HYDERABAD: India is home to over 20 dog breeds and for a long time these canines have served their purpose faithfully -- from guarding wealthy landlords to assisting Rajas on hunts. Take for instance the Rajapalayam, Mudhol Hound and Chippiparai which were bred for a purpose. These were either work dogs, hunters or estate guards.
But today, with most people living in apartments and the high demand for foreign breeds, these desi hounds are becoming rarer with every passing day. Vets, animal rights activists and dog lovers are waking up to this disturbing trend and finding ways to spread the word on native Indian breeds. One of them was actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who posted a photodump of the Chippiparai and highlighted the need to revive the sighthound native to Tamil Nadu. Her post gained traction, with actors and other prominent personalities appreciating the ‘beauty’. But, there’s a lot more that needs to be done to protect these breeds. Without a doubt, our desi dogs were always bred for a purpose.
On World Pet Day, CE spoke to the city’s top animal experts and vets to understand the decline in demand for these native breeds.
The aww factor
Manjira Sen, joint secretary at People For Animal’s Welfare Organisation, says most of the native dogs, especially the ones found in the Telugu States — like Pandikona and Jonangi, were domesticated for specific purposes such as hunting and herding. “Today’s urban lifestyle does not require such dogs and people these days are looking for cute-looking cuddle bugs and couch potatoes for companionship,” she says. “While most exotic dogs are unsuited for our climate, it is the growing access to veterinarians, diet supply and the portrayal of these dogs on social media that is compelling more and more people to choose them over the Indian ones. And mind you, our Indian breeds require an insane amount of exercise,” she adds. Manjira also warns that while picking a native breed, people must know about the sweet spot between the exotic doggos and the ferocious ones, like the Indian Pariah. “These dogs are extremely street-smart. They know when to act cute and how to beg for food. At the same time, they are well adapted to harsh climatic conditions,” she says.
Dr Krishna Kanth, a veterinary physician who founded Claws and Paws Animal Clinic in Banjara Hills, says while exotic dogs have organised breeding patterns, the same is not the case with Indies. Most breeders end up compromising the bloodline, which affects the features of the dog and makes it prone to health problems. At the end, they have no takers. One interesting way to popularise the native breeds is by hosting dog shows which that showcase the local canines, he says. “It is always the German Shepherd or the Labrador that steals the show. Why not the Rajapalayam or the Bully Kutta?” he asks, adding that the government must take the initiative to save the native breeds. For instance, the Karnataka government is establishing a research centre for Mudhol Hounds.
Embracing modernity, a difficulty
While desi dogs are role-specific, there is more to add in the hot soup of their declination. According to Dr Ramesh Nanabonia, a veterinary surgeon practising for well over a decade now, while Indian dogs do not need special maintenance, the problem for pet owners is their defensive nature that makes them bark frequently, something that pet parents living in apartments do not prefer. These dogs are also more likely to be affected by travel sickness. “It is a big no-no for those who love to travel with pets,” he says. Lastly, Dr Ramesh also notes that over 90 per cent of Indian dogs do not like the commercially available dog food. They prefer certain non-vegetarian diets, which requires extra effort from the owners.
Receiving with open arms
Having a pet in one’s life is a huge responsibility. But this Hyderabadi has gone to a whole new level. Sabir Hussain, 34, a celebrity interior designer from Moinabad, has been rescuing and parenting over 70 dogs at his farmhouse all by himself. Almost half of them are Kombais.
“People must understand that having a pet is a huge responsibility. think of the be responsible enough while investing tens of thousands on their pets, whether it is an exotic or a native one. Many end up abandoning their pets 10-15 kms away from their homes after they have realised that they are unable to look after them,” says Sabir.
Know the natives
The Indian Pariah
It is known to be one of the oldest and intelligent breeds in the world. The Indian Pariah can be identified by its erect ears and curved tail. Named after the Pariah tribe of erstwhile Madras, it is used a guard/police dog as it is alert, social and defensive.
Colour: Reddish brown
Lifespan: 13-16 years
Known for its hunting instincts, this breed is native to Pandikona in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh. It’s an easy breed to look after, with little to no grooming required.
Size: Medium to large
Colour: Light brown
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Litter size: 4-6 puppies
Rajapalayam, a.k.a Indian Ghost Hound
These large-sized hunter dogs are native to Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu. It’s milky white coat is why it is also called the Ghost Hound.
Lifespan: 12 years
Litter size: 6-8 puppies
The Mudhol Hound
These faint brown dogs make excellent watchdogs and are native to Mudhol, a taluk in Karnataka. It is an integral part of the country’s heritage and was also features on postal stamps.
Lifespan: 12 years
Litter size: 3-7 puppies
From kings to landlords, native Indian dog breeds were once loved by all. But thanks to our changing lifestyle and the apartment culture, the demand for these breeds are on the decline. Vets and animal experts help us understand why many do not prefer native Indian breeds and what can be done to make these intelligent pooches man’s best friend again