First year with your Rhodesian Ridgeback. What to expect? - The Pets and Love

How about a puppy who is going to grow into a 50kg plus hunting machine? How can you aid their development in that first crucial year to ensure that they grow into a strong and healthy adult dog? Read on to find out.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Development; The First Year

Having a puppy is no easy feat. The chewing, going to the toilet indoors, the vomit when they’ve eaten too quickly, injuries from playing too hard, the list of negatives almost outweighs the list of positives. ALMOST.

How about a puppy who is going to grow into a 50kg plus hunting machine? How can you aid their development in that first crucial year to ensure that they grow into a strong and healthy adult dog? Read on to find out.

A full-grown Rhodesian Ridgeback can be up to 50kg, if not more. They can grow up to 2’3” in height too, so these guys are not your average house dogs!

The First Days

Let’s start at the beginning of your journey with your new dog, because that makes the most sense. You’ve selected a well-renowned breeder; your puppy has been born and weaned from its mother and is ready to go home with you. But what do you need to prepare even before your new dog arrives at your front door?

A lot of preparation should go into a new puppy, as it will need more than you think! A dog is a lot of responsibility, especially a dog who will grow as large as a Rhodesian Ridgeback, so preparation really is key here!

You’ll need to ensure that you can spend plenty of time with your new puppy during the first few weeks of it living with you, so perhaps taking some time off work is a good idea.

Before your dog arrives, you’ll need to make sure that you have all the appropriate supplies ready for them, such as a water bowl, a food bowl, a leash, a collar, good quality dog food, a safe and comfortable place to sleep, and toys. You should also register with a local trusted veterinarian and take your new dog to visit them as soon as you can so that it is able to receive all necessary vaccinations and health checks.

As Rhodesian Ridgebacks are a large breed of dog, training in the first stages of life are key to ensuring that your large dog is well behaved and that you can manage it. Nothing is worse that an overexcited 50kg dog jumping up at people to greet them! Remember, reinforce desired behaviours and ignore unwanted behaviours.

You will also need to ensure that your new Rhodesian Ridgeback receives a well balanced and healthy diet to aid its growth at this crucial growing stage of its life.

We will elaborate on these points further on in the article.

Preparation – Must Have Items

Here is a list of items that we think are must haves before your new puppy even arrives:

  • Cage / Crate: your puppy won’t arrive magically fully trained, we regret to inform you. Therefore, a cage, or a crate is a good idea to hold your puppy whilst you’re out until it’s properly house trained, otherwise, you might return home time and time again to many of your possessions destroyed!
  • Water Bowl and Food Bowl: it is important that any animal has access to fresh and clean water. A water bowl should be cleaned and refilled daily and refilled whenever it is running low. A good food bowl should also be provided for your dog to eat from. You can purchase these in many sizes to suit the size of your dog. There will be more on this in the diet section of this article.
  • Toys: Dogs love to play, especially puppies. Toys should be provided for your dogs to play with, or they might end up playing with your possessions and furniture! Be careful when selecting the toy though; things that can fall off a toy and be eaten by your dog are unsafe, and stuffing that can be ripped out and eaten is also dangerous. Often rubber toys are great for dogs! As your puppy is a Rhodesian Ridgeback, one of the strongest dogs in the world, we suggest checking out companies like Kong and their excellent selection of strong and sturdy puppy toys.
  • Treats: Treats are a great way to positively reinforce good behaviours and should be used for training your dog. Reward your dog with a treat when they display a desirable behaviour.
  • Bed/Blanket: The average adult dog sleeps for 14 hours per day. This means that a comfortable space to sleep is required for where your new puppy will likely be spending most of its time! Some dogs like to sleep on dog beds, some dogs enjoy sleeping on blankets on the floor, some will choose your sofa, and some will choose the weirdest places to sleep, like that gap between your toilet and the wall. Regardless of where your dog chooses to rest, the space should be comfortable and safe for your dog so that they are able to get the rest that they need. This is especially important for a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, who will be doing an awful lot of growing in its first few months!
  • Collar and Leash Set: Dogs must be exercised regularly, and the best way to do this for most dogs is to walk them. To safely walk your dog, a good collar and leash set should be purchased. It’s often good to walk a dog on a harness, especially if they are not trained to walk on a leash yet or are particularly excitable (like your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy!), as this prevents them from choking themselves on their collar. It also minimises the risk of them slipping out of their collar and running off.
  • Grooming Supplies: grooming supplies largely depend on the breed of your dog. Basic grooming supplies though, are as follows:
    • Brush and comb
    • Coat clippers and scissors
    • Shampoo and conditioner
    • Nail trimmer
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste


