Indians are mixed races

Indian pariah dog


The most pristine dogs in India

Especially in remote areas of India, dogs of the original type still live, hardly changed for thousands of years. Indian dog lovers want to get these pariahs out of their shadowy existence, because in modern times they are gradually being displaced.

Hardly any other country knows as many dogs running freely as India. Even in larger cities like Delhi or Mumbai, sooner or later you will come across dogs that may be dozing in front of house entrances, on the side of the road or in a park area. The strays are mixed in terms of their appearance. Influences of European dogs can be recognized as well as the typical Indian Pariahs with their mostly sandy-brown fur and the dingo-like appearance. But pure pariahs, who for thousands of years by natural selection gIndian dog connoisseur Rajashree Khalap believes that indigenous indigenous dogs are rarely found in the larger cities and villages.
She had contributed to a study by the American Adam Boyko and his colleagues on the genetics of original dogs, for which Indian village and stray dogs were also tested. The genetic tests showed that uncrossed dogs of the originally native pariah type still occur in remote regions. In more affluent areas, where foreign dogs are also kept, hardly any. The pariahs, as they have lived in the country since time immemorial, are evidently increasingly displaced.
Khalap has long been fascinated by the pariah dogs and founded the INDog project to support them and to inform the population about them (INDogs, or Indian Native Dogs, is the official name for the Indian pariah dogs). Strictly speaking, these formerly widespread dogs are a landrace, an original dog breed that had formed on the territory of the Indian subcontinent. "Most people in India don't understand what an original dog or a landrace is," says the committed dog lover. They consider all strays and "dogs without parentage" to be insignificant street mixes.
Rajashree Khalap and her co-workers have visited small villages in central India to record occurrences of the original pariah dogs. «The inhabitants of the small villages are very poor. They don't produce so much edible waste that many stray dogs could feed on them, ”explains Khalap. The pariah dogs in the remote settlements are practically all owned by the people. They roam free, but are valued as guardians and accompany the shepherds with their animals into the surrounding forests.
They are fed with leftover food from the family or are expected to look for food themselves. Like other free-range dogs, the Pariahs also hunt wild animals, but the pressure on nature and on rare species is even greater where stray dogs are very numerous. This is the case in more affluent areas, where a lot of litter is lying around and herds of mixed stray dogs have formed.

A future as a standardized breed?

Aside from the Pariahs, there are many native dog breeds in India that are also at risk of being displaced by popular "Euro breeds". Most are greyhounds like the Caravan Hound, Chippiparai or Kanni, some are herding dogs in the mountain areas. These dogs are also adapted to the local conditions, but were bred specifically for their purposes. Some of the breeds may well be relatively original, says Rajashree Khalap, but breeders and fans are already campaigning for them.
According to Khalap, the Kennel Club of India (Indian Dog Breeding Association) has also signaled an interest in the INDogs and wants to support efforts to standardize them. The dog's appearance should remain flexible and not be defined according to strict criteria, “so that we don't reduce the INDogs to a show breed,” says the dog connoisseur. The good health and robust nature of the dogs should be preserved.
Like other "primitive dogs", which are even closer to the wolf than modern breeds, the INDogs only breed once a year. Their fur is usually sandy or red-brown, sometimes with white markings. The dogs are extremely careful and suspicious. They are considered excellent guardians who vigorously defend their family or their territory, but are often noisy as a result. As is characteristic of primitive dogs, they are noticeable for their intelligence and pronounced independent thinking.

Further information: INDog project


Published (slightly adjusted) in Tierwelt No. 21, May 26, 2017

© E. Wullschleger Schättin