Dogs are the only animal to have so much variation in appearance without branching into a separate species. While every breed is meant to make for best companion or friend, we select Fantastic Fourteen here to know their distinctive feature, nature and disposition.-by Garima Singhal


Samoyed

Originally bred to hunt, haul sledges and herd reindeers in Siberia, they proved their mettle as great companion too to the Samoyede people of the Northwestern Siberia. Tracking, pack hiking and even warming their pet parents by sleeping on top of their pet parents at night are tasks delegated to a Samoyed. This is a hardy dog.


Breed characteristics:
They have a beautiful, fluffy white coat, but to keep it in a good condition requires rigorous grooming schedule. Shedding is their middle name and molting their last name, which happens twice a year when profuse shedding happens. Regular brushing and vacuuming the house will become part of your schedule. They are not lethargic dogs, having been bred for pulling sledges, so they will easily get bored. And they need not just physical, but mental exercise and agility as well. Keeping them active is a task that you will need to be very good at, walks, games, hikes and canine sports will all need to become a part of your life. These dogs come from Siberia and cannot survive in a country like India or any tropical country for that matter.

Nature and disposition: They are sweet natured, friendly, intelligent, gentle, loyal and fond of other dogs and children. They are affectionate and thrive on being part of household activity. They cannot be confined to a crate or a yard. They are not a ‘lone wolf’ dog. They enjoy association with the house they live in.


Mudhol Hound

One of the most versatile named breeds, this is a Sight Hound of India. He draws his name from the small town of Mudhol. They hail from the Deccan plateau region. They have descended from the Saluki and Tazi who were brought to India by the nomadic Pathans, Afghans, Arabs and Persians through the Khyber Pass. The British named them the Caravan Hound and the locals call them the Karwaani. Their amazing sight helps them chase away rabbits and other small animals.


Breed characteristics:
They bear a striking resemblance to a Greyhound. They are one of the healthiest breeds of dogs and don’t have many health issues attached to them. Their breeding and lineage have made sure that they can tolerate the harsh Indian weather and environment well. They have an elongated skull with a tapering muzzle and have a 270 degrees field of vision. They have a short coat that doesn’t require much grooming but the toenails will require regular clipping. Teeth will require regular cleaning as well. The puppies can be a handful because of their speed. Always remember that when you bring home this little bundle of joy, this is a super active dog.


Nature and disposition:
They thrive on human companionship and are tolerant of other dogs. They might snap at strangers if they are completely unknown to them and approach them suddenly. They are fiercely loyal to their pet parents and can even attack strangers if they feel that the pet parent is in danger.


Rajapalayam

The Rajapalayam, as the name suggests, draws his name from the small town of Rajapalayam, which is located in the Virudunagar district of Tamil Nadu. This is a hound and hence should be kept busy, in optimum working condition. A dog left alone to his own devices is a bored dog and a bored Rajapalayam is not good for anyone. They are trained for hunting wild boar and as a formidable guard dog. They are Sight Hounds by nature and it has been proved that with a little training, they can also be used as a Scent Hound. They need wide open spaces.


Breed characteristics:
The most prized colour is milky white, with a pink nose and golden eyes. In the past, puppies of colour were usually culled from litters since pet parents, and Nayakarroyalty, for whom these dogs were often raised preferred pure white dogs. This practice is thankfully changing now. The coat is short and fine. This is an extremely handsome and graceful dog. The gait of a full grown, adult Rajapalayam is similar to a trotting of a thoroughbred horse.


Nature and disposition:
They are sweet natured, friendly, intelligent, gentle, and fiercely loyal to their pet parents and devoted to a fault. But they do not like to be touched or handled by strangers and are a one person dog. They are hostile to strangers and will attack intruders. Socialisation from puppyhood is a MUST. They do not usually get along with pets such as cats, owing to their strong hunting instinct.


Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan mastiff is a large Tibetan dog breed originating with the nomadic cultures of Tibet, China, India, Mongolia and Nepal and used by the local tribes of Tibetans to protect their sheep and livestock from wolves, leopards, bears, and tigers. These dogs are meant for the cold climates of the Himalayas and Tibet and not for Tropical regions.


Breed characteristics:
Be mindful that your cute, teddy bear of a puppy will grow up into an 80 kilo dog. This dog is UNSUITED for apartment living. They are active in morning and evening. If your schedule doesn’t allow for exercise during these times, this dog is not for you. This breed of dog sheds very little, except once a year. They require weekly brushing to prevent mats from forming and during their seasonal shed, they should be brushed more often.

Nature and disposition: He is a companion dog and thrives in the presence of a family. They do have a protective streak to them, hence, their walk route should always be varied, in case they become possessive of their walk route. They are highly intelligent, ndependent, but also quite stubborn, but sensitive to human moods and human screaming or crying will upset them too. Early socialisation is a must, which needs to continue throughout the life of the dog or without it, inappropriate aggressive behaviors can be generated. This is not a first time pet parent’s dog. He needs a confident, firm and loving trainer’s hand, for he is strong willed and he will test you. Their intelligence is their bane, for they will easily resort to destructive behaviours, chewing, barking. They do well with children if they are raised with them. But they can mistake the screaming, yelling and playing to be an act of aggression and may not like the neighborhood children, and are not recommended for homes with young children.


