I wanted to take the dump of the MySQL database with all the constraints on that database. The dump (.sql file) I am having right now don't show any reference key(foreign key) relationship.

I am taking the dump with following command:

  mysqldump -u root -p --no-data --compact db_doctor > db_doctor_no_data.sql

What am I missing?

  • Do the tables actually have foreign key constraints? Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 14:53
  • @ypercube yes, It's having foreign key. While creating table I haven't include foreign key but later I altered tables to add foreign key. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 14:58
  • 1
    Can you check the output of SHOW CREATE TABLE tablename;, just to be sure? MyISAM tables silently ignore FK definitions. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 15:00
  • @ypercube : I mentioned output below. The "Key" info is for indexing(I am not sure). there is no ref key info. mysql>show create table db_doctor.db_provinces; db_provinces|CREATE TABLE db_provinces (province_id int(255) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT, province_cid int(255) NOT NULL, province_name varchar(50) NOT NULL, country_abr varchar(50) NOT NULL, PRIMARY KEY (province_id), KEY province_cid (province_cid), KEY province_name (province_name), KEY fk_country_abr (country_abr) ) ENGINE=MyISAM AUTO_INCREMENT=1399 DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8 COMMENT='' Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 17:45
  • 2
    There you go. Your table is MyISAM and MyISAM tables cannot have FOREIGN KEY constraints. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


When using MyISAM as the engine of your table, mysql will "ignore" the foreign key constraint and let you go on, this is for compatibility reasons throughout all mysql engines.

The recommended engine to use foreign keys is InnoDB, and honestly, for 99% of cases InnoDB is better.

You can easily change all your database to use InnoDB instead of MyISAM:

  • add default_storage_engine = InnoDB to /etc/mysql/my.cnf (or equivalent)

  • modify existing tables with alter table my_table engine=innodb

  • to modify all tables you can try this more complex statement:

    SELECT concat_ws(' ', 'alter table', t.table_name, 'engine=innodb')
    FROM information_schema.tables t
    WHERE t.table_type = 'base table'
      AND t.table_schema = 'my_db'
      AND t.engine != 'innodb'

Now all your foreign keys should be respected and when you use mysqldump you will se them.

  • You should mention that MyISAM supports Full Text Indexing while InnoDB does not. I think its relevant Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 16:18

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