Thai Ridgeback Dogs – Ten Facts You Need To Know!

Thai Ridgeback
Image credit: Plums´Jewel/CC BY-SA 3.0

Thai Ridgeback Dogs – Ten Facts You Need To Know!

Thai Ridgeback
Image credit: Plums´Jewel/CC BY-SA 3.0

Unspoilt beaches. Ancient temples. Majestic elephants. Aromatic, spicy food. These are the things that Thailand is known for. But for dog lovers, there is one other thing – the Thai Ridgeback.

The Thai Ridgeback is a dog breed that originates from Thailand, dating back at least three thousand years, and while it is common there, it is very rare in other parts of the world. In fact, it is estimated that there are only a thousand Thai Ridgeback dogs outside of Thailand. It is so rare that if you are thinking of owning one, you should be prepared to have people ask ‘What is your dog?’ or ‘What kind of dog is that?’. If that is something you can get used to or even welcome the attention, then go ahead, take a closer look at the Thai Ridgeback and see if it’s the right dog for you.

1. The Thai Ridgeback is a primitive dog.

Black female Thai Ridgeback
Image credit: SvennoFischer/CC BY-SA 3.0

What does a primitive dog breed mean? Apart from the fact that a primitive dog breed has been around for a long time, there are several traits primitive dogs share. They have pointed muzzles, erect ears, long, curved tails and almond-shaped eyes, much like wolves. Thai Ridgebacks have all these features. In terms of behavior, they are strong hunters, they howl and they are very alert, which makes them excellent guard dogs. They used to live in the wild, after all.

Basically, primitive dogs are dogs that are just about the same today as they originally were, having evolved with minimal human intervention. They weren’t bred. They just were. Because of this, they are closer to the wolf than other dog breeds, which can be a good or bad thing.

2. The Thai Ridgeback is one of only three ‘ridgeback’ dogs.

Violin Ridge
Violin Ridge. Image credit: Regalthai/CC BY 3.0

The feature that sets the Thai Ridgeback apart from other dog breeds is the ridge on its back. Here, the hair grows in the opposite direction of the rest of its hair, creating a distinct pattern that might look like a saddle, a leaf, a feather, a needle, an arrow or even a bowling pin or a violin. Only two other dog breeds share this same feature – the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Phu Quoc Ridgeback from Vietnam but even these two do not a ridgeback that is as prominent as the Thai Ridgeback’s. The broader and more distinct the pattern of the Thai Ridgeback is, the more attractive and prized the dog is deemed to be.

3. The Thai Ridgeback is a big dog.

Thai Ridgeback appearance
Image credit: Desaix83, d’après le travail de HiSa Hiller/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Thai Ridgeback is about the size of a German Shepherd, but more heavily built, a truly muscular dog. It grows from 20 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 35 to 75 pounds. That’s heavy!

If you’re the kind who wants a dog on your lap or inside your tote bag then, the Thai Ridgeback isn’t the dog for you. As a big dog, it needs a lot of food and a lot of space. If you want a dog to run with or to just sit on the couch with, though – mind you, big dogs can take up most of the couch – go ahead and consider getting a Thai Ridgeback.

Other characteristics of the Thai Ridgeback include a tongue with dark markings, a wedge-shaped muzzle, long, strong legs, a firm neck, large, naturally pointed ears and dark brown eyes. Thai Ridgeback dogs come in four coat colors – black (dark brown or black), blue (gray or silvery), red and fawn (golden).

4. Thai Ridgeback dogs can be aggressive.

Trained Thai Ridgeback
Thai Ridgeback in Tallinn, Estonia. Image credit: Томасина/CC BY-SA 3.0

Thai Ridgebacks make excellent companions and family dogs. This is because they crave companionship and easily bond with their owners. They are also outstanding watchdogs that will alert you to the slightest threat but will stay quiet otherwise. Indeed, Thai Ridgebacks are great dogs – if trained well. If not, they have a tendency to become aggressive like other primitive dogs, especially towards unfamiliar people and other dogs. They can also become extremely territorial.

