Phu Quoc Ridgeback

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Phu Quoc Ridgeback
Phu Quoc dog.jpg
Weight Male 15–20 kg (33–44 lb)
Female 12–18 kg (26–40 lb)
Height Male 50–55 cm (20–22 in)
Female 48–52 cm (19–20 in)
Coat Smooth
Colour Black, yellow
Life span 12-16 years
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is a breed of dog from Phú Quốc Island in Vietnam's southern Kiên Giang Province. The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is one of only three breeds that has a ridge of hair that runs along its back in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat (the other two are the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Thai Ridgeback). The Phu Quoc is the smallest of the three ridgeback breeds.

The Phu Quoc dog was included in the Larousse Dictionary and is steadily gaining notice in the Western world. In Vietnam these dogs are still considered rare and there were only 700 purebred dogs registered and recognised by the Vietnam Kennel Club. This means due to the scarcity of true examples they are not able to enter many international dog shows as they are simply considered too rare to be able to judge the breed standard.

A Phu Quoc Ridgeback won the 2013 Hanoi dog show.[1]

Breed history[edit]

Native to Vietnam, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback's history has not been well documented. Enthusiasts and few experts believe that all ridgeback breeds (including the Phu Quoc, Rhodesian, and Thai) originated in either Asia or Africa, due to their distinct ridge markings along the spine, though this has never been confirmed scientifically. It is also believed that, like the Thai Ridgeback, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback has been used as a carting, escort, hunting, and guard dog throughout its history due to its impressive appearance and muscular physique.



According to the elders on Phú Quốc Island, the dog was traditionally four main colours: spotted, black, yellow, and striped; however, now the colours have become more varied. The rarest and most highly prized colours are pure black and yellow, with black eyes, black toes and a black-spotted tongue. A mature dog is about 20–25 kg, with a small head, long neck, quite a long snout, thin yet long ears and dark speckles on the tongue. The body of tapering belly, straight legs and webbed feet allow Phu Quoc Ridgebacks to swim and run exceedingly well. They are also very good at climbing and can climb trees.

Phu Quoc Ridgeback circa 1915, then known as the Phu-Quoc greyhound

An important sign to recognize a true Phu Quoc Ridgeback is the sword-shaped ridge on its back, together with short, thin hair. When facing competitors or running after prey, the hair on their back becomes erect, creating a ridge making the dog look brave and strong. Now, it is difficult to find purebred Phu Quoc Ridgebacks, as they have mixed with other breeds.


The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is best known for its ability to jump higher and run and swim faster than most other breeds. These dogs love to hunt and chase, and are also known for protecting their home. This breed is extremely loyal, loving, and naturally obedient, thriving on dependable human relationships. The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is an intelligent and curious breed that loves to learn.


Due to its need for strong human relationships and its obedient nature, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback responds well to basic training and commands. These dogs enjoy learning and pleasing their owners, and can be taught to perform most any task its trainer is willing to take the time to teach it. Establishing mutual respect and trust are keys to training the Phu Quoc Ridgeback. The breed is highly intelligent, and may do tricks without command.


The Phu Quoc Ridgeback remains very rare outside of Vietnam and can prove difficult to obtain, even in Vietnam. The only known dogs in Europe successfully had a litter of four healthy puppies in September 2015 by a U.K. based breeder. At least one of the puppies has since been exported to the United States. There are a handful in the U.S. and Canada. Individuals seeking to purchase this breed will often encounter such challenges as the inability to locate a breeder, high prices, dogs that have been crossbred with other breeds and long waiting lists. More and more visitors are beginning to come to Phu Quoc in search of the dogs, giving rise to a breeding camp on the island which sells dogs. Exporting the dogs to countries outside Vietnam is straightforward in terms of Vietnamese documentation. The difficulties lie in the destination country, whereby Australia and other rabies-free countries are difficult and non-rabies-free countries such as the United States or Canada are relatively easy to ship dogs to.

Currently organizations like the Vietnam Kennel Association (VKA) as well as the Vietnamese Phu Quoc Ridgeback Club of America (VPQRCA) are working to ensure the long term health, purity and genetic stability of the breed.

Common health concerns[edit]

While the Phu Quoc Ridgeback is generally known as a healthy and hearty breed, they can occasionally suffer from a few health problems, including: hip dysplasia, various joint problems such as arthritis, patellar luxation - dislocation of the knee, and bloat. They can live up to 16 years old. This is in spite of coming from a country where veterinary care is rare and usually of a very basic standard.

The main issue with the breed is ensuring that they receive correct (and non-counterfeit) vaccinations when going to the mainland from Phu Quoc so they do not catch parvovirus.

In popular culture[edit]

The Phu Quoc Ridgeback was selected as the mascot for the 2018 annual Nguyen Hue Flower Street in Ho Chi Minh City, symbolizing the lunar Year of the Dog as per the Vietnamese zodiac.[2]

Further reading[edit]

  • Anusorn Supmannue (transl. by P. Praditbatuga), 1998, Visiting Vietnam's Phu Quoc Island, Rare Insight, March/April 1998; vol 1 no 2, page 12-13.
  • Mersmann, R.Ch.E., 1996, In search of the Phu Quoc dog, R.Ch.E. Mersmann, Schardam-Holland 1996, page 33-55.