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Formosan Dogs: The Next Trend since Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas

Formosan Dogs: The Next Trend since Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas

May 19, 2009
Posted in: Dogs | Reading Time: 5 minutes

formosan-dogWild Dingo received a voice mail message from a person asking if I had any available Formosan dogs or where to get them. If only I had the answer. Formosan dogs seem to be replacing Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas as ‘the cool breed to own.'  And as much as I love this breed, I caution, if you don't know what you're getting into when you get a Formosan dog, you probably should either talk to those that have them or do some more research. They are high-energy, high-drive, working dogs who need their brains worked constantly. If you don't have the capacity to do this, then you'll probably have a dog who acts out and gets into a little trouble.

From what I read, Formosan dogs are very rare and it's unlikely you'll find a pure bred Formosan. It's more likely you'll get a mixed breed Formosan. Loki is not full Formosan and is definitely part German Shepherd. I made the educated guess that he is also part Formosan from his build and his temperament (high drive, working dog, similar to the GSD). He has a triangular head, muscular body shape, long legs and no belly hair just like a Formosan dog, but his markings and large ears are definitely GSD. But he's definitely part Formosan based on his build and temperament. It seems Formosan temperaments are similar to GSD's in terms of herding, guarding and high-working drives.

For the record, I do not have any available Formosan dogs and I have no idea where to get them, however, I would suggest searching the Internet for rescue organizations that rescue dogs from Taiwan. Loki was a complete accident in terms of what breed we got. When I was ready to adopt, I was actually looking for a dingo. Try finding one of those! I found an American Dingo breeder but because I believe in rescue, I didn't purchase a dingo pup. Besides, the breeder did not have a return policy, which I believe is important for any breeder or foster/rescue organization. Not that I would just give back a dog, but because if for some reason I become incapacitated and can no longer care for my dogs, I would like to know he or she will always have a dog-mother home to go to. I think it's a shame when a breeder doesn't offer or insist on this policy in a contractual format, especially since they took the time to raise the pup. Some rescue groups make you sign a contract that you cannot adopt out your dog to anyone without their permission, which I think is an excellent idea. These groups put so much time, money and effort into their rescues that it's their way of ensuring that the rescued dog goes to a good home lives out a healthy normal life and doesn't end up in the pound on death row. Either way you get a dog, make sure they have a return policy, so your dog will always have a safe place to go in the event you can't take care of it. And he has someone watching out for his family history.

Both Loki and Juno have dog-mother/rescue groups they can go to should anything happen to Scott and me. That makes me feel much happier knowing they'd be taken care of.

Anyway, I chose Loki not for his breed, but because he didn't have any more chances at having a home due to his challenging temperament. His temperament and looks reminded me of the dingo, so that was good enough for me.

But if you're looking to adopt a dog, Formosan or otherwise, please consider rescuing! There are plenty of breed or mixed breed rescue groups out there! And if you're looking for a Formosan dog, please consider rescuing a mixed breed from Taiwan. Many of the mixed breeds are part Formosan.



This weekend Mr. Wild Dingo took the dogs out on the trail for their walk. He came back so surprised at how well they walk together and how they automatically walked behind him on the steep descents. In the early days, walking Loki and/or Juno was a major health risk, between dislocating your shoulder or a getting a concussion from having them pull you into a head-first rolling descent down steep rocky trails. He was flabbergasted that Loki automatically went behind him before steep descents and stood there to remind him to make Juno go behind him too. Apparently, he told Juno "back" once or twice and she did it.

Mr. Wild Dingo casually asked me if they knew what the word "back" meant because when he said it, they went behind him.  I'm all like, ‘Yah, they've been taking English at the community college. They're not so good with the grammar, but they're better than the average immigrant. They're also taking film classes too. Next time, try telling them ‘Super-cali-fragilistic-expiali-docious.' Don't be surprised if they break out their umbrellas."

Sigh. Sometimes Mr. Wild Dingo greatly underestimates the effort it takes to train these darn dogs.

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22 comments on “Formosan Dogs: The Next Trend since Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas”

  1. I just adopted a Formosan three weeks ago! Not sure if he is full Formosan, has the ears, the face, the build, his tails curves completely over his back. He is white. Absolutely goregeous dog. Finley was rescued from Taiwan about six months ago and was fostered here in the states until I adopted him. Great dog, highly intelligent...a bit willful, but a quick learner. Would love to hear from other owners of this breed.

