Rhodesian Ridgeback Prices in 2024: Purchase Cost, Vet Bills, and More!

Written by Tina Page
Published: January 23, 2024
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When you come across one of these Renaissance dogs, you know it. The Rhodesian ridgeback‘s regal stature, wheaten hue, and signature line of fur that runs up his back opposite the rest of his coat is a sight to behold. All dogs, of course, are loyal, dedicated companions, but the Rhodesian ridgeback stands out for his unquestioning courage, formidable power, and independent character.

Do you know you want a Rhodesian ridgeback, but you aren’t sure how much having one of these amazing animals will cost you in 2024? According to a Synchrony study, the cost of owning any dog runs between $1,270-$2,803 a year. Synchrony reports that the lifetime cost of taking care of a dog compares to the cost of a new car or a down payment on a new home. Before making the commitment, you have to ensure that you are willing to spend between $19,893-$55,132 over the lifetime of your canine best friend.

Is a Rhodesian Ridgeback a Good Dog for Me?

A male Rhodesian Ridgeback pressing its front paws to the ground against the background of a bright autumn landscape

Rhodesian ridgebacks have a high-prey drive and need a well-secured, fenced yard to keep them safe.

©Liudmila Bohush/Shutterstock.com

You’re aware of the general financial commitment of owning a dog. Moving beyond the ridgeback’s handsome physical characteristics, you now need to decide if this breed’s temperament and energy level appeal to you before making the decade-long commitment. These are several things to consider before bringing your dog home.

Do Your Research

Before bringing any dog home, it’s important to research certain qualities about your preferred breed to determine if that breed is a good match for your lifestyle. Rhodesian ridgebacks do best with people who stay active and can provide them with physical and mental stimulation. Famed for their intelligence and fierce independence, a Rhodesian ridgeback needs “patient and consistent training and a lot of positive motivation,” according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Lion Hunters Are a Lot of Work

Ridgebacks are hounds that were bred to work as a pack independently from humans. Originally bred in South Africa from the native ridged Khoikhoi dog and dogs brought to the continent by European settlers including mastiffs, bloodhounds, great Danes, and greyhounds, Rhodesian ridgebacks have lost none of their prey drive.

Once used to track and hold lions at bay during lion hunts in the African savannah, a ridgeback needs a well-secured yard as he is liable to run off after a small animal with little regard to your calls, cars, or other hazards.

Problems With Cats and Small Children

Best Animals For Kids

When Rhodesian ridgebacks are puppies, they have a strong bite that could hurt a small child. 


While adult Rhodesian ridgebacks make excellent family dogs, the puppies are “biters on steroids,” according to the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States (RRCUS). As anyone who’s ever had a puppy of any breed knows, young dogs love to play bite. Ridgebacks are no exception. The difference, the club insists, is these puppies have “surgical, knife-sharp teeth and the jaw power of a Doberman pinscher.

The number one complaint of all new Rhodesian ridgeback puppy owners is excessive, painful biting. As children are smaller and closer to the puppy’s eye level, a bite in the wrong place could cause serious damage. As if the biting weren’t enough, ridgeback puppies are notorious body slammers. Children running and screaming around the puppy are an obvious target.

It’s important to note that these hounds are often not good with cats. Cats trigger their prey drive. If you have a cat, this may not be the breed for you.

Be Prepared for a Challenge

The RRCUS recommends that anyone thinking of buying or rescuing a ridgeback spend some time with these dogs to understand their temperament and activity level. The club stresses that ridgebacks are not Labradors or golden retrievers “in short coats.”

“They are hunting dogs and have a high prey drive. Translation: They are quite independent–they don’t fawn over your every word, they can be oblivious to being called and require a lot of positive motivation to train them in traditional obedience,” RRCUS says. “Many people are just not prepared for the stubbornness and hard-headedness in this breed.”

