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Rhodesian Labrador Breed Info: Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab Mix


Last Updated: May 10, 2023 | 12 min read | 54 Comments

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The Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix is exactly what it sounds like – a mix between a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Labrador Retriever.

Over the last couple of years, mixed breeds have become increasingly popular. This upward trend is due to the “adopt don’t shop” movement and the creation of designer dogs. With the rising popularity of mixed breeds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix has increased in popularity as well.

This mixed breed is known for its loyal, affectionate personality. They make good family dogs, especially for families with older, active children. They love to play and enjoy quality time with their family members.

There are a couple of things you should know before adopting this canine, however. They can be stubborn due to their Rhodesian Ridgeback ancestry. Because of this stubbornness, they are best suited for experienced owners who have plenty of time to devote to their training.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix is also an energetic canine. This can be great if you’re an active family but can cause problems for more laidback families. Like every dog, you should research the Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix extensively before deciding to adopt one. For everything to need to know, keep reading.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix is a mixed breed. This means they do not have set, predictable traits like purebred dogs do. Instead, they can inherit any trait from either of their parents.

Some mixed breeds might look almost exactly like one of their parent breeds. However, the odds are that they will look like a mix of both breeds.

When you adopt a Rhodesian Ridgeback, you don’t really know what you’re going to get. Luckily, the appearance of the parent breeds does give us a clue as to what this hybrid will look like. Let’s look at each parent breed in turn to give us an overview of how this breed might look.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

The most distinguishing characteristic of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the ridge of hair that runs along the dog’s back. This line of hair grows in the opposite direction of all the other hair, making it stand out and look darker than the surrounding coat. As you probably guessed, this is what gave this unique breed its name.

It is believed that this feature originated due to crossbreeding with certain African dogs, which is where this breed originated.

These dogs are considered medium to large dogs. Males are larger than females and weigh around 80 pounds. Females weigh closer to 70 pounds. Males usually stand at 25-27 inches tall, while females stand at 24-26 inches.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are muscular and have a short, sleek coat. They always come in a red color, though the tone can differ from dog to dog. Some also have white markings on their chest and paws. Black masks are also sometimes present, though they are much rarer than white markings.

This dog can have either a black nose or a brown nose. The brown nose is a recessive trait and is, therefore, a lot rarer than the black nose. However, many breeders prefer the brown nose, so it is becoming more common.

Labrador Retriever

The Lab is a medium to large dog and weighs similar to the Ridgeback. Males can range between 65-80 pounds, while females weigh from 55-70 pounds.

They come in three different, solid colors: black, yellow, and chocolate. The ton of the color does range quite a bit for both the yellow and chocolate Lab, though the black is typically very similar from dog to dog. They can have small white markings on their paws, chest, and tail. Rarely, a Lab will exhibit bridling stripes or tan points. These markings disqualify a show dog but are not necessarily negatives for a pet Lab.

Their coat is weather-resistant and is very short and dense. It is naturally oily and dry, which prevents them from getting sick when swimming in the winter.

Labradors were bred to swim, and they have a few different traits to help them accomplish this. Their tail is broad and strong, similar to an otter’s. They have webbed toes, which helps make them excellent swimmers. This webbing in their toes can also help them walk on the snow in colder climates.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab Mix

Now that we know what both parent breeds look like, we can consider what this mixed breed’s appearance might be.  Some of the lighter colored Rhodesians mixed with a yellow Lab, can produce an offspring that’s a reddish color, not to be confused with a Fox Red Labrador Retriever.

This canine will be medium to large. The males can weigh up to 80 pounds, while females will be slightly smaller. Smaller Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mixes do exist. It is not unusual to find one that is closer to 60 pounds. However, because you never know how big a puppy is going to grow, you should not adopt this dog if you cannot accommodate a large dog.

These dogs can come in red, black, chocolate, or yellow. The ton can vary quite a bit. They may or may not have the “ridge” on their back. White markings are decently common, especially on their chest and feet.

They will have short, dense coats. Their coats can be somewhat weather-resistant, but not nearly as resistant as their Labrador Retriever parent’s. This coat will be double-layered and shed regularly. It also has a tendency to be dry and oily.

Their eyes will either be brown or amber, while their nose is nearly always black. They may inherit the webbed paws from their Labrador parent. It is not unusual for one paw to be webbed and the others not.


As a mixed breed, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab does not have set personality traits. Purebred dogs have been bred to have predictable temperaments. Typically, this temperament was chosen to help them achieve success in whatever their job was. Guard dogs were bred to have a protective temperament, for example.

However, Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mixes did not go through this breeding process. Their temperament is not as set as it is with their purebred counterparts.

With that said, while genetics do play a big role in personality, the environment is also a huge factor. How a puppy was raised and socialized affects how they will act when they grow up. Even the friendliest breed can become unfriendly if they are not introduced to new people at a young age.

Still, genetics should be considered when you’re selecting a dog breed. Not all dog breeds are suitable for all families. Some dogs just aren’t good with children, while others need to be the only dog in the household.

To help us understand how the Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix might act, let’s look at the temperament of both parent breeds.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are best known for their loyalty. They bond heavily with one person and tend to be aloof with all others. However, this does not mean that they are aggressive. Instead, they simply don’t care much about people unless its THEIR person.

These dogs do need strict training and socialization, however. They have strong guarding instincts and will protect their home and family. They can easily mistake common human actions, such as a handshake, like aggression. To prevent this, it is necessary that they are introduced to a variety of different people from a young age. This will help them learn that not all new people are threats.

This canine is commonly described as stubborn and strong-willed. They do not instinctively look towards their owner for commands or direction and instead need to be taught to do this. They are not necessarily people-pleasers. Because of this, they are not recommended for first-time dog owners.

Labrador Retriever

The Lab is revered for its friendly, outgoing nature. They are excellent family dogs due to their people-pleasing nature and even-temper. They do not have guarding instincts and are not particularly aggressive.  This makes them wonderful family dogs, and also makes them the perfect purebred for other crossbreeds like mixing them with a Border Collie, a Sheprador, or crossing the Lab with a Husky.

These dogs are known to be good with children and nearly every other animal if socialized properly. Like all dogs, though, they will chase cats and other small pets if they are not introduced to them at a young age. They might be friendly, but they are still dogs and require socialization.

They have a “soft feel” to their mouth due to their history as waterfowl retrievers. This means that the Labrador does not bite down roughly unless they feel threatened and are trying to injure someone. During play and other activities, their bite is very light.

These dogs can be quite energetic, especially if they come from a working line. They are fast and athletic. They have a strong sense of smell and can easily become lost on scent trails. They need to be leashed or in a fenced-in area because of this. They are not the type of dog that you can let roam free.

Some Labradors lack fear and are very boisterous, which can lead to problems. It is not uncommon for an over-excited Lab to accidentally knock over small children or break household objects. Training and regular exercise can help keep this excitability in control, however.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab Mix

This mixed breed will likely not be as aloof as the Rhodesian Ridgeback, but also not as friendly as the Labrador Retriever. They will bond closely to their family, though they may or may not have strong guarding instincts.

These dogs are calm and confident. Highly intelligent, they will learn commands easily. However, they can be stubborn, so whether or not they actually follow those commands is a different story. They will need regular training and a strong leader.

They are quiet when inside, which can make them good apartment dogs. Still, they can get quite big and require regular exercise. If in an apartment, they will need a little extra attention compared to other apartment dogs.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix is known to “posture” in an attempt to frighten away potential intruders. In other words, they will try to “bluff” aggression if they feel threatened. This can be quite scary if you’re on the other end of it. They are also known to do this to other pets and dogs. Luckily, this can be curbed with training, though the instinct will never go away completely.

This dog breed loves food and is very food motivated. This makes training simple, as it can often be accomplished with simple training treats. Food is also a great way to cope with this breed’s stubbornness.

However, these dogs can like food a little too much. It isn’t uncommon for them to steal food from the pantry or break into their dog food. Because they are intelligent, simply hiding the food away often doesn’t work. Many owners use child-safety locks to prevent them from opening cupboards and taking the food inside.


In general, mixed breeds dogs are healthier than purebreds. This is because mixed breeds come from a more diverse gene pool and have more genetically diverse parents. This diversity makes it less likely for them to inherit genetic disorders that commonly affect the health of purebreds. This phenomenon is commonly called “hybrid vigor.”

Purebreds are very similar to each other because of their very small gene pool. This makes them very predictable; you know what each purebred dog is going to look and act like. But this makes them vulnerable to genetic disorders that are much rarer in the general population.

Because they are a mixed breed, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix is much healthier than most purebreds. However, they are still prone to a couple of diseases that are important to be aware of before you decide to adopt one.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

This is a common disorder among larger dogs that affects the formation of the hips. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip does not form correctly. This causes the leg bone to not fit correctly into the joint, resulting in unusual wear-and-tear. Swelling, stretching, fraying, and the rupture of the ligaments can occur. Cartilage is often eroded, and the leg bone can become deformed.

