The proud heritage…
India boasts of approximately fifty breeds of dogs of which only five are recognised by the Kennel Club of India. From the deserts to the mountains and from the tropical forests to the harsh rocky plateaus, each terrain is represented by its own unique breed of dogs well suited to its climatic conditions, geographical features and local needs. The value and significance of the Indian dog has in fact well been illustrated in our scriptures. The Rig-Veda for instance mentions ‘Samara’ as the faithful dog of Indra and gods, who recovered the cows of Brihaspati from the demon Asura Vala.
The Indian dogs have also found reference by historian Alexander Pliny, for their capacity to fight tigers and lions. The Middle Ages symbolise the description of the vast variety of Indian dogs existing at that time, in a chapter titled Saremeya Vinoda from the then Western Chalukyan King’s encyclopedia named Someshwara. In fact, it was up till the 16th century that innumerable references were found regarding the Indian breed dogs tamed by kings and commoners for the purpose of hunting and guarding. However, it was the advent of the British rule that ushered in English and foreign breeds, which soon gained popularity. And eventually our native breeds, which demonstrated praiseworthy intelligence, suited for our Indian climate and commendable physical sturdiness, began getting treated as inferior and unwanted – ultimately being relegated into utter neglect.
In pursuit of change…
Having taken notice of the dire circumstances and initiated action when no one else did, the Ethnic Indica Canine Society (EICS) today stands as perhaps one of the most effective efforts in pursuit of rescuing, protecting and preserving the extra-ordinary lineage of Indian Breed Dogs. Based in Andhra Pradesh, the society endorses as its primary purpose, the breeding of pure indigenous breeds to ensure their eternal continuation and preservation. Towards this goal, the society, under the guidance of reputed Kennel Club of India, judges Nawab Nazer Yar Jung and Raja G.V.N. Krishna Rao undertake activities of identifying and sourcing indigenous breeds in their native habitats to initiate their breeding. And its primary objective today stands as the setting up a kennel showcasing as many breeds of Indian dogs to propagate their excellent worth.
The society further takes the popularisation of indigenous dogs as one of its crucial objectives, with the hope of sensitising more and more people towards loving and respecting our native breeds. This is done through spreading awareness about various Indian breeds and promoting them as ideal pets amongst dog lovers by way of organising dog shows and educational seminars. What the Ethnic Indica Canine Society in addition aspires to achieve through these promotional campaigns is to establish an international market for Indian dog breeds. Like all other popular foreign breeds, the society desires to make indigenous dogs known around the world for their rich heritage and for their outstanding behavioural and physical characteristics.
Admiring some popular breeds…
Representing diverse regions, independent cultures, uniquely distinct legacies and moreover different qualities, the following indigenous breeds are amongst some of the most popular in India. Here is introducing them in all their magnificence – Caravan (Mudhol) Hound: Hardy yet elegant Heritage – History says these dogs came to the Maharashtra interiors in the 16th century, during the time when Aurangzeb set out on his Deccan adventures. The dogs apparently accompanied the caravans of warriors who came to India through the Khyber and Bolan passes and, hence got tagged as Caravan Hounds. Today, this breed is known to be symbolic amongst the Marattas, who by religion, are closely linked to dogs as their God Kalabhairavi is shown being accompanied by a dog.
Region – Caravan Hounds are found in villages of Maharashtra, more specifically in the villages nearg Satara, Kolhapur and Osmanabad. They are also seen in the Maratwada part of the old Hyderabad state, adjoining Telangana in Andhra Pradesh.
Physical features – Caravan Hounds can match the speed of the Grey Hound, the fastest dog in the world, in rugged and uneven terrains too. Bearing a sleek and smooth coat, these hardy yet elegant dogs are seen in colours of beige, fawn, red, white, cream or black, although mostly in broken browns and whites to blend in with the terrain in which they hunt. With the males standing at 22 inches to 30 inches in height and the females between 20 to 28 inches; Caravan Hounds are pretty lightweight and athletic.
Personality traits – Known to have excellent homing instincts, a Caravan Hound would make sure to return home even if it is left 200 miles away. They make excellent guard dogs, hunting with the help of sight, rather than through the use of their sense of smell. They are particularly skilled hunters of hare, chinkara as well as black bucks which were plentiful in the Deccan Plateau region at one time.
