeders is Glenaholm Kennels. They were recognized by the Kennel Union of South Africa in 1947 and puppies from this type of lineage can sell for over $5,000.
The country where you buy a Rhodesian Ridgeback will also influence their price:
- In the UK they cost $1,350 to $3,400.
- In Africa prices are much lower at $800 to $1,200 because the breed is much more common.
- American puppies are sold for $1,200 to $2,100.
Breeders should always screen their dogs for health problems which could be passed along to their offspring. These costs can add up and are one of the main reasons why pedigree puppies are so expensive.
The good thing is they have relatively few health issues compared to many purebred dogs. They typically grow up to be healthy dogs. This means costs associated with veterinary care throughout their life are typically lower than other comparable breeds like the Rottweiler.
Health screenings are an important part of ensuring a healthy puppy.
Evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), cardiac screening and regular blood work should be routine practice for a reputable breeder.
Cardiac evaluations, screenings for hip and elbow dysplasia, eye certifications, thyroid testing and genetic testing are all recommended for Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
Hip and elbow dysplasia, dermoid sinus and degenerative myelopathy are some of the most common health issues.
Dermoid Sinus is a congenital disease which affects the skin. This condition is basically a ‘tube’ of skin that joins the outer skin layer with the spinal cord. This can lead to infections that can be life threatening. Potential owners should ask whether any of the puppies in the litter were affected by this condition.
Good quality breeders will have warranties for their puppies. These can include health guarantees, return to breeder clauses and spay and neuter contracts.
Some breeders might guarantee against all health defects up until a certain age and others may only specify certain health issues such as dermoid sinus.
Health guarantees are important to consider, but Ridgebacks are generally healthy dogs and have relatively few common genetic concerns.
It is very common for breeders to require a buyer to sign a spay-neuter contract. This states that the puppies must be fixed at a certain age in order to prevent them from breeding.
There are two main reasons why breeders normally require a spay-neuter contract:
- Experienced breeders put a lot of hard work and time into breeding dogs that are healthy and meet breed standards. They do not want new owners to be able to make profit off of their hard work by selling puppies.
- They want to ensure that continued breeding improves the quality of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed.
Generally the more health certifications, papers and contracts a breeder requires, the more expensive the puppy.
Many breeders will provide American Kennel Club registration which shows that the breeder as well as the puppy meets certain standards. However this does not guarantee they will be healthy or will do well in dog shows.
Most reputable breeders will register their puppies even if they are selling “pet-quality” puppies.
If you are planning on showing your Rhodesian Ridgeback then you will need to make sure your puppy has full kennel club registration and not limited or part registration.
Finally some breeders require that they be notified if there is a change of ownership to the dogs. This ensures that the puppies end up in good homes and also helps to let the breeders know if there are any behavioral problems which caused the change of ownership.
Gender does not typically affect the price of a Ridgeback puppy.
The only cost difference associated with gender is that neutering a male puppy is typically less expensive that spaying a female. However this cost difference is typically insignificant when compared to the overall cost of dog ownership.
Many breeders do not let potential owners choose the gender of their puppy.
This is because breeders try to match their puppies with the perfect families based on gender and temperament. Because of this owners should be flexible when considering which gender they prefer.
Also there is not always a known number of boys and girls in each litter. Most breeders operate using a waitlist based on the number of expected puppies. Rhodesian Ridgebacks often produce larger litters of between 8 and 10 puppies.
Fun Price Facts
- In the past two decades the popularity of this breed has increased. In 2000 they ranked 54 out of 195 dog breeds. In 2020 they had risen to number 42.
- Some breeders advertise black puppies as a rare color variation and try to sell them for more money. The black coat is actually a serious fault and is often a mixed breed. Black puppies are not eligible to be registered with a kennel club.
- A study conducted by the Swedish Kennel Club found that Rhodesian Ridgebacks typically have larger litters when naturally mated. This is a good thing for potential owners because breeds who require artificial insemination and C-sections are more expensive due to the vet bills. A common example is the expensive French Bulldog who requires both artificial insemination and C-sections.
- One of the major faults for this breed is a “ridge less” Rhodesian Ridgeback. These “ridge less” puppies ridgebacks can be sold for $500 as this is a serious fault.
- Rescuing can be much cheaper than buying from a breeder. The average rhodesian ridgeback price of a puppy is $1,600 vs $300 for a senior dog.
- This breed is very common in Africa and is much cheaper. Typically they range from $800 to $1,200 vs $1,200 to $2,100 for American pups.
Is A Rhodesian Ridgeback Right for You?
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are loyal and dignified family dogs. They form strong connections with their owners and are total couch potatoes and cuddle bugs. However, this breed also can be protective of their owners in the presence of strangers.
They are loving and affectionate with their family, but very wary of strangers.
This trait makes them a great guard dog, but not a pet who always does well with strangers. Early socialization and training is a must for this breed to prevent unwanted aggression.
