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Vizsla vs. Rhodesian Ridgeback: Breed Similarities & Differences


Last Updated: September 1, 2023 | 9 min read | 6 Comments

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The Vizsla and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are strikingly beautiful dogs with prominent personalities packed into their red and rusty canine bodies. There are several differences between these breeds, the Vizsla vs. Rhodesian Ridgeback. However, while they both look different from one another, it is their temperament that truly sets them apart.

The Vizsla is one of the original Velcro dogs who will forever be found by the side of his master no matter where he goes. While the Rhodesian Ridgeback also enjoys his master’s company, he equally enjoys his own, and you’ll often find him sunbathing in the garden or snoozing under the kitchen table.

While the Rhodesian Ridgeback is stubborn and better suited to the more experienced dog owner, it is the Vizsla that is the most energetic and demanding out of the two breeds, and he needs to be placed with a very active family who can also spend a lot of time with him.

Before you decide which pooch you prefer based on their size and looks, you might want to pay a bit more attention to temperament and exercise needs. Let’s take a closer look at both beautiful breeds.

Key Differences

  1. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is larger, weighing 60 to 90 pounds.
  2. Vizslas have more energy and need more daily exercise.
  3. The Ridgeback has a clearly defined ridge on the upper back.
  4. Vizslas are faster runners.
  5. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a light red to wheat-colored coat with white markings on the chest and feet and darker features.
  6. Vizslas can be yellow, gold, copper, sandy, and dark brown to reddish tones. They often have white markings on the tail, neck, forehead, and chest.
  7. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are more suspicious, harder to train, and aloof with strangers.
  8. The Vizsla is affectionate, easier to train, and welcoming to strangers.
  9. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are less clingy and more independent than the Vizsla.
  10. Vizslas have a longer lifespan, 12 to 15 years, vs. the Ridgeback, 9 to 10 years.

Breed History

In order to understand these dog breeds and what they may be like in the family home, it is important to gain an understanding of their history and what they were purposefully bred for.   The Vizsla and the Ridgeback were bred for very different purposes, so let’s dive in and compare each breed.


Vizsla in Woods
Vizslas are becoming more popular as pets in the United States.

Also commonly known as the Hungarian Pointer, the Hungarian state originally refined the Vizsla. They bred him to be an agile and relentless hunter who was seriously obedient and loyal. He hunted game and other small mammals. His incredibly high prey drive is an attribute that he retains to this day. The Vizsla is one of many canines in the Sporting Group.

Outside of Hungary and the surrounding countries, he is now more commonly found in family homes as well as being a service dog. He also found himself working at Ground Zero after the 2001 New York terrorist attacks, which is why he is commonly referred to as the versatile Vizsla.

The first Vizsla arrived in America in the 1950s after an American State Department worker snuck him out of communist Hungary, and ever since then, he has increased in popularity. In 2022, the Vizsla was ranked as the 33rd most popular dog breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The Vizsla has a beautiful red coat and is often mistaken for the Weimaraner or the red-coated Labrador Retriever.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Ridgeback in Woods
Ridgebacks are courageous, as they were bred to fight lions.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a newer breed that originates from Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) in South Africa, and he is part of the Hound Group. His ancestor, the Khoikhoi, was bred with other African and European dogs, and it was discovered that the offspring with the distinctive ridge was found to possess a unique canine talent in confronting and keeping ferocious lions, leopards, and baboons at bay in order to protect his master.

It was these hunters that laid the foundation of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed that we know and love today. He also played another major role in the family pack, in that he would splinter from the group and hunt animals, such as antelope, and bring them back for the kitchen, so this guy has always earned his keep.

He first came to America in 1911, and he soon became popular when celebrities such as Patrick Swayze, Grace Kelly, and Prince Rainier became Ridgeback owners and raised his profile. In 2022, the AKC ranked this breed as the 41st most popular dog breed in America. He is still found on working ranches across the world, but he is now more commonly found hunting the best spot on the family sofa. He’s also a popular parent breed mix, often getting crossed with a Labrador.