This wear-and-tear leads to pain, arthritis, and even lameness. Moving the hip also causes pain, so it is common for dogs affected to avoid moving the joint, resulting in a “bunny hop” walk.

This is a genetic disorder, but it can be aggravated by environmental factors. Neutering a dog before they have reached full maturity increases their risk for hip dysplasia. Other environmental factors that can increase risk include excessive exercise at a young age, obesity, injury when young, and ligament tears.

Common symptoms include stiffness, difficulty moving, irritability, over-grooming the sore joint (licking, biting, etc.), and pain. Some dogs’ legs will be visibly off-centered, or they might stand in an unusual position to prevent pain. They will often run and walk in an unusual way.

This condition often worsens with age. However, dogs often get used to the pain as they age. If they are not diagnosed early and receive treatment, they will likely not show acute pain.

There is no cure for this disorder, but symptoms can be controlled with medication. For overweight dogs, losing weight has been shown to help reduce symptoms.

Gastric Dilution Volvulus

Also called bloat, this disorder is quite common amongst larger dogs. The larger the dog is, the higher their chance of developing bloat.

Bloat occurs when the stomach suddenly fills with gas and twists. Veterinarians do not have a complete understanding of bloat. It happens suddenly, so it is difficult to study in a laboratory setting. We do not know if the stomach twists and then fills with gas, or if it is the other way around. Either way, this disorder is very serious for any dog who experiences it.

This is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency surgery. The stomach must be untwisted and then attached to the inside of the abdominal cavity to prevent it from twisting again.

If it is not treated, bloat can cause blood flow to the heart and stomach tissues to be cut off. This can cause cardiac arrhythmias and stomach tissue to die. Bloat does not get better by itself. Luckily, surgery is very effective if it is performed in time.

Sadly though, many owners do not recognize the signs of bloat and are unable to get their dog help in time. When your dog has bloat, minutes count, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms if you own a dog that is prone to it, like the Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix.

On the outside, bloat can resemble a swollen stomach. However, outward signs are not always present. Just because your dog is not visibly bloated does not mean they do not have bloat.

Signs of pain, such as panting and pacing, are quite common. It is not unusual for dogs to attempt to vomit. They might gag or make sounds to let you know they are in pain. Generally, dogs just appear to be uncomfortable and in pain for no apparent reason. Anytime your dog shows these symptoms, it is important to get them to a vet.

Males are affected more commonly than females, as are middle-aged dogs. It also tends to occur in dogs who eat a large amount of food at one time or exercise excessively after meals.

DNA Testing For Health

Embark, one of the leading dog DNA testing companies, recently discovered a genetic indicator for Early Onset Adult Deafness (EOAD) in Rhodesian Ridgebacks. By taking the at-home test, you can find out if your dog is at risk for this or 200+ other health conditions, in addition to confirming your dog’s breed makeup.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix requires minimal grooming. They do not require regular haircuts or professional grooming in most cases.

They are moderately shedding dogs and require about one brush a week. Some dogs might shed more seasonally depending on their exact genetics and your climate. If you see an increase in shedding, amp up brushing to 2-3 times a week.

These dogs will also need regular maintenance on their claws, teeth, and ears, just like every other canine. They will need their nail’s cut regularly. This can be done at home or very inexpensively at a groomer. Some pet stores will cut your dog’s nails for you as well.

You should also brush your dog’s teeth a couple of times a week. This can be difficult and frustrating at first, but many dogs get used to it in time. Getting a flavored, enzymatic toothpaste designed for dogs can be very helpful.

You should also clean your dog’s ears, especially if they are floppy. If you get your dog’s nails clipped at a groomer’s, they can clean their ears at this time as well.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix will not require regular baths. Their fur might appear oily at times, but this is normal and does not mean they need a bath.


These are very active dogs. They require regular exercise to remain healthy and happy, especially due to their love of food.

However, this does not mean that this dog is not suitable for apartment living. They are surprisingly calm and quiet in the house but can resort to destructive behaviors if not exercised properly.

A few walks a day is all this canine usually needs. A fenced-in backyard can be helpful but is not required in the least. Remember, just because you have a fenced-in backyard does not automatically mean that your dog is getting enough exercise. Walks and play time are still required.

Final Thoughts

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix is a family-loving, low maintenance dog that can make a great family dog. They are good with children and other pets when socialized at a young age. Their intelligence allows them to quickly pick up on commands.

But they can be stubborn and do have some guarding instincts. Just because they know a command does not mean they will listen to you, especially if they feel that their family is threatened. Because of this, they are only recommended for experienced dog owners. Obedience classes are a must for these dogs.

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