  2. I still have nightmares from the time Sugar hunted a full grown deer in my backyard. Yep, Formosan dogs guarantee an adventure! There are some amazing dog rescue groups in the U.S. and Taiwan. Sugar came from Walkin' the Bark Rescue (http://fosterdogblog.blogspot.com/) and Animal Rescue Team Taiwan (http://www.savedogs.org/english/). I thank the "goddess of the trailer park" that a wonderful Canadian couple rescued Sugar from Taiwan; and Judy, her foster mom, was willing to care for a shy dog in the U.S.. There's comfort in knowing that someone will care for Sugar "just in case." My contract says I must return Sugar to her foster mom in case I am incapacitated (although I think she would have to fight my folks for custody, these days). Sugar is a willful, motivated, intelligent, and sometimes wicked dog-- and I love her, unconditionally.

    btw, I still re-read your "Bad Dogs and the Women who Love Them" post:


    It's a classic, and guaranteed to lighten one's mood.

  3. OMG! Juno looks so thin in that old post! I think we did a boo-boo and over-fed her in order to have Scott win her affection. she's on an unending diet to get her bikini figure back. poor gal. oh well, at least cost of treats has gone down in our budget.

  4. We welcomed Tai into our home just over a week ago. She too is a rescue from Taiwan. She is about 4 months old and like most dogs from Taiwan she has a very special story!

    A little on Tai's history:
    She was found with her mother and litter mate along with a bunch of other dogs on a fenced acre lot. All of them were covered in bugs and maggots. Tai and her brother were the only 2 out of 40 dogs that survived!

    She is the smartest dog we have owned for years! Ever willful and likes to push you to the end but if you stand firm she is quick to back down!

    In the past week we have been asked so many times what kind of dog she is and people are just amazed by her story.

    If you are ready to open your heart and home to one of these great animals go to http://www.savinggreatanimals.org

  5. We adopted our Formosan (Luna) at 4mths from 'Walkin the Bark Rescue' over 2 years ago. She was timid and terrified of everything (she came to us with cigarette burns all over her head, belly and back) We love this dog more than our children (lol) and I am always stopped and asked about her (she is so beautiful, such a sleek coat, those ears, her eyes....it goes on and on.) I do run her off leash at the local park and watching her run up and down the hills is a beautiful sight!. We are now seriously considering adopting another dog and will only consider another Tawainese Formosan....

    Two years ago when we got Luna, these dogs were called "lab/shepard" mixes...And the only facts I could find about her were just a few pictures, everything else was in tawainese....and now it's everywhere. I also understand that this breed will be considered "official" in 2012 which is based on 10 years of research by the "Dog Gods" with all the power.

  6. I have been living in Taiwan for a couple of years and have been volunteering with a group called Taichung PAWS for over a year and I had never heard of Formosans until volunteering.

    I have now fallen in love with Formosans and own a Formosan mix myself. She is absolutely amazing (although she had some training before I adopted her). She is super loyal, doesn't bark inside the apartment, is wonderful with people and children of ALL ages, if I let her off the leash she always comes back to me and so many other things!

    The sad thing is, is that the Taiwanese themselves (most of them anyway) throw these dogs away like trash. The trend here is to BUY expensive brown poodles. My boyfriend and I took an adorable Formosan (possibly Border Collie mix) to an adoption event and one old Taiwanese man sneered and said "Nobody wants a tugou (Formosan) like him. You can find them ANYWHERE here!" After my boyfriend translated what the old man had said, I started sobbing. On a positive note, the Formosan/possible Border Collie mix is now happy in Canada...

    I just wish the Taiwanese would see what a treasure they have in the Formosan. I'm really happy that these dogs have beautiful homes abroad, but they shouldn't HAVE to be sent abroad because they are "unwanted" at home. They should be welcomed and appreciated with open arms in their native country as it should be. Luckily, there are wonderful people who do see the beauty and wonder in the Formosan and for that I am grateful.

