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What Is a Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog? History & Fun Facts

Written by: Codee Chessher

Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

Phu Quoc ridgeback dig breed

What Is a Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog? History & Fun Facts

The world is full of exotic and lesser-known dog breeds, and one of them is the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog. With a dainty physique and striking ridge on their back, they’re among the more distinctive dogs out there. Native to Vietnam, the breed’s hunting history and loyalty belie a gregarious, friendly attitude. Let’s check out some more about the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog, including their history and some fun facts.

Breed Overview


19–22 inches


25–45 pounds


14–16 years


Brindle, black, red, yellow, sable, brown

Suitable for:

Families with kids, anyone who wants a low-maintenance dog


LBrave, intelligent, loyal, sociable, relaxed

The Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog is one of Vietnam’s four national dog breeds1, known for their athleticism, loyalty, and hunting ability. One of only three ridgeback dogs in the world, they’re easily spotted by the ridge of hair along their spine, which grows opposite to the fur around it. They’re also extremely friendly with humans, showing little hostility to amiable strangers.

Some devotees of the breed claim they’re one of the smartest dogs in the world, so underestimate them at your peril.

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Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog Breed Characteristics

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

The Earliest Records of Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog in History

Historians can’t agree on how they got there, but everyone agrees the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog hails from Phu Quoc, an island in south Vietnam. These originals were bred with other native dogs to boost genetic diversity, and folklore claims there used to be three different-sized versions of the breed.

At that point, though, history’s pretty sure that the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog was heavily interbred. Sadly, interbreeding almost wiped them out. French writers who visited Vietnam around 1900 claimed the dog was rare and nearly extinct.

Ridgeback Phu Quoc dog on the island beach. Dog Phu Quoc
Image By: Eselena, Shutterstock

How Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog Gained Popularity

The Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog was isolated to the island of Phu Quoc for most of its history, but European visitors in recent decades have generated some interest in the breed. We still don’t have much info on them, but they did have a recent stroke of good luck that bodes well for their future.

In 2015, British citizen Catherine Lane visited Vietnam and fell in love with the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog. She was so enamored that she brought a pair back with her to the UK, becoming the first European owner of the breed2. The pair had puppies, too, and they sold for a cool £10,000. That makes them one of the most expensive dogs ever sold, which certainly hasn’t hurt their reputation.

If efforts to boost their numbers are successful, we predict the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog to become wildly popular. To make a comparison, imagine a smaller and more chill German Shepherd with similar intelligence and loyalty.

Formal Recognition of Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog

One of the rarest dogs in the world, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog hasn’t earned formal recognition from the AKC, but the Vietnam Kennel Association does. That’s mostly because there are so few of them and that makes it tricky to define the breed’s unique characteristics. Perhaps that will change as their popularity grows.

Closeup of yellow Phu Quoc Ridgeback dog
Image By: Stamaenna, Shutterstock

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Top 4 Unique Facts About Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog

1. There’s no breed standard

The Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog is usually excluded from dog shows and competitions.

2. Was bred for long lifespans

They typically live 14 to 16 years.

3. One of the most relaxed and laid-back dogs for families

They’re virtually impossible to find.

4. At one point

They were bred in three different sizes to hunt various types of game.

Does a Phu Quoc Ridgeback Make a Good Pet?

This breed makes a stellar family dog and is great for nearly anyone. Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dogs are more relaxed than working breeds like the Belgian Malinois, but they love a good long walk too. They’re extremely loyal pups that don’t need much grooming to stay presentable, plus they’re allegedly dog geniuses. What’s not to love?

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Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dogs were confined to Vietnam for most of their history, but that’s changing. They’re smart, loyal, good with kids, and friendly. We predict—and hope for—a comeback in the near future!

Featured Image Credit: Mark a. leech, Shutterstock

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