Thai Ridgeback is a very ancient breed dating back 3000-4000 years according to archaeological drawings. These drawings show a dog with a sickle tail and erect ears which is supposed to show it’s a Thai Ridgeback.
The earliest written documentation seems to come from an ancient manuscript of the period of King Songthan of Ayuttaya (1611 to 1628) who describes the Ridgeback as follows:
«The dogs are big. They are more than two sawk tall (one sawk is a traditional measurement which equals the length from an adult’s elbow to his finger tips). They appear in a variety of colors. And each dog has a ridge on the back.They are fierce. They are loyal to their masters. They are able to feed themselves, digging the earth in search
of small prey. They like to follow their owner, to hunt in the wood. When they catch an animal they will bring it to their master. They are loyal to the entire household. They love their companionship. They go everywhere with their masters, even as far as the big Yang tree. They are powerful and fearless…. Their ears are pointed erect and their tails stand like the swords of tribesmen… «
Where is the Big Yang Tree you may ask, I have no idea but this comment has kept me amused for years!
Thai Ridgebacks originally came from the Pho Quoc Island originally part of Siam, now a part of Vietnam. It is the major isle in the Gulf of Siam, about 200 km south of Bangkok.
It would seem that Thai Ridgebacks were originally used to hunt wild boar, deer, tapirs and birds. They were also used to escort carts along side their master, which were the mode of transport in Thailand at that time. As you can imagine long distance travel was difficult. These areas were very isolated because of the non existence of roads. There was no chance of cross breeding with other breeds due to this situation. As a result the Thai Ridgeback has remained unchanged for centuries. Due to natural selection only the strongest and fittest dogs survived thus creating a very healthy dog we know of today.
It has only been with introduction of modern day transport that these dogs have began to get more widely publicised and recognised around Thailand and the western world. Intense deforestation throughout Thailand has destroyed most hunting habitat and Thai Ridgebacks are no longer used in the same way. Nowadays they seem to be used mainly for guarding their masters family and property. It seems to be a real status symbol to own a Thai Ridgeback in Thailand. Government, military and police officials seem to be keen enthusiasts of this breed.
There have been many speculations regarding numbers in Thailand. Although I accept that not all Thai Ridgebacks are registered with the Kennel Club of Thailand the actual recorded number was only 367 in November 2002.
The first TR pup to exported out of Thailand was in 1990 by Ray Mersmann from Holland with his blue male «Hintza». Since then their popularity has grown rapidly.
Hopefully with selective breeding we will improve numbers as well as quality in the near future. If we are to do justice to this breed we should also try and show it’s intelligent nature. I urge all owners to participate in at least one of the following:- obedience, agility, tracking or any other activity which magnifies it’s intelligence.