Vizsla vs Ridgeback Appearance
While these pups look somewhat similar, there are distinct differences between the two breeds.

The Vizsla and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are somewhat similar to an untrained eye, however, there are many distinct differences between them. Firstly, the Ridgeback is much larger and formidable in appearance. The Vizsla measures between 21 and 24 inches from paw to shoulder, whereas the Ridgeback measures 24 to 27 inches. The Vizsla weighs between 44 and 60 pounds, whereas the male and female Ridgeback weighs 70 and 85 pounds, respectively, and rarely do they weigh much less than this.

The next most visible difference between the two breeds is that the Ridgeback carries his uniquely distinctive ridge on his back, which is why he is called a Ridgeback. It is a strip of hair along his spine that faces forward, which is the opposite direction to the rest of his coat. Both the Vizsla and the Ridgeback have naturally long tails, but the Vizsla’s is commonly docked to 2/3 of its natural length.

They share a similar color, albeit with different names, and take on a rusty red hue. The Vizsla and the Ridgeback both sport a solid coat color, with the exception of a small white chest and toe markings. The Vizsla typically has a brown or red nose, and the Ridgeback often has darker features, such as a black nose and a black facial mask.


Ridgeback vs Vizsla Temperament
The Ridgeback and Vizsla have different temperaments.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback vs. Vizsla are quite different in their temperament, too. The Vizsla is known as a Velcro dog in that he never leaves his owner’s side and he is very much desperate for attention, whereas the Ridgeback is known to be a much more independent dog, and while he is profoundly loyal, he is never clingy.

They both have a similarly high prey drive, so you need to keep him on a leash while out in public, and you best be ready for the neighborhood cat to pop out from under a car at any given moment! It is advised that they are walked by a strong master, or better yet, ensure that you invest a lot of time into leash training them when they are young.

They are both extremely affectionate with their family, but the Ridgeback, being a family protector, is aloof with strangers and will quietly take his place in the corner of the room to keep a watchful eye on his family while there are guests around.

The Vizsla will be found in the middle of the human circle, making sure that he is as close as he can possibly be to his master before someone else gets their attention. You can be certain that the Vizsla is much more sociable and friendly. If it is a guard dog that you are after, then the Ridgeback is the best bet for you. If you are after a social canine butterfly, then the Vizsla has got it covered.


Ridgeback vs Vizsla Exercise Needs
While the Vizsla needs more exercise, both breeds do better with 1 hour of exercise each day.

It might come as a surprise to learn that the lion-busting canine requires less exercise compared to the Vizsla. The Vizsla requires at least 60 minutes of intense exercise every day, whereas the Rhodesian Ridgeback only requires between 30 and 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

While the Ridgeback is partial to a run around a secure dog park a few times a week, he is quite content with a couple of long walks, too. The Vizsla’s exercise routine needs to consist of jogging, interactive fetch games, and a solid hour of running around to use up all of that intense energy that he has. Even once this is complete, the Vizsla will need much more mental stimulation throughout the day, too.

Both breeds can be destructive when bored and restless, but it takes the Vizsla much less time to get to that point. The Ridgeback will be happy to take himself off into the garden to sunbathe for a few hours but with one eye open to watch for those pesky lions. So, if you can’t commit to a seriously energetic dog, then the Ridgeback might be the better option for you.


Sitting Rusty Red Dogs
Both breeds are very intelligent and are capable of being trained.

Both the Vizsla and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are intelligent dogs who are both trainable and obedient. However, the Vizsla, being much more eager to please his master, is the easiest pooch to train out of the two breeds. With plenty of verbal praise and the odd treat, there isn’t much that a Vizsla won’t do for his master, and with consistent training, you’ll have him doing tricks in no time.

The Ridgeback, however, is much more independent and will do things on his terms, so if a training session isn’t in his diary that day, don’t expect him to make time for it. He can be trained with a consistent and strict routine, but Rhodesian Ridgebacks work on Ridgeback time, so you have got to expect a stubborn pooch. So, if you are a novice dog owner, then the Vizsla might be the better option here.

