11 Excellent but Endangered Indian Dog Breeds
What Is the Original Dog Breed of India?
Dogs have been a part of the history of humans since before the written word. In ancient India, dogs were also highly regarded. The Indian Pariah dog, which still exists today, is considered by many to be the first truly domesticated dog in history and the oldest in the world (though this has been challenged).
Indian Pariah dogs are the original breed of India and are known today as Indi-dogs, In-dogs, Desi dogs, and Pariah dogs. Being a naturally evolved and hardy breed, they have very few health issues.
For centuries, dogs were seen as faithful companions, hunters, guardians and as a treasured part of the family. We'll explore several other excellent native Indian dog breeds that are endangered and struggling to survive.
Which Dog Breeds Are Endangered?
- The Tazi or Taji
- The Kaikadi Dog
- The Jonangi
- The Soriala Greyhound or Bengal Hound
- The Himalayan Mastiff
- The Alangu Mastiff
- The Dhole or Asiatic/Indian Wild Dogs
- The Kashmiri Sheepdog
- The Chippiparai or Shippiparai Dog
- The Dhangri or Maharashtrian Shepherd Dog
- The Soneri Kutta
The Significance of Dogs in the Mahabharata
The great cultural epic, the Mahabharata (circa 400 BCE), features a dog that very well may have been one of these Pariah dogs. The epic highlights the tale of King Yudhishthira many years after the Kurukshetra War as he is making a pilgrimage to his final resting place. On the way, he is accompanied by his family and his faithful dog.
One by one, his family members die along the path, but his dog remains by his side. When at last Yudhishthira reaches the gates of paradise, he is welcomed for the good and noble life that he has lived, but the guardian at the gate tells him that the dog is not allowed inside. Yudhishthira is shocked that so loyal and noble a creature as his dog would not be allowed into heaven. He so chooses to remain with his dog on earth or even go to hell rather than enter into a place which would exclude the dog. The guardian at the gate then tells Yudhishthira that this was only a last test of his virtue and that, of course, the dog is also welcome to enter.
1. The Tazi or Taji
The Tazi or Taji is a sighthound and is known for its athletic, strong built. It was used for hunting bears, foxes, gazelles, wildcats and marmots in previous times. First discovered in India, this breed now predominantly resides in Russia. To this day, it's very difficult to find an original Tazi in India. Compared to the Russian Tazi dogs, Indian Tazis are shorter in height, sturdier and have comparatively less fur. They are playful, loyal and affectionate, and always keen on pleasing their owner. Tazis are often described as energetic and alert.
2. The Kaikadi Dog
Kaikadi dogs are of the terrier family and were named after a nomadic tribe in Maharashtra, India; the Kaikadi tribes used this breed to hunt hare and vermin. The original Kaikadi is hard to trace because the breed has mixed with stray dogs and the Pariah dogs of India over many generations. This breed is alert, athletic and makes for an excellent watchdog; it shares many similar traits with Whippets.
They may be white, tan and black colour, but the most common colour is a red-brindle. These dogs are small in height (about 40 cm or less) and have thin, long legs, but powerful thighs and hocks. Their tails are long and tapered, and their head is narrow, which enables them to run and chase. They have thin, prominent eyes and long, erect ears when alert.
3. The Jonangi
The Jonangi is a native Indian dog from the east coast of India (Bengal to Kanyakumari). It is a quiet breed and does not usually bark, but it is known for its well-identified "yodeling" sound. The Jonangi has an extremely short and fine coat and comes in solid colours of fawn, biscuit, chocolate, black or white. They have a wrinkled forehead, curled tail and tulip-shaped ears.
Upon first look, the Jonangi resembles a red fox aside from its curly tail and stiff structure. This dog is average in intelligence, but very affectionate and devoted to its owners and family. This pure breed is fairly rare and they are difficult to obtain.
4. The Soriala Greyhound or Bengal Hound (Sarail Hound in Bangladesh)
The Soriala Greyhound is a sighthound native to West Bengal, India. They are also known as Sarail Hounds in Bangladesh and Bengal Hounds in West Bengal, India. This dog is also related to the Rampur Hound in the northern Indian city, Rampur, which lies between Delhi and Bareilly.
Soriala Hounds were created by combining the bloodlines of very powerful, athletic dogs that had strong jaws; they also inherited a broad and strong skull. A powerful Soriala can bring down a large bull, but they also hunt vermin, deer and jackals. They are at risk of extinction, and very few Sorialas are left.
5. The Himalayan Mastiff
Himalayan Mastiffs are also known as Himalayan guard dogs or the Indigenous Mastiff. Compared to Tibetan Mastiffs, Himalayan Mastiffs are a bit taller and more athletic. They even look very similar to Tibetan Mastiffs, but their temperament and behaviour is different.
