Many dogs are prone to various diseases and show a depression in the breed as a cause of inbreeding. This is not the case with the Thai Rideback. This very healthy animal was inbred for possibly centuries in small towns through Thailand while they were a very popular breed.
The Thai ridgeback breed itself has been around since the middle ages (at least) and has been used as a hunting dog, a guard dog, and a companion dog. In some places in Thailand, these canines are referred to simply as “the cart following dog” because of their likeliness to follow after the cart their owner is traveling in.
Thai Ridgeback on the beach at Hat Khlong Koi, Thailand; photograph by Anna Lee.
One Of Three Ridgebacks
The Thai Ridgeback is one of only three ridgeback dog breeds. The other two are the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Phu Quoc Ridgeback. While it is currently unknown if these three breeds are related in any way (it’s surmised that they are, being the only three known dog breeds to possess a ridge), DNA tests are being done and compared to find out for sure. It’s believed they may all stem from the African Hottentot Dog and the Asian Funan Ridgeback Dog, both of which are now extinct.
The ridge on the back is a patch of hairs from the wither to the hips, in which the hair is growing in the opposite direction from all the other hair in the animal’s coat. Eight distinctive ridge patterns have been identified in Thai Ridgebacks. These include needle, arrow, leaf, feather, violin, lute, bowling pin, and saddleback. In shows, the broader this ridge is (determined by two sets of epistatic genes—one that controls the existence of the ridge and the other controls its size), the higher the dog will be judged.
Thai Ridgeback As A Pet
The Thai Ridgeback averages between 20 and 24 inches tall and usually weighs between 50 and 75 pounds. It is considered a good hunting dog and a great guard dog or watch dog, but it’s also very good as a companion dog (household pet).
So long as the ancient animal is exercised regularly, it should be well suited to any home whether it be a house or an apartment. The fact that the Tai Ridgeback was exclusive to Thailand and guarded from the rest of the world until very recently makes this dog very independent and used to doing its own thing. For this reason, it requires an owner who can be firm and dominant, or the dog simply will not respect you enough to take your orders.
They don’t need much grooming either. The have only the primary coat with no undercoat (this is good as it minimizes shedding and is helpful for those who are allergic to most other breeds of dog). They only need an occasional brush, primarily to aid in removing what little bit of lose hair there is. Their coats are generally loose and even produce rolls at the back of the neck when the dog is at alert attention.
Breeding Out The Disease in Thai Ridgebacks
Nearly all diseases that most other dogs are prone to are not evident in the Thai Ridgeback. This is thanks to hundreds (and possibly thousands) of years of not selective breeding like most breeds have, but natural selection. Thai Ridgebacks have only been bred with other Thai Ridgebacks for the breed’s entire history, including for a while a lot of inbreeding. Most dog breeds will degress from inbreeding, but in the Thai Ridgebacks, they actually progressed, becoming healthier and more adaptable.
Today, the only two afflictions that may be evident in the Thai Ridgeback are dermoid sinus (a skin condition they’re prone to because of their ridge) and hip dysplasia (a genetic abnormal formation of the hip socket).