Taiwan Dog Breed Info And Characteristics

The Taiwan Dog (Taiwanese Canis, Takasago Dog) or Formosan Mountain Dog (Formosan Native Dog) is a Dingo-like, versatile working dog originating from the island of Taiwan (Formosa). The breed is the descendant of the ancient hunting dogs of Southeast Asia, which had arrived in Taiwan sometime between 20.000 and 10.000 years ago. That’s why the Formosan Mountain Dog is considered one of the oldest and most ancient dog breeds in the world. For centuries, Formosans were mainly kept and bred by the Aboriginal Taiwanese people for hunting and guarding. Actually, they were the only breed of dog on the island. Unfortunately, that has changed with the arrival of Dutch colonists back in 1624. That was the first time foreign dogs were imported to Taiwan. Soon afterwards, they started crossbreeding with Taiwan Dogs disturbing the breed’s purity for the first time. In the coming years, numbers of purebred Formosan Dogs rapidly declined due not only to crossbreeding, but killing too, especially during the Japanese and Chinese rule of the island. Supposedly, the most brutal impact on the numbers of Formosans had the Chinese when they brought their traditional dog eating culture to the island. At the half of the last century, the Taiwan Dog breed was brought to the brink of extinction.

Fortunately, Dr. Sung Yung-yi together with the group of breed admirers initiated during 1970s a huge undertaking of saving the purebred Taiwan Dog. They found 160 dogs in the mountainous regions of the island, of which only 46 were considered purebred. Dr. Sung Yung-yi later started a breeding program, which has been later continued by his son Ming Nan Chen to this very day. Thanks to the hard work of these two wonderful men the breed was saved from extinction. However, today in Taiwan we have an ongoing debate between two groups of Formosan breedersthose who want to keep the breed’s purity intact (led by Ming Nan Chen) and those who think that controlled outbreeding with foreign dogs is necessary in order to maintain the breed’s genetic stability. Currently, dogs bred by both groups are registered as purebred FMDs, but it is suggested that only purebred dogs should be called Formosan Mountain Dogs, while all other “mixed” dogs should be called Taiwan Dogs. Anyhow, the breed is at least safe for now, which is the most important thing of all. The Taiwan Dog was recognized by the FCI on a definitive basis in 2015 and today is included in the group 7: Primitive Types – Hunting Dogs in the class of primitive dogs. Before that (since 2004), this was one of two provisionally accepted breeds (other one being the Thai Bangkaew Dog – still not recognized on a definitive basis).

Taiwan Dog Personality And Temperament

The Formosan Mountain Dog is an agile and strong dog quite reminiscent of the Basenji and Dingo.

Yeah, I am too handsome :)

The Taiwan Dog is a highly intelligent, hardy and fearless dog that is best known after its incredible loyalty, hunting prowess and protective nature. He is very courageous, incredibly strong, tough, fierce, resourceful, tenacious, hardheaded, determined, lively, amenable, and ready to follow his master anywhere. In general, this dog is very similar in temperament to some Japanese or Southeast Asian dogs. Since antiquity, Formosans have been mainly used as hunting dogs and guard dogs, but they are also well-known as wonderful family companions. Indeed, the Formosan Mountain Dog is highly prized for its affection and loyalty to all family members. This is a type of dog that will always look to spend as much time as possible with his human family. He will enjoy and treasure every moment spent with dear family members, and will express his happiness and devotion in different ways. However, Taiwan Dog is first and foremost fully devoted and submissive only to his primary owner, with whom he creates very strong bonds. In other words, this is a one person dog that will live and die for his master. With that being said, it is perfectly clear there is no way a Formosan will ever accept a new owner. One dog, one owner, forever!

The Taiwan Dog usually makes a great playmate with kids, but is not an ideal choice for families with toddlers or very young children. The reason for that lies in the fact that this is a very primitive and instinctive dog with dominant personality and strong prey drive. As such, he can be very impulsive, intolerant and even aggressive if something’s annoying him. We all know how small children can sometimes be reckless and careless during play, doing quite annoying and abusing things. Well, the “unsocialized” Formosan Mountain Dog definitely won’t tolerate such behavior and in some cases will try to punish the abuser with unpleasant nip or straight out bite. That’s why it is absolutely necessary that you raise your Taiwan Dog with your children and socialize him with people of all ages as soon as possible. Once a Formosan Dog gets used to your kids, they will get an outstanding and always playful companion. However, keep in mind that this is a very strong dog that won’t make a difference between children and adults while playing. This means that he can unintentionally injure a child, which is why it is important that you always monitor them while playing.

