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4 Vietnamese Dog Breeds You Need to See (With Pictures)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Phu Quoc ridgeback in the woods

In the U.S.A., you will see a vast variety of dog breeds, from the hardworking German Shepherd to the adorable Pomeranian. While many of these breeds were introduced from other countries, you might not have heard of a few of the rarer breeds, such as the four that are native to Vietnam.

Bred for their hunting skill, loyalty, agility, and protective natures toward their owners and herds of livestock, native Vietnamese dogs haven’t yet made it to the U.S.A., but they’re still perfect examples of “man’s best friend.”

Since you probably haven’t heard of these dogs, let us introduce you to these loyal animals and tell you more about them.

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The 4 Vietnamese Dog Breeds

1. Bắc Hà Dog

Vietnamese Name: Chó Bắc Hà
Lifespan: 9 – 13 years
Height: 19 – 24 in.
Weight: 44 – 55 lbs.

Of the four Vietnamese dog breeds, the Bắc Hà is the least well-known. They originated in the mountains of Bắc Hà and were developed for guarding livestock and hunting.

Like other hunting and guarding breeds, the Bắc Hà is fiercely loyal and protective of their family members, with a prowess for agility that serves them well on treacherous mountain terrain. They’re highly intelligent and quick to pick up commands, and despite being placid, they’re not afraid to fight intruders when necessary.

These days, many of the Bắc Hà dogs that you will find are crossbreeds. They’re a popular breed in Vietnam but haven’t been officially recognized as a native Vietnamese dog breed, though there are Bắc Hà lovers who are fighting for breed recognition.

2. Indochina Dingo

Indochinadingo (Image Credit: NguyenHaiSG, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Vietnamese Name: Chó Lài
Lifespan: 20 years
Height: 26 in.
Weight: 55 – 66 lbs.

Dating back 5,000 years, one of the oldest dogs in the world is the Indochina Dingo or Dingo Indochinese. Like the other Vietnamese breeds, these dogs were bred as hunters in the mountains of northern Vietnam and the Indochinese peninsula. They were also shipped to parts of Southeast Asia and Australia.

Due to their extensive ancestry in Vietnam, the Indochina Dingo has a place of honor in the region’s history despite being a lesser known breed. They are loyal and fiercely protective, and they were bred for guarding and herding livestock and hunting.

In the past, they were well-known for hunting on their own and bringing back prey for their family. This wild streak has been bred out of the Indochina Dingo, and the modern dogs are much more domesticated.

3. Hmong Dog

Hmong Dog or Hmong Dock Tailed Dog lying on the ground
Image Credit: marie martin, Shutterstock
Vietnamese Name: Chó H’Mông Cộc đuôi
Lifespan: 15 – 20 years
Height: 18 – 22 in.
Weight: 33 – 55 lbs.

Native to the northern mountains, the Hmong Dog is the wildest-looking dog of the four Vietnamese breeds. They were developed by the original H’Mông settlers from wild jackal species and other local dog breeds. Their wild ancestry is what gives them their natural resistance to extreme temperatures and illnesses and their wild appearance, despite their domesticity.

Bred for hunting and guarding livestock and property, the breed is loyal, incredibly smart, and renowned for having a remarkable memory. Due to their temperament and intelligence, many Hmong Dogs have been used by the police and military as working dogs.

4. Phú Quốc Ridgeback

Phu Quoc Ridgeback
Image Credit: Asia Images, Shutterstock
Vietnamese Name: Chó Phú Quốc
Lifespan: 14 – 18 years
Height: 15.8 – 23.7 in.
Weight: 30 – 45 lbs.

Originating in the Kien Giang Province in Vietnam, the Phú Quốc Ridgeback is the smallest of the three Ridgeback breeds. They are fiercely loyal and have a regal appearance with the characteristic furry ridge along their spine, like the other Ridgebacks.

Bred to be hunters and guards, they’re renowned for their prowess in swimming, climbing, and agility. As a highly adaptable breed, they suit active and quiet families and are naturally cautious but friendly toward strangers.

The Phú Quốc Ridgeback is one of the purest dog breeds alive today, with little crossbreeding in their history. Due to the small size of the island where they originated, they haven’t yet been recognized by any international kennel clubs, and you’re unlikely to find them outside of Vietnam. Only 700 of these dogs are registered by the Vietnam Kennel Club.

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What Is the Most Common Dog Breed in Vietnam?

None of the four breeds native to Vietnam are popular enough to have made a mark on the rest of the world like the dogs that we’re familiar with, but they are popular in their home country. The Phú Quốc Ridgeback is the most common and the most likely to be recognized outside Vietnam. They’re also the easiest to recognize due to the ridge of fur down their spine, a trait shared with the Thai Ridgeback and the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

While they’re not the oldest breed in Vietnam, the Phú Quốc Ridgeback is the only one with an official breed standard and a website dedicated to sharing knowledge about them.

close-up Phu Quoc Ridgeback dog
Image Credit: ROBERT ENRIQUEZ, Shutterstock

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What Were Vietnamese Dogs Bred For?

If you’re familiar with dog breeds in the U.S.A. and similar countries, you probably know the wide variety of purposes that dogs are bred for. There are sporting dogs, companions, working animals, and more. In Vietnam, dogs are also bred for specific purposes.

The Phú Quốc Ridgeback, Hmong Dog, Indochina Dingo, and the Bắc Hà might have originated in different parts of the country, but they all excel at the same jobs: They were bred to hunt alongside their owners and guard the home and livestock.

The four breeds have individual strengths and weaknesses but are renowned for their intelligence, adaptability, and agility, which serve them well in harsh climates and on rocky mountain trails.

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These days, Vietnam is home to many dog breeds, including several that are native to the country itself. Compared to other countries that have a wide variety of breeds to call their own, only four breeds are native to Vietnam.

The Phú Quốc Ridgeback, the Hmong Dog, the Indochina Dingo, and the Bắc Hà all originated in the mountainous areas of Vietnam. The four breeds have different appearances and origin stories, but they’re all fiercely loyal, intelligent, and agile.

Featured Image Credit: Mark a. leech, Shutterstock

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