So the issue of a dog’s breed is a big one. A lot of people treat dogs as accessories or social symbols, so them, the dog’s breed matters a lot. The more exotic, the better. But even those of us who own dogs simply because they’re amazing companions and we love them, rarely venture beyond the familiar. Yes, familiar, because while most of us are familiar with the various imported, or foreign-origin dog breeds, there are not too many of us who can even name a couple of local breeds, let alone be familiar with them. Ironically, it is is the local species, obviously, who are best suited for raising in our climate. Imported dogs, especially those from colder areas, are often not able to adjust to the Indian weather, and thus need to be kept indoors in air conditioning all the time. However, this goes against their very natures, for these are outdoor dogs, and need lots of exercise, which naturally leads to a depressed and ill-tempered dog. And so is the case for a lot of imported varieties.
Indian breeds however, are, for the most part, very hardy and well-suited for the local weather, be it the sweltering heat (up to an extent, of course) or cold winters, depending on the part of the country they come from. Unfortunately due to lack of awareness and the popularity of exotic species, a lot of these breeds are seriously in decline. S, in the spirit of raising awareness about local breeds, we’ve created a list of our favourites:
This one is my favourite, particularly because of it’s regal, graceful appearance. It’s appearance is more elongated, for lack of a better word, than most imported species, although it does bear a stark resemblance to the Afghan Hound, albeit with a much shorter coat, and is probably descended from them too. The Mudhol, or the Caravan Hound, as it is also known, is native to the Deccan Plateau, where it can commonly be seen domesticated by people in rural areas. The Mudhol is prized for it’s abilities as an excellent guard dog and hunting companion. It is athletic and very active. As a result, it may not be best suited for apartment dwellers. People who have plenty of space and who can give time everyday to the dog to indulge in physical; activity will find this the perfect pet. These dogs are very rarely aggressive. Although not very friendly, they will not attack people, and once they get attached, they are very loyal towards their owners.
The Kanni is a now rare breed of dogs mostly found in villages in Tamil Nadu. Again a tad on the skinny side, like most Indian breeds, the Kanni has a beautiful black coat with silver or light brown markings. This is not a breed that you can just buy from a local breeder, no matter how resourceful. The Kanni are owned be very few families down South and are generally not for sale, due to their rarity and also as they are highly prized as guards and hunting dogs. Families will not sell their dogs, and only rarely will they give them away as presents, as long as they are promised loving homes and excellent care. They will also almost never be seen roaming in the streets. Kanni are shy, but they love human company! Friendly and easy to train, these are the perfect companions for people with relatively active lifestyles. They do need a lot of exercise though, having been bred to be hunting dogs. They are very graceful runners.
The fact that only a few of them remain now is a cause for great concern. These dogs have lost out to other more popular species, since they are local, and therefore not considered exotic enough, and are also ill suited to the sedentary modern lifestyle. As a result, they were not bred often enough to maintain their population. Fortunately, there are a lot of dog enthusiasts out there who have taken it upon themselves to popularize this specie and promote breeding programmes.
Due to the lack of serious studies conducted regarding these dogs, and also their dwindling numbers, there is a lot of confusion and disagreement, even amongst seasoned breeders, regarding this species. A lot of people claim that it is the same specie as the Pakistani Bulli Mastiff, or the Indian Sindhi Mastiff,while others disagree on all these points.
Found in Rajasthan and Panjab, these dogs are unfortunately also faced with severely dwindling numbers. Even worse, wherever they do happen to be bred, they are bred for the heinous purpose of dog-fighting, for which, they are bred to be aggressive. Otherwise, these are mostly employed as guard dogs, being extremely alert and intelligent. There are several historic records that detail tiger hunts that were accompanied by these dogs.
This breed is ideal for those living in the colder, mountainous parts of the country. Adorably fluffy, the Gaddi dogs, or the Indian Panther Hound, as they are also known, are found in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. They are used by Gaddi shepherds as sheep dogs, which is where they get there names from. Stockier, and longer-haired than most other indigenous species, these dogs are well adapted to the cooler climes. They are also known to be able to fend off attacks from snow leopards, which makes them invaluable as guard dogs. Although aggressive towards strangers, they are very gentle and intuitive, and thus make ideal family pets.
Another specie from the mountains, this fairly ancient breed lives mostly in Kashmir, where it is bred by Gujjar shepherds as a sheepdog. They resemble the Tibetan Mastiff to some extent. This breed is unique in that it is vegetarian, and subsists on a diet of milk and bread. They have a heavy coat and are extremely robust,a requirement if the harsh terrain that they inhabit. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get one as a pet anytime soon, as there are only a few hundred of them left. The Gujjar and Bakharwal tribe have requested that they be classified as critically endangered and receive the appropriate conservation measure, but the request has not been honoured as yet. This old breed is in danger extinction, particularly because they reproduction rates are so low, with females producing only 1-3 puppies a year.