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Home > Dogs > What Is a Bac Ha Dog? Facts & Characteristics

What Is a Bac Ha Dog? Facts & Characteristics

Bac Ha Dog


The Bắc Hà, also known as the Vitespitz, is one of Vietnam’s Four Great National Dogs, next to the Phú Quốc, Lài, and H’Mông Cộc Đuôi. Many Vietnamese people become big fans of these canines because of their great looks, good health, and remarkable intelligence. However, most foreigners don’t know about their existence due to a lack of information about Bắc Hà dogs written in English. This article will help you better understand them.

Breed Overview


20–26 inches


35–58 pounds


9–15 years


White, yellow, black, brindle, tan, grey, red, mixed

Suitable for:

Experienced dog owners


loyal, calm, alert, wary of strangers

Bắc Hà dogs appeared very early in Vietnam. This breed is named after the town where humans first discovered them in the Bac Ha district of Lao Cai province in the Northeast region. These pups are super intelligent and sensitive to strange noises. They are also very supple and have good endurance. Therefore, H’mong people in northern Vietnam mainly used them for guarding and hunting duties.

Bắc Hà Dog Breed Characteristics



The Earliest Records of the Bắc Hà Dog in History

The Bắc Hà has long been associated with the life of the H’mong people living in the northern mountainous areas of Vietnam. According to the myths of village elders, in the past, there was a group of fire wolves on the mountain that usually came at night to catch cattle. Once in the cold winter, people in the village panicked when they saw many male pups brutally bitten to death with many wounds. Extremely angry, they decided to set up a 24-hour watch to find the culprit and discovered that the leader of the pack of wolves had killed all of their domestic dogs to gain the right to mate. After a while, those wolves didn’t return to the village anymore, but the female dogs began to give birth to red-haired puppies with somewhat wild and fierce behavior. The origin of Bắc Hà dogs is said to have started from there.

How the Bắc Hà Dog Gained Popularity

The Bắc Hà was used mainly as a hunting, guarding, and herding dog. The biggest advantage of these canines is their ability to adapt well to the Vietnamese climate, particularly in the northern mountainous provinces. In addition, they don’t require such an intensive care regimen as many other species. Thanks to the perfectly preserved wild characteristics, the Bắc Hà is becoming increasingly famous among dog lovers in Vietnam. Many people in Hanoi and other big cities desire to bring this pup home, but it’s pretty hard to find a purebred one.

Formal Recognition of the Bắc Hà Dog

While the Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) does not acknowledge the Bắc Hà dog, the Vietnam Kennel Association does.


Top 3 Unique Facts About the Bắc Hà Dog

1. The Bắc Hà Is an Expensive Breed

Bắc Hà dogs are very famous in Vietnam, and fans of this breed are willing to spend a lot of money to bring them home. You’ll have to prepare thousands of dollars to get a big and beautiful puppy. In particular, the red Bắc Hà, also known as the “fire” dog, with the rarest color, will cost at least $2,000.

2. They Have a Wide Range of Coat Colors

The coat color of the Bắc Hà breed is very diverse, with the most common being white, black, gray, yellow, or brindle. Red is the rarest. Only one in 10 Bắc Hà puppies are born with that type of fur (a natural color not caused by chromosomal abnormalities).

3. Don’t Touch a BắC Hà Dog if You Are a Stranger

It’s not safe for strangers to touch a Bắc Hà dog. These canines are very agile, quick to react, and ready to attack the “enemy” before anyone can perform a threatening action. They were born with this nature and have forged it over centuries as hunting animals. These characteristics make them excellent protectors and a good choice for training as military dogs. However, despite their aggressive nature with outsiders, they are incredibly loyal and affectionate with family members.


Does the Bắc Hà Dog Make a Good Pet?

The Bắc Hà is a dog breed with a wild personality and intense vitality, but today they are more domesticated and enjoy living with people. These pups are friendly and loving with family members, especially children, but are wary of strangers. With a high degree of discipline, they tend to obey every command of their owners and take them seriously. These canines will not be afraid to sacrifice themselves to save their owners when in danger.

Bắc Hà dogs are also famous for their excellent ability to hunt mice. That’s why H’mong people really love this breed and live very close to them. These pups make good pets for experienced owners who have enough space for them to run around or are willing to exercise with them every day at the dog park. If you have children, you may have to think twice when considering buying this breed.

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Final Thoughts

Bắc Hà dogs are endowed with healthy bodies with perfect proportions. At the same time, these pups are wise, alert, and very devoted to their owners. If raised and cared for properly, they can live up to 23 years, although their average lifespan is only between 9 and 15 years. However, if you want to buy a purebred dog, you should seek out a reputable breeder.

Featured Image Credit: Bắc Hà dog(Stephanie See, via Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 2.0)

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