A Match Made in Heaven: “The Rhodesian Labrador Mix”

The Rhodesian Labrador mix, known for its strong build and medium size, boasts short hair and medium-sized ears. With a sensitive expression, calm disposition, intelligence, adaptability, and gentle manners, this breed makes a great companion for many households. Despite its growing popularity, the Rhodesian Labrador mix remains relatively unknown.

At first glance, he may seem calm and gentle but in action, quickly transforms into a fast and elegant force of motion.

With a Rhodesian Labrador puppy, you gain a dependable and loving companion. 

If you’re thinking of bringing home a Rhodesian Labrador puppy, you’re in for a treat! Keep reading to learn more about this amazing breed.

Ridgeback Lab mix: Breed Overview

Height21 to 27 inches
Weight60 to 80 pounds
Lifespan10-13 years 
TemperamentAffectionate, Eager to please, Intelligent, Even-tempered, Gentle, Playful, Goofy
ColorsWheaten, Brown, Sable, Red, Black, Cream, Red
Other namesRhodesian Labrador

Utilitarian breeds like the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Labrador Retriever have been crossbred for decades with the intent to create an ideal working dog. It is therefore possible that this mix existed well before his recent surge in popularity.

However, due to the genetic diversity of both parent breeds, the appearance and characteristics of the Ridgeback Lab can vary greatly. It’s important to understand both breeds for an idea of how the crossbreed will turn out. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback vs Labrador Retriever

  • Labrador Retriever: The Labrador Retriever, known for its strong heart and versatile skills, was bred in Newfoundland and believed to have descended from the St. John’s water dog. Originally used as a fishing companion, the Labrador assisted fishermen by carrying ropes, towing dories, and gathering fishnets. Today, it is America’s favorite breed and a popular choice as a gundog and AKC sporting breed.
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback: European settlers bred the Rhodesian Ridgeback in Africa for hunting and guarding. Its reputation for loyalty, bravery, and hunting abilities made it a household pet as well. Now, the Ridgeback is respected as a protector and a highly valued hunting companion. Its unique feature is the ridge of hair on its back. Even though the American Kennel Club recognizes it as a Sighthound, the Ridgeback remains a relatively unknown breed.


The Labrador Rhodesian Ridgeback mix is not recognized by any of the major kennel clubs such as AKC, UKC, or FCI. Nonetheless, there are registries dedicated to providing registration and pedigree services for designer dogs, such as:

  • American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC)
  • Dog Registry of America, Inc (DRA)
  • Designer Kennel Club (DKC)
  • Designer Breed Registry (DBR)
  • International Designer Canine Registry (IDCR)

The AKC Canine Partners™ Program allows you to register your mixed dog under AKC.

These registries grant canines, breeders, and owners privileges accorded to purebred canines such as obedience and conformation. Owners and breeders that purchase registration papers can document and record the parentage and ancestry of their charges; adding value and validation to them.

Registration, by the way, has nothing to do with licensing, which is local regulation applying to purebreds and mongrels alike. Depending on your location, you may be required to buy a license and attach it to your dog’s collar. 

Appearance & Behavioral traits

Height & Weight:

The Rhodesian Labrador cross is a medium to large dog. It measures 21 to 27 inches tall and weighs 60 to 80 pounds, depending on its body condition. Males are often larger than their female counterparts.

A mature dog’s silhouette should be symmetrical, slightly longer than tall, and well-balanced. Puppies develop quickly, reaching over 10 pounds at 2 months and 40 pounds by 6 months.


A modern craftsman appears to have created the Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab mix. 

He is a crossbreed with a strong, athletic build and incredible endurance, stamina, and speed. This is due to its strength, well-developed legs, and compact, webbed feet with elastic, well-developed pads.

Its most striking feature is its clean-cut head with a slightly rounded indented skull, broad between the ears, and a moderate stop. The eyes are moderately separated, round, bright, and sparkling, with an alert, calm, friendly, and intelligent expression. The muzzle is neither long nor narrow, with a broad nose and well-developed nostrils. The ears are medium-sized, pendulous, and wide at the base tapering to a rounded tip.

Their tail is thick at the base and gradually thins out toward the tip. Some have the Rhodesian’s distinctive ridgeback hair.

Males are generally taller, heavier, and stronger than females, who should be more elegant and feminine while yet being robust. Male dogs should have two testicles descended into the scrotum.

Of importance is the structure and soundness of any dog as it allows the dog to walk, run, and work in the field with little or no effort.