The Formosan Mountain Dog is without a doubt an excellent watchdog as well as an outstanding property guardian dog. In fact, Formosans have always been mainly bred and kept for watching and guarding with a reason. First of all, this is a very territorial and alert dog that is naturally aloof, reserved and suspicious towards strangers. Doesn’t matter how hard you try, he will hardly (if ever) become trustful to strangers, which can be a real problem if family grows bigger with the marriage, birth, etc. So, keep that in mind before you decide to buy this dog. Also, Formosan Native Dog is highly alert all the time and will instantly react to any unfamiliar sounds or movements in his surroundings. In other words, nothing can get past him unnoticed and as soon as he spots something strange, he will warn you with loud and wild bark. On top of that, he is extremely protective of his family and won’t thus easily let anyone near them without owner’s permission. So, yeah, you can rest assured your family and property will be safe and sound with a Taiwan Dog in the courtyard. However, I have to warn you here that the Formosan can be a really, really dangerous dog that can inflict serious injuries (this dog has incredibly strong bite), especially if he sees a person as a threat to his family. So, make sure you put an adequate ‘beware of dog’ warning on your front gate!

Early socialization can definitely be helpful to some degree in this case, but you will never be completely sure. The similar thing is with other pets. Formosans are semi-feral dogs that retain many predatory characteristics of other wild canines, which is why they are very dangerous for other non-canine pets in particular. So, if you have a cat, hamster, guinea pig, or some similar pet, think twice before buying this dog. These pets are simply too tempting for Taiwan Dog and he will gladly chase and kill every one of them at sight. The only partially successful way to deal with such behavior is to raise your dog with them. However, even that won’t save hamsters, rabbits or guinea pigs from hunting nature of this dog. Also, he can become friendly with cats in the household, but all other cats will still be in grave danger. Formosan Mountain Dog is not only aggressive with these pets, but with other dogs too! These dogs reportedly killed many German Shepherds used by the Japanese military during the WWII. So, as you can see Formosans are really no joke. They are territorial, dominant, fierce, and strong, all of which makes them extremely unreliable in the company of unknown dogs. That’s why socialization with other dogs is mandatory, but it is also recommended to raise your Taiwan Dog with another dog (preferably of different sex).

Formosan is a very agile and energetic dog that is usually active during a whole day.

Agile and active!

Taiwanese Native Dog Training

The Formosan Mountain Dog is a very intelligent and thoughtful dog with good memory. He can easily understand and learn everything you want him to know, but only if you are able to get him motivated for the training. This, however, might prove quite difficult. You see, Taiwan Dog is an extremely stubborn, willful and independent dog that is not ordinarily eager to please, which means that you will need a lot of patience, energy and understanding while working with him, even more so than with some other “hardheaded” primitive breeds. So, it is perfectly clear that this is definitely not a recommended dog breed for inexperienced, novice dog owners. The first thing you need to do while training a Formosan is to establish yourself as a dominant and firm leader with a bunch of confidence. This way only you will be able to impose your will on your Taiwan Dog. However, forceful methods or shouting are out of the question since they can have negative effects on the dog’s personality and training itself. You will always have to be calm, kind and relaxed, but constant and thorough. Lessons should be short, regular and fun. Positive reinforcement techniques work best with this dog, so make sure you praise and reward your Formosan with some tasty treats for the job done right. It is recommended that you start training a puppy at an early age (6-8 weeks).

Other Characteristics And Traits

Main Taiwan Dog characteristics are high intelligence, undisputed loyalty, protective nature, alertness, agility, resourcefulness, independence, stubbornness, endurance, persistence, strength, curiosity, boldness, and athleticism. This is a very agile and energetic dog that is usually active during a whole day. He is literally tireless and his stamina is through the roof, so don’t be surprised if you see him busy with his own “things” after a long day filled with various activities. It is perfectly clear that Formosan Mountain Dog demands a sizable amount of regular daily exercise to stay healthy both mentally and physically, which is why this breed is recommended for active and outdoorsy people. You should regularly take your Taiwan Dog for a long walk or hike at least once, or if you can, twice a day. Also, you should always spice things up with some appropriate games (tug of war, fetch game, find the treat) as well as with some interesting jobs to keep him occupied as often as you can. Never ignore or skip to exercise your Formosan because he will definitely find a way to spend excess energy, which often means some trouble. Bored Taiwan Dog is prone to destructive behavior, excessive barking (although this is generally a quiet dog), digging, escaping, etc. So, you better dedicate as much time as possible to your dog, or else you will suffer the consequences of your laziness.

