Hungarian Vizsla Vs Rhodesian Ridgeback: Breeds Compared

By: Rachel



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Unsure of the differences between the Hungarian Vizsla vs Rhodesian Ridgeback? Are you trying to compare them to know whether a Vizsla or Ridgeback is right for you?

The Vizsla and Rhodesian Ridgeback have a very similar appearance and some similarities in temperament. But there are also significant differences between the two hunting dog breeds.

So if you are trying to choose between a Rhodesian Ridgeback vs Vizsla, read on. In this article we compare these two majestic dogs and highlight both the similarities and differences between the two breeds.

This article is based on research and personal experience as a Vizsla owner. I’m not a qualified dog trainer, Vet or dog behaviourist.

Hungarian Vizsla vs Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Comparison

BreedVizslaRhodesian Ridgeback
AKC Popularity32nd41st
OriginHungarySouthern Africa
HealthVery GoodVery Good
Lifespan12-14 years10-12 years
Prey DriveHighVery High
EnergyVery HighAverage
Family FriendlyYesYes

Hungarian Vizslas are an elegant gundog bred to work as a close hunting companion.

Originally from Eastern Europe, they are an elegant, sensitive, highly intelligent and gentle sporting dog.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was originally bred for tracking and hunting large game in Southern Africa.

Known as the African lion dog they were not only skilled at holding lions at bay until the hunters arrived, they also became protectors of their hunters and village families.

Ridgebacks are a courageous and faithful hound dog with an independent minded temperament.

Both breeds are energetic, affectionate and loyal house dogs, with a strong prey drive thanks to their hunting bloodlines.

There is a great deal to know before you decide whether a Rhodesian Ridgeback or Vizsla is best for you.

So in the following sections we cover more specific characteristics of each breed in the following areas:

  • Appearance
  • Temperament
  • Exercise Needs
  • Grooming
  • Trainability
  • Health
  • Suitability As A Family Dog

Let’s delve into each of these areas in turn to discover if the Vizsla or Ridgeback is the dog breed for you!

Adult female vizsla and female Rhodesian ridgeback sitting facing camera.
Hungarian Vizsla v Rhodesian Ridgeback

Vizsla vs Ridgeback Appearance

AppearanceVizslaRhodesian Ridgeback
ColorGolden RustWheaten
Height (in)22-24 (male)
21-23 (female)
25 - 27 (male)
24 - 26 (female)
Weight (lb)55-60 (male)
44-55 (female)
80-90 (male)
65-75 (female)

The stunning appearance of both the Ridgeback and Vizsla dogs is often the first thing that draws people in to find out more about the breeds.

Both the Vizsla and Ridgeback are single coated short haired dogs. Both have gorgeous floppy ears that frame the face and are a single solid color.

The Vizsla is shades of golden rust, the Ridgeback shades of wheaten. For both dogs small sections of white markings on the chest are possible.

Both breeds are muscular and athletic, with long thin tails (the Vizsla tail is often docked 2/3).

There are three features that make the Rhodesian Ridgeback distinct from the Vizsla – their ridge, size and color.


The most distinct difference is the Rhodesian Ridgeback ridge!

The ridge is a patch of backward growing hair that runs along their back from the shoulders to their hips.

Vizslas are often confused for Ridgebacks, especially at the dog park when the Vizsla has raised hackles (the hair raised on the back).

And while there is a genetic mutation that can produce a Ridgeless Ridgeback, the ridge is considered the characteristic feature in the breed standard.


The second main difference is their size. While both dogs are strong and lean, the Vizsla has a much smaller frame and weighs significantly less on average than the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Male Ridgebacks on average weigh 80 – 90 pounds (36-41 kgs) compared to Vizsla males at 55 – 60 pounds (25-27 kgs). They are also taller than Vizslas.

Ridgebacks are big, powerful dogs and this needs to be factored in when considering which dog is best for you.

Ridgebacks take up a lot of room and need to be fed a lot more than a smaller dog. They are also very strong and can be a handful if not trained well.

