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Best Dog Foods For Rhodesian Ridgebacks: Puppies, Adults & Seniors


Last Updated: May 9, 2024 | 13 min read | Leave a Comment

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The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a unique pup from Africa who is best known for his lion fighting skills, earning him the nickname “Lion Dog”. And although he hopefully isn’t fighting lions off in your yard, he still needs the best food to fuel his day ahead. Whatever that entails. And there’s no denying the fact that the world of canine nutrition can be a confusing one if you don’t have a Ph.D. in the subject.

So we are on a mission to clear a few things up for all the lucky Ridgeback owners. We’ll start by taking you through the three life stages of the Ridgeback and what specific nutrition he needs in each. Then tell you what ingredients to look for and how much protein his large body needs.

Finally, we’ll review five of the best dog foods for the Rhodesian Ridgeback for each life stage. We want to help make your decision easier, and your pup’s bowl contents as good as they can nutritionally be.

At A Glance: Our Favorite Foods For the Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Nutro Large Breed Puppy

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
Our Rating

Best For Adults

The Farmer’s Dog

Orijen Senior Dog Food
Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Orijen High-Protein Senior

Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy Nutrient Needs

Dog lying at full food bowl
This breed tops the scales at 85 pounds at maturity, making them a large breed.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback might be tiny as a pup, but his body’s got a ton of work to do to grow into a large adult. For starters, you must feed your Ridgeback a puppy food designed for large dog breeds. It contains optimized calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and fats to control bone growth and support joints. And this is crucial for the Ridgeback, who is predisposed to hip and elbow dysplasia.

One of the most important nutrients that all puppies need is healthy omega fats. Especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), as they are naturally found in mothers’ milk. These assist in cognitive and eye development, skin and coat health, cardiac support, vitamin and mineral absorption, etc. Ingredients such as meat meals, fish, eggs, oils, and flaxseed are rich in healthy fats. High-quality products contain these ingredients, whereas poor-quality brands usually don’t.

The Ridgeback also needs protein to help him grow. Proteins contain amino acids that are the building blocks of all life forms. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that puppies need a minimum protein content of 22%. High-quality food should list real meat as the first ingredient, so look out for this. Meat meals are good sources of protein, and they are rich in glucosamine, which supports his joints.

Adult Rhodesian Ridgeback Nutrient Needs

Close-up dog eating kibble dry food from big bowl
Then you need to switch him slowly to a large breed adult food.

Feed your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy food until he reaches 12 to 15 months. You can feed him the same food line as before, or you can switch him to a completely different one altogether. Adulthood is now about a balanced diet. He needs protein, healthy carbs, fiber, healthy omega fats, vitamins, and minerals. During adulthood, AAFCO recommends that the minimum protein content required is 18%.

For extra digestive support, look for probiotic ingredients such as ‘dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product.’ These help to make the digestion process easier by promoting friendly bacteria in the gut, which can reduce gas. You have the choice of grain vs. non-grain diets and a variety of meat flavors. If you find he doesn’t do well on his new food, slowly switch him to another.

The Ridgeback is notorious for being a counter surfer, so be sure to keep all foods out of reach. Especially anything toxic to canines. His love of food means he is prone to becoming overweight, so it’s important to put him on the scales every now and then. If he is getting too chunky, either reduce how much you put in his bowl or switch him to a weight management product.

Senior Rhodesian Ridgeback Nutrient Needs

Dog looking at dry kibble food in woman hands
Your senior dog needs food that meets its aging needs.

When your Rhodesian Ridgeback reaches the age of seven years, he is considered a senior pooch. He now needs to be transitioned to a food designed for large-breed seniors. It’s more important than ever to transition him slowly because his digestive system has become increasingly sensitive. Again, it’s essential to make sure that he doesn’t put on weight because of his aching bones, joints, and aging cardiac system.

Senior dogs need the same nutrition as before, give or take a few things. Senior dog foods take away much of the fat and energy found in adult food, as older dogs do not burn off as much energy. Otherwise, they would pile on the pounds. There is usually less protein, too, because older dogs struggle to process rich, meaty recipes as they once did.