With such restless spirit, Taiwan Dog is definitely not suitable for keeping indoors. Even though he is very clean, has no doggy odour, and is relatively easy to housebreak, Formosan will never fully adapt to such life because of his wild habits and enormous energy. In other words, you will have to spend more time outside exercising your dog than in the comfort of your home, which is kind of odd. And even if you do so, you won’t be 100 percent sure he won’t make a mess. So, if you live in an apartment or a house without yard, you should better avoid this breed. In fact, the Formosan Mountain Dog is not recommended for anybody who lives in an urban setting. A perfect living space for this dog should be a farm or a house with huge courtyard located in a rural or suburban area. Ideally, there should be a forest or a river close by, so you will be able to freely take your Taiwan Dog for a walk without the need for a leash, which is certainly not possible in an urban setting. The yard should be large enough for him to run freely. Also, it wouldn’t hurt that it has a few green areas scattered around. The fencing should be at least 6-feet high and stuck deep into the ground to prevent your dog escape. And escape he will if there’s any chance to do so.

The Formosan Mountain Dog is an excellent watchdog as well as an outstanding property guardian dog.

Nobody can enter my owner’s property without my permission :)

The Formosan is a very curious and resourceful dog that is more than eager to roam and explore his surroundings (read. your neighborhood). What’s even worse for an owner is that this dog possesses all the skills needed to escape over or under the fencing. So, if there is any possible way out of the courtyard, be sure he will use it. With the necessity to successfully cope with the mountainous terrains and thickly forested areas of their native land, Taiwanese Dogs have evolved into skilled climbers and jumpers. They can easily climb a tree, not to mention a moderate fence or wall. That’s why it is mandatory that the fencing around your yard is high enough. Also, the Formosan Mountain Dogs are incredibly potent diggers thanks to their strong and powerful forelegs. So, you should not only place the fencing deep into the ground, but put a proper fence around your garden too (if you have one). Otherwise, he might switch to his obsessive digging mood from time to time and wreak havok around your yard. However, that’s nothing in comparison with what this dog might do if escapes – e.g. kill neighbor’s cat, injure neighbor’s dog, destroy neighbor’s garden, etc. So, yeah, this is definitely something you will have to pay a lot attention to and do everything you can to prevent your Taiwan Dog escape.

Takasago Dog Health

The usual lifespan of a Taiwan Dog is around 11-13 years. The breed is considered very healthy, but that can vary from dog to dog. Some may be completely disease free, while others may develop serious health issues including some hereditary diseases. Some think that this happens due to the small pool of genes and because of that they support a group of breeders which crossbreed their Formosans with foreign dogs. However, it is still unclear if this has something to do with small gene pool, since until now no specific health studies have been done of the breed. Anyhow, it is advisable that every owner give his/her Taiwan Dog to be tested by the OFA and the CERF because these dogs can be prone to some health problems related to eyes and bones. These are very thorough tests that include detailed genetic study. Thanks to them an owner can easily find out if his/her dog has the genetic predisposition to any kind of health issue, which is why they are recommended not only for this, but every other dog breed. This way every potential genetic disorder can be prevented in time from spreading onto the next generations of dogs. The most common health problems in the Formosan Mountain Dogs are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), luxating patella, glaucoma, cataracts, sarcoptic mange, etc.

Formosan Mountain Dog Physical Characteristics And Appearance

The Formosan Mountain Dog is a typical medium-sized dog of square shape – the identical proportions of body length and height at the withers. However, there are actually two types of Taiwan Dogsthe small one (height about 40 cm) and the medium one (measures below), which is the most common. There was also a third type, the smallest one (30 cm), but it is now considered extinct since Dr. Sung Yung-yi didn’t find anyone of these back in 1976. Both remaining types are identical in appearance (only difference is the size) and are quite reminiscent of the Basenji, New Guinea Singing Dog or Dingo. Taiwan Dog has the muscular and compact body covered with a short double coat that is close-fitting. The topcoat is coarse and straight and the undercoat is soft and dense. Although it might seem that FMD is only used to a warmer climate, that is actually not the truth. Taiwan is the island of extremes, with vast subtropical forests in some parts, and high mountains with cold and harsh climate in others. So, yeah, these dogs can adapt to any type of climate, but preferred is the warm climate. Formosans are low maintenance dogs with minimal grooming requirements. Occasional brushing will usually be just fine, while during shedding season you should brush your dog at least once a day. Main Taiwan Dog colors are black, tan brindle, yellow, fawn, white, white and black, white and brindle, and white and fawn.