Himalayans are calm and loving dogs and aim to please their owner; they like to be around people. They don't like the company of other dogs, however. It is said that a full-grown male Himalayan Mastiff is capable of taking down two wolves. This dog has been introduced to the endangered dog breed category.
Video: The Alangu Mastiff
6. The Alangu Mastiff
The Alangu Mastiff, also known as the Sindh Mastiff, is a tall, massive, powerful dog and was historically used in times of war. They are renown for their sharp instincts and guarding skills. They are the successor of the Indian Bully dog (Indian Mastiff) and originated in the Sindh area of India and Pakistan. In Southern India, they are mainly available in the cities of Tanjavur and Trichi.
The origin of the Alangu Mastiff can be traced back to the Bahawalpur area of Punjab, parts of Rajasthan and the desert area of Kutch. Alangu have erected ears and powerful, broad, black muzzles. They are robust, sturdy, and fearless, and for this reason they are commonly used for dog fighting and guarding. They are extremely loyal and protective of their owner. Because of their dominant and potentially aggressive nature, they are not a good fit for inexperienced owners.
7. The Dhole or Asiatic/Indian Wild Dogs
The Dhole or Indian wild dog is also known as the red dog or red fox dog because it looks like a red fox. This dog has a very similar physical structure to the Australian Border Collie, but Dholes are most similar to African wild dogs and can kill prey up to ten times their size.
Dholes are classed as endangered by the IUCN. Diseases from domestic and feral dogs have contributed to their decline. These dogs are very social animals and live in large clans—they occasionally split up into small packs to hunt.
8. The Kashmiri Sheepdog
The Kashmiri Sheepdog or Bakharwal Sheepdog is an indigenous breed of Himalayan origin (from the Pir Panjal mountain range of the Kashmir Himalayas) and was bred exclusively by a Muslim nomadic group, the Gujjars, to protect their livestock from predators like wolves and bears. This breed was also used for herding sheep and goats in the Kashmir region of India, hence its other name—the Kashmiri Sheepdog.
Its common name, Bakharawal, is taken from the word bakri (which means goat) because the dog was bred to protect goats and sheep from Himalayan wolves and bears. This breed is also known as the Bakharwal Mastiff, Kashmiri Bakharwal Dog, Gujjar Watchdog, Bakharwal, Gujjar Dog, and Kashmiri Mastiff.
They are heavy and agile, have a straight back, broad shoulders and long legs. Their bodies are strongly boned and their heads are powerful and large.
Other breed traits that make this dog unique:
- This dog is said to prefer vegetarian food; its favourite food is milk and bread.
- They have a very low birth ratio.
- Bakhrawals are very friendly with other pets.
- The breed is not identified by any major kennel club and is considered endangered by the IUCN.
9. The Chippiparai or Shippiparai Dog
The Chippiparai dog breed is a sighthound that is native to South India (primarily the southern part of Tamilnadu). These dogs are used for hunting wild boar, deer and hare, and for guarding the home. Chippiparai were bred by royal families in Chippiparai near the Madurai district in Tamil Nadu, which is where the breed got its name.
The breed was kept as a symbol of royalty and dignity by the rulers of Tirunelveli and Madurai. But now, only a few Chippiparai are left. If steps are not taken to ensure the breed's survival, then the bloodline may be lost. They are typically silver-grey, with very limited white or no white markings at all. Other colour combinations, particularly variations of grey and fawn, also occur.
10. The Dhangri or Maharashtrian Shepherd Dog
This dog was developed by the Korku tribes of Maharashtra by mixing the native Pariah dog with native hounds (the Kakadi Hound and the Caravan Hound) to herd sheep and goats. These dogs are considered rare livestock guardians of the Korku tribes of Western India. Some authorities believe that the breed is extinct due to common working crosses with the Pashmi Hound.
The Maharashtrian Shepherd used to be more massive in the past and was used primarily for protection, but the present-day breed makes for a capable herder and hunting dog as well. Dhangaris are slim, thin dogs like Greyhounds, and are very intelligent and loyal—they are aggressive and powerful, and best suited for rural environments.
Their coats are thick, hard and rich, and always black in colour. Small white markings are allowed on the feet, chest and tail. Some puppies are available in Pune or Satara, or in Rohilkhand in Uttar Pradesh in India.
11. The Soneri Kutta
This dog is a native dog of Uttar Pradesh and the state of Bihar and was basically used to retrieve buffalo from water by the farmers of India around Son River. This dog is a good swimmer and can swim for hours; it is active, athletic and sturdy.
According to locals, the origin of the Soneri Kutta is not yet confirmed. When the British came to India, they brought some water dogs and other breeds that were good swimmers, like the Labrador, with them. The Soneri Kutta is a mix of these breeds and the Indian Pariah dog.
Soneri Kutta are typically black, but some have red (fawn) and red-white mixed colouring as well. This breed is known for its great stamina and energy and is a very loyal, alert, protective dog, but usually loyal to just one person.
Video: 11 Endangered Indian Dogs
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