I struggle to hold my Vizsla back on the lead if she sees something she really wants to chase. I would have no chance with a Ridgeback!


In terms of color, a fun fact about the Hungarian Vizsla is they are self colored. This means the nose, lips, eyes, eye rims, toenails and pads all blend with the color of their coat.

Whereas the Rhodesian Ridgeback has more color variation. While their body is a single color, their nose is usually black, but liver or brown are also possible.

The muzzle is commonly masked with black pigmentation, but it can be clear too.

Rhodesian ridgeback sitting on leaves with back facing camera and ridge visible.

Rhodesian Ridgeback vs Vizsla Temperament

TemperamentVizslaRhodesian Ridgeback
PersonalityEnergetic, loving, eager to pleaseDignified, loyal, independent
IntelligenceVery SmartSmart
SensitivityVery sensitiveSensitive
AffectionateVery affectionateAffectionate
BarkingAverageBelow Average
Guard DogNoYes

Their appearance may be what first draws people in, but it is often the temperament of Vizslas and Ridgebacks that seals the deal for dog owners.

Both dogs are intelligent, affectionate, sensitive and energetic breeds who are devoted to their owners.

Neither enjoy life outside in the kennel and both expect to live inside the home with their owners and to be an integral part of their day to day life.

The Hungarian Vizsla temperament is one of their most unique, and in my opinion, best features.

Playful, energetic, sensitive, gentle and affectionate, Vizslas are a lovable and doting companion who will be by your side, all the time.

This velcro dog personality can also cause some issues, like separation anxiety and a tendency to whine when not given enough attention.

But overall they have a gorgeous temperament that suits households with an active lifestyle.

Despite their size, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also affectionate and loving companion dogs.

Thanks to their breeding as hunter and guardian in Africa they are also intensely loyal and protective towards their owners and have a dignified and watchful presence.

While there are many similarities in temperament between the Vizsla and Ridgeback, there are some significant differences too.

Compared to the Vizsla, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is more independent and can be strong willed and a little stubborn too.

Ridge backs love to spend time with their family, but they are also happy in their own company and not as emotionally needy as the Vizsla.

And while affectionate and loyal to their owners, they can be more aloof with strangers and don’t tend to be as good around other dogs compared to the sociable Vizsla.

Their protective nature can seem domineering to strangers, and they make much better watch or guard dogs than Vizslas.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks also need more socialization around other dogs and cats to reduce animal related aggression.

In comparison, Vizslas don’t tend to be aggressive towards other dogs, and are more likely to have issues with timidity than aggression.

Vizslas are overly friendly, even towards strangers, and like to be the centre of attention. They tend to be bouncy, lively dogs that always seem full of energy!

Hungarian vizsla with large stick in mouth and young rhodesian ridgeback running.

Vizsla Dog vs Rhodesian Ridgeback Exercise Needs

While both dogs are energetic and capable of long days out in the field or hiking in the mountains, the Hungarian Vizsla needs significantly more high intensity activity day to day than the Ridge back dog.

Both dogs have a strong muscular body and hunting bloodlines, and enjoy spending plenty of time outdoors.

But where the Ridgeback will usually be content with 30-60 minutes of exercise at the dog park or even on lead, the Hungarian Vizsla really needs to be let off leash for 60-90 minutes each day.

Both are suited to nose work and lure coursing, with the Vizsla better suited to agility training than the Ridgeback.

In addition to physical exercise, both breeds need mental stimulation to stop them getting bored and destructive.

Games, food puzzles and trick training can all help keep them busy.

However, after a good outing, you will find both dogs happily lazing the afternoon away on your couch!

The exercise needs will vary depending on the personality of each dog, but overall this is a point of difference between the two breeds and the exercise needs of Vizslas should not be underestimated.

Vizsla And Ridgeback Grooming

GroomingVizslaRhodesian Ridgeback
Doggy SmellLittle to noneLittle to none

Both the Hungarian Vizsla and Rhodesian Ridgeback are low maintenance in terms of grooming needs.

Their short smooth coat is easy to maintain and a quick weekly brush with a rubber curry brush is all that is required.