  7. Regarding the breed, Formosan or Taiwanese Mountain Dog. I have Slyder, a 1 yr/old male Formosan with a brindle coat. I've only had him a week today but he has integrated into my home very quickly. I also have two 8 yr/old cats and Roxie an 8 yr/old Beagle mix female. We didn't think we could have another dog with because Roxie gets very possessive when we have another dog over night. We weren't looking for another dog when we met Slyder on a dog walk. His foster mom was ill and I was asked to take him for a night. Long story short, he got along with Roxie and the cats, his foster mom needed more time, so we kept him a few more nights until we adopted him.
    Slyder is my 19th dog in 50 years and I’ve had as many as 5 dogs at one time. I have never seen a dog as respectful and well mannered as the Formosan. The dogs have their own food bowls and he will not eat food from Roxie’s bowl. He waits until his bowl is filled. I haven’t seen any aggression or jealousy. He likes dogs, cats, children & adults. Very playful, smart, tenacious and an escape artist. Formosan love to run and are known to “bolt” when playing, can be stubborn about returning but they are loyal guard dogs and keep you in their line of sight. My dogs go to work with me so we’re 24/7 he rarely leaves my side and whimpers when he can’t be with me. They don’t bark a lot and the bark is not loud or alarming.
    There’s nothing bad I can say about this breed. They have a variety of coats and that may be because they are common in Taiwan & not considered desirable so they are in large part street dogs and they bloodlines are blurred.
    Prior to living with me Slyder was in fact a street dog in Taipei. He arrived in the US in March along with a half dozen other Formosans that were rescued in Taipei and brought to San Francisco for adoption. If you’re interested in getting a Formosan contact Rocket Dog Rescue, San Francisco, CA.

  8. What a coincidence. We just adopted a Formosan Mountain Dog puppy from Rocket Dog Rescue, so I had to respond.

    We've had Friday for 2 weeks now. She's approximately 5-6 months and has a cream colored coat. She also loves other dogs and people, but is slightly shy. She'll look at them and want to greet them but usually they have to make the first move. Well mannered, quick to learn, affectionate, playful, gentle but protective of her home. She's quiet and rarely barks except for the first few minutes when she's left home alone or when she hears certain sounds outside. I can't figure out what triggers her bark since she ignores most outside noises...still seems random to me. Her bark is low.

    She looks a lot like a lab puppy but with a FMD's almond eyes, long legs and upwardly curled tail. I wonder if she has some lab in her. She's a total sweetheart but sometimes a tad willful and stubborn. Her response to a command is often slightly hesitant, with a look like "Er, why? Oh, ok, I guess..."

    She quickly bonded with me in her first two days with us. My husband is still second in her eyes, although the poor thing is working much harder than I am at winning her over. He gives her almost all of her walks and feeds her. She doesn't greet him as enthusiastically as she greets me, but she still likes to keep an eye on him. She follows us around and keeps tabs on us when we're at home. Her only issue is separation anxiety, which is as much our need to train her as our need to train ourselves.

    She's a wonderful dog. I'm Taiwanese, by the way, and am proud Taiwan has such wonderful native dogs but am very sad they are not appreciated in Taiwan. There is a myth about them in Taiwan, I think, that they are mean and dirty. My mother initially told me FMD's were aggressive, but I knew she was misinformed. Between me and Friday, the Taiwanese are now the majority in my household. 🙂

  9. Just adopted a Formosan Mountain Dog (Tugou) mix in March from a rescue organization called Saving Great Animals. Definitely has some German Shepherd in him but other than that I'm really not sure - he's pretty adorable though!

    Rescued from Taiwan, he's very intelligent and almost catlike. Shakes before entering the house and cleans his paws and the rest of his coat a couple times a day. Very quiet - didn't hear him bark for a whole week when I got him. He was very shy and scared when I got him but has gained confidence daily. He's a quick learner but definitely a working dog. He's very loyal as well.

    Only downside is that he doesn't have good doggy manners and isn't too fond of other dogs at all : ( no biting or anything but he does snarl at other dogs if they invade his space.

    All in all a beautiful breed and I love that I'm seeing more of them around the Seattle area!

  10. In response to Layne - my Taiwanese dog looks like a mini-GSD, with a brindle coat. He is also one of the most respectful and well-mannered dogs I've ever seen. I could leave the room with a plate full of human food in front of him, and he won't even look at it. He has barked about 5 times in the last 14 months I've had him. He is still very shy around strangers, which is pretty normal for a semi-feral street dog, but I wouldn't trade him for any other dog.

