In America, we’re used to seeing common dog breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, Yorkshire Terrier, and Poodle. But not many of us would be able to identify the 4 Vietnamese dog breeds. None of them are recognized by the American Kennel Club and they’re pretty difficult to come by even in their native Vietnam.
These amazing breeds, however, are great hunters and guarders with origins all over the country – from the more mountainous regions of Ha Giang to the paradise island of Phu Quoc.
You’ll have a task on your hands trying to find one of these Vietnamese dogs in America but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn all about them! Here’s what you need to know!
What Were Vietnamese Dogs Bred For?
Just like American dog breeds and Portuguese dog breeds, Vietnamese dogs were bred for certain reasons. Unlike other countries where pups were bred to be companions or sporting dogs, Vietnamese dog breeds were all bred to be hunting and guard dogs.
The four breeds are very intelligent, loyal, and fierce protectors of property and livestock. They’re not aggressive pups but they can be intimidating, which adds to their guard dog qualifications!
The 4 Vietnamese Dogs
If you’re wanting to adopt a Vietnamese dog, or just brush up on your puppy knowledge, it’s important to learn as much as possible about the breeds so you know if they’d be a good furry addition to your household. Here’s an in-depth look at these four great pups!
Phu Quoc Ridgeback
The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is one of three registered Ridgeback breeds around the world, the other two being the Rhodesian Ridgeback from South Africa and the Thai Ridgeback. As you’d probably imagine, these athletic dogs have the iconic ridge of hair that runs in the opposite direction down their spine.
Whilst not recognized by international kennel clubs, these pups are registered with the Vietnamese Kennel Club and they’re Vietnam’s most famous dog breed.
The Phu Quoc Ridgeback dog is the smallest of all the Ridgebacks but they’re just as loyal and devoted to their owners as the other two. These remarkable dogs originated on the Island of Phu Quoc in the south of the country and are perfectly adapted to island life.
This Vietnamese dog breed has webbed feet, allowing them to swim perfectly to hunt fish. These pups usually build a cave in the sand to have puppies and are capable of climbing tall trees and jumping over high fences.
As a dog that’s used to having a whole island to roam, they need a lot of exercise. They’re highly intelligent hunters and guarders and need lots of daily exercise to keep them mentally and physically happy.
These medium-sized dogs can grow to be 45 pounds and can have many different coat colors including black, brindle, yellow, orange, and gray. They don’t require much grooming, a quick brush every now and again will be enough to distribute oils and keep their coat looking slick and clean.
The Phu Quoc dog is an excellent hunter and incredibly loyal to their owner. They’re easy to train and are highly intelligent dogs.
Bac Ha Dog
The Bac Ha Dog is a stunning, very fluffy pup from the Lao Cai province in northern Vietnam. As you can see by their wonderful coats, these dogs are bred for cold, wet mountainous areas where they loyally serve as livestock and property protectors.
Out of all these native dog breeds, the Bac Ha Dog is the least well-known. In fact, nowadays it’s difficult to find a pup that isn’t a mixed breed.
Even though they’re larger Vietnamese dogs (they can grow to be 55 pounds) they’re surprisingly agile and quick on their paws. They’re excellent hunters and can easily keep their flock or humans safe from large predators.
Because these dogs have a thick, double coat, it’s not recommended that people in the south of Vietnam adopt a Bac Ha Dog. Extreme heat can cause them to lose their fur, get painful skin rashes, and even suffer from sunstroke.
These bear-like dogs can be many different colors such as black, red, tan, yellow, gray, and brindle. They can also be white. In fact, in 2020, a white Bac Ha Dog named Sói won the Vietnamese Native Breeds Championship.
This stunning dog was described as being intelligent, gentle, agile, devoted, and brave.
Indochina Dingo/Lai Dog/Vietnamese Dingo
The third Vietnamese dog breed on the list is the Indochina Dingo. These pups have been around for thousands of years and are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.
Over the years, they traveled across southeast Asia and even made it as far as Australia. This means that the modern-day Australian dingo is actually a descendant of the Indochina Dingo!
Just like the Bac Ha Dog, these beautiful pups were originally bred in the northern, mountainous region of the country and the Indochinese Peninsula. As with all four Vietnamese dog breeds, these loyal pups are excellent hunters and guard dogs.
Actually, in the past, owners mentioned how these dogs would be able to go out and hunt alone and bring back prey. For thousands of years, they kept a slightly wild and untamed streak which owners made good use of. Nowadays, however, these beautiful dogs have been bred to be much more domesticated and are better companion dogs than they once were.
These wonderful dogs can be white, black, or yellow and are very active dogs. As hunters, they need lots of space to roam. They’re not a good choice for families that don’t have lots of land for them to run around in.
The Hmong Dog is an exceptionally loyal dog that loves herding livestock and guarding land, property, and people. These stunning pups also originated in the mountainous area towards the north of the country, where they were bred to be devoted working dogs. They’re DNA is a mix of wild dogs including a wild jackal species which gives them their unique look.
Hmong Dogs were bred to work very closely with the local people in the area. They’re intelligent, sweet-natured, and fierce protectors. They’re also very well known in the country for their incredible memories. It’s said they can get lost in the woods and easily find their way back home.
These dogs are so smart, that they’ve often been used by police and military teams. Even though they can be serious dogs, they’ve also got a really playful side – especially when they’re puppies. They too, need lots of room to play and socialize in and to be part of an active family that goes on lots of hikes and spends time outdoors.
They’re loyal dogs that can easily be trained by the right owner and will love being put to work. They can be many different and beautiful colors including black, brown, brindle, gray, red, and white.
What’s The Most Common Vietnamese Breed?
None of the four Vietnamese dogs are particularly well-known outside of Vietnam. The Phu Quoc Ridgeback Dog, however, is the only one with a breed standard in Vietnam. It’s also the most easily recognizable thanks to its distinct ridgeback markings.
The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is also the most common dog in Vietnam, especially on the island.
Whilst none of these pups are particularly famous, there are many breed groups across the country working hard to have them recognized by national and international kennel clubs.
Although there are only 4 Vietnamese dog breeds, they’re very unique and have a special place in Vietnamese culture and history.
Bred across the country, they’re all fierce protectors and hunters and are the definition of working dogs. These breeds are highly intelligent and make great pets for active, outdoorsy families that have a lot of space for them to play and work in.
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!