Thai Ridgeback

If you suffer from Ophidiophobia — then the Thai Ridgeback is the dog for you. Meet the rare and exotic medium size breed, with a propensity of capturing and killing Cobras. If they have to, that is.

Living most of its existence in isolation, the Ridgeback is beginning to see some exposure. An excellent family dog, highly intelligent, and bold for most hunting tasks. And seeming as they are courageous, the Thai Ridgeback makes a wonderful watchdog.

Until now, however, you may have never heard of them. 

So why the mystery and should you take a chance on them?

Here is what you need to know about the Thai Ridgeback.

History

Historians, enthusiasts, and writers alike — don’t know much about the beginnings of this breed. What we do know is that the Thai Ridgeback came from exotic region of eastern Thailand. Moreover, fans of the breed find themselves short on historic information regarding the Ridgeback. Indeed, thanks to the terrible transportation system in eastern Thailand –there wasn’t an abundance of opportunity to expose or interbreed the Thai Ridgeback. Perhaps, that was done on purpose. Other fanciers of other breeds have done the same. It appears that’s the case  with Thai Ridgeback as well.

What we do know is that the breed certainly came from east Thailand. Certainly , this is where the breed had their most impact. Farmers, fisherman and other citizens would keep them to lug carts or as an escort service since the people had no reliable transportation system. But where the breed made their name was in hunting and herding. Capable of hunting and capturing the boar or rabbits, the Thai Ridgeback is famous for their eagerness to confront the cobra. According to the American Kennel Club, if they must, they will, indeed, kill one.

When adults would leave their property, they had a reliable watchdog. Most of the evidence out there seems lye in archeological findings and cave drawings. Experts believe these drawings describe the Thai Ridgeback from as far back as 3,000 years ago. According to Mah Thai Kennel, the breed’s ancestry is a cross between Dingo and wolf. 

The AKC estimates that written descriptions describe a breed similar to that of the Thai Ridgeback. Indeed, during the 19th century, the breed began to crawl out of isolation. And to that, we may owe a great deal gratuity for the creation of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback. Many believe the breed went with fisherman to the region of Phu Quoc, Indonesia. Cambodia is another region the breed made a name for itself.

Nobody is quite sure when the breed began to appear in the west. However, the FCI and the UKC both gave the breed recognition during the 1990’s. In 1997, the American Kennel Club would designate the breed into the Foundation Stock Service. Currently, the breed remains within the FSS but will get designation into the herding group. Today, the breed is rare, estimates say a few hundred in the United States. Not only is this beautiful breed still a capable hunter and herding dog, but they are fun, protective and loyal family dogs.

Size

Deep in the chest, muscular and robust, the Thai Ridgeback is a medium size breed. Although males, generally, are bigger, both should stand 20 to 24 inches, according to the standard.

The standard stipulates that both male and female should weigh between 35 to 70 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

While on the smaller side of a typical watchdog, there’s not a lot of people that’ll mess with a family that has the Thai Ridgeback protecting them. And most dogs wouldn’t go anywhere near a hissing cobra, but the Thai is agile, courageous and effective. This makes them ideal in the world of keeping the property safe. A total loyal family dog, that is a rather quiet dog. That is, until someone threatens or imposes themselves onto the family.

The breed is good with children and should mix in well with another family dog. They do have a history and natural inclination as a hunting and herding dog. These are things to be wary about if you have a cat or a small child.

Some Thai Ridgebacks are highly active, while most experts see them as a medium energetic breed. They have a reputation for being jumpers and enjoy a good romp and run with the best of them. But, at the end of an active day, the Thai Ridgeback is more than capable of slouching around. Kennel experts say the breed will likely try to take over your furniture. 

Primitive in nature, a very clean breed, this robust dog rarely drools and is low maintenance. They are easy to care for. Most of them, under the right leadership, are eager to please. They can simple to train but some may display a side of independency.

All in all, the Thai Ridgeback is more than just a hunting/herding/watchdog. They are excellent  companions that are loyal to a fault. They won’t tolerate anyone messing with their people and are more than willing to protect and defend their honor. Additionally, your Thai Ridgeback will probably never be a true show ring dog, but they can be obedient with the proper encouragement. They are easy to care for and will serve your family faithfully for years to come.

Health

The AKC calls the Thai Ridgeback a hardy breed. Indeed, the breed is. There are few items on the list to concern yourself over. That said, when you buy a Ridgeback, you should only make a purchase from reputable breeders. Steer clear of puppy mils. Puppy mills engage in unethical and dishonest breeding practice. A reputable breeder should be able to provide you with the proper documents and health clearances. Ask questions, read reviews and do your due diligence. 

Also, it is helpful to schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. This will ensure your dog’s health, or at least increase the chances of a healthy canine. If you do those things along with common sense, there’s no reason to believe your Thai Ridgeback won’t live between 12 to 16 years.

One issue that is common for most breed is Hip Dysplasia. This is the malformation of the hip joint, that can give your Thai Ridgeback a great deal of discomfort. It can also cause lameness and pain, while inviting osteoarthritis. If Hip Dysplasia is a possibility, then so won’t Elbow Dysplasia. This condition is similar in that it causes discomfort and lameness. 