They both do shed throughout the year and seasonally, but the short hair makes it much less noticeable than other dog breeds.

Neither has a particularly doggy smell, mostly thanks to their short coat.

Regular bathing isn’t necessary, unless they happen to roll in something particularly stinky!

Nail trimming is important for both breeds as they have a tendency to get very long thanks to how they hold their paws.

Unfortunately both have dark nails, which makes it more difficult to see the quick. While neither dog seem to enjoy having their nails cut it is important nonetheless.

Vizsla and ridgeback sitting.

Vizsla vs Rhodesian Ridgeback Trainability

The Vizsla and Rhodesian Ridgeback were both bred as hunters and are intelligent and trainable dogs.

Harsh treatment is not a good strategy for either dog breed and they are much more likely to succeed with a firm but kind and consistent training method.

Both dogs are softies at heart and need a patient, gentle and positive approach to training.

The main difference between the two breeds is the ease to train.

Vizslas are bred as close working gundogs, who hunt by the side of their owner. They are eager to please, tend to stay within sight of their owners and as a result are much less likely to question instructions.

Ridgebacks on the other hand were trained to hunt out in front of their hunters. They are more independent thinkers and as a result can need a bit more convincing than Vizslas.

Due to their large size and high prey drive, training from an early age is very important for Ridgebacks. They can be extremely difficult to handle if not trained well and you need to be prepared to put in the work.

Vizslas are considered suitable for some service dog roles, but the stubborn nature and large size of Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs makes them less suitable as assistance dogs.

So while both have a high trainability rating, the Vizsla wins this comparison as the more easily trained of the two breeds.

Vizsla And Rhodesian Ridgeback Health Comparison

Overall both breeds are healthy, with Vizslas enjoying a longer average lifespan compared to the Rhodesian Ridge back life expectancy.

Both the Vizsla and Ridgeback dog breeds should have an eye test and be tested for hip dysplasia.

The VCA and RRCUS also recommend both Vizslas and Ridgebacks be tested for Autoimmune Thyroiditis, a type of thyroid disease which impacts metabolism and hormone balance.

In addition to these tests, Ridgeback dogs should be tested for elbow displasia and dogs found with dermoid sinus (most common in Ridgebacks) should not be bred.

Hungarian vizsla puppy and Rhodesian ridgeback puppy sitting.

Ridgeback vs Vizsla As A Family Dog

Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Hungarian Vizslas are both considered excellent family dogs as is the vizsla ridgeback cross breed.

Both have an affectionate and loyal temperament and despite their size are kid-friendly and will be devoted to everyone in the family.

It is worth noting due to their size and personality, Vizslas and Ridgeback dogs can be a little exuberant around young kids.

It is not uncommon for them to accidentally knock toddlers off their feet, so as always all interactions with kids need to be managed.

The main difference in terms of suitability as a family dog is that Ridgebacks can be less tolerant of other dogs and cats than Vizslas. But with the right socialization and training they can be accepting of them in the house.

Vizslas and Ridgebacks both love a cuddle but the Velcro Vizsla takes it next level and needs a family willing to give them plenty of attention and involve them in every aspect of their life!

Vizsla Or Ridgeback – Which Is The Right Dog For You?

What is clear from this comparison of Vizslas vs Rhodesian Ridgebacks is that they have many similarities in terms of appearance, grooming and suitability for families.

The key differences relate to size, temperament and energy level. So the right dog for you will depend on the importance of those characteristics of the two breeds.

The Vizsla is a more demonstrably affectionate and some say needy dog compared to the similarly affectionate but more independent and larger Rhodesian Ridgeback.

If you’re still unsure whether a vizsla is right for you, take the vizsla questionnaire.

And if you are still undecided, here are some more Vizsla dog breed comparison guides for you:

Which dog breed do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!

More Vizsla Breed Guides

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Rachel is the founder of It's a Vizsla. She is a Hungarian Vizsla owner and general dog enthusiast! She loves to research and share practical tips to help other vizsla owners care for their dogs.

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