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rec.pets.dogs: Thai Ridgebacks Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/thai-ridgebacks
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                              Thai Ridgebacks

   This material is Copyright 1996 of the Thai Ridgeback Club of the
   United States Inc. and written and provided by: Merle Wood (Legal
   Council) for TRCUS and Merle Hidinger,,
   (Secretary) of TRCUS.
Table of Contents

     * Table of Contents
     * Characteristics and Temperament
     * Frequently Asked Questions
     * History
     * Standard
     * Recognized
     * Special Medical Problems
     * References
Characteristics and Temperament

   Traditionally, the only other Ridgeback dog beside the well known
   Rhodesian Ridgeback has been the Phu Quoc Dog. Pho Quoc Island, now a
   part of Vietnam, is the major isle in the Gulf of Siam, about 200 km
   south of Bangkok. The ancestry of the Phu Quoc dog is undoubtedly the
   Thai Ridgeback which has existed in eastern Siam (near the Cambodian
   border) for at least four hundred years . Ridgeback dogs in cave
   paintings dating back 1000 years have been found in Cambodia and
   These Thai Ridgebacks were used for hunting (they are keen sight
   hounds) deer, tapirs and birds in dense jungle, as guardians for
   family homesteads and as companions for carts, the traditional mode of
   transportation in these areas. As a result of the isolation of the
   area, Thai Ridgebacks have retained their unique type and traditional
   usage until recently. However, today civilization has come even to
   these isolated areas. Roads have been built and autos have replaced
   carts as the major mode of transportation. Intense deforestation
   throughout Thailand has destroyed most hunting habitat. Thai
   Ridgebacks today are primarily kept as companions or guards for the
   family homestead and have been adopted by many Thai dog fanciers.
   Thai Ridgebacks are medium-large sized short-haired dogs of high
   intelligence and great jumping ability. Males measure 22 to 24 =BD
   inches at the withers and weigh from 42 to 60 pounds: female measure
   21 to 23 =BD inches and weigh from 37 to 50 pounds. The short coat ,
   ranging from brush to horse coat comes in four colors, black, red
   (ranging from deep mahogany to light chestnut), blue (or silver) and
   fawn. The ridge pattern on the back comes in eight different patterns.
   Thai Ridgebacks bred by Thai fanciers are often kennel raised. Further
   few Thais keep house pets as do Americans. Accordingly, few Thai
   imports are well socialized. This is especially true since pups must
   be at least four months old (and have their rabies shots) to be
   imported into the United States. However, litters bred by American
   breeders and hand raised in households according to our traditional
   American socialization methods are very good people dogs, bonding
   closely to their families. They are usually gentle with their families
   and with people their families introduce them to, but are excellent
   watch dogs if people they do not know appear or sounds they dont
   understand occur around the house.
Frequently Asked Questions

