Phu Quoc Ridgeback: Origin, Characteristics, and Care


The Phu Quoc Ridgeback, also known as the Vietnamese Phu Quoc dog, is a unique breed of dog famous for its striking appearance and intelligent nature. Native to Phu Quoc Island, these dogs can be easily seen anywhere on the island. If you are curious about this breed, read on as Rooty Trip explores the history, notable characteristics, and qualities of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback – what makes them an absolutely loyal companion.

vietnamese phu quoc dog

Phu Quoc Ridgeback: Origin and Characteristics – Visit 3 Phu Quoc Dog Farms

Quick facts about Phu Quoc dogs:

Other names Phu Quoc Xoay Dog, Phu Quoc Striped Dog, Vietnamese Phu Quoc dog
Origin Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Vietnam
Weight Male: 15-20 kg (33–44 lb)

Female: 12-18 kg (26–40 lb)

Height Male: 50-55 cm (19.5–21.5 in)

Female: 48-52 cm (19–20.5 in)

Length 110 – 117 cm
Coat Short hair with a ridge on the back
Patterns Brindle, tawny, jet black and spotted.
Lifespan Over 10 years

1. History  of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback

The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is a breed of dog with a prominent dorsal ridge from Phu Quoc Island, Kien Giang, Viet Nam. Many hypotheses have been put forward about the origin of the Phu Quoc dog breed. Some people believe that they are the result of a cross between a wild dog and a French or Dutch curly-haired dog, when slave ships of the past passed by the island.

Others believe that it originated in Thailand when Thai merchants brought Thai curly-haired dogs to Phu Quoc Island to exchange or give to the locals.

These arguments have not been clearly verified and are not convincing. It is only known that Phu Quoc Ridgeback has existed in Vietnam for a very long time, possibly from the 17th or 18th century. Today, they are also listed as one of the “Four Great National Dogs” of Vietnam, alongside the Bac Ha Dog, the Lai Dog, and the H’Mong Bobtail Dog.

The Phu Quoc dog breed has a unique identifying feature: a unique ridge of fur on its back.

The Phu Quoc dog breed has a unique identifying feature: a unique ridge of fur on its back.

2. Appearance

Adult Phu Quoc Ridgeback weigh between 15-20kg for males, while females weigh between 12-18kg. In addition, the length of the dog is from 110 – 117 cm and the height is 48 – 55 cm. Thanks to that, the body is quite slender, slim but very toned and strong.

Adult Phu Quoc dogs have a slender, toned body compared to when they were young.

Adult Phu Quoc Ridgeback have a slender, toned body compared to when they were young.

Purebred Phu Quoc Ridgeback have the following outstanding physical characteristics:

  • Coat: Purebred Phu Quoc Ridgeback have a smooth and short coat, especially the unique ridge that runs the length of the back. Phu Quoc Dogs have longer tail and back hair than other parts. Short hair, close to the body (0.7 – 2 cm), helps the dog to dry itself by shaking a few times when wet.
  • Face: Small head, long muzzle, long neck, longitudinal groove in the middle of the forehead, large eyes, slightly slanted and with black borders around the eyes. At the same time, it has a long neck, ears and muzzle, characterized by a black tongue.
  • Body: Toned and flexible, broad chest, especially the front legs are straight and slender and very long. The tail is short and usually curves up like a bow.
  • Paws: The paws of the Phu Quoc Dog have webbing like a duck’s foot. This is a unique feature that contributes to the excellent swimming and fishing skills of this breed.
The basic black and yellow brindle coat pattern of Phu Quoc dogs compared to the solid color of ordinary dogs.

The basic black and yellow brindle coat pattern of Phu Quoc dogs compared to the solid color of ordinary dogs.

Phu Quoc Ridgeback have 4 coat patterns including jet black, tawny, brindle and spotted. The easiest way to identify a Phu Quoc Dog is by its back ridge. However, because there are many different variations, according to the islanders, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback is classified based on their coat color and coat pattern.