An ideal dog would have: clean lips that fit tightly against the jaws; strong, well-developed teeth, a scissor bite (upper incisors overlapping but only just touching the lower incisors), and powerful jaws

Most of the general features will be shared by most dogs with variations from one dog to the next. Like with any other crossbreed, no one, not even an expert, can predict how a puppy will develop into an adult. 

Coat & Shedding

The main distinguishing trait is its short, dense, brilliant, and weather-resistant double coat. This coat should have a soft, weather-resistant undercoat to protect the dog from the elements and a sleek and flat top coat that sheds water fast while protecting him from burrs and briars outdoors. The coat has a somewhat rough feel to it in the hand.

All dogs shed. However, the shedding of a Ridgeback Lab is less obvious when compared to other breeds. Their short, fine hair does not adhere to clothing or furniture and instead falls to the floor. These dogs shed the most visibly (molting) in the spring, which can be readily remedied by brushing. Females shed the most when in season (estrus).


Most first-generation Ridgeback Labradors will be black or wheaten due to their dominant genes. Wheaten is sable- fawn/clear sable, shaded sable, or wolf sable/agouti sable- regulated by Agouti gene variants. These wheaten canines could have a black muzzle mask or not (melanistic mask). A small amount of white may emerge on the neck, chest, foot, underside, and tail tip.

Other less prevalent colors include brindle, chocolate, red, yellow, and cream. All colors will be determined by the DNA of the parents’ breeds, some of which may be buried and appear in subsequent generations. 

The pigment eumelanin will define the color of the nose, eye, eyelid, lips, paw pad, nails, and skin. The eyes of black dogs (or any other dog with back eumelanin pigmentation) are dark brown, with a black nose, lips, eyelids, paw pads, skin, and claws. Amber/hazel brown eyes, brown noses, claws, skin, and paw pads are characteristics of dogs with a modified eumelanin pigment (brown or chocolate eumelanin pigment).

Temperament & Personality traits

As powerful and attractive as the Rhodesian Labrador is, no one can deny its friendly, sociable, and loyal nature.  These dogs have a strong desire to please, which, when combined with their innate intelligence, makes them suitable for a variety of roles such as hunting, retrieving, and watching over their owners.

They require a lot of human interaction and attention and shadow their owners wherever they go. Do not anticipate this charge to lie quietly in a corner across the room from you; he will lie beneath your legs, on your lap, or draped over your lap. He is not the dog to leave alone all day and is not a good option for anyone crunched for time.

His great allegiance includes all household memories, loving all who adore him. Despite having an even and dignified demeanor, they can be stubborn at times.

These canines make great watchdogs and will let off a deep bark in case of disturbance that requires your attention but are not suited as guard dogs. What’s more, they are not aggressive towards humans or animals but are reserved around strangers. 

They are not best suited for apartment living and require a fenced yard where they can romp, expend pent-up, and release the periodic doggie tension.

There are no significant differences in attachment and loyalty between male and female Ridgeback Labs.

The Rhodesian Lab mix: As a family dog

Rhodesian Labradors make great family pets, buddies, and playmates for children. They do not appreciate being ignored and insist on being part of the family but form stronger bonds with their caretaker. Adult supervision should always be present during interactions between the dog and children until a live-and-let-live relationship is established.

Children should be taught how to handle and pick up the pet safely and not to disturb the puppy when it is sleeping. The pooch should be supported with both hands, one under the chest and the other between the hind legs. Not by the scruff of the neck.

Most accept other family pets if introduced early, but due to their high hunting drive, they may chase smaller pets such as cats or rabbits.

Finding a Rhodesian Labrador

When looking for a Ridgeback Labrador, there are multiple options to consider. Pet stores may not carry this rare breed, so looking into kennels or breeders that specialize in crossbreeds, Labradors or Ridgebacks may be more effective. You can also look into local animal shelters or rescue organizations, or check online pet adoption sites such as Petfinder, Puppyfinder, or Adopt-a-Pet.

When looking for a breeder, make sure they invest in genetic testing for their dogs, nurture their puppies in a safe and hygienic environment, and are willing to answer any questions you may have. Reputable breeders may have waiting lists and will assess your readiness to own a dog. If buying from a casual breeder, make sure to get copies of the parents’ health clearances, the puppy’s pedigree, and a sales contract with health and temperament guarantees.