   _Does AKC recognize this breed?_
     No. However the breed is shown in ARBA (American Rare Breed
     Association) shows in the US and FCI shows throughout most of the
   _So this means I can't show this dog in conformation or obedience in
   the AKC?_
     This is correct. However ARBA has obedience as well as confirmation
     and there are efforts underway to get the breed recognized by SKC
     and UKC.
   _Are they easy to train? _
     In Thailand there are frequent obedience shows run by the DAT, the
     Dog Association of Thailand, whose current standard abbreviation is
     AT. The agility and obedience requirements are extensive,
     equivalent to the Master Agility Excellent and Obedience Trial
     Champion titles in the US.
   _Would they make good watch dogs? Guard dogs? _
     The Ridgeback is an excellent natural watchdog and family
     protector, requiring only that the owner has control over it.
   _Are they noisy? Do they have any bad habits? _
     Ridgebacks tend to bark only when there is something unusual about
     (unless one has fallen into bad habits out of boredom). They are
     very athletic, easily able to clear high fences unless the owner
     has taken proper precautions to see this does not occur. The
     Ridgebacks love to run. This can be a good or bad habit depending
     on the owner.
   _Is the Ridgeback a good house-dog? _
     The Ridgeback is an extremely clean dog with no odor due to its
     short tropical coat. As tropical dogs they do not tolerate cold
     weather well, unless they are adapted to it. They do not drool,
     except occasionally in anticipation of food. They are generally
     easy to house break. They will take over the furniture unless their
     owners discourage this habit from puppy hood. They are well sized,
     not so small as to be underfoot, yet not so big that they are
     constantly in the way; yet big enough to intimidate a prowler.
     Their upright tails wag in a short radius, not knocking over your
     house plants or coffee table glasses.
   _Are there any special feeding problems? _
     Ridgebacks are true omnivores. In Thailand an ancient text says
     they are able to feed themselves digging the earth in search of
     small prey. Along the beaches they actively forage for small crabs.
     They will inhale their food enthusiastically. Consequently
     Ridgeback owners need to monitor their dogs weight and cut back to
     prevent obesity.
   _How much exercise does a Ridgeback need? _
     Like any medium-large dog, Ridgebacks need exercise - a daily romp
     in the backyard or park and a couple of long trips should be
     Again, Ridgebacks love to run. More exercise would be better but
     Ridgebacks do adapt to their people.
   _Are they a rare breed? _
     Yes, there are less than 100 Thai Ridgebacks registered with the
     United States parent specialty club, the Thai Ridgeback Club of the
     United States. However, more than 50 thousand are registered world
     wide, the vast bulk with the DAT in Thailand.
   _Does this mean I will have trouble finding a puppy? _
     Yes. You may have to wait some time for a litter and you will
     likely have to have it shipped across the country to you. Litters
     in the United States are few (there are currently only four
     breeders) and demand for the puppies is high. While many dogs exist
     in Thailand, they are kennel raised and no puppy can be imported
     into the United States until it is at least 4 months old and has
     its rabies vaccination.