The Taiwan Dog has a triangular head, which is relatively broad and rounded. The tapering muzzle with tight lips and well defined stop blend seamlessly with a bit longer skull. The broad, moderate nose is usually black, but can be of lighter color depending on the color of the dog’s coat. Like I said, this dog has very strong jaws with the teeth that meet in a scissors bite. The almond-shaped eyes are usually brown or dark brown. They can as well be yellow or orange, but these colors are not desirable. Pricked and relatively large ears are set at an angle of 45 degrees on the side of the head. Eyes and ears should be inspected at least once or twice a month. The slightly longer neck is very strong, muscular and a bit arched. The chest is fairly deep (not reaching elbows) and protruding, with well-sprung ribs. The stomach is nicely tucked up and the loin is strong and well muscled. The back is straight, short and strong. The moderate, pointy tail is usually carried erect in the form of a sickle. The forelegs are straight and strong with elbows close to the body. They are perfectly adapted for digging – females often dig dens in the ground for birthing. The hind legs are well boned, muscular, powerful, and parallel when looking from the front. The feet have firm pads and strong toes with black nails (can be lighter depending on the color of the coat).

Taiwan Dog Size And Weight

– Height between 18 and 21 inches (46-53 cm)
– Weight between 31 and 41 pounds (14-18,5 kg)
– Height between 16 and 19 inches (41-48 cm)
– Weight between 26 and 36 pounds (12-16,5 kg)

Taiwan Dog is an incredible hunting dog used to hunt Formosan Sika deer, Formosan wild boar and Formosan serow in its native country.

Hey deer, you can’t escape me! :)

Exceptional Hunting Dog

In its native country, the Taiwan Dog is also known as the Formosan Hunting Dog with a good reason. He possesses superb hunting instincts and has been used for centuries in the hunt on Formosan Sika deer, Formosan wild boar or Formosan serow by the native tribes of Taiwan. Although FMD is a bit smaller than the majority of other similar hunting dogs, his hunting skills are equal, if not better than theirs. This dog has been tried and tested on so many levels by the inhospitable wilderness of Taiwan to the point he became a self sufficient natural predator. So, yeah, Taiwan Dog is an outstanding hunter capable to deal with any type of game, doesn’t matter how large it is. He is brave, fearless, fierce, strong, agile, hardy, tenacious, clever, cunning, resourceful … The list of his qualities can go on and on. On top of that, he is “armed” with powerful jaws, incredible senses of smell, hearing and sight, excellent sense of orientation, great recall, strong prey drive, and the ability to easily overcome all natural obstacles and to work in any weather. The Formosan Mountain Dog can hunt alone or in small groups. He relies heavily on his keen senses while tracking a prey. He will also use terrain to his advantage, so don’t be surprised if you see him observing the surroundings from a tree or a cliff. Formosan is a silent, stalking hunter, who will only bark if he needs to keep a large game at bay.

Multi-Purpose Working Dog And Companion

Up until now we learned that Taiwan Dogs have been mainly used as hunting dogs, watchdogs and guard dogs, which doesn’t say a lot about its full working potential. However, they are considered multi-purpose working dogs with a reason. They are incredibly intelligent, resourceful and clever dogs with a great team spirit. Through the course of history, they’ve been used for various other things, with more or less success. From pest control to herding, these dogs proved their worth in many different jobs. Recently, for example, they’ve been more and more used by the Taiwanese military as security guard dogs, slowly replacing predominant German Shepherds in this role. Thanks to their superb tracking ability and keen senses, Formosans have also been used by Taiwan police as search and rescue dogs. They’ve even been used as stunt dogs, which is not that surprising considering how good memory they have.

One particularly interesting thing is that Fosmosan Mountain Dogs literally possess a sixth sense since they are able to predict natural disasters. When you hear your dog howling intensely for no apparent reason, know that this might be a warning before an earthquake or something similar. So, as you can see, this is truly a magnificent and unique dog breed of many qualities. Taiwan Dog is literally a living representative of Taiwan’s natural evolution. In other words, if you buy this dog, you won’t only have a great companion, but a living monument of an age long past. Unfortunately, finding a purebred Formosan Mountain Dog puppy certainly won’t be an easy task since this breed is extremely rare even in its native country. However, if you are an active person looking for that special pet that will accompany you at every step, then you should definitely look to buy a Formosan. It’ll certainly be worth your money!

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3 thoughts on “Taiwan Dog Breed Info And Characteristics

  1. Troy Mariko Harris

    Best I’ve ever read as well! I have two Formosans, and have always wanted to know more about them. Thank you so much for this!

  2. Scott Parkhurst

    I have one and just love her to death! She is great with a friends cat and has never displayed any aggression towards any other animals/dogs. She is super duper fast. She also has unbelievable hearing and eyes. Very smart dog. She does not smell nor need a bath hardly at all either. She is also my certified service dog. She very rarely barks. And if she does is for a good reason…Also she has a very good sixth sense on people and knows when someone is not a good apple! She’ll let me know with a very slight noise like hum or low ruff and will make me back up from them…she will not approach them either or does so very carefully…really cool to watch and she is spot on about these folks too….as I’m a former police officer and know first hand about them…Again, I totally lucked out with this rescue dog!


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