Like its people, culture, and landscapes, India is home to a wide variety of indigenous dog breeds that have served as loyal companions and helpers for hundreds of years. These dogs have adapted to the Indian climate and environment and for these reasons, they can remain healthy, happy and thrive in the country. However, India’s growing fascination with everything foreign has extended to even dogs and this has unfortunately led to the neglect and decline of Indian dog breeds. 

Now everywhere you look imported breeds like Golden Retrievers, Beagles, German Shepherds and Labradors seem to be the norm for dog owners. The word “Pedigree” has become popular, with people thinking that the word guarantees a dog of “good quality”. This, however, is far from the truth because the traditional Indian breeds are reliable, sturdy and much better suited to the country. They serve many purposes- from being a guard dog to a faithful family pet. So read on to find out more about these amazing Indian breeds!

Chippiparai

This lean and agile dog is a native of the Tamil Nadu state in South India and gets its name from the town of Chippiparai in Madurai. This breed looks fairly different from the dogs that we are used to seeing, and have long limbs and a slender body. Comparable to the Greyhound, the Chippiparai is also a sighthound and was used to hunt animals like deer, hare and wild boar. They are called sighthounds because of their ability to hunt with their sharp eyesight.
The Chippiparai also performed many other functions apart from hunting, including guarding their owners’ houses and serving as family pets. They were initially royal dogs and were owned by the kings of Madurai. These dogs are extremely loyal and are known to be good hunters and for these reasons, they need an owner who is knowledgeable about their breed and behavior. They are also dying out of fast because of neglect and definitely require attention and care to revive their breed.

Breed Group: Hounds

Life Span: 13-14 years

Height: 31-38 inches when measured from the shoulder

Weight: 15-20 Kg

Mudhol Hound

Another dog similar to the Chippiparai, the Mudhol hound is called by a variety of names all over the country. Known as “Pashmi’, “Karwani” and “Caravan Hound’ in different parts of India, the Mudhol Hound is an ancient and purebred dog that serves many purposes. They were initially found around the Deccan Plateau region and are believed to be descendants of the Saluki and Tazi breeds that were brought into the country by Afghans.

They are also sighthounds and were used to hunt small animals. This breed used to accompany caravans and nomads across the country but can also be kept as family pets. The Mudhol Hound is known to be very loyal to their owners and will protect them at any cost. They are very healthy and low maintenance dogs and definitely deserve more recognition in India.

Breed Group: Hounds

Life Span: 13-14 years

Height: 26-28 inches when measured from the shoulder

Weight: 22-28 Kg

Gaddi Kutta

The Gaddi Kutta is an Indian breed that belongs to the mountains of North India, specifically the Himalayas, as well as Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. They have mastiff-like looks and are huge, formidable dogs. They are called “Gaddi” Kuttas after the Gaddis or local shepherds who reside in the mountains and use them for many purposes. They are outdoor dogs that provide the shepherds protection from Snow Leopards and also herd their cattle and sheep.

Gaddi Kuttas are intelligent, easy to train dogs but are not suited for every dog lover. They can be aggressive if not trained properly and their size does not help their case. They were initially used for hunting and some of these traits might have passed on to the future dogs, making them unsuitable for habitation with other animals. Their history is muddy but they are also known as the Indian Panther Hound because they are believed to be capable of fighting off large predators.

Breed Group: Working

Life Span: 8-15 years

Height: 20-31 inches when measured from the shoulder

Weight: 30-45 Kg

Rajapalayam

One of the more well-known Indian breeds; the Rajapalayam is again a dog breed from Tamil Nadu.        It seems that most Indian dogs, including Rajapalayams, were bred by royalty. They have a long history of participating in various wars such as the Carnatic and Polygar wars. They are fast and strong and were also used to guard property and estates. They have a rich past but their condition today is fast declining and has resulted in their numbers falling. 

The striking feature of many dogs of this breed is their pure white coat which used to be a prized possession among many kings. This coat is complemented by a thin, white face and a small pink nose. They have a tendency to become very attached to a single person and will go to any length to protect them from harm.  Rajapalayams may not be the perfect household pet but with plenty of early socialization and exposure, it is possible. 

Today these dogs are on the verge of extinction and require serious efforts to conserve their breed. They are very versatile and in the past couple of years have been used by the Indian Army as guard dogs in the Kashmir border. 

Breed Group: Hounds

 Life Span: 9-10 years

Height: 26-29 inches when measured from the shoulder

Weight: 22-25 Kg

Indian Mastiff

The Indian Mastiff or “Bully” Kutta is a large dog that is found in the Northern states of India such as Punjab and Haryana. They are feared by many and serve as guard dogs in the fields of their owners. These dogs have evolved in India, from the regions of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, however today they are mostly found in the northern regions. The Bully Kutta was also used by the ruling Muslim kings in the country for hunting, fighting and guarding. King Akbar was believed to have owned one for the purpose of hunting. 

They are muscular and strong dogs and are known to be aggressive. These characteristics have been exploited by dog-fighting enthusiasts, resulting in the Bully Kutta being used as a popular fighting dog. This has furthered their reputation as a ferocious and dangerous dog but this is not always the case. Though they have a strong instinct to guard and protect, with the right training and socialization they can become loving companions. They are also fairly hardy and easy to groom. 

Breed Group: Working

Life Span: 8-10 years

Height: 28-35 inches when measured from the shoulder

Weight: 70-90 Kg

Kombai

The Kombai or Combai is a dog breed that obtained its name from the town of Kombai in Tamil Nadu. It is a native dog of the state and is a smaller sighthound of many talents. They were bred from the 15th century to hunt bison, deer and wild boar but the pure-bred dogs are found rarely today. Despite this, they are deeply ingrained in Tamil Nadu’s history and culture and were used by the armies of rulers in wars. 

These stocky and muscular dogs are known to be brave and loyal and also have a strong protective instinct. Their powerful jaws are one of their defining features, given their history of hunting. However, unlike the other hounds of Tamil Nadu, they can make for good, gentle house pets. They enjoy human companionship and can get along well with even children if trained and socialized well. Their intelligence and love for their master make them easier to train and given their ability to stay healthy even in adverse conditions, they could be the perfect dog for you!

Breed Group: Hound

Life Span: 12-15 years

Height: 17-25 inches when measured from the shoulder

Weight: 14-24 Kg

Rampur Hound

The Rampur hound is truly an Indian breed. Born and bred in Rampur, a city between the North Indian states of Delhi and Bareilly, they were owned by the grand “maharajas” of various territories and were used for hunting a large variety of animals. Truly majestic looking, these dogs are agile, intelligent and friendly. Their long limbs and slender body which showcases their ribcage, allows them to be extremely fast and nimble while hunting. They are also sighthounds and have an incredible sense of sight which adds to their talent in hunting. 

Something that you would not expect with this large breed is their friendliness towards children, but the Rampur Hound is surprisingly gentle and playful with children, given that they are exposed to them from a young age. They are also very well suited to the climate of the country and will rarely fall sick. They have a strong instinct to protect their owners and have to be exposed to different forms of human contact early on in life. Rampur Hounds were made to hunt so they need sufficient physical activity to remain happy which is something to keep in mind before committing to this breed. 

Breed Group: Hound

Life Span: 13-14 years

Height: 22-30 inches when measured from the shoulder            

Weight: 27-30 Kg