The Thai Ridgeback Dog, also known as a TRD, Mah Thai, or
Mah Thai Lang Ahn, is the national dog of Thailand. It is
speculated that the TRD or its descendents may be one of the
oldest dog breeds known to man. The history of this magnificent
breed dates back to ancient times and remains the subject
of numerous theories. The TRD is generally considered a Pariah
type dog, which can be traced back to the origins of the dog
itself as it evolved from wolf to dingo to our domestic dog.
To date, history may prove dingoes began and evolved in Asia.
Some of the earliest known dingo-like fossils are from Ban
Chiang in Northeast Thailand and date back close to 6000 years
Given the ancient history of the Thai Ridgeback Dog it is
very difficult to prove the exact origin of the breed. It
is believed dogs became domesticated between 6,000 to 10,000
years ago at a time when man was crossing over from a nomadic
hunter/gatherer lifestyle to a lifestyle of harvester/gatherer,
a more agricultural way of life. This agricultural way of
life allowed for a communal relationship between wild animals
and man. The dog in turn was used to assist in the capture
of prey and for herding of livestock. Thus it is believed
man began to "breed" from the early stages of domestication.
The best specimens of dogs available from the very beginning
were selected to assist man. The true beginning of the relationship
of man and his best friend.
Archeological drawings of dogs closely resembling the Thai
Ridgeback have been found in caves in Asia estimated to date
back approximately 3000 years. Written documentation of the
TRD breed can be found in Asian manuscripts dating back over
350 years. An ancient manuscript of the period of King Songthan
of Ayuttaya (1611 to 1628) 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 fingertips.) 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
woods. 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 fear
less.... Their ears are pointed erect and their tails stand
like the swords of tribesmen.."
It is generally speculated that the dog originated in Eastern
Thailand. Because of the isolation of the islands in which
this dog lived, the type has remained consistent over the
centuries. The basic isolation of the dog in Asia particularly
in Thailand protected this breed from crossbreeding. Thailand
is inhabited by very poor people who are also kept mostly
in isolation due to poor or nonexistent transportation systems.
This is why the Thai Ridgeback is considered a relatively
pure and undoubtedly original breed. The TRD was the only
possession of some of the people, thus making the dogs extremely
important to their owners. The TRD provided a valuable source
of sustenance due to its indispensable skills when hunting
because of its excellent qualities of sight, speed, agility
and perseverance. The TRD was a prized possession. The dogs
were more than capable of capturing small animals such as
rabbits and small boar.
While the family was away or at work in the fields, the TRD
was a tremendous watchdog and was used to stand guard over
one's home protecting possessions and ridding the home of
dangerous pests such as snakes and rodents. The earliest "known"
areas with the highest population of the breed were the eastern
areas of Thailand. There the dog could be found in greater
numbers, particularly in the eastern fishing ports, which
most likely was responsible for the relatively small expansion
of the breed. The breed habitat is not only limited to Thailand.
The TRD can also be found in a few other small isolated areas
in Asia. The TRD may also be found in areas such as Kamphuchea
(Cambodia), in Indonesia and on the island of Phu Quoc. Phu
Quoc island lying in the Gulf of Siam is about 200 km eastwards
from Bangkok. Phu Quoc island is the place where the dog was
first truly recognized by the Western civilization during
colonization of the island in the 19th century. On this island
the Thai Ridgeback is believed to have given rise to the Phu
Quoc dog. The Phu Quoc dog, obviously named after the island
which it inhabited, is considerably smaller than the Thai
Ridgeback due in part to the poor conditions on Phu Quoc island.
The Phu Quoc dog gradually developed smaller over the centuries.
The Phu Quoc dog also possess the "ridgeback" on
its back. Of the hundreds of breeds in existence today, only
three breeds posses the unique "ridgeback." The
Thai Ridgeback, the Phu Quoc, and the arguably the most famous
of the three the Rhodesian Ridgeback.
The relationship between the Rhodesian and Thai Ridgeback
is uncertain. Some speculate since the TRD was very popular
with fisherman amongst the peers of Eastern Thailand that
they may have traveled with them. They believe the fisherman
may have traveled with the Thai Ridgeback, introducing it
to the continent of Africa during their course of trade. Currently
there is no scientific proof that the Thai and the Rhodesian
The Thai Ridgeback Dog is a truly rare and beautiful animal.