They require owners who are experienced and have knowledge of the breed. They require lots of exercise and are not well-suited to apartment life. This breed is also not happy being an outdoor dog due to the strong connection they form with their owner.
Today Rhodesian Ridgebacks are used as guard dogs in South Africa.
However the breed originated in South Africa from the Hottentot tribe during the 15th century. They were used for big game hunting and often helped hunt lions; hence the nickname ‘lion dog’.
They are best suited for a family who wants a protective, but loving pet. They are most happy being the only pet in the home and dislike being alone for long periods of time.
A good home would be someone who has dog ownership experience, works at home or has a flexible schedule and a home with a fenced-in yard. An owner without experience, someone who works long hours, or someone in an apartment would not be a good fit for this breed.
Finding A Breeder
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not an extremely popular breed which means that breeders can be limited.
The best place to start looking for breeders is through the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club’s breeder page. This resource has a list of breeders throughout the United States.
These breeders are vetted by the American Kennel Club and meet standards such as health testing and temperament testing. While the breeder page is a good place to start, potential owners should also do their own research to ensure that the breeder is responsible.
Many responsible breeders will ask potential buyers about their lifestyle and dog ownership experience to ensure that their puppies will end up in good homes.
Often breeders will have owners sign warranties which state certain conditions for which the new owners are held responsible. For example, most breeders will require their buyers to agree to spay or neuter their puppies before a certain age. They will also ask for a return to breeder clause.
The best breeders will always be most concerned about improving the breed and ensuring a happy and healthy life for their puppies.
Breeders should always be upfront about their puppies and willing to answer any questions you might have.
It is very important to ask about the health of the parents and look into any health testing that has been performed. There should be no history of hip and elbow dysplasia, cardiomyopathy or dermoid sinus in the parents. You should also ask the breeder if any of the litter was affected by dermoid sinus.
Since Ridgebacks can have a tendency to be wary of strangers it is also a good idea to meet the mother and father. They should be friendly and willing to let you handle and pet them. They should not be skittish or aggressive.
Picking A Puppy
The first step in picking out a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy is deciding whether you want a pet quality or a show quality dog. This will determine which breeders you should be looking for and what certifications your puppy might need.
If you plan on showing your dog it will be important for the breeder to have fully registered your puppy with the American Kennel Club.
Full registration with the American Kennel Club is much more expensive. A pet ridgeback will be around $1,600 vs $3,500 for a show quality dog with registration.
“Pet-quality” Rhodesian Ridgebacks are dogs that are less likely to succeed in the show ring, but are still good representations of the breed standard. The price for these puppies is typically $1,000 to $2,000 less than “show-quality” dogs.
Occasionally breeders will have puppies with faults such as “ridge less” or black mixes. These puppies will sell for significantly less at $500 to $750 and are usually not registered with the American Kennel Club.
One of the biggest questions when picking out a puppy is what gender to get.
Typically females are easier to train, more focused on their owners and calmer. Males are stronger and more active. They are generally more protective and can have problems with marking behavior and aggression.
It can be very hard to tell what the personality and temperament of a puppy will be. For this reason owners are better finding reputable breeders whose dogs match what they want and building a relationship with that breeder.
Many breeders will select puppies for their new owners, rather than having owners pick them out themselves. This is because breeders know their puppies and are most likely to pick the puppy which is best suited for their new owners.
Is It Expensive To Keep A Rhodesian Ridgeback?
However as most dog owners know, this initial rhodesian ridgeback price is not the only cost.
The American Kennel Club estimates that a large dog like the Rhodesian Ridgeback can be on average $14,480 over their lifetime. These dogs typically live 10 to 12 years so that works out at around $100 per month.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not an expensive breed to own compared to many other large breeds.
They are generally healthy dogs, especially if the breeder has screened for genetic problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. It is unlikely this breed will develop many serious health issues which means vet bills are generally low. They also do not have any special grooming and care requirements.
Purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies from breeders will be around $2,100 on average. However there are many Ridgebacks without pedigree that can be adopted for around $1,600.
Responsible breeders put lots of time and money into raising healthy puppies which is why they sell show-quality pedigree pups for $2,500 to $5,000.
Most breeders are hard to find and have long waitlists for puppies. While this might be a hassle for owners who want puppies soon, it is a good sign if the breeder has a limited number of litters per year.
Taking the time to meet the breeder and their dogs is extremely important before buying a Ridgeback.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks can have a tendency to be wary of strangers so it is a good idea to meet the mother and father. They should be friendly and willing to let you handle and pet them. It is also very important to ask breeders about the health of the parents and look into any health testing that has been performed. There should be no history of hip and elbow dysplasia, cardiomyopathy or dermoid sinus in the parents.
They are generally healthy dogs, but they still require routine veterinary care. Good quality breeders will have warranties for their puppies.
Overall you should expect to pay $1,600 for a non-papered Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. You will need to spend $2,100 for a pedigree pup and $3,750 for a show dog.