By Sergey Uhanov (Certified Veterinarian)Dr. Sergey Uhanov Last updated: 19th October 2023

Formosan Mountain Dog


Sergey Uhanov (Certified Veterinarian) Dr. Sergey Uhanov
Last updated: 19th October 2023

The Formosan Mountain Dog, named after the Formosan Mountains in Taiwan, where it originated, is an ancient hunter and guard dog. Independent and intelligent, it is incredibly loyal and has been used to track small prey for centuries. This medium-sized breed is characterized by its triangular snout, almond-shaped eyes, and curved tail. Also called the Taiwan Dog, it comes in three sizes: two small and one medium. Of these, the medium variety is the most popular.

Formosan Mountain Dog Pictures

Quick Information

Other namesTaiwan Dog, Taiwanese Native Dog, Takasago Dog 
CoatDouble coat with soft undercoat and coarse outer coat
ColorBlack, yellow, white, black-and-white, brindle, chocolate brown, or red
Breed typePurebred
Group Hound
Life expectancy9 – 13 years
Height17 – 20 inches
Weight26 – 40 pounds
Litter Size10-12 puppies
Behavioral Characteristics Affectionate, alert, loyal, intelligent, and energetic
Good with children Yes
Barking Tendency Moderate; they bark to alert their owners of danger
Climate compatibilityLow; they do not tolerate cold temperatures well
Apartment compatibilityModerate; it can live indoors if given sufficient exercise
Do they shedThey mainly shed seasonally
Are they hypoallergenicNo
How much do they cost$600 – $1,700
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationFCI, AKC

History and Origin

This breed traces its origin back nearly 10,000-20,000 years ago from the South Asian hunting dog, making it one of the oldest. The indigenous aboriginal community of Taiwan used it to track and hunt prey such as hares and boars in the mountainous landscape for centuries. However, it was never fully domesticated and retains much of its wild traits today. Throughout history, there have been many periods of cross-breeding with others, such as Greyhounds, German Shepherds, Akitas, Pitbulls, and native Japanese dogs. This practice, coupled with the mass killing of existing populations by invaders and colonizers, nearly made the pure breed extinct. Efforts made in the 1970s to establish a standard found it challenging to separate the various mixes.

To further asses its bloodline, researchers from the National Taiwan University, Nagoya University, and Japan Gifu University, led by Dr Sung Yung-yi, conducted a joint study in 1980. They visited twenty-nine tribal villages and performed surveys, confirming that it descended from the South Asian hunting dog. Of the hundred-and-sixty specimens, only forty-six were purebred, which formed the stock reserve for its repopulation. The FCI and AKC recognize this breed, including it in the Foundational Stock Service list. Today, pure-blooded dogs are kept strictly for conservation purposes in their native land, and most “Taiwan Dogs” sold as pets in the US are mixes.

Temperament and Personality

These hunters are clever, bold, and fearless. Incredibly loyal and intuitive, they form a close bond with their master. Their protective and loyal nature makes them excellent watchdogs and guard dogs, barking loudly to announce strangers. However, they can become aggressive, fearful, and nippy if not trained correctly. Great with children; they should be around older kids to avoid injuries while playing. Their hunting instincts may make them hunt other smaller pets like cats. These incredibly agile dogs use hopping as an intimidation target when cornering the game. While usually playful and energetic, they are also content to lie next to their owner after a long day.

Despite their long history as hunters, trackers, and guards, they still maintain many primitive characteristics. Females prefer giving birth in dens dug into the ground, and many still curl up in a tight ball to sleep, likely a leftover habit of surviving in the wild. However, their intelligence and eager attitude make training easy, allowing them to be utilized in various ways, such as stunt dogs, search and rescue dogs, and family companions.



Boredom can lead to destructive behavior from your pet, so you must provide sufficient physical and mental exercise. Outdoor activities like swimming, running, hiking, playing fetch, going on long daily walks, and playing in a fenced yard are excellent ways to manage excess energy. In the case of bad weather, indoor walks and games like chasing a ball across the floor, hide-and-seek, and learning tricks are helpful. It also needs ample mental stimulation, which can come in the form of puzzle toys and interactive games. Sports such as rally, agility, and obedience are great avenues to explore with your dog.


Their coats are relatively low-maintenance, requiring weekly brushing and periodic baths to stay clean. However, they will need daily brushing during the shedding seasons. Use a slicker brush to help evenly distribute natural oils and leave behind a shiny coat. Avoid frequent baths as they can dry out their skin and nails. Check the ears for infections and dirt, trim the nails when they get too long, and practice proper dental care. 

Health Problems

This breed is remarkably healthy despite centuries of cross-breeding. They can suffer from patellar luxation, hip and elbow dysplasia, sarcoptic mange, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and other age-related problems.


They have historically been self-sufficient and capable of digesting bones, starches, fruits, and vegetables. Ideally, their diet should be formulated, considering a small-to-medium-sized, high-energy breed. They do well on high-quality food, either store-bought or homemade. Feed them a few cups daily, split them into two meals, and provide clean water. Always consult your veterinarian for an appropriate plan based on age, weight, and activity level.


Formosan Mountain Dogs are happiest when part of the family unit. However, they are intensely protective, and proper communication and training are required to curb these instincts. Ultimately, their temperament depends on correct upbringing and luck.

Socialization: They can get bored when left alone for long, making them destructive. Firm and consistent training is necessary to prevent such unruly behavior. Naturally mistrustful and apprehensive towards strangers, they must be properly socialized to avoid unwanted aggression. Puppy kindergarten or daycare is a great way to instill good manners in your pet.

Obedience: These dogs are sensitive and respond negatively to harsh corrections. Keep commands clear and consistent, and use positive reinforcement and treats as a reward. Crate training is a fantastic way to control behavioral issues and lessen property damage. It serves as a safe space for your pet to unwind and relax.

Leash: Always keep your dog leashed when outside, and allow off-leash play only in securely fenced places. Otherwise, their prey drive may make them chase after other animals.

Interesting Facts

  • Their tongues have unique dark spots.
  • They are extremely alert and well-tuned, able to sense natural disasters like earthquakes and give howling warnings days before such an event.


1. What is the difference between the Formosan Mountain and Thai Ridgeback Dog?

The Formosan Mountain Dog is Taiwanese, while the Thai Ridgeback originated in Thailand. Apart from this, the Thai Ridgeback Dog is comparatively larger and more challenging to train for inexperienced owners.

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