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Phuket Pets: The Thai Ridgeback

PHUKET: The Thai Ridgeback is an old breed, which can be seen in Thai documents written more than 350 years ago. It was mainly used for hunting in the eastern parts of the Kingdom.

By Jackie Perry

Sunday 12 May 2013, 03:23PM

The Thai Ridgebacks.

The Thai Ridgebacks.

It was also used as a cart dog, and of course as a family watchdog for properties. The reason the breed stayed pure was because of the lack of transportation systems in eastern Thailand in those days, resulting in the chances of cross-breeding being very few.

This month’s breed is recognised around the world and in fact several have been taken to the World Shows at which an average of 20,000 dogs take part, and they have been placed very highly within their group – Spitz and Primatives. 

In fact in 2012 the Ridgeback from Thailand was placed third in this large and very competitive group. I personally saw one win Best in Group at a World Show in Amsterdam.

There are many breeders around the globe who now appreciate the beauty of this breed. The general appearance is that of a medium-sized dog with a ridge of short hair running along its back. 

The body is slightly longer than its height at the withers. It is well muscled throughout as befits a hunting breed.

The head is strong forming a blunt triangle. The skull if flat, the eyes almond shaped and the ears are set either side of the head and should be of medium size, triangular and inclining forward.

The nose will always be black except in blues where it can have a blueish tinge. The eyes will be dark but again in the blue can have a slight amber tint.

The neck is slightly arched and leads into a strong and level topline. The tail is thick as its base, fairly long and tapering to the end. It is carried upwards with a slight curve inwards towards the back.

The body is well developed with a good depth of brisket and well sprung rib giving plenty of heart and lung room which is essential when working in the field. 

The shoulders are reasonably well laid back and muscled and the hind quarters should be well bent at the stifle joint and hard in muscle.

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The skin is soft and tight and the throat should carry no dewlap – the loose skin under the chin.

Colours are Red, Blue, Black and Isabella (light fawn). A black mask is preferable in a Red dog. The Red and Black will have a silkier flat coat than the Blue and Isabella, which tend to have a softer, more velvet feel to the coat.

The ridge is of utmost importance and is caused by a ridge of hair growing in the opposite direction. The ridge can be of various shapes and sizes but must always be symmetrical on either side of the backbone and within the width of the back. Ridges can resemble many things such as hearts, banjos and arrows. It has been said that the Rhodesian Ridgeback had some of the blood of either the Thai Ridgeback or the Phu Quoc dog from Vietnam, which is very similar but lighter in build and smaller in size. 

Rumour has it that these dogs were carried from the seaports to the eastern coast of Africa and they were mixed with larger breeds to give their great hunting ability towards a larger dog which could, in groups, tackle lions.

The temperament of the Ridgeback is one of a wary guard dog, but it is an excellent family pet and when it knows its visitor it is very friendly indeed. 

From the point of view of grooming, this dog is so easy to look after.

It needs a daily rub down with a damp cloth to rid the coat of any dead hair, and a weekly check of the length of its nails, which should be kept short to maintain a neat oval shaped foot.

It will require a reasonable amount of exercise as it is a very active dog and therefore not recommended for sedentary owners.

Breeders of the Thai Ridgeback are very proud of their breed and quite rightly so. It is a splendid dog for the tropics and a true ‘dog man’s dog’.

Jackie Perry is based in Phuket but travels to judge dog shows all over the world. She is happy to answer any questions from dog lovers. Email

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