Akita

A working breed originating in the mountainous regions of Japan, Akita is a large, powerful, dignified, courageous and alert breed. This breed is popular in the show ring as well as performance and therapy work. There are two strains, a Japanese strain, called Akita Inu, and the American strain, called Akita. The Japanese strain comes in a narrow palette of while the American strain comes in all the dog colours. These dogs were bred in the mountains and that is where they belong.


Breed characteristics
: The coat is thick and double coat and can be any colour including white, brindle or pinto. It is a short double coat, similar to many other northern spitz dogs such as the Husky. The trademark is the plush tail that curls over his back. They require weekly grooming. Their appearance reflects living in cold weather adaptations, essential for their original function. They have heavy bones for their height. They have a large bear like head with triangular ears sat straight up; small, knuckled, cat like feet and small, dark, deeply set, triangular eyes.  They are an active breed. They aren’t very hyper, but they do need regular exercise to stay in shape and to avoid disease.


Nature and disposition:
They are generally territorial about their property and reserved with strangers, sometimes almost cat like in actions. They are bold and willful, but extremely loyal to their own family, and courageous to a fault. Akita is best suited for a one dog household. With his own family, the Akita is cheerful and playful and likes to participate in everyday activities. They are a little mouthy and will carry things around in their mouths, so providing them toys and teaching them appropriate vs inappropriate is very critical, or else, you can very quickly end up with a destructive dog. Even though he is thought to be a quiet dog, he is quite noisy, he whines and moans and yes, barks, if the situation warrants it. He has a strong personality, not fit for a first time pet parent.


Azawakh

The Azawakh valley in the Sahara desert in West Africa is the source of origin for the dog breed by the same name, the Azawakh. This Sight Hound livestock guardian dog is also used as a hunting dog but that is a secondary function because of the lack of game in the Western African region. Azawakh is a lean and swift hunter with a regal presence, proud and loyal, protective of his home and family.

Breed characteristics: The short, smooth Azawakh coat comes in a variety of colours, including clear sand to dark red, white, black, blue, grey, brindle, grizzle, parti-colour, and all shades of brown, including chocolate. The stomach may sometimes be hairless. Keep a brushing mitten handy and giving your hound a once over with the mitten once in two days should be enough. Regular washing isn’t necessary, but when you do give them a bath, use a mild, hypoallergenic shampoo as they have hypersensitive skin.

Nature and disposition:
They are loyal, deeply affectionate and independent dogs. Their primary function is that of protector. He develops an intense bond with his pet parent and yet, can perform independent of the pet parent. With the pet parent that they accept, they are extremely gentle and affectionate. They are reserved with strangers and prefer not to be touched. Although they are raised to protect livestock, they do not have innate aggression towards human or canine unless provoked.


Bakharwal

The Bakharwal is an ancient Himalayan breed of dog who is indigenous to the higher altitudes of Jammu & Kashmir state of India. He is a very old breed and has been known by many names in his very lengthy history–Kashmiri Mastiff, Bakharwal Mastiff, Kashmiri Bakharwal, Kashmir Sheepdog, Gujjar Watchdog, Gujjar Dog, or simply, the Bakharwal. This dog is believed to have descended from the Greek Molosser dog, and as such, has an archaic and noble past. The Greek Molosser mated with the Mastiffs of the worlds, which became the forefathers for the Bakharwal. It has remained a livestock guardian for the people of the Pir Panjal mountain ranges for centuries. The breed has changed very little over time and has maintained His status as the rarest of rare breed of herding dogs and gained minimal attention within or outside India. Unfortunately, due to the lack of recognition, the breed is under the fear of becoming extinct soon.

The Bakharwal dog is highly valued for his work ethic and skills. Because he is so desired for his working abilities, many dogs are stolen or taken illegally out of the country to be sold, further diminishing the native Bakharwal dog population. Those breed members who have survived live in extremely harsh and challenging conditions. The other factors that contributes to the lack of population is that their litters are small, only 1-3 puppies at a time, most of which perish in such terrible conditions. There are currently no breed clubs for the Bakharwal Dog and the breed is not recognised by any of the major kennel clubs. Those wishing to obtain a Bakharwal Dog will find this to be a difficult pursuit, as locating a Bakharwal breeder can be challenging.

Breed characteristics:
Heavily boned and well muscled, they are a large breed of dog. They have a lush, double coat that needs vigorous grooming, three to five times a week, to maintain hygiene as well as their appearance. Trimming might be needed time to time. The double coat becomes dense quickly. Their puppies often whine or whimper to express their needs and will often demand what you don’t want to give. Obedience training is a must for all Bakharwal puppies. They get bored easily, and that results in destruction, but never be rude to a Bakharwal. Firm and consistent but loving training is the only way of getting through to a Bakharwal. Bakharwal has a passion for staying outdoors, so unless you are the types who love the outdoors as much as your dog does too, this is not the dog for you.

Nature and disposition: This dog is a ferocious protector. They are independent, loyal and they take their guarding duties very seriously. They are brave and are rarely intimidated even when the opponent is much larger in size. They stand by their family protecting them against intruders. They have a very strong pastoral instinct, which makes them ill-suited for apartment life. A yard is a must. They don’t do too well if there is another dog in the family.