So many desi dogs: Choice is yours!

I was recently having a very interesting conversation on the differece between Native dogs and Aboriginal dogs. I felt this would be a nice post for the Desi-themed month. So, here it is. I was given to understand that Aboriginal dogs are different from Native dogs in that they are bred with no human interference.

So our little Naaty that we have been discussing the last two blogs is an Aboriginal breed. This little Naaty of ours is gaining popularity by the day, not just in India but across the globe. But we have other native breeds as well, that were developed for very specific functions. You could look them all up on wikipedia. But I’ll just toss in some basic details here, just for convinience.

Mudhol Hound

Sight Hound, also known as Caravan Hound or Pashmi or Kaarwani. It’s used for hunting and guarding. It is recognised by the Kennel Club of India and National Kennel Club. It is a working hound and provides excellent performance in the field under gruelling conditions. They are elegant, graceful and courageous. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudhol_Hound

 

Rampur Greyhound

Sight Hound, native to the Rampur region in North India. It was favoured by the Maharajas for jackal control, to hunt lions, tigers, leopards and panthers. It’s built to cover great distances at high speed and is capable of great endurance. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rampur_Greyhound

Combai

Bear Hound found in the south of India. It is a very ancient breed, used in hunting as early as 9th century B.C. when Maravar kings held sway over South India. It can be found in some parts of Tamil Nadu. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combai

Chippiparai

Sight Hound from south of India. It is thought to be a descndant of the Saliki. It is found in areas around Periyar lake. Used primarily for hunting and guarding the home. Bred by the royal families in Chippoparai in Tamil Nadu, it was kept as a symbol of royalty and dignity by the rulers of the region. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chippiparai
 

Rajipaliyam

Indian Sight Hound that was a companion of the royalty and aristocracy in South India. It is a large and working dog that was bred for hunting and guarding. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajapalayam_(28dog) 

Bully Kutta

Pakistani Mastiff or Bully is a descendant of the extinct Alaunt. They are guard dogs. The name is due to it’s appearance that could be considered to resemble the flat face of a Bulldog. Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bully_Kutta
 

Kaikadi

Terrier dog breed named after a nomadic tribe in Maharashtra. They make good watch dogs as well has hunting dogs. They are very similar to Whippet dogs.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaikadi_%28dog%29

 

Kanni

Means maiden. It is a rare indigenous South Indian dog found in Tamil Nadu. The breed is an extension of the Mudhol Hound. The name comes from the fact that the dog used to be given as a gift to the bridegroom just before marriage. The Kanni is kept by families who do not sell them but many gift them if a promise is made to look after them well. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanni

Gaddi Kutta

Mastiff-type mountain dog found in Northern India. It is also known as the Indian Panther Hound as well as Mahidant Mastiff. Bred for hunting and as shepherds. Known to be very strong and intelligent to guard and herd. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaddi_Kutta

Kumaon Mastiff

Originally bred as a watch dog in the hills of Kumaon. It is believed that the dog’s ancestors were domiciled in the Mediterranean region. Cypro Kukur means Cyprus Dog. This is believed to have been introduced to Kumaon by settlers, where it was bred by locals as a watch dog. Folklore suggest it was introduced by Alexander the Great in 300 BC. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumaon_Mastiff

Mahratta Greyhound

Compact Sight Hound, well-muscled, deep-chested and strong-backed. Its smaller size makes either Saluki heredity or a pure, ancient origin the most likely hypothesis concerning its origin. With exceptional speed and concentrated strength, it is used for coursing small and medium sized games. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahratta_Greyhound

Bakharwal Dog

Ancient working breed found in Pir Panjal mountain range of Kashmir Himalayas. It has been bred for centuries by the Gujjar nomadic tribes as guard dogs. It’s a unique breed that is vegetarian, which helps keep it away from attacking the flock. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakharwal_Dog

Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not a new fad in India. I found this rather interesting excerpt that suggests that Indians dogs were bred not only in India, but also popular outside India as well. Indian dogs were highly prized among the Persian aristocracy; Xerxes I (489-65 B.C.E.) reportedly took a large number of them with his army when he marched against Greece. One of the Persian satraps of Babylon assigned the revenues derived from four large villages in that province to the care of his Indian hounds. A dog belonging to Darius III (336-30 B.C.E.) supposedly refused to leave his corpse after he had been struck down by Bessus.” — Encyclopaedia Iranica on the topic of Indian Mastiff.

We have evidence in our arts as well that suggest that there was a certain reverence given to our canines. Two interesting pieces of art preserved in the Asian Art Museum give us a rare insight into their significance.

 

Lord Kal Bhairav, the fierce manifestation of Shiva with his vahana or vehicle – the dog, in Pahari school painting.

Kal Bhairav, the fearsome manifestation of Lord Shiva, with his dog vahana. Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.

 

So, now! If we have so many breeds of our own, should we consider keeping them as pets? Do these breeds make good pets? This is a tough question to answer. I am going to present a few arguments here.

Some argue that they were bred for hunting and guarding, making them less than ideal pets. Others argue that the same holds true for several western breeds that we now welcome with open arms into our homes. Ex: Beagles, Dachshunds etc.

