What dog is that?

By Sindhoor Pangal, Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Aug 17, 2015, 08.55 PM IST

“Indian dogs were highly prized among the Persian aristocracy; Xerxes I (489-65 B.C.E.) reportedly took a large number of them with his army when he marched against Greece. One of the Persian satraps of Babylon assigned the revenues derived from four large villages in that province to the care of his Indian hounds. A dog belonging to Darius III (336-30 B.C.E.) supposedly refused to leave his corpse after he had been struck down by Bessus.” — EncyclopaediaIranica on the topic of Indian Mastiff.

While we think of Indian breeds not many perhaps come to mind. The Indian spitz is something many people have perhaps seen. Then there is the ubiquitous aboriginal INDog. However there are several native breeds that are perhaps less known. Today, I present some lesser known breeds here.
Among the native breeds several hunting breeds are prominent. The Rajipaliyam, Mudhol hound, Rampur greyhound are the more popular of them. These breeds are all sight hounds. Sight hounds have very sleek bodies, long snouts and slightly curved in the back. They are fast runners and have excellent vision. Their body is built for some very fast short distance running.

Such dogs, when on a hunt, will exhibit tremendous speed. Due to their excellent vision, they can be hyper alert and very sensitive to movement. Interestingly they are not built for trotting along or sitting. Such dogs should be walked very slowly and never be asked to sit. They may enjoy short bursts of fast galloping once in a while.

Lesser known sight hounds include Kanni and Mahratta greyhound. “Kanni” is a Tamil word for maiden. The families that breed them adore these dogs. Previously they were sent along with their daughters, as the bride left for her husband’s home. We also have a few mastiff varieties. Among these are the Bully Kutta, Gaddi Kutta and Kumaon Mastiff. Mastiff-type dogs are often bulkier dogs and bred for guarding. Guard dogs are excellent with the family. However when put in a position to guard, they take their job very seriously. Such dogs, when left to care for children or property, get into a guarding mode. The Bully Kutta apparently got his name from the flatish snout that resembles a Bulldog. The Gaddi Kutta is a mountain dog and consequently has lush fur that can protect it from the elements. Folklore suggests that the Kumaon mastiff was introduced to the people of Kumaon by Alexander the Great in 300 B.C.

The Kaikadi is a terrier type dog. Terriers are good at hunting small mice and rodents. Like sight hounds, they can have excellent vision. In addition, they may also have a proclivity to digging. The Bakharwal Dog is an ancient breed from the Kashmir Himalayas. The Gujjar nomads treasure this breed and kept the dog to guard their livestock. Breeds meant to guard livestock often do that by alerting people of perceived danger. They can be notorious barkers due to this expectation of them. The Combai is a bear hound from south India. Due to his job, he is stockier with powerful jaws and yet is agile.

While we have all these different breeds, my favourite still is the naaty dog or the INDog. Rather ubiquitous, this is more of a farm dog. Farm dogs are versatile in function and will do a little bit of everything. They are alert and will inform in case of intruders. INDogs show some of the physical traits of sight hounds. They are very good family dogs as well. They are hardy and live long. Here is a toast to the great dogs of India! 


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