The cutest dog in Vietnam, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback, is the native dog breed of Phu Quoc Island. They are hunting dogs and the only breed of dogs with their roots in Vietnam.
When you come to Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam, you will definitely see the Phu Quoc Ridgebacks around. They are everywhere, and they have absolutely no regard for the traffic whatsoever.
When you enter a farmstead, be it a pepper farm or any other area where families live, the dogs bark loud to raise the attention of their owner. They also get up to meet you, sometimes in teams.
But the Phu Quoc Ridgebacks are a friendly dog breed. Once they see that they can’t bully you, it’s easy to make friends with them. And they are smarter than most of the other breeds I encountered so far, except for pugs maybe.
The typical features of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback are long legs, spotted tongue and a sword-shaped ridge on it’s back. When the dog is on alert, the ridge, which is hair that grows in the opposite direction of the rest of the fur, stands up, making the Phu Quoc dog look braver and stronger. The webbed feet allow the Vietnamese dog to swim and run faster than many other breeds. They can also jump very high and even climb trees.
Since the friendly dogs got worldwide attention, breeders got interested into setting up a recognized standard. There are only estimated to be 700 pure-blooded specimen worldwide, most of them in Vietnam of course. If you are getting around on Phu Quoc Island, most dogs you see are mixed breeds.
According to the older generation, there are four traditional colors of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback: spotted, black, yellow, and striped. Nowadays there are more colors because the dog has been cross-bred. Finding a pure-blooded dog is hard and can be quite expensive. It can also be very difficult to import dogs from Vietnam. The most valued colors are pure black and pure yellow.
The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is one of three dog breeds in the world that has a ridgeback. There is the Thai Ridgeback and the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Our best friend, the Vietnamese Phu Quoc Ridgeback, is the smallest of the three and typically reaches between 20 and 25 kilograms. In the past, they were used for hunting, carting, and as escort and guard dogs.
They are very intelligent and curious and since they love to learn, they can easily be trained, if there is a good and stable relationship with their human based on mutual trust.
The girl in the front meets the most valued standards of the breed, even if she is not a pure-blooded specimen. Her husband however, is a mix of Phu Quoc Ridgeback and German Shepherd. The only standard he inherited is the spotted tongue. The two don’t care much, neither do their owners. They just love each other.
Even though I had a Spaniel as a child, I usually don’t get warm with dogs easily. I am more a cat type of person, because I grew up with them and they taught me the meaning of consequences among other things. But I am afraid the friendly openness and the playfulness of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback stole my heart.