There might be a counter argument to this that modern day Beagles and Dachschunds are bred less for function and more for looks and hence are no more hunting dogs. But it’s now common knowledge that breeding for looks and not for function amplifies several genetic disorders in them, making them sick dogs. There is some truth to all these arguments. But I am not sure there is a generic response anywhere in here. I’d say that the only generic answer is – You decide!

I can share with you my own criteria. For my experience, I exercise extreme caution before bringing home a big, fast and strong dog. I ensure I have a very good understanding of breed traits. I should have spent time with dogs, not one, but several dogs of the said breed before I take the plunge. The question to me is not ‘Does the breed make a good pet.’ The question is ‘Am I capable of being an adequate pet parent to this dog.’ Big, strong and fast dogs will pose certain challenges and as a pet parent we need to have had the necessary experience of what those challenges are and how we plan on tackling them. The plan needs to be based on sound knowledge and not just hubris!

Not being able to bring home one of these is no reason not to appreciate them. I still like to be aware of all our beautiful hounds that are easily in the ranks of the Italian hounds and Whippets of the world. I am always on a quest to identify more Indian breeds and learn more about them. I quite appreiciate their gorgeous physical form, sheer agility and the beauty. Are there any other Indian breeds that you are aware of? If so, please do share details. I would love to know more.

Sindhoor
About Sindhoor 14 Articles

Sindhoor Pangal is a pet parent and has been one all her life. She is the founder of Bombat Dawgz, an online support group for pet parents, aspiring pet parents and animal lovers. Educated by Turid Rugaas in Norway, she is a practicing Canine Family Coach and Behaviourist running Bangalore Hundeskole

8 Comments

  1. dear, sindoor,
    heartiest wishes as pet parent, this is an eye opener to all indian pet loving citizens!and also shocking truth that we we have lost about around 16 to 17 varietys of cannine breed,s thanks for the rest mentioned breeds here,which is already in extintion list and i hope people have misunderstanding abt indiansplitz the very inteligent work dog vs pommeranian breeds which look alike. i’m intersted keeping all indian variety canine pl suggest me if indian bullmastiff( alangu) breed pup for sale in bangalore i;ialso proud parent of nine month old chippiparai named tommy continue your good work. do you conduct any behaviour classes if so pl mail thanks

  2. Modified. I should have said you do your homework and be prepared but also be aware that inspite of it, your expectations may or may not be met fully met. Take up being a pet parent only if you are ready to continue caring even if your expectations are not fully met. When I meet aspiring first time pet owners, I always emphasize how much work and responsibility goes with this..quite a few back off after that. I would rather they did that than bring pets home and tie them up 24x7or return or abandon them.

  3. yes. Ideally one would be open to any pet you get. But that is easier said that done. So being prepared for something helps a long way. Getting a dog that does not meet ones expectations seems to be the main reason for people to return or abandon dogs. Hence there needs to be some thought on the part of pet parents before they get a dog on what they want, what to expect and how to be prepared for all of this. If it’s possible for them to keep a completely open mind and accept any dog that walks into their house, nothing like that. That would be a dream come true 🙂

  4. I think the key to pet parenting is not to have any expectations of any sort and be ready to accept and nurture whoever comes home. There are breed characteristics and then there are individual characteristics so there cannot be 100% clarity on what to expect. Our first boxer was the most docile and obedient and our present adolescent is very naughty and independent (fortunately not aggressive:). Welcome to meet Shibi any time..we enjoy visitors who pay a lot of attention to our dogs!

  5. I agree that a good pet does not have to be your classic Walt Disney pet. In fact, that is not even an accurate picture. When we know what we want in our pets and keep our expectations realistic and reasonable, we end up having a great relationship with our pet and have a great live with these companions. It’s when expectations are not set well that we run into trouble. So yeah…understanding how a Mudhol might behave and being open to that will definitely make us better candidates for pet-owners of this breed. Your description of Shibi sounds beautiful. I’d love to meet him someday.

  6. Shibi, our Mudhol hound turned thirteen in June. He is beautiful, graceful, hears well, can run to the gate and climb up on the sofa effortlessly even now. Did he make a good pet? If we are looking at ‘pettable’, compared to our other pet (dog)s, he is much more stand offish, comes to us only when he is in the mood and even then stands at arm’s length. His behaviour patterns seem more atavistic than those of our other pets..he circles and makes a den like pile of his blanket, he is more suspicious of strangers and more aggressive about his food (not sure whether these are his characteristics or those of his breed!). But he is also the one who misses us the most when we go out. It took six months and a new dog for him to come back to normal after we lost his companion (boxer). He has certainly been the most agile and graceful of our pets..used to sprint like a deer when he was younger though he never jumped over the compound wall as we had been told Mudhol hounds do or ever stepped out of the gate alone even when he had a chance to do it.

  7. Vaidya, you are absolutely right. The Indian Spitz is also a very prominent member of the Indian doggies list and at one point they were perhaps the most popular pets in India. Their history is also very interesting. Thanks for pointing this out.

Comments are closed.