Amidst the lovers and proud owners of foreign breeds of dogs, a 29-year-old research assistant of Veterinary and Preventive Medicine in Ranipet stands out with his collection of the nearly extinct native breeds of dogs - Rajapalayam, Kanni and Chippiparai.
He owns a dozen Rottweilers, four Doberman, three Pugs, three German Shepherds, four Labradors and a Siberian Husky. Dr R Kishore Kumar is proud to have two pairs of Kanni and a pair each of Chippiparai and Rajapalayam. “These dogs are a symbol of royalty and dignity and are known for their instinctive skill of guarding and hunting. They have even guarded their masters in battlefields,” said veterinarian.
The veterinarian plans to collect Kombai, Kanni and other hounds from deep south Tamil Nadu. “The Chippiparai, Kanni and Rajapalayam are more immune to external parasite infestation and less prone to common canine skin problems and many infectious diseases. It is easy to rear these breeds,” he said.
Rajapalayam dogs were brought to south Tamil Nadu by the Nayakars during the Vijayanagara era. These sighthounds were used against East India Company in Polygar wars of the 19th Century when Nayakars launched a surprise attack on the English cavalry. “These dogs were trained to rip off the hamstrings of enemy’s horses, ,” he said.
Though Rajapalayam was gaining popularity, Kanni, Chippipari and Kombai still remained less popular. “It is very difficult to get pups of these kinds as the owners will never give it outside their community,” said the veterinarian.
“Our ancestors reared the Kombai to protect cattle and homesteads from wild animals like lions and leopards,” he added.
The Kambalathu Naickar community in Theni, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Madurai districts had the Kanni and Chippiparai pedigree. “Kanni means unmarried girl and Kanni dogs were given as dowry by the Kambalathu Naickar community. They will not let this breed outside their house,” he said further.