How do you train a Thai Ridgeback? Thai Ridgebacks are both difficult and easy to train. Easy because they are smart. Difficult because they are stubborn. You have to be confident, firm, calm and consistent with them, show them who’s boss. Otherwise, they’ll either snap at you or be the ones tugging on your leash.

A quick word of advice? Thai Ridgebacks are not for beginners.

5. Thai Ridgebacks are escape artists.

Image credit: Plumsjewel/CC BY-SA 2.5

Keeping a Thai Ridgeback fenced in – and this dog has to be fenced in because it has a tendency to roam around – can be a challenge. You’ll need to make the fence tall enough because Thai Ridgebacks are good jumpers. You’ll have to make sure they don’t have anything to climb on as well to get out because they are also incredible climbers – they can even climb low branches. And they are strong diggers, too, so if they can’t get over the fence, they might just try to escape from underneath. Told you they were smart. They’re strong, too, so if your fence is weak it might just end up broken.

Because of this, most Thai Ridgebacks are kept tied while in the yard, with a sturdy leash. If you don’t want that, though, just make sure your fence is tall and strong and that there’s wire underneath.

6. The Thai Ridgeback has a strong prey drive.

Thai Ridgeback
Image credit: Andreasnirtl/CC BY-SA 3.0

Having survived in the wild for a long time, the Thai Ridgeback is good at hunting. In fact, even up to now, it is still used in Thailand to hunt and to keep away snakes and rats. This means that it has a strong prey drive, which in turn, means it has a tendency to see smaller animals as prey and chase after them. If you already have a cat, you’ll need plenty of work to make sure your cat and your Thai Ridgeback get along.

7. The Thai Ridgeback is zero maintenance when it comes to grooming.

A Blue Thai Ridgeback
Image credit: Regalthai/CC BY 3.0

The aggressive tendency, the escape skills and the strong prey drive all make the Thai Ridgeback tough to handle. However, here’s the good part – Thai Ridgeback dogs don’t need a lot of grooming. They shed minimally and all you have to do is give them a good comb when they do to get rid of the dead hair. Other than that, just give them a bath once a month or so and they’re good to go. No need to take them to the groomer.

8. Thai Ridgebacks don’t like cold weather.

Thai Ridgeback
Image credit: Plums´Jewel/CC BY-SA 3.0

The reason why Thai Ridgebacks are easy to groom is because they have a short, single coat. This, however, also means that Thai Ridgebacks get cold easily. They do not thrive well in cold weather. Thailand is a tropical country, after all.

9. The Thai Ridgeback requires a lot of exercise.

Thai ridgeback
Image credit: Pleple2000/GFDL.

Because the Thai Ridgeback is a strong and agile dog breed, it needs plenty of exercise. It can be kept indoors or even in an apartment but it has to be taken on long walks daily. You can even set an obstacle course for it in your yard that your Thai Ridgeback can go through everyday so that it won’t get bored. You’ll know it’s bored when it starts barking a lot or wreaking havoc in your home.

10. Thai Ridgeback dogs are prone to dermoid sinus.

Thai Ridgeback puppies
Healthy Thai Ridgeback puppies. Image credit: Regalthai/CC BY 3.0

Generally, the Thai Ridgeback is a healthy breed that can live for 12 to 16 years. The only condition you have to watch out for is dermoid sinus, which is the abnormal growth of the neural tubes on the back of the dog’s neck, close to where the ridge begins. Symptoms include lumps or skin openings in the said area, a high body temperature, loss of appetite and difficulty walking. The condition is genetic, painful and often fatal. In some instances, though, it can be corrected by surgery, though various tests need to be conducted first.

DOGS 101 – Thai Ridgeback


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  1. I have a trd dog there where a pack of 4 he is only survivor he is calm llearns fast mouth and tongue almost total black he is regal and bonded quiet protective and agilehad gentics done on him his blood line goes back to thailand even though morons where angry I have him as rescue he is very smart and learns fast.Funny if I could of saved his brother a red color and sisters fawn and one red I would have someone shot other 3 thinking they where wild dog pack dog is breed standard and is my thearpy dog if you get them start training quickly.


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