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Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good With Kids? The Truth

If you’re thinking about expanding your family with a new canine companion, undoubtedly your first question will be about the breed’s natural compatibility with children.

When it comes to the appeal of Rhodesian ridgebacks, say no more than their gorgeous looks, but for those that aren’t familiar with the breed, their size and obvious power is a valid concern for parents.

It turns out that Rhodesian ridgebacks are amazing with kids. They have an affinity towards children that makes them very playful, kind, and gentle. The only concern would be that playtime could get overwhelming without supervision.


Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Good With Kids?

To the surprise of most, Rhodesian ridgebacks are very good with kids.

From speaking to many owners on this subject the common theme is that they quickly develop strong bonds and almost become the kid’s guardian/support mechanism. And I’ll explain below why this can be immensely beneficial for young children.

I’ve said this about a few other breeds in the past, but Rhodies really set themself apart in this category: for the better.

While asking personal friends and posting questions in groups, I didn’t come across a single parent (that owns a ridgeback) that has had anything negative to say in the way their ridgeback interacts with their kid/s. A few cautions about playtime will be covered below.

Important: It must be said, however, that all of this is true when talking about raising a ridgeback with your children.

How a ridgeback will act around strangers and unknown children is a different subject matter to be addressed.
Additionally, so is bringing in a rescue ridgeback that may already be dealing with trauma or behavioral issues.

4 Things Parents Will Want To Know

While so far it’s going just dandy, there are a few important things that parents will want to know upfront. Here they are.

Playtime must always be supervised

Ridgebacks love to play and they play well for the most part. But it must be remembered that the way dogs play with each other is far different from how kids play with each other…

Ridgebacks get excited quickly and with their strength, size, and tendency to use their mouth playtime may suddenly get overwhelming for any young child.

While there’s no malice in play-biting, their teeth are still sharp, and it can hurt! Tears are never far away if playtime goes unsupervised for long enough. So even though ridgebacks are great with kids, on the whole, playtime is an area for extreme supervision.

This said, ridgebacks still know how to be gentle, it’s just that playtime makes them fairly rambunctious.

Ridgebacks will quickly outpower a young child

It won’t take long before your Ridgeback puppy, is a Ridgeback puppy-giant.

Ridgebacks reach their full height by around 12 months but will continue bulking out for perhaps 2 years or more. However, by 6-8 months of age, your golden puppy will be stronger and far more powerful than a 10-year-old or even a young teen.

I guess this is a general word of caution to emphasize the fact that a child will not be able to physically control a ridgeback should they bolt on the leash, try chasing something, or challenge a stranger.

Ridgebacks are particularly protective over children

Ridgebacks are natural guard dogs and soon become protective over their family and property, especially when they’ve got children to protect.

This may at first seem like a good thing, but it could easily get out of hand if the owner does not have complete control over the situation.

This could develop into an issue preventing the child from having friends over, or even when strangers or other family members approach the house.

I know this sounds very offputting, but it’s not the end of your ridgeback dreams!…

The good news is that with firm training, recall training, and a significant amount of early-on socialization, a ridgeback will be more tolerable, controllable, and well-behaved around strangers. All of which are necessary for raising a friendly approachable ridgeback regardless of whether you have kids or not.

Kids must be educated too

In addition to the Ridgeback respecting boundaries, it’s equally important for the kids too.

Young children love to play and it’s very easy for them to get carried away once they find something amusing.

It’s crucial for the child to be educated on when playtime is and is not appropriate. This means no poking, tail tugging, or general aggravation whenever the Ridgeback is eating, napping, or trying to rest.

While it’s unlikely that a ridgeback would react negatively to this in any serious way, it’s not creating a nice, calm, and stable environment that a ridgeback deserves.

Health Benefits For Kids Growing Up With Dogs

There has been significant research over the last decade into how young children benefit from having a canine companion to grow up with.

From the ages of 3-7 children that have canine buddies can better develop empathy, compassion, self-esteem, and self-confidence.

Having a pet can also teach children valuable life lessons regarding health, responsibility of care, reproduction, illness, and even death.

In addition to this, it’s also found that most children share secrets and express their thoughts to their furry friends. Having an outlet like this can help build their social skills, confidence, and may even prevent stress.

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Raising a Calm & Friendly Ridgeback

I wouldn’t be doing our gorgeous ridgeback friends any justice if I didn’t confirm just how important it is to meet their basic needs.

All parents will want a Ridgeback that’s calm, friendly, and gentle with their children. But to get that, the parents must provide their Rhody with everything they need on a daily basis.

Daily requirements for a well-behaved Ridgeback:

At least 1 hour of moderate to intensive exercise per day (preferably split up morning and night)
Command training every single day to build obedience and respect
A clear leader that’s firm, fair, and loving
Plenty of socialization and interaction with strangers and new dogs
Plenty of mental stimulation (puzzle toys, challenges, nose work games, and engagement)
To not be left alone for prolonged periods of time
A complete and healthy diet that their body gets on well with

Provide your Ridgeback with everything they need, and they will reward you with good behavior, respect, and a loving companion for the kids!

Thank you for reading!
I hope this was informative and answered your questions. If I have left anything out please let me know and I’ll be sure to get back to you.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.