  • Jet black Phu Quoc Ridgeback: This breed of dog is characterized by a black coat that covers the entire body. Some lines will have some brown spots on the chest, tail or paws.
  • Tawny Phu Quoc Dog: This is the most popular breed of dog, found most in Phu Quoc. This breed of dog usually has a black mask and tail.
  • Brindle Phu Quoc Ridgeback: This is considered one of the most beautiful coat colors of this breed, characterized by the combination of red or orange and black. However, the brindle Phu Quoc dog breed is relatively rare and scarce, so the price is also higher.
  • Spotted Phu Quoc Ridgeback: This breed of dog has a coat that is mainly white with spots or patches of different colors. Usually black, brown, yellow…etc.]
phu quoc ridgeback 4

The purebred Phu Quoc dog breed is divided into 4 main coat pattern.

There are 3 most outstanding types of Phu Quoc dog dorsal ridges. They are sword ridge, board ridge and knife ridge if only considering the coat pattern:

  • Sword ridge Phu Quoc Ridgeback: Sword ridge is a type of ridge that runs down the back like a sword, this is the most common type of ridge and is chosen by many people to buy.
sword-shaped back ridge of Phu Quoc dog

Phu Quoc dog with a sword-shaped back dorsal ridge. 

  • Board ridge Phu Quoc Ridgeback: Board ridge is a type of hair ridge that has the shape of a diamond. Quite similar to the sword ridge but will be shorter in length and the horizontal part is wider.
The board ridge of the Phu Quoc dog

The board ridge is a diamond-shaped hair pattern of the Phu Quoc dog.

  • Knife ridge Phu Quoc Ridgeback: This is the type of hair that looks like the head of a spear, a sharp knife.
knife-shaped coat Phu Quoc ridgeback

Phu Quoc dog with a knife-shaped coat.

Overall, these are the 3 basic and most common ridge shapes. Some people want to buy dogs with 2 ridges on their back or dogs with ridges on their buttocks. In fact, that type is very rare, too rare to sell.

  • Lifespan and reproduction

The average lifespan of a Phu Quoc Ridgeback is 9-17 years, depending on the living environment, genetics and care. Their maturity time is from 10 months for females and 16 months for males.

During the reproductive period, Phu Quoc Ridgeback are pregnant for about 50-60 days before giving birth and are considered to be fast compared to native dogs (usually 58-68 days). Phu Quoc Ridgeback give birth to 5-8 puppies per litter, 2 litters per year.

3. Phu Quoc Ridgeback temperament

Phu Quoc Ridgeback are very smart, intelligent, obedient, and easy to train. They have the ability to learn quickly and carry out commands from their owner flawlessly. In particular, they are very loyal and friendly to their owner and people they know in the house.

This breed is also very wary of strangers because it has the habit of dominating its territory. They never eat food from strangers and protect their living environment from people who have not been approved by the owner.

Some dog lovers often wonder if Phu Quoc Ridgeback are fierce. Do they bite people?

In fact, the Phu Quoc Dog breed is a fairly gentle hunting breed, except for those that are not domesticated, have little contact with people, or have a fierce instinct. The wild nature of this breed can be a problem. They will growl and be wary and may bite strangers. If you twist their ears, hold their tail, they will bite back instinctively – According to doctors at PetHealth Veterinary Hospital, Hanoi.

Phu Quoc dogs are loyal, brave but also very scary to strangers.

Phu Quoc dogs are loyal, brave but also very scary to strangers.

Purebred Phu Quoc Ridgeback are also good hunting dogs, not letting any prey escape their sight and pursuit. Many people believe that this habit originated from ancient times, when they were still wild dogs and specialized in operating in packs. Thanks to their intelligence and willingness to take advantage of opportunities, this breed has easily become a great companion for hunting.

There have been many stories in history depicting the loyalty of the Phu Quoc Ridgeback. The reason this breed is considered “Royal Dog” is because in history they were solemnly honored by King Gia Long. According to legend, it was the four Phu Quoc dogs that he raised that made great contributions to saving King Gia Long from the brink of death twice before he ascended to the throne.

4. Phu Quoc Ridgeback’s health and adaptability

The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is renowned for its extraordinary health and remarkable adaptability to various climates, including both hot and cold weather. Thanks to their inherent resilience, they can thrive in tropical environments as well as temperate or even slightly chilly climates.