  11. I adopted a pup from Taiwan from DPS (Doggie Protective Services) in 3/10.

    I am stunned by the pictures of the Formosan. My dog looks just like the mixed Formosan pictures. He is 50 pounds and black, very long legs, super short coat with little hair on his underside, cut body will full chest, triangular head, almond eyes, large sharp ears and a thin long tail that cures over his body in a perfect arch. He is stunning looking and I am asked what he is all the time. The rescue service told me they thought he was Shar Pei and Besenji. I had a DNA analysis performed on him and it came out mostly Saluki, then Shepard, Nufi with a dash of grey hound and dachshund.

    He was found with his four siblings in a ditch by a rescue organization in Taiwan.

    He is super loving, affectionate and sensitive. Gets along with my other dogs and cats. He is very shy with other people and strange dogs. He is protective, easy to train and a very good dog. No bad habits.

    Do I have a formosan? What's the scoop here?

  12. I am really glad that this ancient breed is now being known and appreciated for their smartness, loyalty, courage, obedience and natural health. I am a Formosan dog owner, and currently have 4 pure bred Formosan puppies available. However, I do not ship. They are cash and Los Angeles local pick up only. If anyone is interested, please contact me. Thanks.

  13. Im a loyal owner of a pure bred formosan and shes georgous. Pure black and what an amazing loyal dog. Very protective of myself and very rare she gets along with cats, which is a shock because a true formosan is a hunter. I would love another one but they are rare . i would drive anywhere to get her a sister or a brother....

  14. I'm not sure if my dog it's. Pure breed formosan Taiwan. dog. He has black spots on his tongue I got as a Taiwan dog all looks like he is. He is so nice whit people and other dog s
    And at home so protective but if he see me talking whit the who get to my house hi turn friendly right away

  15. hi! i am a proud owner of a pure bred Taiwan Dog.(my girl is a 2nd generation import)
    we have a FB OWNER/FAN group with lots of info and pix,and experts to ask question .
    we are a bunch of tw dog lovers that are trying to promote this magnificent breed.Non-profit!!^^
    but we do occationally have pure bred pups for adoption.
    here is the link to our group!you are all welcome to join!

  16. I adopted a female formosan (probably a mix - she has shorter legs than most of the FMD pics I've seen, but the same facial structure, large perky ears, muscular build, and hairless belly) from Rocket Dog Rescue in San Francisco 2 and a half years ago and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Really, it was her choice. I sat down on a bench and she instantly leaped up next to me, burrowed her nose under my forearm to get my arm around her, and nuzzled her face into my neck.

    She is the sweetest, most affectionate, loyal, intelligent, and attentive dog I've ever met. She is slightly male reactive, not great with other dogs, and generally hesitant around strangers, but once she decides you're a friend, she's quick to bond. She loves to learn, work, and train and has high energy when it's play time, but is very calm and quiet indoors.

    All things considered, I think FMDs are my favorite breed of dog, and I hope to be a life long companion to them.

  17. Very interesting. We are looking to rescue a dog soon and I have been looking at some Taiwanese MTN dog mix reduces online out out Seattle. I am concerned about the cat compatibility as well as with other dogs as he have an 8 year old cat and would like to get a second dog a while after adopting the first one. It looks like some folks have had good outcomes with cat/dog integration with this breed.

  18. I'm Taiwanese and had numerous tugos growing up so I remember these dogs fondly.

    They are generally great, loyal companions with a stoic, even-tempered personality.

    Just some helpful pointers regarding the identification of these dogs: the overwhelming majority of this dog breed is mixed, and true pure breeds are very tough to come by. In general, the all black coat variety is the most common, while the white/sand colored ones I'd say are very rarely seen. They have short coats, very triangular faces, triangular ears (either upright or folded) and almond-dark eyes. A key indicator of the breed are black spots on the tongue. Another physical trait is their ability to jump and leap (they should be able to comfortably jump above their own height).

  19. We just got our little girl a month ago. She has bonded to me and is skittish and nippy with strangers. If what I've read is true, she won't listen to anyone but her "family." How does that work if we go on vacation? It sounds like we can't hire a dog sitter as we normally do nor will she be able to go a kennel. Can anyone tell me of their experience?

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