Important Things to Know Before Getting Thai Ridgeback

Important Things to Know Before Getting Thai Ridgeback

Loyal, independent, agile, tough, active, and intelligent are all words that you can expect to hear when the Thai Ridgeback is being described. They are also exceptionally good at jumping, have a strong survival instinct, and make a fabulous family dog. They are not, however, for the first time dog owner as they can be a mighty handful of a hound.

Facts, Care, Appearance, Characteristics, Health, And More!

If you have never heard of the Thai Ridgeback, fear not, for you are certainly not alone. Few people in the US have heard of this magnificent breed, let alone met one! They are, however, in short,  incredibly worthy of getting to know so let’s get to it!

Loyal, independent, agile, tough, active, and intelligent are all words that you can expect to hear when the Thai Ridgeback is being described. They are also exceptionally good at jumping, have a strong survival instinct, and make a fabulous family dog. They are not, however, for the first time dog owner as they can be a mighty handful of a hound.

Origins Of The Thai Ridgeback

Though the Thai Ridgeback is believed to date back thousands of years, its history is a little cloudy. We can, however, be certain that this ancient breed was recorded 360 years ago in archeological documents from Thailand. Here it was used mainly for hunting in the Eastern part of the country as well as being an escort for carts and a great watchdog.

Over the centuries the Thai Ridgeback has managed to successfully keep its type. This is due to the fact that Thailand has poor transportation services which have prevented the Thai Ridgeback from being transported and crossbred. They are very much a rarity outside of Thailand even today, with only a few hundred being in the US.

Jack Sterling was responsible for the Thai Ridgebacks introduction into the US after he spotted the breed in Bangkok in 1994. He later showed three of them at a rare breed show in Washington DC where he won all of the classes he had entered them in.

In 1996 the United Kennel Club recognized the Thai Ridgeback, and they were listed as a ‘foundation stock service’ breed in 1997. This allows the breed to continue to develop whilst providing them with the security of a reliable and reputable avenue to maintain their records.

The Thai Ridgeback to date has not made it onto the American Kennel Clubs list of breeds (April 2019) but since its popularity is starting to grow, it will only be a matter of time. There is a waiting list with any reputable breeder to own this incredible breed, the Thai Ridgeback, the national dog of Thailand.

Key Thai Ridgeback Breed Facts

SizeMedium3 out of 5
Grooming EaseLow2 out of 5
Being AloneMedium3 out of 5
Exercise NeedsVery High5 out of 5
Good With KidsAverage3 out of 5
IntelligenceVery High4 out of 5
TrainabilityGood4 out of 5
HealthGood4 out of 5
SheddingLow2 out of 5
Cost To KeepAbove Average4 out of 5


  • Devoted and loyal companions
  • Low shedding coats
  • Easy maintenance
  • Easy to house train
  • Intelligent and quick to train
  • Fun loving and high energy
  • Great watchdogs
  • Only bark when necessary
  • Don’t suffer separation anxiety


  • Expensive due to being a rare breed
  • Can be dominant by nature
  • Not for a first-time dog owner
  • Better suited to older children
  • Need lots of exercise and mental stimulation
  • Have a low boredom threshold
  • Independent thinkers by nature

An Overview Of the Thai Ridgeback

The Thai Ridgeback is a medium-sized but muscular breed with a streamlined body that makes them agile and a natural athlete. They have, as their name suggests, a ridge of fur which runs down their spine for which they are named.

This fur, like the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Phu Quoc Ridgeback, runs in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. There are eight different patterns that this ridge may form in and four different coat colors. These are solid blue, black, red, and fawn.

Most Thai Ridgebacks are now companion dogs rather than hunters or guardians. However, they still maintain many of the same instincts for the jobs that they were bred. They are independent, self-sufficient, and fully capable of hunting for their own food. The prey drive is high and they have the intelligence to use it.

If bred well and fully socialized the Thai Ridgeback can be a loyal, loving, and affectionate pet. They are naturally protective of their homes and the ones they love but can be suspicious of strangers. For this reason, they need a patient, consistent, and experienced owner who has a good understanding of dog behavior.

Thai Ridgeback Appearance

As already stated the Thai Ridgeback is a medium-sized dog of muscular proportions with the female being noticeably smaller than the male. From top to tail they are an incredibly handsome breed that carries itself in a dignified manner.