Innate Robust Health

Phu Quoc Ridgebacks possess strong genes, honed through centuries of living in the harsh wilderness of Phu Quoc Island. This results in a low susceptibility to congenital hereditary diseases and a healthy immune system, effectively combating pathogens.

Flexible Adaptation

As a hunting breed, Phu Quoc Ridgebacks have always been trained to adapt to any environmental condition. Their short, moderately thick coat helps regulate body temperature effectively, making them suitable for both hot and humid climates as well as slightly cold weather.

Below are some pictures of Phu Quoc Ridgeback living outside the island. The photo was taken in Thai Binh province, Northern Vietnam when the weather in early 2024 dropped to 9 degrees Celsius in some places. This proves that the ability to adapt to harsh weather conditions of Phu Quoc Ridgeback  is very good.

Phu Quoc Ridgeback Phu Quoc Ridgeback Phu Quoc Ridgeback dog Phu Quoc Ridgeback dog

5. Phu Quoc Ridgeback care

Phu Quoc Ridgeback are easier to raise than ordinary dogs. However, to ensure the best health for this four-legged friend, you need to follow the following care instructions:

  • What do Phu Quoc Ridgeback eat?

This breed of Phu Quoc dog likes to eat meat, eggs, animal viscera, seafood, and various kinds of fish to supplement protein, fat, iron, and calcium. The nature of this breed is that they are not picky eaters and do not require a strict diet like other breeds.

They are very flexible in their diet and do not discriminate between different types of food. They can enjoy anything their owner provides, from vegetables and fruits to meat and many other foods. However, there have been many cases where it has been noted that it is not really good if you do not limit the intake of starchy and processed foods. This causes them to have difficulty digesting.

  • How to clean a Phu Quoc Ridgeback

Check and clean the skin regularly to prevent skin diseases. Dogs have short hair, so you don’t have to worry about trimming it regularly. Bathe your dog regularly if you live in a cool climate. If you live in the North or Central region, the frequency should be reduced to 1-2 times/week and remember to use warm water to keep your dog warm.

To maintain dental hygiene for your Phu Quoc Dog, brush their teeth regularly and stabilize their diet. Use a mixture of baking soda and mouthwash or dog toothpaste every week. Your veterinarian can provide more information and be aware of the risk of periodontal disease to protect your dog’s teeth and overall health.

  • Vaccination

Some common health problems in this breed are intestinal inflammation due to changes in the living environment. The second is respiratory disease because Phu Quoc Ridgeback live on the island and are used to the cool climate all year round. When faced with too cold weather, they are easily susceptible to disease.

The best way to reduce the incidence of enteritis is to vaccinate fully against all necessary vaccines according to the veterinarian’s schedule. The 5-in-1 combination vaccine should be given to dogs when they are two, three, and four months old, and then once a year thereafter.

phu quoc ridgeback 10

Caring for Phu Quoc dogs. (Photo: puredogtalk.com)

So how much is a Phu Quoc Ridgeback? Is it really expensive? Let’s find out the details of the market price below.

6. Phu quoc ridgeback price

Price Phu Quoc ridgeback in the West US, UK, Europe Range: $2,000 – $5,000 USD and potentially higher.

Reasons for High Cost:

  • Rarity: Phu Quoc Ridgebacks are less common in Western countries.
  • Import Costs: Travel, quarantine, and health certifications add to the price.
  • Breeder Standards: Strict breeding practices and regulations in Western countries can increase costs.

While rare instances of Phu Quoc Ridgebacks being sold for 10,000 USD in the West might occur, this is not the typical price range.

Price in Vietnam typical Range: 3 – 6 million VND ($130 – $260 USD approximately)

Specifically, the price list of Phu Quoc Dogs below:

Color/coat type Price (VND)
Jet black Phu Quoc Ridgeback 3 million VND/dog
Tawny Phu Quoc Ridgeback 4 – 5 million VND/dog
Brindle Phu Quoc Ridgeback 5 – 6 million VND/dog
Spotted Phu Quoc Ridgeback 3 – 4 million VND/dog

Note that male Phu Quoc Ridgeback are often more expensive than females due to their strength, agility, and sturdiness. Puppies from famous parents or with rarer coat types and colors are usually priced about 1 million VND higher. Those with pedigree can be priced 2-4 times higher than those without papers, especially when exported abroad.