Both of these guys, with their high prey drive, need to be socialized from a young age, otherwise, they will see everything as their next meal. Be sure to either enroll them in puppy training classes or regularly take them to the local puppy park. It is also important to ensure that they mix well with humans outside of their family pack, otherwise, they can become a little too overprotective.


Ridgeback vs Vizsla Health Comparison
Both the Ridgeback and Vizsla are generally healthy dogs.

Both the Vizsla and the Ridgeback are required by their national breed clubs to be tested for hip dysplasia, which is the abnormal formation of the hip joint that causes joint pain and arthritis in later life. The Ridgeback is also required to be tested for elbow dysplasia, which is the same condition but located in the elbow joint.

The Vizsla is also required to be tested for certain eye conditions, with Progressive Retinal Atrophy and entropion being the most common concerns, as well as autoimmune thyroiditis, a hormonal imbalance that can lead to symptoms such as unexplained weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, and mental dullness.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is susceptible to congenital dermoid sinus, characterized by tubular indentations under the skin, which exposes him to infections in his skin tissue all the way down to his spinal cord.

Overall, both the Vizsla and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are generally healthy dogs, with the Vizsla enjoying a longer lifespan, 12 to 14 years, compared to the Ridgeback’s 9 to 10 years.


Rusty Red Puppies Eating
Both dog breeds should eat high-quality kibble to provide a well-balanced diet.

Both the Vizsla and the Rhodesian Ridgeback consume, on average, 3 cups of food every day, but this is, of course, entirely dependent on their individual size, energy levels, and lifestyle. Be sure to feed them age-appropriate high-quality kibble that will not only keep them sustained throughout the day but will also provide them with their protein needs.

The Vizsla, being much more energetic, will likely require a kibble with a higher calorie content, but if you are in any doubt, then ask your veterinarian for advice.

They are also both at risk of suffering from bloat, so be sure to feed them their daily food allowance across two different meal sittings, and do not feed them too soon or after exercise. While it doesn’t sound like a serious condition, it can be life-threatening, so be sure to learn all about bloat and the associated symptoms.


Ridgeback vs Vizsla Grooming Comparison
Both breeds have short hair and similar grooming requirements.

The Vizsla and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are similar in their grooming needs, and they only require a brush once a week to keep their coat looking healthy and shiny. They both shed during shedding season, so to keep their coats more manageable, you can brush them two times a week. They would appreciate a bath once every 6 to 8 weeks, but they are both relatively clean breeds who thankfully do not have a strong doggy odor.

While brushing the Rhodesian, be sure to look out for those lumps associated with dermoid sinus, but other than this, general grooming needs such as dental and ear cleaning should be completed the same as any other pooch.


Cute Rusty Red Puppies
Expect to pay at least $1,200 for a purebred puppy of either breed.

The average price of a Vizsla and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy both start from $1,200 and can reach anywhere up to $2,000 for a puppy from an award-winning lineage. As with all canines, be sure to avoid puppy mills or backstreet breeders, who will not care for your pup’s health or needs, so be sure to work with a reputable breeder. All dogs need routine care, which will be a regular financial commitment owners are responsible for. This can vary depending on your specific dog, their medical needs, and the care provided.

Alternatively, you could always consider adopting either of these pooches, as they often find themselves in rescue shelters across the country. The Vizsla Club of America website lists their regional rescue contact details, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue also lists their dedicated rescue centers state by state, so be sure to check both of these websites out.

Final Thoughts

Both the Vizsla and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are very affectionate and gentle with their family, and they love nothing more than an evening cuddled on the sofa. However, the Ridgeback, throughout the day, is more than happy to keep himself entertained. The Vizsla would much prefer to be stuck to you all day long.

The Vizsla is much better suited to a first-time dog owner, but you must prepare for his intense personality if you do take him on. A Ridgeback is better placed with an experienced dog owner simply because of his stubbornness and more dominant personality, though he is much less demanding in terms of company and exercise.

Whichever breed suits you better, you can be sure that both the Vizsla and the Rhodesian Ridgeback have a lot of canine love to give, albeit in their own special way!

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