Thai Ridgeback Dog
Other names: Thai Ridgeback, TRD, Thai Dog, Mah Thai, Lung Arn
This stunning, tough, alert and energetic dog originates from Thailand over 4,000 years ago but has since gained popularity in the Western world. The Thai Ridgeback is fiercely devoted and protective of its family, and so, must be well-socialised and trained to prevent aggressive behaviour towards strangers.
With that said, this breed is loyal, affectionate and loving towards the people it knows and trusts. It makes a wonderfully playful and energetic pet when handled in the right way. Be warned, though - this is a smart, independent breed which can be a little unpredictable. The Thai Ridgeback also has an extremely strong prey-drive and normally can’t be kept around cats or small animals.
Key facts about the Thai Ridgeback Dog
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Origins and history
The Thai Ridgeback is the national dog of Thailand and is believed to have originated there over 4,000 years ago. It’s considered a ‘primitive dog’ due to its wolf-like characteristics. The breed is thought to originally have thrived in Eastern Thailand. However, the exact origins of the breed are unknown and still debated to this day.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types
Section 7 : Primitive type - Hunting Dogs
Physical characteristics of the Thai Ridgeback Dog
Female : Between 20 and 22 in
Male : Between 22 and 24 in
Female : Between 44 and 55 lb
Male : Between 55 and 66 lb
The coat is normally black, blue, brindle, brown, red or white. Some dogs have a black mask if they’re another colour all over.
Type of coat
The Thai Ridgeback’s coat is very short.
This breed has a short, hard, fine coat with a distinct, beautiful ridge of hair which runs right along the back - hence their name!
The eyes are mostly brown but are sometimes amber.
This breed is certainly impressive, with a strong, tough, yet elegant appearance. This is a medium-sized breed with a muscular, sturdy, squarish body with long, lean legs. Their skin is visibly loose, especially around the back of the neck. Females are always significantly smaller than males.
They have a distinct ‘wedge’-like head and wrinkled forehead skin. The ears are wide-set, alert and slightly forward, the eyes are expressive and almond-shaped and the nose is black. Often, Thai Ridgebacks have spotted tongues.
Good to know
The defining feature of this beautiful dog has to be the wolf-like ridge of hair running along the back. It grows in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat and has been identified in eight different patterns - feather, arrow, needle, lute, violin, bowling pin, saddleback and leaf.
While the Thai Ridgeback definitely isn’t the most affectionate of dog breeds, they are devoted and loving towards their owners. They tend to have a favourite person, but will still be naturally warm and protective towards the rest of the family. Overall, if trained, socialized and handled appropriately, the Thai Ridgeback will be your best friend.
This breed has an obvious playful side to its personality. They love sports, games, getting involved in family activities, and thrive during one-to-one playtime.
The Thai Ridgeback is often fiercely independent, stubborn, and overly protective around unfamiliar faces. Therefore, they’re not known as a particularly calm breed. However, when matched with the perfect owner and lifestyle, they can be chilled-out, relaxed, and calm, especially within the home environment.
This breed is very intelligent. Nothing will get past a Thai Ridgeback. They learn things fast, but will also test the boundaries - beware!
The Thai Ridgeback survived in the wilds of South East Asia for hundreds of years - so it's not surprising that their prey drive is particularly high. They will chase and may try to kill pretty much any small animal, including cats. A lot of care needs to be taken when other animals are around - invest in a strong harness and lead!
Fearful / wary of strangers
This breed is extremely wary and suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive towards them if not socialized from a young age. A well-socialized Thai Ridgeback may act aloof towards unfamiliar faces but is unlikely to turn aggressive.
This dog is too attached to its owner to be an independent dog.
Behaviour of the Thai Ridgeback Dog
The Mah Thai does not like loneliness, therefore he feels very uncomfortable being alone.
Easy to train / obedience
Looking for an easy-to-train, obedient, calm dog? The Thai Ridgeback isn’t the one! Despite their intelligence and ability to learn fast, this breed is stubborn and therefore, difficult to train. They will (yes, it’s a definite!) test boundaries and behave badly if allowed to get away with it.
We can’t stress enough that intensive training and socialization of the Thai Ridgeback is essential. Without it, they really could be a nightmare pet, through no fault of their own. Therefore, it’s essential that only experienced dog handlers adopt this breed.
The Thai Ridgeback isn’t particularly vocal. However, if someone they don’t know enters their territory, they’ll bark excessively.
Tendency to run away
Because of their strong prey drive, the Thai Ridgeback could run away at any given moment. They’re fantastic at jumping, climbing and digging, so back gardens will need to be thoroughly secured.
