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Formosan Madness Hits the US

Formosan Madness Hits the US

May 28, 2009
Posted in: Dogs | Reading Time: 8 minutes


Loki, Juno, Mr. Wild Dingo and I hit Capitola this week for some walking, pizza eating and shopping. I just love taking the quadrupeds places. For one thing, it's bred into Juno to be an explorer and nothing makes me happier than seeing my husky happy, because she has a knack for acting sullen when Scott's around. For another, I love the second looks and stares Loki gets from people-the glances, the awes and "What KIND of dog is he?" questions. He can't help how gorgeous he is. After all, the word "Formosa" from Latin formosus, means "beautiful."  And he was extra sweet to the shop owners who welcomed him into their stores handing out plenty of kisses and charm making it impossible to think he was ever a naughty dog.



The thing I'm learning about Formosan dogs is that they don't have a specific color and some of their body angulations can be different, but they all seem to share strong muscular bodies meant for agility and hunting. There's more about this in the history lesson below. But for now, take a look at the Formosan dogs turning up in the US and writing into Wild Dingo below.

First there was good-ole Cosmo who wrote in to touch base with his Formosan home-boy Loki. Hey George, pop us an e-mail, let us know how Cosmic Cosmo is doin'!

Next Sally wrote in exclaiming her Formosan puppy, Junie, looked a lot like Loki!

"Junie was found with six other puppies burrowed in a hole in the middle of a four-way traffic intersection in Taipai. Her mom had been severely injured and two other stray dogs were taking care of the pups. Sally adopted her from Companion Animal Rescue in San Jose. "

Awwwee... look how cute the little bugger is! I wonder how Junie is doing since she last wrote me in February.





Then there was Cleo. Cleo's mom, Claire wrote:

"Cleo is still a little shy. She is a mutt, but she looks a little like a Formosan mountain dog! She was abandoned on the doorsteps of a rescue foundation, on a very cold night, shivering, starving and nearly dead. They nursed her back to health and sent her to the U.S. She was scared of people when we first got her, but she's getting much better. VIVA LA FORMOSAN MOUNTAIN DOGS!!!"



Um, Claire, your mad photo-taking skills aside, take a look at those ears and paws. Yah, I think you got yourself a part-Formosan monster on your hands. Beware of the Formosan shenanigans! They are smarter than you’ll ever dream of.

In fact, I think she looks a whole like Sugar, another slightly mischievous Formosan doggie happily living in the US.



Sugar’s mom had Sugar’s genetics tested and 78% of it showed South Asian Hunting Dog, the line which Formosan’s come from! How cool is that? It makes me want to shell out the dough to test Loki, but I’m almost afraid he’ll come back part Satan. And that’s just something better left unknown.

And finally, there’s Finley, whose mom Jennifer wrote in and said:

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



 Um, Jennifer, I hate to break it to you, but I think you got yourself a part-Formosan devil too. Read below. Formosan dogs can come in any color, but they do share similar characteristics of large ears. Yours looks like a cross with a bit of white shepherd, but I'd bet money that Finley had some Formosan bloodlines running through his gorgeous bod. And you mentioned "willful but quick learner?" Oh sister, the war stories I could share with you on those two traits. Willful and intelligent are the backbones of these obstinate creatures.

And who can leave out this little guy, being fostered by Judy at the 501c charityWalkin' the Bark: Popeye the Dog.





He's Formosan through and through. Popeye's got more character in him than any dog I know with four legs, and he's only got two legs. His will to not just live or survive, but to thrive and love makes him an extra special wonder dog. He needs a forever home and needs a little extra care, but he pays back double in love and character. If you have room in your heart and life for this little guy, give Judy a call. She's done so much work with him and I'm pretty certain, he could bring a lot of joy to someone's life.

And Now for Your Formosan Dog History
One of the Formosan dog breed's biggest supporters is Chen Min-Nan, who spent his life searching for the rare full-blood to breed and maintaining the breed's bloodline. Over the years of researching, breeding and living with Formosan dogs, he concluded that physical characteristics varied but interior characteristic should be the main consideration for conclusion of its breed. Therefore, many of them come in different colors with slightly different angulations in their body shape and size. According to Taiwan aboriginals, Formosan dogs can be black, white, yellow, tiger stripped (I am assuming this is brindle), black and white or red. The one thing they have in common is strong, muscular bodies with distinctly long toes for living and hunting prey. They also tend to have triangular faces, strong necks and many have very large ears.