   Some material in this section is excerpted from Laurie Corbett: _The
   Dingo: in Australia and Asia_, Copyright Laurie Corbett 1995.
   An ancient manuscript of the period of King Songthan of Ayuttaya (1611
   to 1628) describes the Ridgeback as follows:
     The dogs are big. They are more than two sawk tall (one sawk is a
     traditional measurement which equals the length from an adults
     elbow to his finger tips). They appear in a variety of colors. And
     each dog has a ridge on the back.
     They are fierce. They are loyal to their masters. They are able to
     feed themselves, digging the earth in search of small prey. They
     like to follow their owner, to hunt in the wood. When they catch an
     animal they will bring it to their master. They are loyal to the
     entire household. They love their companionship. They go everywhere
     with their masters, even as far as the big yang tree. They are
     powerful and fearless.... Their ears are pointed erect and their
     tails stand like the swords of tribesmen...
   However, the earliest development of the breed is lost in the times
   before recorded history. But the works of archeologists,
   anthropologists, paleontologists and zoologists provide irrefutable
   evidence that the origins of the pariah type dog extend back to the
   origins of the dog itself as it evolved from wolf to dingo to our
   domestic dog.
   Dingoes began and evolved in Asia. The earliest known dingo-like
   fossils are from Ban Chiang in north-east Thailand (dated at 5,500
   years BP) and from north Vietnam (5,000 years BP). According to skull
   morphology, these fossils occupy a place between Asian wolves (prime
   candidates were the pale footed (or Indian) wolf Canis lupis pallipes
   and the Arabian wolf Canis lupis araba) and modern dingoes in
   Australia and Thailand.
   The Thai site at Ban Chiang is one of the earliest known sites that
   indicates that people changed their nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle
   to a sedentary and agricultural subsistence. This sedentary life
   allowed communal relationships between wild animals and people. The
   start of domestication of wolves into dingoes and other dogs began,
   fossils show, between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago.
   Dingo evolution in western Asia diverged sharply from dingo evolution
   in eastern Asia. The earliest records of the domestication of wolves
   from Israel to domestic dogs (e.g. Canis familaris poutiani,
   Canisfamiliaris, matrisoptimae) suggests that these early primitive
   canines were subjected to intense artificial selection by mankind from
   the very beginning. Cave paintings, etchings and frescoes in tombs,
   pyramids and middens suggest that the major reasons for selective
   breeding were to improve the characteristics of dogs for hunting,
   herding, hauling , guarding, scavenging and fighting.
   The ultimate outcome of the many mechanisms of domestication is the
   immense range of sizes, shapes, colors and temperaments found in
   modern breeds of dogs. What is often forgotten is that this doggie
   plethora of about 600 true breeding types was derived from a single
   uniformly structured canine, the dingo, via founder effects, selective
   breeding and genetic drift.
   The evolution of early canines in eastern Asia contrasts starkly with
   the events in western Asia. Although human societies in east Asia
   acquired the early canines for food, hunting, alerting and perhaps
   other cultural reasons, it seems they were never subjected to
   selective breeding or other artificial selection pressures.
   Morphological comparisons between the skulls of the early canines
   (dated 5,500 years BP) modern dingoes from Thailand and Australia and
   modern dingo-like domestic dogs show a great similarity between the
   dingoes and early canines but a clear cut difference between them and
   domestic dogs. The dogs, although closely resembling dingoes in size
   and conformation, are distinct. It is to this group of pariah dogs
   that the Thai Ridgeback belongs.
   The evolution of the Thai Ridgeback from the pariah dog cannot be
   precisely determined. The place of origin cannot be precisely located
   since the breed habitat is not only Thailand but also Vietnam,
   Kamphuchea (Cambodia) and Indonesia. The breed is only found on the
   islands of Vietnam (including Phu Quoc), Kamphuchea and Indonesia,
   however, while it is found on both the islands and mainland of
   Thailand. Phu Quoc, an island in the Gulf of Siam, was where the
   western dog fanciers first encountered the breed and obtained the dog
   in the 19th century when the island was colonized.
   A study was undertaken, according to Dr. S. Wannakrairoj to locate the
   place where the breed first appeared. To determine the place of origin
   without any historical record the genetic analysis of the Ridgeback
   was performed using reported survey data. The width of the ridge and
   the number of crowns on the body which are controlled by the number of
   additive alleles were used since the dog with the higher number of
   mutant alleles has the longer history.
   According to genetic theory the dog with the broader ridge or more
   crowns results from the accumulation of more (recessive) ridge genes.
   The Thai Ridgeback in Thailand has a ridge much wider than its back,
   sometimes down its flank, with a maximum of 14 crowns. The closest
   competitor from Vietnam, including Phu Quoc Island, has a ridge only
   on its back, not down the flank and a maximum of 10 crowns. Thus the
   Thai dog must have evolved for the longest period. Hence, the
   Ridgeback must be of Thailand origin. This justifies the name Thai
   Ridgeback. The areas with the highest population of the breed were the
   eastern areas of Thailand and particularly the eastern fishing ports.
   Thus it was probably Thai fisherman that took the dogs to the islands
   of Thailands neighbors. Whether east Asian explorers took the dog to
   eastern Africa cannot be known. However it is clear that the Phu Quoc
   dog is simply the same breed as the Thai Ridgeback but named after the
   place it was first sighted by Western dog fanciers rather than its
   place of origin. Its current size, considerably smaller than the Thai
   Ridgeback is a commentary on its meager environment on Phu Quoc
   The present bloodlines were collected by Thai fanciers over the past
   few decades. The breed was first recognized by the Dog Association of
   Thailand, then the Japanese Kennel Club, and the Asian Kennel Union
   and finally, as breed number 338 by the FCI in 1993.