The cost of a Rhodesian Ridgeback Lab hybrid puppy ranges from $700 to $1500, depending on various factors such as the breeder, region, demand, and others. A fee may also be required to reserve your pick of the litter.

It is expensive to breed, raise and care for puppies in optimal conditions, making it difficult to find inexpensive, sound, and healthy puppies. Adopting an older puppy or adult from a rescue or shelter is less expensive, at around $200 (give or take), but ongoing costs such as food, grooming, training, and vet care will still apply.

Selecting a Pup

When considering a Rhodesian Ridgeback Labrador hybrid, it’s important to take your time and do thorough research to make sure this breed aligns with your needs, lifestyle, and temperament. Do you prefer a male or female? Puppy or adult? 

Before bringing a puppy or dog home, visit the breeder or shelter and meet the mother and father if possible. Observe and interact with the pups, choosing one that is friendly, waggy, full of energy, robust, and appears healthy.

When buying a puppy, obtain transfer of ownership and registration documentation, as well as information on current routine, vaccinations, deworming, diet, and toilet training progress. 

Puppy Essentials

Before bringing a new puppy home, it is important to puppy-proof your home.  Remove any potentially dangerous items and ensure the perimeter fence and gates are secure to prevent the puppy from escaping. It’s also important to have a pool cover or fence off swimming areas to prevent the puppy from falling in. 

Additionally, you will need to purchase various doggy products such as food and water bowls, chew toys, grooming supplies, a collar and leash, an ID tag, and a crate. It is also recommended to have a baby gate, easy-to-clean beddings, a scooper for poop, a muzzle, and a first aid kit.

Overall, it’s important to take the time to prepare for your new companion to ensure a safe and comfortable living environment for both you and your new puppy.

Welcoming a puppy

When bringing a new puppy home, it’s important to have a normal routine in place. During the trip home, the puppy should be placed in a durable carrier or held by a passenger.

Once home, allow the pup/dog to explore its new surroundings while keeping a close watch on it. The puppy may be apprehensive and overwhelmed, so it’s important to be comforting and calm.

The first few nights may be sleepless for the entire family, with the puppy crying and whining. but it’s important not to let them sleep in your bed as it will be hard to break that habit later. The puppy should sleep in a crate in your bedroom for the first week and then gradually be moved to another area of the house.

Accommodation & Crate training

When thinking about where to place your dog’s lodging, it’s important to consider its comfort. A warm, dry location away from drafts is ideal.

You can keep the dog’s bed, feeding station, and potty area in the same room, or set up the feeding station in the kitchen.

If the dog needs to spend some time outside in cold weather, provide them with a heated doghouse with an attached run, and a swinging dog door to allow them to return inside and warm up. Also, it’s important to provide plenty of cool water and shaded space to relax during the summer.

Using a crate indoors can also be helpful as it provides a den-like space for the dog to retreat to and can be useful in housebreaking. Outdoor kennels should be protected from the elements and kept clean and free of parasites. The most important thing is that the bed is dry and draft-free.

Rhodesian Lab mix care guide

Make sure everyone in your household participates in caring for your new puppy, ask the seller about their past care and follow their established routine. Keep a supply of the food the puppy is used to and gradually make changes that suit you. Set up a feeding station, confirm vaccinations, and gather all health certifications and medical history.


The Rhodesian Labrador mix is a clean dog who spends most of his day licking and grooming himself to the point of becoming finicky. Grooming needs for this naturally beautiful breed are easy; yet, regular grooming will help you maintain your dog’s health and condition while strengthening your bond. 

  • Brushing: Brushing the coat with a rubber curry or slicker removes loose hair and debris, reducing the need for bathing. Apply lanolin coat conditioner after brushing and use a chamois leather cloth to bring out the coat’s luster. This can be done once or twice a week.
  • Bathing: The Rhodesian Labrador rarely requires a bath unless it is necessary. Use a doggie wash and conditioning instead of human shampoo. Avoid getting shampoo in the dog’s eyes or ears
  • Dental Care: To keep teeth strong and healthy and prevent decay, periodontal disease, poor breath, abscesses, and decay. Chew toys and hard crunchy foods can help keep tartar away from your dog’s teeth. Clean teeth using a toothbrush and toothpaste or dental cleaning wipes at least once a week.
  • Paw Care: Nails (or claws) normally require fortnightly maintenance. Use clippers and never remove too much of the claw, as you may cut the quick (the part containing blood vessels and nerves), which is sensitive and will bleed. Trim hair between the paws and under the pad using scissors.
  • Ear Care: Clean the ears with an approved ear-cleaning solution and cotton balls. If the ears smell terrible, are irritated, or have discharge, she should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
  • Eye Care: Wipe the eyes clean with a cotton ball dampened with tear stain remover drops.