7. Experience at the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Farm in Vietnam

Phu Quoc Ridgeback Conservation Center was established in 2000, covering an area of nearly 15 hectares and is located in the Phu Quoc National Forest Protection Area, Phu Quoc island, Vietnam. Which is managed by the Thanh Nga enterprise. Currently, Thanh Nga Farm is the place to raise and conserve the Phu Quoc Ridgeback with more than 200 dogs.

With a large design and divided into functional areas, the conservation area includes a wilderness area, breeding, reproduction, training, fence jumping performance, racetrack, kitchen, infirmary, and dog cemetery. This is the largest Phu Quoc Ridgeback conservation and performance training center on the island.

If you visit in October-December, you may be lucky enough to witness the special dog racing event. Tourists should not miss the performance with impressive performances such as jumping from a height of 0.9m, overcoming obstacles of the “National Dogs”. The dogs also perform fence jumping and even collect garbage, creating unique and attractive moments for visitors.

Admire the special performance at Thanh Nga Phu Quoc Dog Farm.

Admire the special performance at Thanh Nga Phu Quoc Ridgeback Farm.

Not only that, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback also show themselves with their extremely good swimming skills when seen at Thanh Nga Dog Farm. This is a natural development from the living environment on Phu Quoc Island, with the surrounding sea.

Phu Quoc dog in a swimming competition (Photo: laodong)

Phu Quoc Ridgeback in a swimming competition (Photo: laodong)

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the Phu Quoc Thanh Nga Ridgeback Dog Conservation Center faced many challenges with a decrease in the number of visitors. However, the owner here is very kind and loves dogs, so the puppies are always taken care of carefully. The puppies here are not only lovely and friendly but also show intelligence and strength, especially the racing group, they look very cool when racing.

Located near Suoi Tranh Tourist Area and 25 minutes drive from Duong Dong center, Thanh Nga Phu Quoc Ridgeback Farm is a unique tourist destination and an interesting experience in Phu Quoc. The area for visitors to visit has kennels, a racetrack and a forest, where the dogs are free to hunt.

Tourist review: “The conservation center is large, surrounded by trees, so it is cool and peaceful. The dogs are well-groomed and trained, especially the dog racing program is attractive, attracting hundreds of visitors each month.”

  • Rating: 3.8/5* (371 reviews)
  • Address: Hamlet 77, Suoi Mo Hamlet, Duong To, Kien Giang, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
  • Opening hours: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM daily.
  • Ticket price: 50,000 VND per person.

Should you buy a Phu Quoc Ridgeback?

Buying a Phu Quoc Ridgeback as a souvenir during your trip to Phu Quoc Island is an interesting and meaningful idea, bringing joy and warmth to the recipient. Phu Quoc dogs are not only a unique cultural symbol of the locality but also wonderful companions, famous for their intelligence and loyalty.

However, this decision requires careful consideration of aspects such as living conditions, financial ability, and time spent caring for the dog. Make sure you buy from a reputable source and prepare everything you need for their care. Ultimately, buying a Phu Quoc Ridgeback as a gift can be a good option if you are ready for the responsibilities that come with it.

Is there a chance to encounter wild Phu Quoc Ridgeback when visiting natural areas in Phu Quoc?

The chance of encountering wild Phu Quoc Ridgeback when visiting natural areas in Phu Quoc is very low. According to statistics, there are currently only about 200-300 wild Phu Quoc Ridgeback living on the island. Wild Phu Quoc Ridgeback are reclusive and therefore usually live in dense forests, far from human settlements, and rarely appear before humans. Wild Phu Quoc dogs are quite similar in appearance to domestic Phu Quoc dogs, so it is very difficult to distinguish them without experience.

However, there are still some cases where you may encounter wild Phu Quoc Ridgeback in remote forest areas if you go trekking or exploring the island’s remote forest areas.

Above is all the information about the Phu Quoc Ridgeback – an intelligent and clever dog breed of Vietnam. Hopefully, with the sharing from Rooty Trip, it will help you better understand the origin and characteristics of this breed. If you have the opportunity to come to Phu Quoc Island, don’t forget to visit the conservation centers to admire the interesting talents of this dog breed!




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