The fiber content is usually boosted, as fiber is a low-calorie ingredient that helps dogs feel fuller in between mealtimes. Extra glucosamine and chondroitin are added to senior dog foods because they are great for joint support. Ingredients such as meat meals, fish, oils, green-lipped mussels, cartilage, and other organs are rich in glucosamine. Extra vitamins and minerals can usually be found in the ingredient list to support his weakening immune system.

Best Food For Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies

By the time you welcome your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy into your home, he’ll have been weaned off his mother’s milk and onto dog food. Ask your breeder what he was fed before because you’ll need to transition him slowly between that food and what you choose to feed him. Here are five of the best foods for Ridgeback puppies.

Nutro Large Breed Puppy

  • Real, high-quality chicken is the ingredient.
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients.
  • No chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids like DHA supports brain and eye development.
  • Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin.
  • Formulated to support healthy joints.
  • Supports healthy immunity with essential antioxidants.
  • Made in the USA.

Nutro has created this recipe specifically for large dog breeds. And it is made with non-GMO ingredients to make the world of pet food greener and cleaner, making it a great option for eco-conscious owners. This is a grain-inclusive formula that lists rice, peas, and bran as the carbs and fiber for energy and digestive health. Pumpkin also helps to soothe sensitive tummies.

The first two ingredients are deboned lamb and chicken meal, followed shortly by lamb meal and fish oil, ensuring that your pup receives various amino acids and fats for his growth and glucosamine for his joints. It has a protein content of 26%, which exceeds the AAFCO guidelines. But this often makes an ideal pick for Ridgebacks who cannot digest rich, meaty formulas.

We love that this recipe lists antioxidant-rich ingredients such as chia seed, coconut, pumpkin, kale, and spinach, as well as added supplements. Your Ridgeback’s immune system has all the goodness it needs to develop well.

Purina Pro Large Breed Puppy

Orijen Large Breed Puppy
  • Budget-friendly dog food.
  • Designed for puppies over 50 pounds.
  • High protein formula for muscle development.
  • DHA for brain development
  • Probiotics for digestive health.
  • 419 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 13% Fat, 4.75% Fiber.

Purina Pro Plan is a world-renowned brand that creates both yummy and nutritious formulas. This is the best formula that Purina offers for large pups like your Ridgeback. The protein content is 28%, and the first ingredient is chicken. Fish meal and eggs are also listed, which provide plenty of DHA and ARA needed for healthy puppy development. These ingredients combined with fish oil are great for his skin and coat health.

This recipe is also grain-inclusive, and it uses rice and corn as the primary grains. Probiotic ingredients are listed, which makes this formula easy to digest, thanks to the friendly bacteria. There is a long list of vitamin and mineral supplements to support a healthy oxidative state. Your pup’s immune system does not go without.

We love that this recipe is a great choice for owners who wish to feed their pup a grain-inclusive recipe. Chicken and rice is a simple yet super delicious and nutritious meal that most dogs lick their chops for.

Orijen Large Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon
  • High-protein formula.
  • Uses raw and fresh animal ingredients.
  • Made with wild-caught fish.
  • Made with cage-free eggs.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 449 Calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 16% Fat, 6% Fiber.

Orijen is a premium, premium brand that uses only the finest ingredients. So, if you have the budget for the crème of the crop kibble, this is the best pick for you. The first fifteen ingredients are meat proteins. With a mixture of chicken, turkey, fish, organs, and egg, it’s super scrummy. Plus, chicken necks and ground chicken bones are nutritious and full of glucosamine which is great for quickly growing joints.

This is a grain-free formula that lists red lentils and green pinto beans as the primary grain alternatives. It is full of fruits and veggies such as collard greens, pumpkin, apples, and carrots to ensure his immune system is well cared for. Some of the ingredients are freeze-dried to help maintain maximum potency. And dried kelp is nutrient-dense and rich in calcium for strong bones and teeth.

We love that this premium recipe has the highest protein content by far, which is 38%. If your Ridgeback pup does not settle for anything less than the best, this is the top choice.

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppy

Wellness Large Breed Puppy Food
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient.
  • DHA for brain support.
  • Contains no by-product meals.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.
  • High-protein ratio.
  • 411 Calories per cup.
  • 35% Protein, 14% Fat, 6% Fiber.