Get the pup used to being touched and handled all over.

Feeding & Nutrition

Proper feeding of your canine companion requires an educated and responsible owner. Begin by sticking to the food the puppy was already using, and gradually introduce new food if desired. Dogs require a well-balanced and nutritious diet rich in protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Keep cat food and other harmful items out of reach and secure garbage cans and cupboards. Avoid leaving defrosting food or potentially harmful items within reach of the puppy.

Never give dogs leftover bones, as they can be brittle and dangerous. Avoid feeding them table scraps or “junk food” and limit treats such as raw eggs or cottage cheese. Keep opened canned food refrigerated and remove uneaten food from feeding dishes promptly to prevent spoilage.

Life Stage:

Dog’s nutritional needs change as it grows, puppy food has more protein and fat than regular food. Consult with the breeder about how much food to give and feed in little amounts at regular intervals for growth and development.

  • A puppy between 2-3 months should be fed 4 times a day, with a combination of kibble soaked in hot water or broth and meat-based or raw meat
  • From 3-6 months, increase portion size and provide 3 meals, one milk, and two portions of meat
  • From 6-12 months, reduce to 2 meals per day, one in the morning and one in the evening
  • From 1 year onwards, a single meal supplemented with dry biscuits/kibble in the morning and evening can be provided
  • For dogs 7 years and older, shift to a senior diet with less protein, fat, and calories.

Choosing a Diet:

The nutritional needs of a dog can vary depending on its age, health, and activity level. A well-balanced diet, including adequate amounts of protein, carbs, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, is essential for a dog’s overall health.

The variety of meat or cereal grains is less important than the balance of dietary components. Supplements, minerals, vitamins, and oils can be added to a dog’s diet, but are usually not necessary unless advised by a veterinarian.

Special diets may be required for older dogs, pregnant or nursing dogs, or dogs with medical conditions. These diets may include high-calorie feeds for active dogs, foods for overweight dogs, and prescription diets available only through a veterinarian. During the colder months, extra calories may be added to a dog’s diet through oils or bacon drippings.

Food Types

  • Commercial diets: When choosing commercial dog food, there are two main options: dry and canned. Dry food is cost-effective and can be eaten dry or mixed with warm water or broth. Canned food is more expensive and may be nutritionally complete or intended to supplement dry food. Carefully review the ingredient list to ensure it meets AAFCO standards and look for a balance of vitamins, protein, and fats. Opt for foods with at least 25% protein from animal and vegetable sources such as meat meal, chicken, lamb, liver, and dry milk products. Fats should make up around 7% of the diet, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
  • Homemade diet: At one time, it was thought that homemade meals were the answer, with daily rations of meat, vegetables, egg yolk, cereal, cottage cheese, brewer’s meat, and vitamin supplements. Time-consuming preparations are unnecessary now unless you enjoy the process. Commercial foods are reasonably priced, easy to find, and convenient to store. 

Daily Amount:

The factors that influence a dog’s food consumption include weight, exercise level, age, and metabolism. Active dogs require more food. The climate can also affect the amount of food a dog needs. It is recommended to feed a dog 30 calories per pound of body weight.

Ridgeback Labrador’s ribs and waist shape should be taken into account; the ribs should protrude slightly, and the waist should be hourglass-shaped.

Offer food for no more than 15 minutes. If your dog leaves food in his bowl, you’re feeding him too much. If he eats all of his meals quickly, he may need a little more.

Consult a veterinarian if unsure how much to feed.

Exercise Requirements

Rhodesian Labradors are active dogs known for their endurance and stamina. They require regular exercise and make great workout partners for outdoor activities such as long walks, hikes, and bike adventures. Swimming is also an option but may require assistance getting out of the pool and a gentle introduction to water.

Daily exercise of at least 45 minutes is recommended. Playtime with activities such as chasing, playing with a ball or frisbee, and tumbling on the ground are great ways to bond with your dog and burn off energy. Toys used should be durable and made specifically for dogs.

Without proper exercise, your dog may become bored and destructive, digging holes in the backyard or trying to escape. A bored dog may also become a nuisance barker. If you cannot always provide enough exercise, consider hiring a dog walker who is knowledgeable and can handle your dog properly.