In terms of character, the Formosan dog is deeply loyal, fiercely intelligent and skillfully agile for hunting with their families and adapting to survive in any environment. Formosan dogs work with people and develop a mutual love, trust, reliance, obedience and responsibility. Their intelligence and habits have been heavily influenced by humans and their instincts can even surpass human instinctual intelligence. (I can't tell you how many times Loki thinks two or three steps ahead of a command I'm about to give him in training, even if I'm randomizing commands. He's scary-smart!) Formosan dogs also maintain their wild nature of canine pack order and sense of team work. When hunting, they use all of their senses unlike other hunting dogs who commonly use only smell. Formosan dog's are at their prime using their mental abilities and logic in a group hunt or ambush games. They work flawlessly as a team with their aboriginal families and never let their prey escape, which makes them able to survive high in the mountains.

Other similar physical characteristics include short hair, lack of strong odors, resistance to illness, medium size and unfussy eating habits. Their sense of smell, aggressive defense, bold fearlessness and loyal protection make them suitable as guard dogs. Being extremely alert, they are highly territorial and guard their homes and masters with total devotion. Many owners of the Formosan dog find that it is very difficult for strangers to get close to the dog once the dog has establish a relationship with its owner. (Cosmo's dad, did you read this? Hmmm...something to Cosmo's natural behavior!) Sometimes, only the owner can pet on the dog since the Formosan is very loyal and protective to its owner.

Formosan dogs were originally kept by aboriginal Taiwanese for hunting and today purebred Formosan dogs are extremely rare. They are descendants of the South Asian hunting dogs called "Pariah dog" which ancient local inhabitants used to live within the central mountainous districts. This breed was the loyal companion of the ancient hunter in the wild forest.

Since 1976, many Taiwanese ecologists had tried to convince Taiwanese government to take action on forming a Formosan Research Team to help and to preserve pure indigenous Formosan and potentially replicate the Australian model to protect the dingo. Between 1976 and 1980 only 46 Formosan dogs were ranked pure. The United Nations and FAO had been alerted of the low numbers and the breed's extinction, yet the Taiwanese government has not taken any action in protecting Formosan Dogs.

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9 comments on “Formosan Madness Hits the US”

  1. OMG, Cleo looks just like Sugar! Awesome. Sugar always gets the "she's so beautiful, sweet, gentle, obedient" response from strangers. A man in the elevator once told me that Sugar "is docile and kind, like all good women." Hmmm...I try to explain, "really, she has her faults. Like me, she can be a bit bitchy. Unlike me, she can successfully hunt a full size deer." Strangers just look at her, shake their heads, and repeat, "but she's so beautiful, so sweet, so gentle, so obedient."

  2. Very informative and engaging reading, thanks for the history. Those pups are sooooo dang cute...but I have never seen an ugly puppy, either 🙂

  3. We are fostering and will be adopting a 3 month old puppy that arrived two weeks ago from Taiwan. We have been looking all over the internet to figure out what kind of a dog she is. We were calling her a shepherd/basenji mix or shepherd/lab/pug (because she has the curly tail, but really looked nothing like a pug), etc. After researching tonight, we have found that we think we have ourselves a little gal that came from the Formosan Mountain Dog. It is so great to find websites/blogs on these dogs. Good ole technology. Thanks for the time and blog!

  4. I have a formosan mountain dog and belong to a facebook page of formosan owners as well.
    Not much is known about these dogs, but I am astounded how many of them end up having serious illnesses. Blood disorders, brain problems, digestive problems, strange disorders/diet problems that aren't diagnosed - and many times (more than an average non-formosan dog) these diseases are fatal. Has anyone else found this?

  5. Trudy, haven't found that as of yet....other than the obvious potential of hip dysplasia. Found some good natural dog food for her and I minimize any "people eats". Have had Aja for 2 yrs and counting and has been a great experience!!!

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