   Hunting dog
   Group 5 Spitz and Primitive Types
   Section 7 Primitive Type-Hunting Dogs Without Working Trial
   The Thai Ridgeback Dog is an old breed which can be seen in
   archeological writing in Thailand which were written about 350 years
   ago. Mainly in the eastern part of Thailand, it was used for hunting.
   People also used it to escort their carts and as a watch dog. The
   reason why it has kept its own original type for years is poor
   transportation systems in the eastern part of Thailand; it had fewer
   chances to crossbreed with other breeds.
   Medium-sized dog with short hair forming a ridge along the back. The
   body is slightly longer than its height at the withers. Muscles are
   well developed, and its anatomical structure is suitable for
   Length of body: size (height at the withers) 11:10
   Height of chest: size (height at the withers) 5:10
   Length of the muzzle: length of the head 2: 3
   Tough and active with excellent jumping abilities.
   The crown is flat and has a gentle slope toward the stop. Stop:
   Clearly defined, but moderate. Inclination is not abrupt.
   Nose: Color is black.
   Nasal bridge: Straight and long.
   Muzzle: Wedge-shape. Dogs with fawn coat have a black mask.
   Lips: Tight
   Mouth: Black marking on the tongue.
   Jaw: Upper jaw is thick enough, and lower jaw is strong.
   Teeth: White and strong with scissors bite.
   Eyes: Middle size and almond shaped. The eye color is dark brown. In
   blue and silver, amber-colored eyes are permitted.
   Ears: Set on either side of the crown, which is slightly broad between
   the two ears. Rather large triangular, inclining forward and firmly
   picked. Not cropped.
   Neck: Strong, muscular, holding head high.
   Back: Strong
   Loin: Strong and broad
   Croup: Moderately round
   Chest: Deep enough to reach the elbows. The ribs are well built, but
   not barrel-shaped.
   Lower line: The belly is tucked up.
   Tail: It has a thick base with gradual tapering toward the tip. The
   tip reaches hock joints. It holds up vertically or curves like a
   sickle tail.
   Front legs: The forearm straight
   Hind legs: Well developed thighs and slightly bent stifles. Hocks are
   tough. The nails are black or light through brown.
   Stride with no pitching nor rolling of the body. Track in two parallel
   straight lines. When viewed from the front, the forelegs move up and
   down in straight lines so that the shoulder, elbow and pastern joints
   are approximately in line with each other. When viewed from the rear,
   the stifle and hip joints are approximately in line. Move in a
   straight pattern forward without throwing the feet in or out; thus
   enabling the stride to be long and drive powerful. The overall
   appearance of the moving dog is one of the smooth flowing and well
   balanced rhythm.
   Soft, tender and tight skin.
   Hair: Strong and smooth. The ridge is formed by the hair growing in
   the opposite direction to the rest of the coat, starting from slightly
   behind the withers and extending to the point of prominence at the
   hips. It should be clearly defined from other parts of the back,
   tapering and symmetrical.
   Color: Solid color, light chestnut red (the deeper the better), pure
   black, blue (silver), and fawn.
   Height at the withers:
   Dogs 22-25 inches (56-63.5cm)
   Bitches 20-23 inches (51-58.5cm)
     * Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a
       fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded
       should be in exact proportion to its degree.
     * Any bite other than scissors bite
     * Unbalanced ridge
     * Dogs without ridge
     * Long hair
   N.B.: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully
   descended into the scrotum
   FCI. Standard
   No. 338/28.07.1993./GB

   Dog Association of Thailand
   Kennel Club
   Asian Kennel Union
   American Rare Breed Association (ARBA)
Special Medical Problems

  Dermoid Sinus
   This condition occurs when the skin is not completely closed along the
   dogs spine. While hard to detect at puppyhood it can be done by those
   experienced in the breed by palpating along the spine. If dormant this
   condition causes no problems and the dog and lead a normal life.
   Unfortunately, these sinuses or cysts dont often remain dormant. They
   become inflamed and infected. The surgery to correct this sinus is
   expensive, painful and frequently not successful.
   Another genetic fault, some Thai Ridgebacks are born without ridges.
   Many breeders euthanize these puppies but more enlightened breeders do
   not. The puppies are designated pet quality and require a spay/neuter

   At present there are no books, publications, videos or anything else
   in English although many such publications do exist in Thai. Plans are
   underway to translate selected publications.
   Blanch- O Kennels 1119 West Farms Road, Howell, N.J. 07731
   Fairtex Kennels 327 South 4th Street, Bangor, PA. 18018 (610)588-6932.
   Thai Silk-United States Kennels 2357 W. Sumaya Pl., Tucson, AZ.
   85741-3708 (520)888-5638/FAX293-1096.
  Breed Clubs
   The Thai Ridgeback Club of America and the Thai Ridgeback Association
   of America are merging to form the Thai Ridgeback Club of the United
   States, Inc.. Its address is: 2357 W. Sumaya Pl., Tucson Az.
   85741-3708. Its telephone number is 1-800-234-2531. John Caponetto is
   Chairman of the Board of Directors, Maureen Pinto is President and
   Merle Chip Hidinger is Secretary.
   The club may be contacted at:
     Merle Hidinger: Secretary
     2357 W. Sumaya Pl.
     Tucson, Az. 85741-3708
     (520)888-5638/FAX 293-1096
   Please contact the Thai Ridgeback Club of the United States for
   further information and club newsletter.
  On-line Information
   Web sites include:
   Thai Ridgeback FAQ
   Merle Hidinger,
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                                  K9 WEB=20

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