Ridgeback Lab mix Training

Training is an important aspect of raising a healthy Rhodesian Labrador. They are intelligent and quick to learn but can be stubborn at times.

The best time to start training is during their early months, between 7 and 12 weeks. Establish yourself as the leader and be consistent and persistent in your training methods.

Avoid using harsh or physical punishment. Joining a professional training class or obedience club can also be beneficial for both you and your dog.

Positive reinforcement 

Positive reinforcement, such as praise, play, and food rewards, is key when training your dog. Avoid physical punishment and be consistent in giving rewards or reprimands within 3 seconds of the desired or undesired behavior. Aversion techniques should be used as a last resort and with proper timing.

Short, engaging training sessions of no longer than 15 minutes at a time will prevent boredom. As your dog gets older and learns more commands, training sessions can be extended.

Remember to be patient, consistent, and persistent in your training efforts.


When house training a new puppy or dog, positive reinforcement and consistency are key. It is important to establish clear boundaries and expectations for where and when the pup is allowed to do its business.

Indoor options such as newspapers, pads, artificial grass, or doggie litter pans can be used to help with the process.

Puppies will need to relieve themselves about a dozen times a day, typically at specific times such as when they first wake up, immediately after each meal, after playtime, and just before bedtime. When the pup succeeds, praise them heartily and take them back inside.

To help with the house-training process, it is important to learn to recognize the patterns and signs of a pup that needs to go out such as sniffing and circling a certain area. Remember to be consistent and have patience and persistence.

Addressing behavior problems

Proper training and setting clear rules and boundaries are crucial to prevent behavior problems in dogs. An animal behaviorist can help address dominance aggression or other troubling behaviors.

Discourage chewing on furniture by using bitter apple spray or citronella compounds. Do not allow the dog to jump on people, beg on the dining table, or resource guard. Teach the dog to wait for a signal before exiting a car and to not bolt out the front door, and to keep the dog on a lead when near roads. Incessant barking and chasing bikes or cars should be discouraged.

Obedience & Basic commands

To have a well-behaved and obedient dog, train them using basic commands like sit, stay, come, heel, and down. Give clear and concise commands only once, and use a firm correction if needed.

As your dog grows, teach them more complex commands and even tricks.

Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement will lead to a happy and obedient dog.


Socializing your dog is crucial for its overall health and behavior. It involves exposing them to different people, dogs, environments, sights, sounds and smells. This helps prevent fear-based behaviors and ensures they behave well in various settings.

Socialization should be ongoing and include positive experiences. Correct any jumping or unruly behavior during these outings.

Professional training

Hiring a professional trainer or enrolling in an obedience training class with your dog is a great way to learn how to train your dog effectively. It’s important to observe classes before signing up to ensure the trainer uses positive reinforcement and avoids those who use harsh methods. Consistency is key, so make sure to attend every session.

Health Care

The most important person in your dog’s life is your vet. They will ensure good health and provide professional advice, treatment, and emergency care. Emergencies include abdominal pain, poisoning, snakebites, and deep wounds.

  • Vaccinations: Regular check-ups and vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza (DHLPP), and other diseases are required for puppies and adult dogs. Puppies should be limited in exposure to other dogs before the first series of vaccinations is complete.
  • Parasite Control: Keep your Rhodesian Labrador healthy by preventing and treating internal and external parasites. Consult a vet for diagnosis and treatment. Clean bedding and environment to eliminate parasites and their eggs.
  • Health Monitoring: Familiarize yourself with your dog’s normal vital signs to better identify any abnormalities. Trust your instincts and contact your vet if you suspect your dog is sick.
  • Spaying & Neutering: Spaying and neutering in dogs have many benefits. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if spaying or neutering is the best option for your pet.
  • First Aid: Have a first aid kit for your pet and know how to use it. Basic first aid includes patching up small injuries, giving artificial breathing, and doing CPR. It’s also important to stop bleeding, clean wounds, and prevent infections. Basic first aid is not a substitute for professional care, but it can save a pet’s life.

To Wrap Up

Bringing home a Rhodesian Ridgeback Labrador mix requires research and commitment for proper care and management for a loyal companion for years to come. Training and patience are required for raising the dog. It’s important to research the breed and understand the characteristics and responsibilities of pet ownership.

We have just the surface but I am more interested in what you have to say. Leave your views and criticism in the comment section below

There you go, Woof!