Rhodesian Ridgeback Prices in 2024

Now that you’ve decided you have the time, energy, and patience to take on the responsibility of a ridgeback, it’s time to see if your finances will allow it. A dog is a serious 10-15-year commitment. Expenses stretch well beyond just the initial purchase price, which, for a Rhodesian ridgeback, is steep on its own. Let’s take a look at all the expenses you will need to budget for to give your new family member the care he deserves.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue Cost

woman holds a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy in the hands and pets him

Rhodesian ridgeback rescue organizations work to match you with a dog that has the right temperament for you and your lifestyle.

©Christian Mueller/Shutterstock.com

When you choose to adopt a dog, you are not only bringing home your new best friend. You are saving a life and giving the dog a second chance at being part of a loving family. Adopting a Rhodesian ridgeback is no different.

There are more factors to consider when adopting a ridgeback than when you purchase one. Most people buy puppies. Dogs available for adoption can be any age. You will need to decide what age works best for you. Adopting an adult dog has advantages such as not having to deal with the biting puppy stage. Also, if you have your heart set on a ridgeback but aren’t very active, adopting an older dog may be the perfect solution.

Ridgeback Rescue of the U.S. charges an adoption fee ranging anywhere from $100-$1,000. The fee depends on the lineage, age, and health of the dog. Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue, Inc. is another organization working to match ridgebacks with forever homes. It is also the official rescue for the RRCUS.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Purchase Cost

The cost of a purebred Rhodesian ridgeback puppy is generally higher than many other breeds. As with most things, the rarer something is, the higher the price. Ridgebacks are considered a rare breed. For comparison, the AKC gets about 2,000 Rhodesian ridgeback registrations a year. The organization gets around 50,000 per year for breeds such as rottweiler, Doberman, and Labrador retriever.

You will also need to decide if you want a show-quality or pet-quality dog. If you have plans to have your dog compete in dog shows, you will need a show-quality puppy. Breeders sell show-quality ridgebacks when they have determined the puppy has no obvious faults that would hinder him from winning a championship. These dogs are usually 30-50 percent more expensive than pet-quality dogs.

According to Next Day Pets based on data from close to 2,800 Rhodesian ridgeback puppies for sale on the site, the median price for a ridgeback puppy in 2024 is $2,500. The price for a top-quality, or show-quality, puppy soars as high as $2,900-$5,500 in 2024.

What to Look for in a Rhodesian Ridgeback Breeder

how many nipples do dogs have

The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the U.S. provides a code of ethics that all of its breeders must adhere to as members.


All breeders are not created equal. The RRCUS has a code of ethics that assures the continued improvement of the Rhodesian ridgeback breed. It also protects puppy buyers from purchasing a dog that may have problems. Many reputable breeders are members of the RRCUS and so operate according to the RRCUS Code of Ethics.

These ethics include:

  • Ethical breeders educate themselves about the health problems and physical abnormalities considered inheritable in the breed and ensure that any dog sold with those issues is sterilized before being placed in a home.
  • Ethical breeders do not overbreed their animals for profit.
  • Ethical breeders always inform their buyers about dermoid sinus (a genetic health issue in Rhodesian ridgebacks) and how to detect it.
  • Ethical breeders agree that their responsibility for the dogs they breed does not stop with the initial sale. Breeders must work to place their dogs in new homes if their first home is unsatisfactory.
  • Ethical breeders are particularly concerned with the proper placement of both puppies and adult dogs.
  • Ethical breeders do not display puppies in public for immediate sale. They do not sell their dogs for wholesale, or to guard dog businesses, pet stores, or puppy brokers.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Vet Bills

rhodesian ridgeback dog puppy second vaccination in vet clinic, vaccine injection, protection against illnesses

Puppies require a wellness exam, multiple vaccinations, and spay or neuter surgery in their first year of life.


If you purchase your puppy or adult dog from a breeder registered with the RRCUS, you are likely not to run into unexpected vet bills. Knowing this, you can plan for the vet bills that come with being a responsible dog owner.

Like all pets, Rhodesian ridgebacks require regular vet checkups. Your breeder should furnish you with documentation regarding any vaccinations, deworming, and the name and address of a licensed veterinarian who has examined your new dog. If your ridgeback did not receive his vaccinations, you will need to add that cost to your expected budget.

