Rhodesian Ridgeback Colors

A male Rhodesian Ridgeback pressing its front paws to the ground against the background of a bright autumn landscape
Liudmila Bohush/Shutterstock.com

Written by Katie Melynn Wood

Published: January 2, 2024

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The noble and affectionate Rhodesian ridgeback is a fantastic family pet. This dog is a type of hound that was bred for tracking on the plains of its native Africa. As a pet, ridgebacks tend to be independent and very smart but also enjoy time playing and interacting with their owners. Physically, these dogs are characterized by the ridge of hair along their back, which gives them their name and is their most defining feature. They have solid coats, although they can have minimal markings on their chest, toes, and face.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are nine recognized standard color variations for Rhodesian ridgebacks. These include light wheaten, red wheaten, and wheaten with different nose colors within each category. There are also two marking categories. Both black mask and white markings are considered alternate coloring for Rhodesian ridgebacks. All other colorings are considered standard.

Each variation is given a separate registration code when competing. Because they are so trainable, Rhodesian ridgebacks tend to do well at dog shows and other competitions. When registering for a show, the owner will select the appropriate code based on the ridgeback’s coloring, either standard or alternate. But at home, your Rhodesian ridgeback is just known for its lovable and loyal personality.

Light Wheaten

Senior Rhodesian Ridgeback, isolated on white

Light wheaten Rhodesian ridgebacks have lighter tan or golden fur.

This is the lightest of the Rhodesian ridgeback colors. While all ridgebacks are some variation of wheaten, the light wheaten varieties tend to be golden. They have brown undertones but are lighter in color than their relatives with red wheaten or regular wheaten.

They can have some white markings on their chest but these should be minimal. Even light wheaten ridgebacks have solid coloring with few markings overall.

With Black Nose or Brown Nose

As the name suggests, ridgebacks that are light wheaten with black noses have lighter fur and black noses. This coloring is particularly nice due to the contrast. Some ridgebacks have brown noses and muzzles. The coloring of their nose can also be the same around their eyes. Due to their lighter blonde coloring overall, the color of their nose and muzzle can appear more distinct.

Red Wheaten

rhodesian ridgeback

Red wheaten Rhodesian ridgebacks are highly desirable for their rich, vibrant coat and affectionate ridgeback personalities.

A popular choice among pet owners, red wheaten ridgebacks vary from light reddish-gold to deep red. This is one of the most popular colors and has made other breed coloring variations, especially light wheaten, harder to find. It’s easy to see why people love the striking red coloring of red wheaten ridgebacks. When you look closely at their coat, you’ll likely see glints of gold, blonde, and darker tan as well as red. This gives their red coat a very vibrant look.

With Black Nose or Brown Nose

These dogs can have dark brown noses as well. They tend to have darker coloring around their nose and eyes that suits their dark red coat well. Red wheaten ridgebacks can also have brown noses and muzzles.


Rhodesian Ridgeback

Most Rhodesian ridgebacks have some variation of red and gold coloring, described as wheaten due to the similarity in color to ripe wheat.

This is a good catchall for Rhodesian ridgeback coloring. While all dogs of this breed are some version of wheaten (or should be according to the breed standards from the American Kennel Club), the true wheaten dogs have rich dark golden coloring similar to wheat. But what makes this monochromatic coat so interesting is that even within the single color, hairs can range from lighter gold to rich red. Wheaten ridgebacks also have this slight variation that makes their coats seem to almost shimmer.

With Black Nose or Brown Nose

Like other color variations, wheaten ridgebacks can have black noses and muzzles. This coloring is most obvious in the nose area. Members of the breed with this coloring can also have brown noses and muzzles, as well as darker spots around their eyes.

Black Mask Markings

Rhodesian ridgeback puppy.

Some ridgebacks have darker markings around their eyes, giving them the appearance of a black mask.

Some ridgebacks have more pronounced dark coloring around their eyes. These dogs are considered to have black mask markings and are given their own category at dog shows. Typically, these dogs also have darker markings around their nose and muzzle. They can be any variation of wheaten but the mask markings are prominent enough to be their defining feature, rather than their coloring.

White Markings

Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs sitting near flower trea in spring\summer vibe

Ridgebacks with brown or black noses can have white markings, usually on their chest or toes.

While excessive white markings are not the breed standard for ridgebacks, a few white markings can put them in their own category when it comes to dog shows. These markings typically show up on the chest and toes.

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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