Hypothyroidism is a possibility for the breed. This is the lack of hormonal production in the thyroid gland, that can result in hair loss, lethargy, skin issues, and mood changes. Typically, you’ll see things changing in your Ridgeback’s behavior like fatigue and possible loss of hair. If you suspect your dog suffers from Hypothyroidism, consult a vet immediately.

Because the breed has a deep chest, the Thai Ridgeback is vulnerable to a condition dog lovers know full well about, Bloat or Gastric Torsion. In just that, your dog’s stomach may swell or bloat due to an excess of air or gas in the stomach. It is typical for the stomach to twist in itself. Bloat can cut off blood supply to the stomach, and according to the Aubrey Animal Medical Center, sometimes cuts off blood supply to the spleen. Clearly, this is a condition you don’t want to mess with as it can be fatal. Certainly, Bloat is painful and causes a great deal of distress for the Thai Ridgeback. Fatigue, heaving or a bloating stomach are a few sure signs of Bloat. Contact your veterinarian right away if you suspect that the dog suffers from this condition. Some dogs die in a matter of 30 minutes.

And finally, something that is unique for this breed is Dermoid Sinus Cyst. It is just that, a cyst. However, Dermoid Sinus Cyst is a congenital condition that has mysterious reason as to why it occurs. The Aubrey Animal Medical Center defines it as a tube like draining defect of the skin that can be fatal and painful. Luckily, experts can correct this cyst through surgery, which is why it is important to act quickly as it can be lethal.

Care

A Thai Ridgeback needs early training and socialization. It’s an absolute must, if you want your Ridgeback to be sociable and obedient to most commands. They are a primitive breed that reacts better to positive reinforcement and consistent training. Someone with experience in handling a true hunting and primitive breed. 

Regular exercise is critical if you don’t want to invite bad habits and boredom. This can transcend into destructive habits like chewing up furniture or relieving themselves on carpet or flooring. The more stimulation this breed gets, physically and emotionally, the better off the whole household is. 

Around children, the breed typically does well with. However, you’ll want to educate your children in how to treat dogs. No dog should tolerate abuse and certain breeds do with more patience than others.

Supervise encounters with smaller animals. It may be better to avoid intermingling other animals like birds, rabbits and cat with the Thai Ridgeback due to their hunting background. A fence and securing the dog with a leash is necessary to prevent them from running off.

This is a breed that is better off with more space to run and jump. They shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time. They should have a role or a job to help them feel important or a part of the family nucleus.

Bathe them monthly, check their ears regularly and brush their teeth with routine.

Feeding

This breed should have a balance of raw food or a high quality kibble. You’ll want to include meat as the first ingredient. The balance  of vitamins and minerals is necessary and you can get those out of supplements, fruits and vegetables. 

How much your Thai Ridgeback eats will depend on their age, energy level and metabolism. Not all dogs eat the same amount. Since the Thai Ridgeback has such a fluctuation with weight, according to the standard, the amount of food they get will fluctuate as well depending on their weight. You can expect to feed them between 2 1/2 cups to 3 1/2 cups of food per day twice a day. Breaking the meals up will help reduce the chances of Bloat as well.

As always, you should provide your Thai Ridgeback with fresh drinking water.

Coat

It appears that the Thai Ridgeback comes with minimal maintenance when it comes to managing their coat. They are occasional shedders, but have no undercoat. This, also, makes them friendly for those with pet dander sensitivity issues. You should expect to brush their coat at least once a week to help rid dead hair and looking their best.

A Thai Ridgeback has a short, straight and smooth coat. Their trademark “ridgeback” should be symmetrical in length to the back and backbone.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are four acceptable coat color options: Black, blue, yellow and red.

According to FCI standard,  a black mask is acceptable if the coat is red. Also, there are  8 acceptable ridges a Thai Ridgeback can have, which is also a way for to identify them. Those are: needle, feather, arrow, violin, bowling pin, lute and leaf.

Fun Thai Ridgeback Facts

  • They are the National Dog of Thailand.
  • The Thai Ridgeback is thought to be a likely candidate as the progenitor of the Phu Quoc. However, some experts don’t believe that there is any relation with the Rhodesian Ridgeback.
  • According to the site, Mah Thai Kennel, there are likely only a few thousand Thai Ridgebacks outside of Thailand.
  • The FCI gave the breed provisional recognition in 1993 and complete recognition in 2003.
  • The breed also goes by the names: TRD, Thai Ridgeback Dog, Mah Thai and Mah Thai Lang Ahn.

Closing Words

So is this breed worthy of a chance? Absolutely, but it has to make sense. First, this breed isn’t the best fit for an apartment dweller, someone with little ownership of dogs, or a person with a flurry of small animals such as rabbits and mice. And, if you plan on taking a chance on this breed, be sure you can provide a comfortable living space for them. It shouldn’t be cold.

This is a breed that has plenty of good about them. While not a lot is known about the breed, what we do know is this: they are excellent hunters, they enjoy being outdoors, they can be calm, intelligent, eager to please and most importantly, they are loyal to their family. As rare as they are, you couldn’t ask for much more out of a breed this unique.