Last week, we covered some pretty cool breeds native to our subcontinent. We got a great response from you guys and it’s wonderful to see such interest in our #DesiDoggies. As promised, here’s part 2 –
Quite the unsung hero, here’s a breed which is being revived through popular demand (as also evidenced by the requests we got to feature them). If there’s one breed that symbolizes South Indian aristocracy of days gone past, it’s this one.
Long a favorite of local rulers, it gets its name from the town of Rajapalayam, where it originates. The town is still a hub full of Rajapalayam breeders. An excellent hunter of boar known for its superb watch dog capabilities, this is one breed known for its ferocious brand of loyalty. Seldom is this a cause of worry as it is quite intelligent and able to gauge between friendly outsider and strange intruder with relative ease. Its playful demeanor and youthful disposition puts this dog high up on the lovability scale, and they usually come in a brilliant shade of milk white.
The breed has not fared well in the last few decades. Neglected after the royal families’ fall in relevance, they have not been treated kindly by many of those not familiar with them. Given its assertive nature and territorial behavior, they inspire fear in locals, leading to measures taken to ‘take care’ of the problem (poisoning). However, the public and dog lovers seem to have come to breed’s rescue for now –
Another ancient relic of a breed, this is one surrounded in mystique and whose numbers have gone down to shameful extremes. Although bred in the Himalayas by local tribesmen, its origins go far back, as can be guessed from its local name – Cypro Kukur (Cyprus Dog). Believed to have been brought by Alexander’s army, they can be found deep in the Kumaon Hills. This breed is massive, with a lean, muscular figure and huge skull. It still retains its warrior spirit and demeanor of its ancestors, making it quite a formidable guard dog. With early training and socialization, they can quickly become loving dogs as well, which is what has prompted a recent show of interest from Europe that has led to some support being lent to the breed.
A South Indian breed that has been around since the 9th century BCE, the Combai is known to be ‘as intelligent as a German Shepherd and as ferocious as a Rottweiler. Its appearance also resembles that of a GSD mix without the erect ears. They are similar, in ways, to the Rajapalayam, but with slightly stronger jaws and a shorter but stockier built.
Another feature that separates the breeds is that while the Rajapalayam is a sight hound, the Combai is a bear hound. Usually tan, red or brown, this neglected breed can be found in select Tamil Nadu kennels, and a lot of cross breeding has taken place over the years, leading to new varieties which are bigger in size.
Indian Pariah Dog
Affectionately known as INDogs, this is a breed that is truly a national treasure. Even a cursory glimpse into the history of the breed will give one a fairly good idea of its significance and historical relevance. A few eyebrows might be raised when we say that the Indian street dog breed is a strong contender for being THE most ancient breed still extant in wide numbers today, but hey, those are the facts.
For starters, they are not known as a ‘breed’ of dog, instead they are called a ‘landrace’, a naturally selected breed. They are physically the same as the dogs whose fossilized remains have been found in China and Israel, and are known to be the original ‘domestic dog’ of man. Further evidence is its fantastic resilience to diseases, different diets, pests and body odour, all problems faced with breeds created by man, giving them the title of a ‘perfected’ breed. They are excellent watch dogs with senses that have been honed for millennia, protecting its owners from predators such as leopards and tigers. This is why they have very cautious temperaments, although this should not be mistaken for fear, as they are merely making themselves aware of all aspects of their surroundings. Thankfully, the fact that it is one of the most intelligent breeds out there has been understood by the public at large, one of the redeeming factors of the otherwise lowly ‘stray dog’. Again, enough emphasis cannot be put on how diseases are an almost alien phenomenon to this tough breed. Arguably the most misunderstood breed in the country, it is heartwarming to see that most of the adoption and care drives for dogs that take place feature a lot of the Indog. Citizens are slowly becoming aware of this wonderful breed and how its qualities make it a perfect pet for the home, and sterilization drives have made it easier to deal with overpopulation issues in urban areas by offering a slightly more humane solution. Hopefully, as awareness grows, this breed can lose its ‘menace’ connotation and regain its position as not just man’s, but India’s best friend.
This is one breed that has achieved some degree of fame, the Gaddi Kutta, otherwise known as the Indian Panther Hound or Mahidant Mastiff. One of the oldest dogs with Tibetan Mastiff blood, they were developed when King Mahidant of Meerut bred wild mastiff Pariahs from the hills with a fighting line of Tibetan Mastiffs, giving us one of the most formidable breeds the dog world has seen. They are used not only to fend of snow leopards and panthers but to herd livestock as well. Don’t be fooled by their frightening appearance though, they are excellent house pets and get along well with most people. They are muscular, deep chested dogs that needs their share of space and socialization and one characteristic that sets them apart is their storied stamina, making them highly efficient working dogs.
It’s high time that Indian breeds get the recognition they deserve. Most of our local breeds are not just dogs, but symbols of the length and breadth of civilizations and races that have made India their home at some point in history. An integral piece of our heritage, we should work together to make ensure that these noble breeds do not just fade away into history books.