If the Thai Ridgeback is exercised enough, they’re unlikely to be destructive. On the flipside, without adequate exercise or if they’re left alone for too long in a small space, you may come home to find they’ve chewed the sofa and carpets apart.
Greedy / Gluttony
The Thai Ridgeback isn’t known to be greedy, but you should still take care to measure out food portions and be careful not to let them overindulge on treats or scraps.
Want a top class watchdog? The Thai Ridgeback is perfect for you! They’re extremely protective of their family and will bark excessively at anyone they don’t recognise. They can also be aggressive, so it’s important to socialise them intensely from a young age - otherwise, they may injure someone.
Ideally, this breed needs an experienced dog owner who understands dog behaviour and training methods. They’re stubborn, independent and hard to train. A first-time dog owner will struggle with a Thai Ridgeback and may find themselves with an aggressive, hard-to-handle pet.
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Thai Ridgeback Dog in a flat
This breed may be able to tolerate a flat, providing they’re given regular, fast-paced walks to burn off their energy. However, in an ideal situation, they’ll live in a house with a secure back garden to safely roam around.
Need for exercise / Sporty
The Thai Ridge was bred as a working dog and so, requires lots of exercise. Without it, they may become destructive and irritable. Ideally, they need multiple walks throughout the course of the day as well as plenty of playtime and ball games. The more exercise you can provide, the more pleasant this breed will be to live with.
Travelling / easy to transport
Its size allows it to follow its owner everywhere without too much difficulty but the Thair Ridgeback requires a lot of work on socialisation.
Thai Ridgeback Dog and cats
The Thai Ridgeback will chase and possibly harm cats. They’re highly unlikely to be able to live peacefully together.
Thai Ridgeback Dog and dogs
When socialised intensively from a young age, the Thai Ridgeback should be able to co-exist peacefully with other dogs in the family. However, you should introduce them slowly before committing, as not all dogs will get along - especially males. They’re tough cookies and may become aggressive towards other dogs if they feel threatened.
Thai Ridgeback Dog and children
This breed is playful and loving around the kids within the family. However, due to their sheer strength, they’re not a good match for families with particularly young children. You should supervise the Thai Ridgeback if your children have friends around to play, as they may misunderstand a situation and become protective.
Thai Ridgeback Dog and the elderly
The Thai Ridgeback may be a good companion and watchdog for a particularly active elderly person or couple. However, if vigorous daily exercise can’t be guaranteed, they’re best avoided.
A Thai Ridgeback puppy is rather expensive - you’re looking at £1500 or more.
Concerning your monthly budget, on average, this dog would cost you between £30 to £40.
One of the best things about the Thai Ridgeback is their low-maintenance grooming. Their short, hard and straight coasts need no more than a weekly brush and a wipe down when they get a little mucky. They’ll also need an occasional bath. A few times a year maximum is best, as overly-regular bathing can dry out and irritate their skin.
This breed’s nails grow rapidly and should be checked and trimmed regularly. As with any other dog breed, make sure to check the eyes and ears, check for signs of infection and clean them if necessary. You should also brush their teeth as much as possible - at least once a week, but ideally daily.
The Thai Ridgeback doesn’t shed much and may be a good choice for those sensitive to dander. A weekly brush will help to minimize the shedding even further.
Nutrition of the Thai Ridgeback Dog
As a highly active breed, the Thai Ridgeback should be fed high-quality, complete and balanced dog food which is formulated specifically for active dog breeds. Remember to choose the appropriate food for their age - i.e. puppy, adult or senior.
Health of the Thai Ridgeback Dog
The Thai Ridgeback lives, on average, for around 11 - 13 years.
Strong / robust
This breed is extremely strong, agile and athletic - a real tough cookie. They’re known to hunt cobras in Asia - so if that’s not strong, we don’t what is!
However, this breed is not adapted to very low temperatures.
Originating from a tropical country, the Thai Ridgeback copes incredibly well in warm weather and loves soaking up the sun. That’s not to say they don’t need access to shade and water, though - they’ll still get hot in burning sunshine.
It’s best to keep a Thai Ridgeback indoors when the weather turns chilly - they won’t enjoy the cold weather and do not have adequate protection for the cold in terms of their coat.
Tendency to put on weight
The Thai Ridgeback is an active, agile breed and isn’t prone to gaining weight. However, in a domesticated setting with minimal exercise, they may pile on the pounds - especially if they’ve been spayed or neutered. Make sure you’re taking your dog on regular walks and continue weighing out food portions throughout their life to prevent overfeeding.
- Hip dysplasia
- Dermoid Sinus Cyst