A dog is always a joyful addition to the family. However aspiring pet parents are always intimidated by the number of choices when it comes to dog breeds. While a Labrador is probably the most recommended, there are so many desi or Indian breeds that can be perfect companions.
The preference continues to be heavily tilted towards Western breeds partly due to their overwhelming popularity and partly because there’s a lot more known about them. Accurate and reliable information about pure Indian breeds was not easily available until very recently. Even then the sources for this information remain scanty. That’s changing slowly and desi dogs are increasingly endearing themselves to Indian dog lovers.
One of the first questions that prospective dog owners ask is what sets a desi dog apart other than their country of origin.
Here, the dog experts from Team Wagr answer that question and also list out 6 desi dog breeds that are perfect for home or apartment living.
What’s special about Indian dogs?
Made for India
Indian dogs have bodies that are evolutionarily adapted to Indian climatic conditions. Exotic breeds like a Saint Bernard or a Husky are adapted for extremely cold weather and find it difficult to cope in hot and humid climes.
Easy to maintain and affordable
Dogs native to India automatically become easier to maintain because they fall sick less often and are stronger. That means lesser vet visits and expenses. They’re also easier to obtain and you don’t need to shell out a ton of money to get an Indian pup home. Grooming and cleaning up dog hair is also simpler as most Indian breeds have short fur and they don’t shed much.
Sharp and quick to train
Desi dogs are sharp-witted and easily trainable. Various Indian breeds like the Mudhol and Kombai have even been recently adopted by the Indian military for the first time ever as guard and hunting dogs for their speed, fearlessness and power.
Great for home and family
The common belief is that desi dogs are dangerous and aggressive, and don’t really work as family pets. That’s not true. Indian dogs are, in fact, the perfect choice if you’re looking to get a dog for the first time. They’re efficient guard dogs, affectionate towards people, and can easily adapt to a home environment.
The top 6 desi dog breeds
1. Mudhol Hound
About 60 kilometers away from the bustling city of Bagalkot lies the tiny town of Mudhol. In olden times, it used to be a Maratha stronghold and is known for being the home of the famous Kannada poet, Ranna. Today, Mudhol is more famous for being the original playground of the Mudhol Hound.
A breed known for its hunting prowess, the Mudhol Hound is a sighthound well-known for its agility and stamina. It’s been classified as a critically endangered breed and is recognized by the Kennel Club of India. The Mudhol Hound was originally a ferocious hunting companion and guard dog where, the story goes, they used to run alongside caravans belonging to traders, protecting them. Due to this the breed is also known as Caravan Hound.
Although it’s a hunting dog, the Mudhol Hound has a friendly temperament and gets along very well with adults and children. They are active and playful as puppies, and grow up into somber, extremely faithful companions. Bear in mind that they will need a good amount of exercise and human interaction everyday.
2. Indian pariah
The Indian pariah, also known as the pye-dog, is thought to be one of the most ancient dog breeds in India with evidence of its existence dating back to thousands of years.
They’re highly intelligent, loyal, and very social towards people as well as other animals. Although pariah dogs were originally found in farms and villages with vast open spaces, they are very adaptable to all kinds of lifestyles today. They have an extremely strong immune system built over centuries of street life and only require occasional vet visits. They have good strength and stamina and are excellent watchdogs.
There’s a common misconception that all street dogs are pariahs. That’s not the case. If you do want to adopt one it’s best to go to a shelter and take the help of professionals.
If you’re looking for a dog breed that sheds the least, then Jonangi is your answer. A native of Andhra Pradesh, Jonangi is an extremely friendly and playful dog. They were originally reared as farm dogs and as duck herding companions near Kolleru Lake and Pulicat Lake in Andhra Pradesh. Like the Mudhol, the Jonangi is also one of the endangered dog breeds in India.
Jonangis are ideal for families as they are very social, loyal to a fault, and also good watchdogs. Jonangi is very similar to the Basenji, which is known for their yodelling sounds. They are not a particularly intelligent breed and can be slow to train. However, they more than makeup for it with their affectionate behaviour and compatibility with kids and elderly people.
Rajapalayam is a little city in Tamil Nadu known for its spinning and weaving mills. Today, though, it’s known for the eponymously named dog breed. It’s believed that, historically, these hounds guarded the palaces of Tamil kings and were trained to fight in wars. They’re so well known for their bravery and agility that Rajapalayam dogs are now part of the Indian Police, Border Security Force, and Central Reserve Police Forces
Rajapalayams are affectionate, intelligent, and easy to train. Their grooming needs are quite low too as their shedding is minimal. Rajapalayams generally tend to attach themselves to one person, usually the one chiefly responsible for taking care of them. They need a lot of exercises and will be happiest in a place where they’re able to run around to their heart’s content.
Kanni, meaning ‘pure’ in Tamil, is a ferocious sighthound breed known for their loyalty. It was used in hunting games and as guard dogs in the olden times. They are lean, powerfully built dogs who are extremely fast on their feet. Kannis are known to touch speeds of 60 kmph making them one of the fastest in the world. The breed is registered with the Kennel Club of India where a distinction is made in their colours. Dogs with black and tan colouring are Kanni while those with black and light brown coats are named Chippiparai.
Kanni is a high-energy breed and not entirely friendly. But they’re shy and can be made sociable with training at an early age. They’re most suited for countryside living where they have space for rigorous training. Care needs to be taken with their temperament as they can turn aggressive if not trained with the right methods or confined to small spaces. They like to be in groups and leaving them alone can lead to destructive behaviour.
6. Rampur Greyhound
The Rampur Greyhound is believed to have originated from Afghan hounds and is a muscularly built sighthound. Originally bred by the Nawabs of Rampur in the early 20th century, who used them for hunting and for protection, these hounds are quite fast and can reach speeds of up to 40 kmph. However, its sleek, athletic appearance belies its shy demeanour and friendliness with its owner.
Rampur Greyhounds can become great family dogs if led through the appropriate socializing routines and given ample training. They’re friendly, clever, and fiercely loyal. They get along well in human company but would need extra training and attention to help them accept other smaller animals. Despite their short coat, they do shed and need to be groomed once or twice a week.
That brings us to the end of our list. Many of these breeds were on the verge of being snuffed out as a breed but thanks to government and individual efforts some of them are being bred again. Indigenous breeds like these are ideal as family pets on many levels. However, it’s best to dig a little deeper into each one’s characteristics in terms of temperament, diet, etc. and choose the one that suits your family the most. Whichever you choose, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed!