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Our Indigenous Dog Breeds

15 August 2014 Comments::DISQUS_COMMENTS

Most of us are oblivious to the existence of the indigenous breeds of dogs in India. These breeds have existed since long and are now being bred by people who are enthusiastic about our very own dog breeds

Most of us are oblivious to the existence of the indigenous breeds of dogs in India. These breeds have existed since long and are now being bred by people who are enthusiastic about our very own dog breeds. A lot of good work has been done by them, some of whom have spent their entire lifetime on the conservation of the Indian breeds. But unfortunately for us all the standards for many Indian breeds have not found common consensus. Beautiful and true to standards specimens are still found in remote villages throughout the country, sadly though some of these breeds are on the verge of extinction or are modified to stylish show dogs. Only the more popular or rather the breeds that have more number of dogs have been studied, measured, and standards written for them. But the other Indian breeds of dog are not promoted nor any awareness is created hence many of you regard these Indian dogs as “junglies” or strays. This impression is fuelled by the general Indian liking for foreign goods, both living and nonliving.


The Afghans, Pathans, Mongols, Persians and the Arabs brought through the Khyber pass many hounds like the Afghan and the Saluki when they came into India. The Indian breeds of dog probably owed its ancestry to these dogs. These dogs were usually bred selectively by the villagers to withstand the weather, hunt or for qualities they appreciated rather than for colour and beauty. Being indigenous, these breeds are known to be quite immune to many diseases and have plenty of stamina. These breeds were once kept by the royal families, including Hindu kings and Mughals who ruled this country. The main purpose of these dogs then was hunting and hounding. When the British came, they trashed many of our customs and royalty. So Indian cow breeds disappeared, Indian cheetahs were shot to extinction, Indian parakeets gave way to foreign parrots and the Indian dog was thrown out onto the road, to be beaten, starved, abused and killed while smugglers brought in Poodles, Mastiffs and Cocker Spaniels to become status symbols.

You will love them, once you know them. Let me tell you how to identify some of the prominent Indian breeds of dog.

The Caravan Hound


Also known as the Karwani, came to India with the invaders and are prominently found in the Deccan Plateau regions of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The average height of the male and the female is 29 inches and 27 inches (at the withers) respectively. Average adult weight is 24 to 29 kg. The head is wedge shaped, long and narrow and broad between the ears with a tapering muzzle with long, powerful jaws. Eyes are oval shaped and the ears are pendulant hanging close to the skull. The nose is large and black, sometimes liver. Neck is long and well muscled. The back is broad and long and the body narrow. Chest is deep and the abdomen tucked in and tight. The long tail is set low and carried in a natural curve, not over the back. The coat is fine and tight and is found in white, black, fawn, cream, red, brindle, or any of these colours broken with white. It was bred to hunt small preys like deer, blackbuck and hare.

The Pashmi Hound


This feathered variety of the Caravan Hound is also known as the Pisuri in some parts of Maharashtra.

Chippiparai


This breed is found in the regions around Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The average height of the male and the female is 30 inches and 28 inches (at the withers) respectively. Average adult weight is 28 kg. The head is long and narrow and slightly broad between the ears with a tapering muzzle with long, powerful jaws. Eyes are oval shaped and the ears are semi erect or rose shaped. The nose is large and black. Neck is long and strong. The back is broad and long and the body narrow. Chest is deep and the abdomen tucked in and tight. The long tail is bony and carried in a natural curve. The coat is fine and tight and is found in white and fawn colours. It was bred to hunt small preys like deer, blackbuck and hare.

Kanni

This breed of dog, also from Tamil Nadu, has similar physical standards as compared to the Chippiparai, but is found in brown, black and black with tan colours. Primarily bred to hunt, this breed is an excellent watchdog.

Rajapalayam Hound


As the name suggests, this albino breed of dog is found in and around Rajapalayam, near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The average height of the male and the female is 31 inches and 29 inches (at the withers) respectively. Average adult weight is 30 to 35 kg. The head is big and broad between the ears with a boxy muzzle with powerful jaws. Eyes are oval shaped and the ears are pendulant hanging close to the skull. The nose is large and pink. Neck is strong and muscular. The back is broad and the body rounded. Chest is deep and the abdomen tucked in. The thick tail is carried in a natural curve, over the back. The coat is fine and soft and is always found in white. It was bred to hunt wild boar, hence is also known as the boar hound.

Mudhol Hound


The name comes from the place where this breed is found, in the Northern part of the state of Karnataka. They were supposed to be Shivaji Maharaj’s favourite breed of dogs. The Mudhol Hound is slightly larger than the Caravan Hound and has the same physical characteristics and purpose of the latter. Though these two are recognised as two different breeds by the Kennel Club of India (KCI), the general belief is that they are the same.

Kombai


This breed of dog from Tamil Nadu has more powerful jaws, often with a black mouth, much more pendant ears, a more savage temper, and a tendency to be much more active than the Rajapalayam. It is also slightly shorter than the Rajapalayam, but appears heavier because of its powerful build. The dog is usually red or brown with a black mask with a dark line along the back. They were used for hunting boar, bison and deer. History has it that these dogs were used as early as 9th century BC when the Marawar Kings ruled South India.

Rampur Hound


The Rampur Hound or the Rampur Grey Hound is a breed of dogs native to the Rampur region of Northern India. It was the favoured hound of the Maharajahs for jackal control, but was also used to hunt lions, tigers, leopards, and panthers. The Rampur is built to cover great distances at high speed; thus capable of great endurance. The average height of the male and the female is 25 inches and 23 inches (at the withers) respectively. Average adult weight is 27 kg. It has a flat skull and a pointed nose. It also has a characteristic roman bend. Some other unique characteristics are their Roman nose, ears set high, pendant style, and of most interest, their "hare" feet. Chest is deep and the abdomen tucked in and tight. The long tail is set low and carried in a natural curve, not over the back. Colours are mouse-gray, grizzle, brindle, parti-colour or most rare, black.

Jonangi


The Jonangi is a native dog breed of India found mainly around Kolleru region of Andhra Pradesh. This highly aggressive dog is used as a watchdog. They are extremely agile, easily trainable and very intelligent dogs .There coat is extremely short and shiny, thus giving it an appearance of being hairless, hence those found in southern Maharashtra are called “Luthi” (hairless) in the local dialect. These dogs come in solid colours of fawn, biscuit, chocolate, black and white. These dogs have a wrinkled fore head and curled tail. They may have erect or floppy ears. The Jonangi stands between 17 to 21 inches at the withers.

Indian Spitz


The Indian Spitz is commonly and unknowingly called the Pomeranian, though the two breeds are entirely different! It was one of the most popular dogs in India in the 1980s when India's import rules said no to import. It is highly efficient as a watchdog. It is usually white in colour, but also comes in brown and black. So the next time your neighbour says he’s got a Pomeranian, just check it out!

Other lesser known Indian breeds of dog are Alangu, Indian Mastiff (Bully Kutta), Bakharwal, Bisben, Banjara Hound and Bhutia Sheep Dog.

The Indian breeds of dog are first and fundamentally working dogs, capable of withstanding the rigors of an Indian winter, the heat of summer, and the difficult terrain over which they are called upon to work. Being indigenous keeps them absolutely free of genetic problems, which makes them a very low maintenance breed. Not many of us are aware that we indulge in cruelty when we keep foreign breeds, like the German Shepherd or the Labrador, who come from and are characterised to live in cold climatic conditions. These foreign breeds are really uncomfortable during Indian summer, and I feel you should keep them only if you can arrange an air-conditioner for the poor souls.

The Indian breeds of dog, especially the Caravans, Mudhols, Chippiparais and Kannis, are good sprinters and so even if you may decide on having them in your apartments, you need to have a big but enclosed space where the dogs can run and play, during their daily outings. Though these breeds may look ferocious and have gained the repute of hunters, I would like to assure you that they are very loving and loyal to the family. They are excellent guard dogs but at the same time are very gentle towards children. These breeds are highly intelligent and their temperament reflects their upbringing. I also have cats as part of my family who share a seemingly untrue bond with my “hounds”. All this is contrary to the general myth people have about these breeds of dog, so to verify and appreciate these facts NDTV aired an episode showcasing the Caravan Hounds and their bonding with children and tolerance towards cats! Here’s the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF7SRGqxKxY

These prominent Indian breeds of dog are recognised by the KCI as well as the INKC, which enables you to enter your dog for a competition with other dogs, including all recognised foreign breeds, in their respective Championship Dog Shows held all over the country! And if you are doubtful about the chances of winning for an Indian breed, I would like to proudly announce that my Caravan Hound bitch “Jingle” was the 5th and 8th Best in Show, in Mumbai 2010, competing against 335 dogs of all breeds from across the country. So, when you consider having a dog, just share a thought for our beautiful and efficient Indian breeds.

I am grateful to Shri. Subodh Gore, for requesting me to prepare this article, and to Sanjeevan, for authorising me to undertake the assignment.

I am an Indian dog breed enthusiast and also a Caravan Hound breeder and have personally made many attempts to study the breeds of dog in India. Most of the information on these breeds is availed from authentic literature on the relevant subjects and interaction with genuine breeders.

For more pictures and updates of these breeds you can follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/mangirish.farms
Shailesh Nabar
Mangirish Farms
Nabarwadi, At & Post Aros,
Taluka Sawantwadi, Maharashtra 416514

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Last modified on Sunday, 17 August 2014 12:28
Shailesh Nabar

Shailesh Nabar, belongs to a family of nature lovers, he always had pets as companions. Having an artistic mind and a nature loving heart, he did not find comfort and satisfaction in the busy and materialistic city life. Supported by his likeminded computer-science graduate wife, he shut down his successfully running design studio,in 2012, and migrated to his native in Aros, Sawantwadi-Maharashtra.

They are now full-fledged organic  agriculturists. Very soon they will add Indian breeds of cattle to their family.Shailesh and his wife Nandita are well known as dedicated breeders and exhibitors of the Indian breeds of dog. Their Caravan Hounds have reined show rings, especially “Jingle” who was 5th and 8th Best in Show, in Mumbai 2010, competing against 325 dogs of all breeds.

The Nabars have a prominent role in bringing the long lost and forgotten Indian breeds of dog in the limelight