Wilderness is one of Blue Buffalo’s higher protein lines. It has the second-highest protein content on our list. And at 35%, you can be sure that it is meaty enough to please the fussiest of pups. The first two ingredients are deboned chicken and chicken meal, with Menhaden fish meal also included in the ingredients. Fish oil, flaxseed, and eggs provide the much-needed DHA and ARA.

This is a grain-free recipe, with peas acting as the alternative. Peas are also fibrous and full of vitamins. Blueberries, cranberries, and dried kelp are rich in antioxidants which further boost his developing immunity. There are also plenty of probiotic ingredients listed, which means smoother digestion. And the fiber content is also the highest on this list, helping your forever hungry pup fuller in between mealtimes.

We love that this recipe has the highest omega-three fatty acid content, making it a great option for developing pups. Or those who have dry coats or skin conditions that need the extra nourishment boost.

Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy

Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed
  • Boosted nutrition for large breed puppies with high-protein kibble + freeze-dried raw.
  • Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient.
  • A balanced mix of poultry, fish, and meat.
  • Natural DHA from chicken eggs.
  • Free from grains, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, and artificial colors and preservatives.
  • Made in the USA.

This is another premium kibble choice, and this formula also has a high protein content of 33.5%. The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal. Other meat ingredients include freeze-dried chicken, Menhaden fish meal, freeze-dried chicken liver, lamb meal, and freeze-dried chicken heart. This might sound like an awful mix to you, but Fido is sure to go mad for it.

This is another grain-free option that uses peas and tapioca for an extra energy boost. The fiber content is high thanks to prebiotic fiber ingredients, which help to keep the digestive process more regular. It is also full of probiotics that help to promote friendly bacteria in the gut. There are many nutrient-dense ingredients listed, too, such as montmorillonite clay and dried kelp.

We love that this recipe has freeze-dried meal toppers that are full of nutrition and taste that dogs love. Plus, it adds different textures to the bowl to keep mealtimes interesting.

Best Food For Adult Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Although the Rhodesian Ridgeback won’t be fully mature until around two years old, you’ll need to switch him to adult food between 12 to 15 months. This is because he has completed most of his growing by now.

The Farmer's Dog

  • Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
  • Personalized meal plans.
  • 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
  • Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
  • Manufactured in the United States.
  • Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.

All of the meat and veggies in The Farmer’s Dog’s recipe are fresh, human-grade ingredients so that your Ridgeback is getting his nutrients in the most nourishing form.

It is 100% grain-free and is packed with various vegetables to provide your dog with vitamins and minerals. But, if you aren’t looking for grain-free, you can mix in rice to stretch your shipment and budget a little further. The Farmer’s Dog is available in four different flavors: Chicken, Beef, Turkey, and Pork. So, if your pooch has a discriminating palate, there are several choices from which to choose.

We love that this is a healthy, whole food option made fresh and then flash frozen for shipping to your door. The Farmer’s Dog’s customized meal plan keeps your adult dog healthy and strong.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed

Purina Pro Senior Food
  • Free of chicken, or byproducts.
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Great alternative to a raw food diet.
  • No Corn, wheat or soy.
  • High-Protein formula.
  • 373 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 13% Fat, 6% Fiber.

Here we have the next kibble in Nutro’s Natural Choice line for large breed adults. If he thrived on this one as a puppy, he should continue to thrive on it as an adult. This formula lists many antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies such as chia seed, coconut, pumpkin, kale, and spinach. Pumpkin is a prebiotic fiber known for its stomach-soothing properties.

The first two ingredients are deboned lamb and chicken meal. At 20%, the protein content is the lowest on our top kibble list. However, it still exceeds the recommendations set by AAFCO. Plus, some Ridgebacks might find this option easier to digest. This option is grain-inclusive that relies on wholesome brown rice and gentle oatmeal for an additional energy boost.

We love that this recipe is jam-packed with antioxidants and other nutrient-dense ingredients to support canine immunity.