The head of a Thai Ridgeback is nicely in proportion to the rest of its body and when viewed from the front appears like a vertical elongated octagon. Viewed from the side and above, however, it appears more wedge-shaped.

The forehead appears wrinkled when the Thai Ridgeback is alert and its flat cheeks and muzzle taper to the nose. This breed has the perfect scissor bite with the upper teeth meeting the lower. They have moderately large and almond-shaped eyes with their ears standing erect.

With a moderately long neck that is muscularly, slightly arched, and merges well into the Thai Ridgebacks sloping shoulders, their body is slightly longer than they are tall. The back is also well muscled, level, and leads round to an equally muscular chest.

The hindquarters are strong with a tail that extends from the top line and tapers from a thick base to tip. This is held in a slight curve when the Thai Ridgeback is alert or moves.

Coloration wise the Thai Ridgeback comes in black (sidum), blue (siswad), red (sidang), and fawn (sibua). The red may or may not have a black mask. The coat is fine and short with a well-defined ridge that is always symmetrical in a pattern.

Thai Ridgeback Temperament

As a breed that builds an extremely strong bond with their owners, the Thai Ridgeback makes the perfect watchdog and guardian. They are loyal, protective, and ideal for families with older children. It does need to be noted, however, that due to their independent natures their protectiveness may need to be curtailed. This should be done by a confident handler who has had experience training dogs before.

A dominant dog by nature the Thai Ridgeback needs to be handled fairly but firmly from the word go. They need to understand their place within the pack and what behaviors you are expecting from them. Do this from an early age and you will have a confident, outgoing, well balanced, and mature dog.

The Thai Ridgeback is also playful and loves to entertain and be entertained. They can though, be warned, be a little mischievous when the mood takes them. Jumping and escaping is something they really excel at and play areas need to be secure. They also have a really high prey drive so may need to be kept on a leash when out on excursions, especially if there is any livestock or wildlife nearby.

Full of energy and active the Thai Ridgeback is well suited to and really enjoys activities such as obedience training and agility. They are highly adaptable and will take to pretty much anything. This includes the environment in which they live with them being happy in both city and countryside so long as they can be active.

The Thai Ridgeback is not known as a barking dog and will generally only make a noise when they have something to say. Be aware that when bored they will be quite vocal in letting you know, as well as causing havoc in your home. Other times they may bark include when they feel threatened, are protecting your property, or are protecting you.

Intelligence, Trainability, And The Thai Ridgeback

An incredibly intelligent breed that learns incredibly quickly the Thai Ridgeback is fast to pick up good habits. This also, however, works in reverse with the speed of picking up bad habits being just as fast. This means that training needs to start from the moment your Thai Ridgeback enters your home and that it should be incredibly consistent.

Due to their high intelligence, the Thai Ridgeback can bore easily of training so avoiding repetition in techniques is advisable. They also need both physical and mental stimulation to keep them interested. Short training sessions are better than long, especially with young puppies who tire easily.

It needs to be said that the Thai Ridgeback does not respond well to harshness when training. Rather, they need positive reinforcement to bring out the best in them. Keep at training and do not give up. After all, you give an inch and the Thai Ridgeback will take a mile.

The first training to be given to a Thai Ridgeback should be rules and boundaries. This includes commands such as come, sit, stay, down, heel, quiet, leave it, and bed. This should be done at the same time as ensuring that your Thai Ridgeback is well socialized to ensure they are comfortable in all situations and around people. To do this, take your puppy with you as many places as you can and expose them to all different sights, sounds, environments, and people.

As Thai Ridgebacks continue to need both physical and mental stimulation throughout their lives, it is advisable to continue training even after you have completed the basics. This can take the form of obedience related activities, tricks, and fun agility training. Agility training is ideal for the Thai Ridgeback who will love jumping through hoops, running through tunnels, and weaving their way through weave poles.

Please note that Thai Ridgebacks should never be given guard training as this may encourage their protectiveness to get out of hand. This could mean that they may, rather than just warning people off, possibly attack and even bite.

