Thai Ridgeback: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

dog breed Thai Ridgeback fawn
DevidDO / Getty Images

The Thai Ridgeback is a muscular medium to large dog breed with primitive roots in Thailand. This athletic breed is known for the ridge of hair along its back that grows in the opposite direction from the other hair. Thai Ridgebacks are deeply loyal, fierce, protective, and hard-working dogs that are rarely seen outside of Thailand.

Breed Overview

Group: Hound (AKC); member of the AKC Foundation Stock Service; Spitz - Primitive

Height: Males average 22 to 24 inches tall; females average 20 to 22 inches tall

Weight: Males: 50 to 60 pounds; Females: 35 to 55 pounds

Coat: Short and smooth Coat Colors: Black, blue, fawn, or red (red dogs may have a black mask)

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Characteristics of the Thai Ridgeback

Affection Level Medium
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark  Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Thai Ridgeback

The Thai Ridgeback is considered a "pariah-type" dog, a term used to describe part-wild, free-range dogs that live on the outskirts of human civilization and reproduce almost entirely by natural selection. Pariah dogs like the Thai Ridgeback have remained much the same over time because there were few opportunities for them to breed with different types of dogs.

The pariah dog ancestors of Thai Ridgebacks can be traced back to ancient Thailand and likely originated around the time dogs first began to evolve from wolves. It is unclear when the Thai Ridgeback actually evolved from Asian pariah dogs, but evidence of the breed can be found in Thai writings from the 17th century. Thai Ridgebacks can be found primarily in Eastern Thailand and the islands of Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It is believed that Thai fishermen once brought the breed to neighboring islands.

Thai Ridgebacks were historically used as watchdogs, hunting dogs, and to escort carts. They were even used to kill cobras in some areas!

The Dog Association of Thailand was founded in 1976 and recognized the indigenous Thai Ridgeback as an official breed. Thai Ridgebacks were first brought to the United States in 1994 by rare dog breed enthusiast Jack Sterling. The breed has been a member of the AKC's Foundation Stock Service since 1997 and has been designated part of the Hound group.

View Of A Dog Resting
This stray dog in Thailand resembles the modern Thai Ridgeback Yaowarat Boonyarattaphan / EyeEm / Getty Images

Thai Ridgeback Care

The Thai Ridgeback does best in moderate to warm climates and is not well-suited for cold temperatures. This breed should live indoors and have access to a yard with a fence if possible.

Thai Ridgebacks are athletic dogs that need daily exercise to keep them in shape and provide an outlet for energy and prevent boredom. Active dogs may benefit from involvement in various dog sports.

The Thai Ridgeback needs minimal grooming. Occasional brushing of the coat is typically all that is needed to keep the coat shiny and remove dead hairs. This breed has no undercoat and tends to shed very little. However, shedding will increase seasonally and can be reduced by brushing the coat and bathing as needed. As with any dog, the nails should be trimmed regularly and the ears should be checked and cleaned periodically.

Training and socialization are essential for the independent and sometimes stubborn Thai Ridgeback. Begin a training routine with your dog or puppy as soon as possible, whether doing it on your own or getting help from a dog trainer. Be consistent and firm yet gentle, using positive reinforcement methods over aversives. Thai Ridgebacks are independent and bold, so they respond best to people with natural leadership qualities.

Be sure to socialize your Thai Ridgeback at an early age, exposing them to as many people and animals as possible. This breed has a high prey drive and is likely to chase small animals like cats. Some Thai Ridgebacks can be aggressive with other dogs if not properly socialized. In addition, these dogs should be exposed to children at a young age and taught how to behave properly so they will be kid-friendly as adults.

Thai Ridgeback Dog
Thai Ridgeback Puppy mistersunday / Getty Images
Thai Ridgeback Dog is Running.
Black Thai Ridgeback White_bcgrd / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

The Thai Ridgeback is a generally healthy dog breed. Responsible dog breeders take care to breed to ensure health problems are not passed on to puppies. There are few conditions known to affect this breed. The following are conditions that may affect Thai Ridgebacks:

Diet and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is important for all dogs, and the Thai Ridgeback is no exception. Choose a high-quality dog food rich in animal proteins. A combination of wet and dry food can help entice your dog to eat well and will also help maintain hydration. Puppies should be fed food labeled for growth until about one year of age.

Pros
  • Fiercely loyal to family

  • Needs little grooming

  • Athletic and hard-working

Cons
  • High prey drive may pose a risk around cats and other smaller animals

  • Rare; may be difficult to find purebred puppies

  • Can be stubborn; needs firm and consistent leadership while training

Where to Adopt or Buy a Thai Ridgeback

The Thai Ridgeback is a rare dog breed outside of Southeast Asia, so it may be difficult to find an established breeder or rescue group in your area. Contact local dog breeders, veterinarians, and pet professionals to find out if Thai Ridgebacks are available in your region. Visit nationally recognized breed groups to find out more about opportunities to get your own Thai Ridgeback.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Is the Thai Ridgeback the right dog for you? If you are interested in getting a Thai Ridgeback, be sure to do plenty of research in advance to learn about caring for these dogs. Talking to dog professionals in your area can help you learn more about this beautiful and unique dog breed.

If you’re interested in exploring similar dog breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of different dog breeds out there. Take some time to do your research and you can find the right one for you!