Orijen Adult Dog Food

  • Made with sustainable meats & fish.
  • Made with cage-free eggs.
  • 85% meat ingredients.
  • Made with Freeze-dried liver for taste.
  • The first 5 ingredients are whole prey proteins.
  • 449 calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 18% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This recipe is middle-of-the-road and would complement most dogs, kibble. It is a top choice for many Ridgebacks. The first ingredient is real chicken, and the protein content is 26%. The protein to fat ratio is balanced for the needs of large breed dogs. Fish meal and fish oil provide glucosamine for his hardworking joints and nourishment for his skin and coat. And it also helps to keep his mind just as active as he was as a pup.

This is a grain-inclusive recipe that lists rice and whole-grain wheat as the primary grains for an extra energy boost. There are many added vitamin and mineral supplements added to the mixture so that he remains fighting fit in adulthood. This formula is fortified with live probiotics and prebiotic fiber to assist in gut health.

We love that this recipe has meaty shreds of chicken pieces mixed amongst the kibble pieces. A bowl of this food is full of texture and protein goodness.

Purina Pro Large Breed

  • Specialized Nutrition for Large and giant breed dogs.
  • Glucosamine and EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, for joint health and mobility.
  • High in protein to promote muscle condition when combined with proper exercise.
  • 26% Protein and 12% Fat.
  • Chicken or Salmon is the first ingredient.

Following the Orijen suggestion we made for puppies, this one is our premium choice for Ridgebacks. Although this kibble is not designed specifically for large dogs, it contains optimized ratios suitable for large breed dogs. Like before, the first fifteen ingredients are all meat proteins, making this kibble stand out from the crowd for sure.

Chicken necks, heart, liver, kidney, cartilage, and bone make this a biologically appropriate diet. It includes every part of the animal that dogs would eat in the wild. These parts might sound yucky to you, but dogs go nuts for it. Plus, it’s full of the best nutrition to support strong health. There is plenty of fruit and veggies, too, to ensure that he gets fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

We love that this premium recipe has the highest protein content. So if your Ridgeback is a fussy Fido, this option is packed with a big, meaty taste that he’ll love.

Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult

  • Dry dog food featuring real lamb as the first ingredient.
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients, no chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy.
  • Formulated with essential antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system.
  • Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints.
  • Created specially with larger dog’s needs in mind (18 months+).

This kibble choice is part of the Wilderness range like before, but this Rocky Mountain recipe is chicken and poultry-free. It is grain-free too. Deboned beef and fish are the first two ingredients, with a beef meal, deboned lamb, and deboned venison also listed. Flaxseed, canola oil, and fish oil nourish his skin from the inside out and support his joints. This recipe has the highest omega-three acid content.

This recipe includes Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits, packed with superfoods optimized for large breed health. There are lots of prebiotic fibers such as peas, dried chicory root, and sweet potato. And probiotic ingredients promote friendly bacteria in his gastrointestinal tract: regular digestion and better stool health.

We love that this recipe has a high fiber content. So if your Ridgeback is a professional counter surfer, he’ll feel more satisfied with this filling kibble.

Best Food For Senior Rhodesian Ridgebacks

As your Rhodesian Ridgeback approaches seven years of age, you’ll need to start thinking about switching him to senior food. It’s important to make this switch because adult dog foods are not suitable for senior pups for the many reasons listed above. So, last but not least, here are our top five best foods for senior Ridgebacks.

Orijen High-Protein Senior

Orijen Puppy Food
  • Fresh chicken meat is the first ingredient.
  • Vegetables include butternut squash and spinach.
  • Includes glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
  • Uses only low-glycemic carbohydrates.
  • Grain-free formula.
  • 414 Calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 15% Fat, 8% Fiber.

This Orijen option completes our Orijen recommendations made in each Ridgeback life stage. This one comes with a word of warning, though. It is still high in protein and high in calories, so it is only suitable for relatively active Ridgebacks who are accustomed to meaty kibbles. But those who thrived on Orijen before appreciate this fine nutrition as he ages for sure.

The protein content is still 38%, and the first fifteen ingredients are real meats, organs, and other animal-derived products. The fiber content is higher than before, and it supports regular digestion. And there are also probiotic ingredients to promote friendly bacteria in his gut. Pumpkin, butternut squash, collard greens, and pumpkin seeds ensure his immunity stays strong too.

We love that this premium recipe follows a biologically appropriate diet, which is full of meats and organs for complete nutrition and total yumminess.

