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What Is a Bac Ha Dog? Facts & Characteristics

Written by: Hanh Duong

Last Updated on July 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

Bac Ha Dog

What Is a Bac Ha Dog? Facts & Characteristics

The Bắc Hà, also known as the Vitespitz, is one of Vietnam’s Four Great National Dogs. Many Vietnamese are big fans of these canines because of their great looks, good health, and remarkable intelligence. However, most foreigners don’t know about their existence due to a lack of information about Bắc Hà dogs written in English. This article will help you understand them and learn more about their traits.

Breed Overview

Height:

20–26 inches

Weight:

35–58 pounds

Lifespan:

9–15 years

Colors:

White, yellow, black, brindle, tan, gray, red, mixed

Suitable for:

Experienced dog owners

Temperament:

Loyal, calm, alert, wary of strangers

Bắc Hà dogs appeared very early in Vietnam. They are named after the town where humans first discovered them in the Bac Ha district of Lao Cai province in the Northeast region. These pups are super intelligent and sensitive to strange noises. They are also very supple and have good endurance. Therefore, H’mong people in northern Vietnam mainly used them for guarding and hunting duties.

Bac Ha Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy
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High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Trainability
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Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Health
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Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Lifespan
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Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Sociability
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Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.
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The Earliest Records of the Bac Ha Dog in History

The Bắc Hà has long been associated with the life of the H’mong people living in the northern mountainous areas of Vietnam. According to the myths of village elders, in the past, there was a group of fire wolves on the mountain that usually came at night to catch cattle. Once, in the cold winter, people in the village panicked when they saw many male pups brutally bitten to death.

They decided to set up a 24-hour watch to find the culprit and discovered that the leader of the pack of wolves had killed all of their domestic dogs to gain the right to mate. After a while, those wolves didn’t return to the village anymore, but the female dogs began giving birth to red-haired puppies with wild and fierce behavior. The origin of Bắc Hà dogs is said to have started from there.

How the Bac Ha Dog Gained Popularity

The Bắc Hà was used mainly as a hunting, guarding, and herding dog. The most significant advantage of these canines is their ability to adapt well to the Vietnamese climate, particularly in the northern mountainous provinces. In addition, they don’t require an intensive care regimen as many other species.

Thanks to the perfectly preserved wild characteristics, the Bắc Hà is becoming increasingly famous among dog lovers in Vietnam. Many people in Hanoi and other big cities desire to bring this pup home, but it’s hard to find a purebred one.

Formal Recognition of the Bac Ha Dog

While the Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) does not acknowledge the Bắc Hà dog, the Vietnam Kennel Association does.

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Top 3 Unique Facts About the Bac Ha Dog

1. The Bắc Hà Is an Expensive Breed

Bắc Hà dogs are very famous in Vietnam, and fans of this breed are willing to spend a lot of money to bring them home. You’ll have to spend thousands of dollars to get a big and beautiful puppy. In particular, the red Bắc Hà, also known as the “fire” dog, with the rarest color, will cost at least $2,000.


2. They Have a Wide Range of Coat Colors

The coat color of the Bắc Hà breed is very diverse, with the most common being white, black, gray, yellow, or brindle. Red is the rarest. Only one in 10 Bắc Hà puppies are born with red fur (a natural color not caused by chromosomal abnormalities).


3. Don’t Touch a BắC Hà Dog if You Are a Stranger

It’s not safe for strangers to touch a Bắc Hà dog. They are very agile, quick to react, and ready to attack the “enemy” before anyone can perform a threatening action. They were born with this trait and have refined it over centuries as hunting animals. These characteristics make them excellent protectors and a good choice for training as military dogs. However, despite their aggressive nature with outsiders, they are incredibly loyal and affectionate with family members.

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Does the Bac Ha Dog Make a Good Pet?

The Bắc Hà is a dog with a wild personality and intense vitality, but today, they are more domesticated and enjoy living with people. They are friendly and loving with family members, especially children, but are wary of strangers. With a high degree of discipline, they tend to obey every command of their owners and take them seriously. They are not afraid to sacrifice themselves to save their owners when in danger.

Bắc Hà dogs are also famous for their excellent ability to hunt mice. That’s why H’mong people love this breed and live very close to them. These pups make good pets for experienced owners who have enough space for them to run around or are willing to exercise with them every day at the dog park. If you have children, you may have to think twice when considering buying this breed.

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Final Thoughts

Bắc Hà dogs are endowed with healthy bodies with perfect proportions. At the same time, the pups are wise, alert, and very devoted to their owners. If raised and cared for properly, they can live up to 23 years, although their average lifespan is between 9 and 15 years. However, if you want to buy a purebred dog, you should seek out a reputable breeder.


Featured Image Credit: Bắc Hà dog(Stephanie See, via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 2.0)

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