- Breed group — Foundation stock service group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 20-24 inches
- Weight — 35-75 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Short, smooth coat, sometimes with a distinct ridge along the spine.
- Coat color — Yellow, blue, black, and red are the four colors accepted by the AKC as standard for Thai ridgebacks. Purebred dogs shouldn’t have any markings.
- Exercise needs — High
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — When necessary
- Life span — 12-15 years
- Temperament — Loyal, strong-willed, protective family dog
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — Thailand
Thai ridgeback fun facts
- They do well with dogs their size. Thai ridgebacks typically do well with dogs their size or bigger, but when it comes to smaller pets or animals, many dogs have a high prey drive that can make co-living a challenge.
- Thai ridgebacks have a few names. Like many breeds, these dogs have more than one name. Mah Thai, Thai Dog, and Mah Thai Lang Ahn are a few, or simply TRD — the initials of Thai ridgeback dog.
- Dogs for a warm climate. These dogs evolved in a tropical climate, so they do best in warmer regions. For homes that have a well defined winter season, it’s critical to bundle your Thai ridgeback up when going out.
Thai ridgeback temperament and characteristics
An intelligent breed, Thai ridgebacks are very loyal once they choose their human. This can lead to being overprotective, but with early socialization many less favorable behaviors (such as stranger aggression) can be avoided. Although Thai ridgebacks bond closely with one human, they can be great family dogs.
When it comes to other pets and animals, early and consistent obedience training is key. Thai ridgebacks have a high prey drive, so it’s important to teach them that smaller pets and wildlife are friends, not food, and supervise your dog until you know their personality. This is especially true for those with fenced in backyards — don’t assume that squirrels and other smaller animals are safe with just a fence. Leash your dog until you’re confident that they are safe or respond to voice commands.
Common Thai ridgeback health problems
Compared to most other breeds, Thai ridgebacks are exceptionally healthy. Few of the health concerns that can impact other breeds are reported with these dogs, but nonetheless, there are a few things pet parents should watch out for.
- Dermoid sinus. While not as common in this breed, a dermoid sinus (also called pilonidal sinus) can develop. This is a birth defect where the skin and nervous system don’t completely separate, forming a type of tube or hole to the tissue beneath the skin.
- Hip dysplasia. While not common in this breed, hip dysplasia — which occurs when the femur and hip bones no longer fit together properly — can impact Thai ridgebacks.
- Obesity. Thai ridgebacks are very active dogs, so obesity isn’t common. But, for dogs that aren’t provided enough stimulation and are fed improperly, obesity can still develop.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne
Dermoid sinus most commonly affects the neck and the upper region of the spine. It can be treated surgically depending on its severity. The condition is genetic, so it is recommended pets with this medical issue are not bred.
Cost of caring for Thai ridgebacks
Because Thai ridgebacks are such a healthy breed, pet owners can typically rest easy. Preventative care, like investing in Simparica Trio, can help prevent costly problems later, like heart worm disease.
Still, problems can develop later in life, so it’s important to be proactive when you first bring your Thai ridgeback home. Invest in pet health insurance so that you are prepared for the unexpected, and develop a pet savings account to help cover costs.
History of the Thai ridgeback
Most breeds are the result of selective breeding over generations, but that isn’t the case with the Thai ridgeback. Enthusiasts believe that the breed has been around for centuries and, rather than developed, they were somewhat domesticated as working dogs. Thai ridgebacks have historically been used to help with vermin control, pulling and carrying goods, and most notably, as guard dogs.
They are very rare outside of Thailand and, even in the country, are mostly found on the island of Dao Phu Quoc (close to the borders of Cambodia and Vietnam). They are growing in popularity elsewhere, though, and in 1997 the American Kennel Club added them as an official breed.
Did you know that there are only three ridgeback breeds? Other than the Thai ridgeback, there’s the Rhodesian ridgeback (also known as the Funan ridgeback dog) and the Phu Quoc Ridgeback.
Caring for your Thai ridgeback
Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. We can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. No one likes to think about losing their new dog but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case. Here are some other basics specific to Thai ridgebacks.
As a high energy breed, it’s important that your Thai ridgeback get at least a few longer walks a day. Ideally, these dogs should also have play sessions throughout the day to keep them mentally stimulated, which can help prevent unwanted and destructive behavior.
Because Thai ridgebacks are more likely to become overly-protective, it’s also a good idea for pet parents to work socialization into their regular routine. Be sure to observe proper dog park etiquette if you decide to take your dog to the dog park, or consider an alternative, like doggie daycare.
👉 For those in climates that experience harsher winters, keep in mind that Thai ridgebacks are from a tropical climate. Plan ahead with these tips on how to care for your dog during winter.
Because of their shorter coat, pet owners don’t have to worry about daily brushing. Once a week, or a few times a month depending on if they are shedding, owners can use a brush to wipe away dead hair. Here are some other grooming needs your Thai ridgeback will have.
Brush their teeth every day — Dental hygiene is important for dogs, so select a tooth brush and dog-safe toothpaste to keep their canines pearly white.
Clean their ears twice a month — For dogs with allergies, ear cleaning may have to happen more often. It depends on your individual dog’s needs.
Trim nails a few times monthly — Nail trimming should happen on an as-needed basis, so it may be more often, or less often, than every other week.
Diet and nutrition
Like all dogs, Thai ridgebacks benefit when pet owners choose high-quality commercial dog food. Pet owners don’t typically have to invest in specialized food, but regardless of how healthy your dog is, it’s important to consult with your vet on how much to feed your dog, and if they need anything special in their diet to maintain their health.
Thai ridgebacks can be anywhere from 35 to 75 pounds, so putting an exact number on how many calories your dog needs to be healthy really depends on your dog’s weight, stage in life, and any health conditions they may have.
Training your Thai ridgeback
Due to the protective nature of Thai ridgebacks, socialization needs to be a big part of their training from day one. They’re a very intelligent and sometimes stubborn breed, which means they’re ideal for experienced owners or those willing and able to devote time to training. Research training tips from experts and consider working with one to help your Thai ridgeback learn, and to help you train at home.
Breeds similar to the Thai ridgeback
Not quite sure that a Thai ridgeback is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Rhodesian ridgeback. More common than the Thai ridgeback, the Rodesian ridgeback has the same unique coat pattern along their spine and protective nature.
- Caucasian shepherd. Calm and loyal, Caucasian shepherds are an excellent alternative for those in cold climates.
- American pit bull terrier. Smaller than Thai ridgebacks, American pit bull terriers are highly intelligent, athletic dogs that are loyal and protective of their owners.
Frequently asked questions
What is the unique characteristic of a Thai ridgeback?
The unique characteristic of a Thai ridgeback is its “ridge” of hair that runs along its back in the opposite direction to the rest of its coat. This distinct feature is associated with a specific gene that only a few breeds have worldwide.
How much exercise does a Thai ridgeback require in a day?
A Thai ridgeback requires a moderate amount of exercise daily, around an hour to an hour and a half. This can be a combination of walks, playtime and mental stimulation activities.
What kind of diet should a Thai ridgeback have?
A Thai ridgeback should have a well-balanced diet high in lean meats, healthy carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. This breed can also benefit from added vitamins and minerals in their food. It’s recommended to discuss a specific diet with your vet to suit your Thai ridgeback’s age, size, and activity level.
How does a Thai ridgeback typically behave with children and other pets?
Thai ridgebacks can be good with children and other pets if they are socialized properly from a young age. However, they can be aloof and wary of strangers, so it is vital to train and socialize them early on. Due to their hunting instincts, they might not always get along with smaller pets unless they have been brought up together.