Purina Pro Senior Dog Food

  • Budget-friendly formula.
  • Chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Omega fatty acids for skin and coat health.
  • Natural oils support mental alertness.
  • Probiotics for gut health.
  • 451 Calories per cup.
  • 29% Protein, 14% Fat, 5% Fiber.

This option is our final installment in the Purina Pro large breed line. This option is designed for dogs aged seven and above. The kibble pieces are infused with botanical oils, such as l-arginine, which is scientifically proven to sharpen senior cognitive function. Your Ridgeback is encouraged to play more and keep up with all the commands he has learned over the years.

The protein content is relatively high at 29%, and the first ingredient is chicken. Fish meal is also listed, which is a great source of glucosamine and healthy omega fats. His joints are supported, and his coat looks and feels its best despite his senior years. The kibble is also fortified with live probiotics to support regular digestion and healthier stools.

We love that this recipe is designed to keep older minds active thanks to the infusion of botanical oils.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed

Rocky Mountain Senior Blue Buffalo
  • Grain-free food.
  • High protein formula.
  • Made with antioxidant-rich veggies.
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Sweet potato aids digestion.
  • 387 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 12% Fat, 7% Fiber.

This option is not specifically designed for large breeds, but it ticks all of the large breed boxes. But we have chosen this option because those who love the Wilderness range appreciate this kibble. Plus, it is chicken and poultry-free, which is uncommon in the senior market. The protein content is 28%, and it uses only red meat and fish. Meat meals, fish oil, and flaxseed are rich in omega-three fats, which are fantastic for his aching joints and drying skin.

This recipe has a high fiber content which assists in weight management if he is forever looking for his next snack. And L-carnitine is also added to the mix to help stimulate his metabolism. This recipe lists a variety of probiotic ingredients too for gut health. Plus, it includes extra LifeSource Bits packed full of superfoods optimized for senior health.

We love that this recipe is one of the only chicken and poultry-free options that we could find for seniors. This is the best choice for those Ridgebacks who are intolerant of these commonly used ingredients.

Merrick Grain Free Senior

Blue Buffalo Senior Dog Food
  • Grain-free.
  • Glucosamine boost.
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
  • L-Carnitine for metabolism boost.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 372 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 12% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

This is a new option to the Ridgeback recommendations, but this is because it has supreme levels of glucosamine which is great for a big boy like your Ridgeback. This is a grain-free option that uses carbs such as sweet potatoes and prebiotic fibers such as peas for an extra boost of slow-release energy. Probiotics cover each kibble piece to ensure smooth digestion.

The protein content is high at 30%, making it super tasty for aging taste buds. Deboned chicken, turkey meal, and salmon meal offer a trio of proteins to ensure that his muscles get all the amino acids they need. Apples, blueberries, and other vitamin and mineral supplements ensure that his weakening immune system has all the antioxidant support it needs to fight illness.

We love that this recipe has market-leading levels of glucosamine, which is important for large dogs like Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Senior

  • Featuring tasty chicken––a high-quality protein source––as the very first ingredient.
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients, no chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy.
  • Formulated with essential antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system and natural fiber to support digestion.
  • Contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints.
  • For large breed senior dogs 6 years and older.

This senior choice is different from the previous two recommendations because chicken is now the main star of the protein show. Chicken and chicken are the first two ingredients, offering a protein content of 22%. So if he loves chicken, he is bound to love this option. It is a grain-inclusive option that relies on brown rice as the main grain.

This recipe contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are great for joint support. It is also formulated with essential antioxidants to support senior immunity, thanks to coconut, kale, spinach, and pumpkin ingredients. Made with non-GMO ingredients, it is a green and clean recipe that benefits Fido and the environment.

We love that this recipe has the lowest protein, fats, and calorie content on our list. Making it a great choice for sensitive seniors who either cannot digest meaty recipes easily. Or are very inactive in their older age.

Final Thoughts

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are large, strong, and powerful dogs, and it’s safe to say that only the highest quality will do. Along with his individual dietary needs, this breed needs nutrient-dense dog food packed with energy, healthy fats, and glucosamine sources. By sticking to our recommendations, you can be sure you are doing everything you can for the health of your regal Ridgeback. Plus, he’ll be super happy with the tasty choice you make.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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