A stunning, handsome dog with primitive Asian roots, the Thai Ridgeback is a real charmer. He is tough, active, intensely loyal, and protective of his family and his territory. Initially bred as an all-purpose breed in its homeland, he is also intelligent and independent but can sometimes be unpredictable and a handful and a half to dwell with. However, if handled the right way, he’ll flourish as a great companion animal.
Origins of the Thai Ridgeback
Like other ancient breeds, the Thai Ridgeback’s roots are shrouded in mystery. It is believed that they have evolved from the Asian pariah dogs, though the specific era is unknown. Only writings in Thailand from the 17th century show that the breed was mainly used in Eastern Thailand as a hunting and guard dog. Poor transportation systems in the region meant fewer chances for them to breed with other types of dogs. With that, the Thai Ridgebacks’ bloodline remained relatively pure.
In 1976, the Dog Associate of Thailand was established and recognized the Thai Ridgeback as an official breed. The first dogs from the breed were first brought to the United States in 1994 through Jack Sterling, a rare dog breed fancier.
In 1996, the United Kennel Club recognized the breed. A year after, American Kennel Club is yet to grant its full recognition to the breed but has accepted the Thai Ridgeback in its Foundation Stock Service program, under the Hound group. Today, these dogs are still considered a primitive breed in its homeland, and it’s rare to see them outside of Thailand.
Characteristics of the Thai Ridgeback
Height: 20-24 inches
Weight: 35-75 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-13 years
The Thai Ridgeback is a medium-sized, nicely-muscled dog with a well-outlined body that provides him his agility and natural athleticism. He has a wedge-shaped head, dark-brown almond-shaped eyes, prick ears, and solid black or blue tongue. His coat is short and smooth, available in different colors, such as solid black, red, blue, and fawn. Meanwhile, his most conspicuous feature, in which he got his name, is his distinct hair ridge on his back, growing in the opposite direction of his coat, also available in various ridge patterns.
A hunter at heart, the Thai Ridgeback is an independent, intelligent, and strong-willed dog that usually likes things to be on his liking. He is not fit for first-time owners as he needs someone patient and experienced enough not to succumb to his strong personality.
With that, consistent training is required to ensure that he won’t overtake human authority. If trained properly, he’s ready to protect his owners, and while not overly showy of affection, he’ll relish bonding with them. However, strangers and unfamiliar people may receive a different kind of acceptance. He tends to be suspicious and reserved towards those not part of his immediate circle, embracing his job to guard his beloved humans.
While he is not recommended for families with younger kids, he is amenable to live with older children, which he is raised with starting from puppyhood. Still, supervision is required as he has potential strength that may cause harm during play. Having a high prey drive, he should also be monitored with other small pets and dogs he is not socialized with.
Retaining his self-sufficient nature, the Thai Ridgeback is an incredible escape artist. His strong survival instincts may fuel him to find ways to get out and go hunting. With that, he should never be left alone in the backyard as he can easily overcome fences, adding his innate leaping ability.
In general, the Thai Ridgeback is not the dog meant for people looking for a cuddly lap dog to brighten up their home. What he is known for is being an incredible guard dog, a role that he has championed for many years and still nails today.
Caring for the Thai Ridgeback
Having a short coat, the Thai Ridgeback is a low maintenance dog breed. Weekly brushing can suffice to eliminate dead hair, debris, and dirt, spread skin oils, and keep his coat in tip-top condition. Bathing is rarely necessary and is only needed once or twice a year, or should he get foul-smelling or dirty. Avoid giving him baths often, as it makes his skin prone to irritation.
Brush his teeth weekly using canine safe toothpaste and toothbrush to avoid gum disease and tartar build-up. Then, trim his nails as necessary, typically every two to three weeks. Also, check and clean his ears weekly to prevent infection.
Brimming with energy, the Thai Ridgeback needs plenty of exercise and physical activities to keep him healthy. He will enjoy running or free play in a well-fenced year or engage in daily walks. If you’re the outdoorsy type, he will happily partake in your traveling, hiking, or swimming adventures.
Training is the most crucial part when you decide to take a Thai Ridgeback. It spells the difference between having a well-adjusted, sociable, and protective dog versus having a “nightmare” canine. As early as he has been cleared to socialize by a veterinarian, he should be exposed to various people, pets, and situations.
Then, start training him as early as possible and make it firm and consistent. Make sure to bring a lot of patience, as the breed is known to disobey and test its owner’s limits, but you should never allow him to get away with any unpleasant behavior. In return, proper and successful handling of a Thai Ridgeback means getting a great companion animal and a guard dog.
Given its prominent lineage, the Thai Ridgeback is a hardy breed. However, a common condition affecting them is Dermoid Sinus Cyst, a skin defect that starts during the embryo’s development inside the uterus. The impact varies from case to case, but any dog affected by it should not be used for breeding. In this condition, sinuses become susceptible to infection. This infection can then reach the central nervous system and become fatal.
If you want to get a Thai Ridgeback, make sure to work with a reputable breeder and veterinarian to learn more about the breed’s health concerns. From there, you increase the likelihood of getting a healthy Thai Ridgeback pup that can be your devoted, longtime pal.