Pashmi Afghan Type: Aristocratic
Heritage–Pashmi Afghan Type were first introduced to hunt black buck herd in Deccan Plateau. Also known as Old Afghan Hounds, Pashmis are the pride of Maharashtra. Kept by the North-West Frontier Pathans in Osmanabad, these dogs came with the Afghans into the Deccan, where they got trapped and hence remained pure as a breed. Pashmis ultimately lost recognition and were dumped into neglect once the Pathans returned to their homeland after the partition of 1947.
Region – Janwal in Maharashtra is where the origin of the Pashmi is traced. Kept as pets, guard dogs and rabbit hunters, they are now present in the Deccan Plateau.
Physical features – The word ‘Pashmi’ meaning ‘hairy’ in Persian, these dogs are elegant all the way, standing tall at around 25 inches to 33 inches. They showcase an aristocratic look which goes back to the Baluchihound origin. Seen in colours like black, white, cream and brown, Pashmis have a hairy coat on their ears, thighs and tails. The skin on the cheeks of this native breed is typically loose and the main body slopes from the shoulders to the tail, with an arched back and prominent spine giving an impression of speed.
Personality traits – Used largely for panther hunting, Pashmis were originally fierce, a trait that was subdued through breeding with the mildest amongst them. Today, these pleasant tempered sight-hounds are known to be intelligent and sturdy guard dogs to the extent that they are considered fit for use in the police and the armed forces.
Pashmi Hunting Type: The speed machine
Heritage—There are more than 10,000 dogs in Maharashtra, parts of Gujarat, parts of Andhra Pradesh in every village hamlets and towns. These dogs are indigenous to this area of Deccan Plateau. Phoenicians used to export dogs from India to Mediterranean region for warfare. Pashmi may have gone to Egypt and then to Arabia.
Physical features—Slender, arched, heathered on ears, legs and tail, he is a wonderful speed machine. These dogs are generally between 23-30 inches in height, males 2-3 inches taller than the females.
Personality trails—This graceful animal running at 45 miles per hour can bring down a blackbuck or chinkara. It has stamina for chasing its prey for four miles continuously at a stretch. This Pashmi is systematically bred, will make India proud in the canine world. Pashmis could really be mascot of India’s canine world as Bulldogs to English, St Bernards to Swiss and Great Dane to German.
Heritage—The Kaikadis receive their name from a semi-nomadic tribe, which domesticated them in packs of 30 to 40. Kaikadis were essentially stonecutters who made stone crucibles and used stone maces to grind medical herbs and chutneys. As a secondary occupation, this tribe also gathers Herbal medicines, which it prepares and sells to other village folk. Region – This indigenous breed is found in the state of Maharashtra and parts of Gujarat.
Physical features – Kaikadis come in diverse sizes and shapes and therefore, need selective breeding programs to maintain specific types. While the Otter Hound type bears a lot of whiskers on the face, there are also those, which resemble the Fox Terrier type. Then, there is one kind, which looks like miniature Basenjis. Measuring between 12 to 14 inches in height, this miniature kind, if promoted well, can become to be known as no less adorable than the Daschunds and Pomeranians. Kaikadis are usually seen wearing patches of brown and black on a white background and are also seen in uniform colours of brown, white and occasionally black. Carrying their tales high, most of them are loop-eared, while some are also seen with erect ears. In fact, the very famous logo of ‘His Master’s Voice Gramophone’ which displays an inquisitive dog peeking into the voice box shows a dog not much different looking from the Kaikadi.
Personality traits – These dogs hunt in packs of 10 to 15, and are used to catch rodents such as mongooses and squirrels along with other small mammals including rabbits. Using both senses of sight and scent, they are also engaged in flushing partridges and grouses from the bushes. Kaikadis are extremely energetic and showcase a tendency of barking excessively while they hunt. While on one hand they are excellent watchdogs, these dogs are also known to be very affectionate with children. However, they can show signs of ferocity if anyone enters their master’s hut.
All these Indian breed dogs are a treat for all dog lovers. So, come, let’s all come together to give them the recognition and love they deserve.
Upender Reddy is Hon Secretary of Ethnic Indica Canine Society, Secunderabad. He is a dog enthusiast who likes to put Indian breeds in the forefront of the international arena of dog world. To contact: please call at 9848535035.