Formosan Mountain Dog

The Formosan Mountain Dog, commonly referred to as simply Formosan, and also known as Taiwanese Dog/Canis or Taiwanese Native Dog is a dog breeds indigenous to Taiwan. They are well adapted to the uneven and thickly forested terrain of Taiwan, having become a semi-wild breed prior to the arrival of several colonial reigns and foreign powers. Notwithstanding these adaptations, Formosans retained the potential to be trained, and are now used as hunting dogs, guard dogs, stunt dogs, rescue dogs, or simply as companions. Formosans are classified into one medium type and two small types.


There are two small types, one is about 40 cm shoulder height, the other is around 30 cm. However, the later one was not found during the research conducted by Dr. Sung Yung-yi, in 1976. The medium type has the shoulder height under 50 cm, with firm and fit body , slim waist, big chest, and half covered ears. The most common one right now is medium-sized dog. Its color range from black, earthly yellow to yellowish brown, and the nose is black.

Dr. Sung of National Taiwan University and Mr. Ming Jie, Xu of Formosan Dog & Guard Dogs Breeding Center described a typical Formosan has almond eyes, firm jaw strength, black coating on the tongue, and triangular face, thin prick ears, and sickle tail. The tail is upright or curved with a thick coat, but the belly is hairless; the tail is used to warm the belly, and may even be long enough to protect the snout from insects. The dog is also well known for its well-balanced.

Temperament and Behaviour

Extremely faithful to its master, keen in sense, alert in movement, bold and fearless. Works extremely well in group hunting. Many owners of this dog mentioned that it is very difficult for strangers to get close to the dog once the dog has establish a relationship with its owner. Only the owner can pat on the dog, and Formosan is very loyal and protective to its owner.


  • Proportions
    • Depth of chest : Height at the withers = 4.5 – 4.7 : 10.
    • Height at withers : Length of body = 10 : 10.5. Bitches are allowed to be slightly longer.
    • Length of muzzle : Length of skull = 4.5 : 5.5.
  • Size & WeightT :
    • Height: Dogs: 48 cm - 52 cm (19 – 20 in) Bitches: 43 cm - 47 cm (17 – 19 in)
    • Weight: Dogs: 14 kg to 18 kg (31 to 40 lbs) Bitches: 12 kg to 16 kg (26 to 35 lbs)
  • Head
    • Cranial Region:
    • Forehead: Broad and roundish, without wrinkle.
    • Skull: The skull is slightly longer than the muzzle.
    • Stop: Well defined with a slight furrow.
  • Facial Region :
    • Nose: Moderate size. Nostrils wide. Black in colour, but can be slightly lighter in all colours except for the blacks.
    • Muzzle: Nasal bridge flat. Lips tight, without flews. The muzzle tapers a little from base to nose, but is not pointed at the tip.
    • Jaws/Teeth: Jaws are strong. Scissors bite, teeth are set square to the jaws.
    • Cheeks: Well developed and slightly protruding.
    • Eyes: Almond in shape. Dark brown in colour. Brown is also acceptable, but yellow or light eyes should be avoided.
    • Ears: Pricked, set on sides of the skull at an angle of 45 degrees. Inside of the outline is straight, while outside of the outline is slightly rounded.
  • Neck: Muscular, strong, good length, slightly arched. Without dewlap.
  • Body:
    • General: Sinewy and muscular, nearly square in shape.
    • Back: Straight and short. Withers well developed.
    • Loin: Firmly muscled.
    • Croup: Broad. Flat or very slightly sloping and short.
    • Chest: Fairly deep yet not reaching the elbow. Forechest slightly protruding. Ribs are well sprung.
    • Belly: Well tucked up.
  • Tail: In the shape of a sickle, set on high, carried erect, active, with the tip curving forward.
  • Forequarters:
    • Shoulders: Well muscled. Shoulder blades are laid back. They should meet the upper arms at an angle of 105-110 degrees.
    • Elbows: Close to the body.
    • Forearms: Straight and parallel to each other
    • Metacarpus (Pasterns): Firm.
  • Hindquarters: Hindlegs should be slender, with good bone, well muscled and parallel to each other. The rear angulation should be in balance to the front.
    • Upper thighs: Broad, sloping and well bent at the stifle.
    • Lower thighs: Should be in balance with upper thighs.
    • Metatarsus (Rear pastern): Perpendicular to the ground.
  • Feet Turning neither in nor out. Pads are firm and thick. Nails are black in colour, but lighter colours are acceptable in all colours except for the blacks.
  • Gait/Movement: Powerful gait with reaching stride. Agile enough to easily turn 180 degrees quickly.
  • Coat/Hair: Short and hard, lying tight to the body. Length is between 1.5 to 3 cm.
  • Colour: Black, brindle, fawn, white, white and black, white and fawn, white and brindle.

Security/ Guard Dog

Currently, ROC Air Force is considering Formosan Dog for military purpose. Now, ROC Air Force is using German shepherd for security purpose. It was known that German shepherd has some downside characteristic. For instance, it was often found that German shepherds suffered serious bruises on its digit pads, consequence of the intense security activities on daily basis. Furthermore, it is notice that German shepherd awareness on stranger is not very sensitive. In many cases, the stranger will need to get close for the dog to bark. Hereinbefore, ROC Air Force is looking to replace German shepherd.

After half a month of testing, ROC Air Force concluded that Formosan Mountain Dog's scent, hearing, dexterity, and alertness on stranger are all superior. Most importantly, Formosan Mountain Dog does not suffer the same injure as the German shepherd does. For this reason, it is very likely that Formosan Mountain Dog might replace German shepherd for guarding Taiwan's fighter jets. The only concern for ROC Air Force is that the Formosan Mountain Dog looks less intimidate than German shepherd. Anyhow, it is still at the testing stage.


Most of the foundation stock owners and breeders are hesitate to make public appearances. They stayed behind the theme and sell only males of their bloodlines to those who has Formosan dog kennels and attends local dog shows. Potentially, this may increase the dogs' risk of having genetic disorder and unstable behavior. However, some argues that credits must be given to those breeders as they are the one who are keeping the bloodline pure.

The most well-known and high profile breeder is Ming Nan, Chen. Like many who born in the 50's, Chen owned a Formosan as a child. In the 1980s he started a business dedicated to creating a pure-bred Formosan close to the one in his childhood memory, beginning with a single puppy that he purchased for NT$30,000 (about US$910.00) from an aborigine man.

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