Kids, Other Pets And The Thai Ridgeback

The Thai Ridgeback is good with children but probably more suited to those who are older. This is not because this breed will intentionally hurt a smaller child but rather that they are large and rambunctious dogs that play hard. This may mean a small child is in danger of being knocked over or accidentally bumped or scratched.

It is also worth remembering that the Thai Ridgeback is a protective breed who may not react well to strange children playing with those in their family. All interactions between children and this breed should be monitored carefully by an adult.

Regarding other pets in the house, the Thai Ridgeback should adjust nicely to cats and other dogs living with them. However, they may not be as positively responsive to those outside the family. This is due to the Thai Ridgebacks high prey drive which may cause them to chase.

Health And The Thai Ridgeback

With a lifespan of 12 to 13 years the Thai Ridgeback tends to be a strong and healthy breed. However, like most breeds of dog out there they are prone to some health issues more than others. For the Thai Ridgeback this includes:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Dermoid sinus
  • Gastric dilation volvulus (GDV)

Hip Dysplasia – This is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that in its more severe form can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. It is common in larger dogs with there being no complete cure. Treatments can be given, however, with the aim of enhancing the Thai Ridgebacks quality of life.

Dermoid Sinus – Thai Ridgebacks are commonly affected with a developmental abnormality that results in tubular indentation (dermoid sinus) of the skin above the spine. These tunnels can run deep into underlying tissues as far as the spinal cord exposing the affected animals to risk of infections causing serious disease and pain. Treatments can include antibiotics or surgery depending on the severity.

Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) – A rapidly progressing and life-threatening condition, gastric dilation volvulus is commonly associated with eating large meals. It causes the stomach to expand and dilate resulting in a build-up of pressure. This pressure, in turn, can prevent adequate blood return to the heart from the abdomen, cause loss of blood flow to the lining of the stomach, and rupture the stomach wall. There is also the possibility that pressure on the diaphragm can prevent the lungs from adequately expanding leading to decreased ability to breathe. Surgery is commonly needed with gastric dilation volvulus.

Health Care For The Thai Ridgeback

Most Thai Ridgeback puppies will have had their initial vaccinations by the time they are brought into your home. However, they will require a further two lots at 10 to 12 weeks. Please note your Thai Ridgeback puppy will not be fully protected until two weeks after their last shot.

Spaying and neutering is really a matter of personal choice but should not be done before your puppy reaches at least six months old. It is something you should really discuss with your vet to weigh up the pros and cons.

Perhaps surprisingly many dog breeds, not just the Thai Ridgeback, can develop allergies. These are not always clear to identify but you will be aware your dog is having a reaction to something. If this is the case you should seek veterinary advice where they will run tests to try to determine what the allergy is. They may also give you medication to alleviate any symptoms or discomfort your dog is showing. Possible allergies include:

  • Dog foods (grains/fillers)
  • Airborne pollens
  • Dust mites
  • Environment
  • Flea/tick bites
  • Chemicals (household products)

General Care For The Thai Ridgeback

Generally speaking the Thai Ridgeback is extremely easy to care for and low maintenance. They simply require:

  • Basic grooming
  • Plenty of exercise
  • Good diet
  • Access to veterinary care

However, as puppies and seniors care is a little more specific and needs to be adapted to suit the particular age they are at. The following is a brief guideline of the care they may require.

Puppy – For the first week or so of having your Thai Ridgeback at home it is a good idea to have someone around all the time. This is due to the fact that your puppy will need time to settle in and that is best achieved with someone there to help them.

You will also need to puppy proof your home and garden removing all items that could be a hazard and harm them. This includes things like garden tools, implements, electrical wires, cables, and any toxic to dogs plants.

Puppies also need to sleep a lot and require somewhere quiet but not too out of the way to do this. Puppy growth and development depends on them getting enough sleep and you will want to encourage this where you can.

