A Challenge for the new age

Modernisation, communications and innovation are now a reality and an integrated part of our everyday life at the office of the FCI. In response to the many solicitations that reach us daily from every part of the globe, we supply information and try to provide the best possible services to our member countries and to the world of organised dog-related activities.

In fact we continuously strive for excellence.

Suddenly the world has gone global in many respects and all of us feel the need to be in full and immediate contact at all moments. Consequently, the need to communicate within the major areas of our activities has increased and so have the demands for immediate responses. For this reason also, the requests that are forwarded to our Organisation at management level have increased tremendously and almost instantly.

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Carla Molinari
Treasurer of the FCI
Discovered: the Ridgeback

Guard Dog of Phu Quôc

A dog with a ridge of fur along its back and webbed paws is the phenomenon of Phu Quôc, a small island in the southwest of Vietnam. Endowed with unusual abilities, this quadruped has, however, almost disappeared.

“Get over here now, we are going hunting!” On the other end of the telephone, our guide is jubilant: he has found a ridgeback den. Dropping everything, we leave the bustling alleyways of the market in Duong Dông, the main town of Phu Quôc, and make our way to Cua Duong, at the centre of the island.

The delivery occurs in a burrow

The four-lane highway passes through a forested valley and our scooters are sweeping along the freshly laid tarmac when we see three panic-stricken ridgebacks. These unusual canines, which have webbed paws, are excellent hunters and can also catch fish. They can climb trees, dig and have a sense of smell that is considered exceptional.

The owner of around ten ridgebacks and manager of a hotel on the west coast of the island, Mr Huê stated: “The residents of Phu Quôc domesticated this dog centuries ago to protect their homes, before realising that they were able to help with hunting as well as gathering medicinal plants.”


Among the 400 species of dogs that exist worldwide, only three have a ridge of fur along the back. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), based in Thuin, Belgium, recognised the Thai ridgeback in 1993 and the Rhodesian ridgeback in 1996, but have not yet recognised the Phu Quôc variety.

The origin of this primitive breed of dog continues to divide the scientific world. Among the opposing theories, the first proposes that they are the result of crossbreeding with the dingo, a wild Australian dog, while the second attributes all ridgebacks with a common ancestry. New DNA analyses carried out by the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Utrecht in Holland should soon provide some meaningful conclusions.

Officially, a population of 10,000 ridgebacks has been recorded on the island, but Cao Minh Kim Qui, Secretary General of the Vietnam Kennel Association (VKA), partner of the FCI in Vietnam, is sceptical: “That is an approximate estimate because for decades, increased crossbreeding of the Phu Quôc dog and other breeds has led to a significant demographic decline.” Since 2004, the Agriculture and Rural Development Department of Kiên Giang province has supported a number of projects to protect the species. One of these was the extension of an old kennel, where we are now headed.


The rainy season has just started at the beginning of December on the 10th parallel North. Phu Quôc national park – a biosphere reserve where the tropical forest is spread over 37,000 ha – is the ideal hunting ground for the ridgeback, which is very partial to flying squirrels, wild boar and deer: and which is, above all, an excellent snake hunter.

A muddy and rock-strewn track pushes its way forward beneath a thick canopy of intertwined branches. It is already 30°C in the shade of the badamiers and clouds of mosquitoes swirl close to vast clusters of lemon grass. We have barely passed the gates of the kennel when a horde of pups comes charging towards us, yapping affectionately. Surrounded by 8 ha of forest, there is nothing ordinary about the place. Most of the enclosures are empty, in the middle of a vast garden around which a little over 400 Phu Quôc dogs are contentedly ambling. The purest 5% will be sold, mostly at the market in Hô Chi Minh-Ville, to wealthy Vietnamese and foreign customers. The island exports an average of twenty to thirty puppies each month.


The owner of the kennel, Lê Quôc Tuân, is optimistic: “The value of the ridgeback should increase further when it is included in the 343 breeds of dog recognised by the FCI.” In Belgium, the file is ready and the word is that the procedure will begin in 2014.

Albelle Di Napoli

National Geographic - juillet 2013