Training is especially important and should start from a young age. Dogs will learn at different rates, but it’s important to get the basics down, especially for a Rhodesian Ridgeback. You must be able to control your large dog, otherwise things could get out of hand and your life could become very difficult. Tricks to begin with, that I recommend, are:

  1. Sit
  2. Paw
  3. Wait
  4. Lie down
  5. Stop

It is also important that your dog learns the meaning of the word “no” and “ok” (or yes, choice of words is up to you, but the concept should be the same. If you experience problems training your Rhodesian Ridgeback, a professional dog trainer could work wonders for you.


Important Note: Once a puppy has been weaned off milk it is essential that the puppy is given a high-quality puppy food to ensure proper development. A lack of proper nutrients can result in developmental problems, and health complications in later life. Here are some of our recommended foods for a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, along with daily feeding recommendations.

Daily Feeding Recommendations:

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are renowned for having large appetites, which makes sense if you think about the size of the breed. But that isn’t all; this is due to their roots as hunting dogs in the African Bush. As wild dogs, instinctually they will eat as much food as they possibly can at one time because they do not know when their next meal may be. Ensure you don’t give in to those puppy dog eyes begging you for more food; feed according to guidelines and suggested feeding amounts. The key for a Rhodesian Ridgeback, as with any breed of dog, is the quality of the food as opposed to the quantity. A healthy blend of protein and carbohydrates will help you dog to feel full for a longer period. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also known to steal food at any given opportunity, so ensure that foodstuff is kept hidden and out of their reach.

If you are feeding your puppy kibble, recommended feeding amounts will be displayed on the bag or box. If you choose to feed your dog a home cooked diet, this can become a bit trickier to calculate. It is recommended that any puppy receives 60 calories per kilogram of body weight. So, if your puppy is 16kg, it should receive 960 calories per day.

Home Cooked Diet Ideas

Here are some delicious home cooked meal ideas that you could try for your Rhodesian Ridgeback. Remember, when you are calculating the portion sizes, it is 60 calories per kilogram of body weight!

Foods You Should Include in a Homemade Diet for Your Dog:

  • Meat and other animal products. This should make up 50% of your dogs’ homemade diet. Make sure that the meat you give your dog is lean and doesn’t have too much fat as this isn’t ideal for your dog’s health.
  • Fish. Fish provides vitamin D which otherwise should be supplemented in your dogs’ diet. Tinned fish such as sardines, tuna, and salmon are a good choice.
  • Eggs. Eggs are highly nutritious. Dogs can eat a whole egg every day in their homemade diet.
  • Dairy products. Plain yogurt is a good choice and products that are made from goats’ milk are the best choice. Dairy can cause lactose intolerance in dogs so limit the amount of dairy you give to your dog.
  • Fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are excellent for ensuring that your dog gets all the fibre it needs to support a healthy digestive system.
  • Starchy vegetables. Vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squashes are a great choice of vegetable to integrate into your dogs’ diet. Starchy vegetables should be cooked so that your dog is able to digest them.

Dietary Supplements for Homemade Diets: Dog food brands will add vitamins and minerals into their food. If you choose to feed your dog a homemade diet, these are supplements that you should consider adding to the diet:

  • Calcium
  • Oils (such as cod liver oil)
  • Vitamin E
  • Iodine
  • Multivitamins
  • Mineral supplements

Here are a few of my favourite home cooked recipes:

Beef Stew

A hearty and healthy meal that any dog will love! Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the size of your dog, so that is only 4 servings for your Rhodesian Ridgeback!