Providing a nice comfortable bed will aid in your puppy getting enough sleep but this is not the only item of equipment you will need to raise your puppy. Other items that you will require include:

  • Baby gates to keep them from rooms you do not want them in or going up the stairs
  • A playpen for them to be active in during times you cannot keep an eye on them
  • Toys that are suitable for small puppies
  • Bowls for water and food
  • A soft brush or grooming mitt
  • Puppy toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Nail clippers
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Collar and leash
  • Bed
  • A crate for when you have to go out
  • Blankets

Seniors – As your Thai Ridgeback ages they will need lots of tender loving care. This is because their muzzle graying is not the only bodily change they will be going through. Senior dogs also may have:

  • A coat that becomes coarser and needs more grooming
  • A loss of muscle tone
  • A loss or weight gain
  • Body temperature fluctuation
  • Arthritis
  • A failing immune system
  • Mental changes (slow/grumpy)
  • A picky appetite
  • A lower pain threshold
  • An intolerance to change
  • Disorientation

Buying Advice For The Thai Ridgeback

As with any other breed of dog, Thai Ridgebacks need to be sourced from a reputable breeder. This, however, can be more difficult with a breed such as this one which is rare. Breeders are few and far between and when you do find one waiting lists for a puppy can be long.

Despite the long waiting lists, it is imperative that you do not opt instead to source a Thai Ridgeback from places such as the internet. Here you will find a myriad of schemes and scams all out to just try and dupe you of your cash. Never pay for a puppy or pay a deposit on one before meeting the breeder and puppies first.

You should also beware of amateur or unscrupulous breeders who due to the rarity of the breed are breeding too often off their dams. This is done generally in an attempt to make quick and easy profits but can be harmful to the dam and pups. Though Thai Ridgebacks are not registered with the kennel club breeders should still follow their breeding guidelines.

Once you have found a suitable breeder, you should visit the puppies and Mum at least once, preferably more. Seeing Mum is of great importance as you will be able to gauge their genetic temperament from her behavior. You should also watch how the puppies in the litter behave together and how they interact with their breeder and yourself. Puppies should be curious about you and willing to interact. They should never be frightened or show aggression.

10 Interesting Facts You Need To Know About The Thai Ridgeback

1 The Thai Ridgeback is a primitive breed.

By primitive breed, we mean a breed that is old and shares traits with other old breeds. This means they will have pointed muzzles, erect ears, long, curved tails, and almond shaped eyes much like a wolf.

2 The Thai Ridgeback is one of only three ridgeback breeds.

As it says on the tin, there are only three breeds of dog that have the ridge on their back. These are the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Phu Quoc Ridgeback, and the Thai. In some circles, the broader and more distinct the pattern of the ridge, the more attractive and prized the dog will be.

3 The Thai Ridgeback is one big, strong, and muscular dog.

Usually around the size of a German Shepherd but heavier built, the Thai Ridgeback is a truly muscular hound. They, if it matters to you at all, take up a lot of couch space!

4 Thai Ridgebacks are notorious escape artists.

Excellent at jumping, climbing, and digging the Thai Ridgeback loves to escape and roam. This can make them quite a challenge to keep in the confines of a garden.

5 The Thai Ridgeback has a strong prey drive.

Unlike the other ridgeback breeds who also have a strong prey drive, the Thai Ridgeback is more difficult to train in this area. This is partly due to their relatively short time as fully domesticated dogs that no longer have to fend for themselves.

6 Thai Ridgebacks are virtually maintenance free.

This breed sheds minimally and only occasionally needs a good comb to loosen and remove any dead hair. There is no need to go to a groomer for this breed, grooming can all be done at home.

7 The Thai Ridgeback can be aggressive.

As a primitive dog the Thai Ridgeback is prone to be aggressive should it not receive the training that it needs. This is especially true when it comes to strangers who it will not trust at all. The Thai Ridgeback is not at all suitable for first time dog owners.

8 Thai Ridgebacks do not like being cold.

Since they have a short single coat, the Thai Ridgeback can become cold easily and they really don’t like it. They also will not thrive in colder climates, perhaps not surprising since they are more suited to the tropical climates of Thailand.

9 The Thai Ridgeback needs an energetic owner.

As a strong, agile, and active breed the Thai Ridgeback needs really long walks daily. Not providing this will result in a bored and restless Thai Ridgeback that will bark a lot and cause havoc within your home.

10 Thai Ridgebacks are prone to dermoid sinus.

Although the Thai Ridgeback is in general a very healthy breed they can suffer from these abnormal growths of the neural tubes on the back of the neck. This is usually genetic, can be painful, and unfortunately sometimes painful. Surgery is usually needed to correct this health problem.

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