Cost of Vaccinations

Unvaccinated puppies need multiple vaccines to protect them from many dangerous diseases. Rabies, parainfluenza, distemper, hepatitis, and parvo are all life-threatening illnesses that can be easily prevented by vaccines.

Getting these vaccines at your regular vet will cost you anywhere from $20-$50 each depending on where you live and average vet prices in your area. According to Market Watch, these are the low-end prices and high-end prices for each vaccination your puppy should get to be fully protected:

  • Rabies vaccine: $23 to $27
  • DAPP vaccine: $33 to $38
  • Leptospirosis vaccine: $20 to $24
  • Lyme vaccine: $36 to $41
  • Bordetella vaccine: $28 to $33
  • Canine parainfluenza and influenza vaccines: $45 to $52

You can save money by visiting a vaccination-only clinic. Remember, though, that these clinics provide vaccinations only. They do not include the physical wellness exam every dog requires annually. Another way to save money on vaccines is to go through a rescue to adopt your Rhodesian ridgeback. Rescues generally adopt out their dogs fully vaccinated and sterilized.

Cost of Annual Wellness Exams

Even if your new dog comes with proof of vaccinations, you should set up an appointment with your vet for your ridgeback’s first wellness exam. The price of these exams varies widely by state. According to Forbes, which offers a state-by-state estimation of the cost of a vet visit, the average price for a wellness exam in the United States is around $60.

Spay/Neuter Cost

Most vets offer spay and neuter surgeries at their clinics. Some community shelters offer low-cost spay and neuter services. Expect to pay anywhere from $85-$850 for a spay or neuter surgery. Sterilizing a female dog, known as spaying, is significantly more expensive than neutering a male.

Other Expenses

Rhodesian ridgeback getting temp checked

Many dog owners opt to purchase dog health insurance to protect them financially against an unexpected illness or injury.


In addition to the purchase price of your new Rhodesian ridgeback, you’ve also added the cost of your first vet visit, vaccinations, and spay or neuter surgery. Costs don’t end there, however. Rhodesian ridgebacks need training lessons. You will need to plan for food, a collar, a leash, toys, a bed, and flea and tick treatments.

Inevitably, your dog will suffer an unexpected illness or injury. Acute veterinary care can be extremely expensive. Some pet owners prefer to purchase pet health insurance to protect themselves against the possibility of expensive medical treatments.

Pet Insurance

Market Watch put together a list of the best pet insurance companies. You can compare different plans on their website. They estimate the average cost of pet insurance for dogs each month is $66.


To keep your Rhodesian ridgeback healthy, you will need to feed him high-quality food appropriate for each stage of his life. The Synchrony Lifetime of Care study estimates that feeding your dog will cost between $434-$684 every year.


Rhodesian ridgebacks can be strong-willed and sometimes domineering. Despite these traits, they make wonderful family dogs and need to live indoors with their humans. To ensure a peaceful and happy relationship, the AKC recommends that all ridgebacks enroll in puppy training classes that use positive reinforcement.

Puppy training classes cost $150 for a six-week class at PetSmart. Private in-home training costs $19 an hour in Los Angeles, according to Care.com.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Lifetime Care

Senior Rhodesian Ridgeback, isolated on white

Rhodesian ridgebacks are dedicated, loyal, and loving family dogs that need to live inside.

©De Jongh Photography/Shutterstock.com

Welcoming a Rhodesian ridgeback into your family is a big responsibility. This sensitive, intelligent, powerful dog will depend on you for his entire life for all of his physical, mental, and emotional needs. If you think you are financially prepared and willing to devote a lot of your time to taking care of your new best friend, you will get the unconditional love and devotion only a dog can give in return. You can’t put a price on that!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © nik174/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Tina Page is a journalist and teacher from Los Angeles with more than 20 years of experience writing for newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. She runs an animal rescue that's changed the lives of all kinds of creatures. From dogs and cats to hawks, skunks, racoons, opossums, sea gulls, and lizards, no animal is left behind. Along with her many animals, Tina is a homeschool mom to three kids that are just as passionate about helping animals. If they are not rescuing animals, they are surfing at their local beach or hiking in nature.

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