FAQ about the Phu Quoc Ridgeback breed

General Information and FAQ about the Phu Quoc Dog

Overview of the Phu Quoc Dog Breed
The Phu Quoc dog is considered a primitive hunting hound and is a rare breed both inside and outside of Vietnam. After the Vietnam war, the breed was close to extinction and only numbered in the few hundreds on Phu Quoc Island. With conservation efforts, their number rose to 700-800 pure breds in the past few decades. Currently, there are only a few thousand documented pure bred Phu Quoc dogs world-wide.

The Phu Quoc breed is known for speed, agility, and intelligence. They are not recommended for first-time dog owners because they tend to be harder to train due to their intelligence which can come across as stubbornness. They are only partially domesticated in a sense that they are allowed to roam free on the island, and are not kept indoors as we keep pets in the US. They will require an active, dominant owner, as they will generally require consistent obedience training and lots of exercise to keep their bodies busy and minds engaged.

The Phu Quoc dog is the smallest of the three rare breeds that have a ridge on their back: the Rhodesian type is from Africa and is the largest of the three. The Thai ridgeback is of medium size and build, whereas the Phu Quoc dog is the smallest of the three and traditionally, will often not weight more than 40 pounds. However, as they are now introduced into the US, with better care and nutrition, their physique will likely change as they will gain more bulk and muscle. One thing to note is that some Phu Quoc dogs can be born without a ridge, which is a cosmetic flaw and not one that will affect the dog’s health, intelligence or characteristics in anyway.

Phu Quoc Ridgebacks are energetic, athletic dogs found predominantly on Phu Quoc Island, a small island in Southern Vietnam. This breed was used to guard the house and accompany hunters to hunt small prey. Because they are independent, oftentimes, they hunt on their own and will bring their spoils home to their masters. As puppies they have boundless energy, but with proper exercise and training, they can grow into quiet, dignified housemates. They are not for the novice dog owner, as it takes a lot of time and energy to properly train this breed. However, for those who are experienced and who are already committed to an active lifestyle, the Phu Quoc Ridgeback can be the ideal family dog.

Activity Requirements
This breed needs a lot of vigorous exercise to maintain health, happiness and an even temperament. Because Phu Quoc Ridgebacks have their roots in Vietnam, they can withstand a lot of activity in very high temperatures and humidity without slowing down. They require several walks a day and plenty of time to run outdoors. They are athletic enough to jog or accompany bikers and hikers. The older they get, the less running they require, but they will always need daily activity. Without proper exercise, this breed can become anxious and destructive.

Hunters can use Phu Quoc Ridgebacks in the field to track and point for small game, or to track and corner large game; they hunt well alone or in a pack. Non-hunting families should enroll their Ridgebacks in organized activities like agility or lure coursing. They make excellent hiking and camping companions, happy to engage in outdoor fun and will guard you faithfully while you picnic or sleep.

Training a Phu Quoc Ridgeback can be a challenge. They are independent thinkers who also have a tendency to exhibit dominance. They need to be trained with firmness to establish leadership, but never with harshness. 100% consistency is crucial when training because Phu Quoc ridgebacks will constantly test boundaries to see what they can get away with.

Behavioral Traits
Phu Quoc Ridgebacks are naturally wary of strangers. It is important to properly socialize your dog so that this natural wariness doesn't develop into aggression. Teaching your Ridgeback early on that guests are welcomed will help him to be more welcoming later in life. This breed is also often aggressive toward other dogs and non-family pets. He may get along great with your cat, but should a neighbor's cat wander into his yard, he will chase it. Taking your Ridgeback to puppy school and the dog park to socialize him when he is young can help stave off dog aggression. Socialization and reinforcement of training is crucial with this breed.

Is the Phu Quoc Ridgeback Intelligent?
The answer is an emphatic YES! If you have the time and patience for your Phu Quoc Ridgeback, he or she will reward you with quick learning as well as loyalty and affection. This dog breed is so intelligent that you will be continually amazed at how fast they learn and how creative they can be in finding ways of getting what they want, whether it is to leave the yard, to get into the house or to find a toy you have hidden from them.

Are Phu Quoc Ridgebacks good with children?
This depends on you. The Phu Quoc dog is very loving and loyal to their family. However, if they are not socialized, they can be wary of children outside of the family, especially when they are being crowded by too many little hands and lots of noise. In any case, very small children should NEVER be left alone with a dog, no matter how good they are with each other.

Are Phu Quoc Ridgebacks good with other dogs?
Yes. One of the original functions of the PQ Ridgebacks was to hunt. They can take down prey 3-4x their size and are especially good hunting in a pack. However, they must be socialized at an early age. If not, they can be very aggressive. They are hunting hounds so care must be taken around smaller dogs and animals, as their hunting drive is very high. Again, this all comes down to the owner's dedication in training and reinforcement. How well a Phu Quoc dog behaves often is a reflection of how well he is trained.

Must this breed have a fenced in yard and be kept on lead when out of the yard?
A fenced yard is good; a leash and collar is a must! A Ridgeback LOVES to run, climb and jump! Their great speed and pure joy of running are exciting to watch, but can sometimes lead to trouble for the unwary owner. The sight of something interesting, such as a cat, a squirrel or another dog could have him off and away, with no thought of traffic or any other danger. The owner of a Ridgeback must understand and be prepared for this trait to avoid possible tragedy. Basic CONSISTENT daily obedience training will help establish a bond of love and respect between the Ridgeback and his owner, but it is NOT a substitute for common sense. The best way to protect a Ridgeback from harm is to exercise it on a leash or within a well-fenced or protected area.

How high must my fence be?
Of sufficient height to keep him from jumping over the fence. A Ridgeback can easily clear a 5 foot fence & has even been seen jumping a 7 or 8 foot fence, without a running start! However, if you don’t leave him in your yard for long periods of time and prevent him/her from becoming bored, he/she should not attempt to jump over the fence. Boredom is what causes them to become “escape artists!” Boredom is what causes them to become unruly and destructive. A bored dog is usually the owner’s fault.

Can I leave a Phu Quoc Ridgeback in my fenced in yard all day?
If you leave your Ridgeback in your fenced in yard all day without any mental stimulation, one or all of the following things will DEFINITELY occur:
1. He will howl (and whine) his head off for you to come out to be with him or for you to let him into the house. (this will make you quite unpopular with your neighbors.)
2. He will tear down the siding on your house, or ruin your back door by scratching it to pieces to try to come into the house to be with you!
3. He will dig holes all over your yard and may even reach China, because he is bored.
4. He will jump over or dig under the fence and escape and may get killed by the first car that drives down the street. If you live on a country road that has little traffic; it only takes ONE car!
5. And even if none of the above ever happens (which is unlikely), your dog will not train itself or housebreak itself or socialize itself if it’s kept in your yard all day!

Can I chain him up, outside, if I do not have a fenced in back yard?
ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! Not even for five minutes! This is one of the easiest way to ruin a dog’s temperament! And it is the most inhumane thing you can do to a dog.

How much exercise does an adult Phu Quoc Ridgeback need?
A good long walk on lead is always good. If you are lucky enough to live near a park with a protected area where you can turn him loose for a while –great! If you’re a hiker, that’s even better. This breed loves to be outdoors, loves to climb rocks and is equipped with endless energy for any adventure you can think of since they are good runners, climbers and swimmers.

This is a truly amazing breed. Be a good owner and you will not be disappointed!