  • 1 pound of beef stew meat
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup of carrots diced
  • 1/2 cup of green beans diced
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of water or organic vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for frying


  1. Microwave the sweet potato for 5 to 8 minutes until firm but tender.
  2. Cut the beef into small chunks.
  3. Cook the beef in a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the beef chunks from the pan, reserving the drippings.
  5. Dice the sweet potato.
  6. Heat the drippings over medium-low heat. Slowly add flour and water into the dripping while whisking to make gravy.
  7. Mix the beef, sweet potato, carrots, and green beans into the gravy.
  8. Boil until the carrots are tender.
  9. Serve cool.
  10. Store remaining stew in the fridge for up to five days.

Turkey, Rice, and Vegetables

Is your Rhodesian Ridgeback a little on the chunky side? This recipe is perfect for dog’s obesity. Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the size of your dog (so that’s 4 servings for your Rhodesian Ridgeback!).


  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 2 cups uncooked of brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
  • 1/2 (16 ounces) of package frozen broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower


  1. Put the water, turkey, rice, and rosemary into a large Dutch oven.
  2. Stir until the turkey is broken up and evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a low heat once the mixture is bubbling.
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the frozen vegetables and cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and cool.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Those are two of my favourite recipes for home cooked dog meals, and my dog absolutely loves them! You can find plenty of recipes online to suit your dog’s taste.

Foods That Are Poisonous or harmful to Dogs

Here is a list of important food that you should NEVER feed to your dog, as they could cause health problems and even death:

  • Alcohol. If a dog ingests alcohol, this can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing problems, coma, and death.
  • Onion and garlic. Onions and garlic can kill red blood cells in dogs, causing anaemia.
  • Avocado. Avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs.
  • Caffeine. Caffeine, including tea, coffee, and soda, can be toxic to dogs. This is due to the caffeine having poisoning effects on the dog.
  • Grapes and raisins. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Chocolate. Chocolate can cause your dog to vomit and have diarrhoea. It can also cause heart problems, seizures, and death.
  • Cooked Bones. Cooked bones can splinter and lacerate a dog’s digestive system.
  • Nuts.
  • Сhewing gum.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks have short coats which require minimal grooming. However, regular showers and brushing is still important to ensure that your dogs’ fur and skin remain healthy. We recommend that you bathe your Rhodesian Ridgeback every 4-6 weeks with an appropriate shampoo, especially for puppies as they have sensitive skin. You should also ensure that your dogs’ teeth are clean and plaque free, and it’s easiest to train a dog to have its teeth brushed from a young age. You should also ensure that their ears are clean and free of gunk, and that their nails are a healthy length.

Suggested Products

Here are a few products that we think are must haves for your new Rhodesian Ridgeback:

Pawaboo Dog Leash Harness Set

I love this Pawaboo harness set. It is perfect for training your excited puppy to walk, is adjustable and made from good quality material, it is heavy duty and durable with reinforced buckles, and best of all it is super comfortable for your dog!

Amazonbasics Pet Sofa Lounger Bed

Let’s be realistic, do you really want a full-grown Rhodesian Ridgeback sleeping on your bed? You won’t have any space left for yourself! Train your puppy to sleep on its own bed from the get-go. We love this Amazonbasics Bed, it is made from memory foam, making it extra comfortable for your beloved pet!

Kong Extreme Goody Bone

Puppies like to chew. Ensure that your new Rhodesian Ridgeback is not chewing on your furniture by providing it with plenty of toys. We love Kong Company, as our super strong Rhodesian Ridgebacks struggle to destroy their products! This Goody Bone is made from extremely durable rubber and you can hide treats inside to keep your dog preoccupied for a longer amount of time!

Diezel Pet Products Dog Collar

One more thing that you should invest in is a good strong collar for your dog, so that you are able to attach identifiers (should your dog wander too far) and eventually train it to go for walks only on the collar (although personally I prefer always walking my dogs on a harness). This collar is heavy duty and cushioned on the inside, meaning that it is extra comfortable for your dog!

I hope that you enjoyed this article and that it helped you with any queries you have about being a first time Rhodesian Ridgeback owner. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me at!

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