Meet the desi dogs finding favour
As demand for indigenous breeds grows among pet owners, prices are rising too. Here’s a look at the breeds that are winning dog shows and now finding takers across India
Anesha George | Hindustan Times
In 2017, when Srinidhi Rao wanted a pet, he was worried about getting a big dog home. “I had a very aggressive Doberman for a couple of months who terrorised my mother and sister,” recalls the 29-year-old civil engineer from Mysuru. “So when someone suggested I take a Mudhol Hound home, I was apprehensive.” The breed is native to south India and is commonly used as a pet or hunting animal. “I’d never heard about the breed,” Rao recalls. “I assumed that a hound would be ferocious and intimidating.”
But fawn-coloured Robo, now two, is handsome, as tall as a goat, and about as benign. He’s the most-loved member in the Rao household and has a large fan-following in the children at their housing complex in Mysuru. “He is so big, but acts like any other dog. He craves attention and often crawls into our laps to sleep,” says Rao. “Bringing Robo home was probably one of my best decisions.”
More Indians are warming up to the idea of adopting a native breed pet dog like Mudhol Hounds, Rajapalayams, Kombai, and Chippiparai Hounds, instead of popular foreign breeds like Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies. Coimbatore’s VS Ravi, president of Native Dog Breeds Speciality Club (which is affiliated to the Kennel Club of India) says that demand for local breeds has risen in the last couple of years. “Pups that sold for barely `2,000 to `5,000 are now being sold for `10,000 to `15,000, mostly because people now know about their existence,” he says.
The immediate trigger, especially in southern India, may have been the pro-Jallikattu protests in 2017, which brought back the focus on local animal species, says S Ramanathan, secretary of the Madurai Canine Club. The club hosted a native breed dog show in February this year. “There was a big craze for adopting native Indian breeds, especially the ones from Tamil Nadu. People started Facebook pages to spread awareness about them and flaunting the dogs they had taken home,” he says.
It came with the usual problems. Breeders are largely from the outskirts of cities, so potential customers were worried about the lineage of the animals. “Several dog shows now allow native breeds to participate for free or at discounted prices. Word of mouth and social media have also given it a big boost,” says Ravi.
If a native dog’s looks were previously a deterrent for potential pup seekers, those very features are now the game-changer. “The Rajapalayam, with its milky white fur and pink snout, is the most popular,” says Ramanathan.”But, most people are now realising that having a healthy dog that is more acclimatised to Indian weather is better than one with a furry coat.”
Robo rarely falls sick and doesn’t gain weight easily. “He eats regular home food – eggs, ragi, and vegetables,” Rao says. “He also adapts easily to a new environment, especially when I leave him with friends or relatives when I am travelling.”
For breeders, the next step is setting standards for certification, just like for international breeds. Ravi, one of the few authorised members by the KCI to certify and register native Indian breeds, claims to have micro-chipped over 10,000 native breed dogs and documented their lineage details and registration numbers since 2015.