There exist over 20 different breeds of Indian dogs and we as Indians don’t know about a single one of them even if we’re the most ardent of pet lovers. We have the occasional neighborhood dog lover who feeds all the strays in the area while most of his/her neighbors stay protected in their homes and give their pedigreed dogs love, food and access to medical care. Our Indies deserve the same love and treatment as their pedigreed counterparts.

By Natasha Sudhir

Dogs, the word itself fills you with warmth and happiness. They are man’s greatest companions because of the relationship they develop with us. They do not just associate with us for food or shelter but forge a deep and personal bond with their human friends. They are fiercely loyal and will give you unconditional love, something which humans do not seem to be capable of. They’re not only fun to play with but form a camaraderie with people suffering from various disabilities and ones who have gone through mental trauma. Once they’re a part of your family, they are bonded with you for life.

Labradors, Huskies, St Bernards and other breeds of dogs have become a common sight on Indian roads and parks. Everyone desires to have these adorable, fluffy and fury dogs in their households. It’s become a fad which people seem to want to hop in on and get an exotic dog from a country with a completely different climate. People have gone far enough to import dogs from various disparate destinations. Little puppies are stripped away from their mothers, put on a grueling 10-20 hour journey and then given to their ‘owners’.

The media has a huge impact on people’s purchasing patterns. In 2002, an advertisement of Vodafone with a pug following a boy around went viral. Everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon and buy a pug. Once they did so and discovered that those adorable creatures have respiratory issues due to their flat nose, people dumped them in shelters, in the woods or just drove them to a nearby road to get rid of them. Also, The Disney movie 101 Dalmatians made it a trend for people to own these adorable black and white spotted dogs and every child wanted a Dalmatian puppy. Their parents caved in and got them home only to find out that they are susceptible to allergies and often go deaf in old age.

We constantly read stories about people who take their pedigreed dogs to the veterinarian with severe issues and when asked to euthanize the dog, they refuse and instead of helping their furry friend who loves them unconditionally, they decide to leave him or her on the outskirts of the city or on a road that isn’t familiar to the dog. They do not want to invest time or provide financial aid for treatment of the dog in its final days. The dog then spends its final days looking for its owner and living off scraps till it finally dies. Shelters are flooded with dogs like these that have been dumped on the side of the road to live off its last days. Such is the mentality of certain people in this country. A dog that is imported and looks exotic ads to their status and it is just another way to flaunt their wealth. They don’t do their research before ‘buying’ these dogs and the only ones who bear the brunt are the downcast canines.

A look outside your window will show you that India has its own breed of Dogs. Indian dogs, also known as Indies are not one specific breed. There are over 20 different breeds of Indian dogs that are accustomed to our tropical climate, are strong, fast and make the best companions. The Indian Spitz is a breed that was extremely popular in the 70’s and the 80’s. They are family dogs that are quick to adapt to an apartment lifestyle. They are easy going; fun, intelligent and extremely loving which makes them perfect for first time pet parents. The Indian Pariah is another breed that is considered to be the most primordial of indigenous Indian dog breeds and is an excellent companion to have. They have a long life span and are not prone to many diseases either. They have an extremely playful nature and they are fiercely loyal, however, they don’t always get along with other dogs.

The Pandikona breed which is a hunting breed draws a comparison to the Cocker Spaniels of Britain. These dogs can survive extremely harsh weather conditions and they are extremely territorial and are often used as guard dogs. They require little to no maintenance at all as they’re a very independent breed of canines. Another interesting breed is the Rampur greyhound, a breed of Indian sight hounds which were bred during the British rule by the royals of Rampur near Delhi. They are tremendously affectionate and have a characteristically strong build which makes them perfect as a family dog and a watch dog.

The Mudhol hound is another great companion to have. It draws similarities to a Great Dane or a Doberman. They are predominantly hunting dogs and are the first indigenous dog breed to be recruited by the Indian Armed Forces. They are passionately loyal and are extremely protective of their owners. The Rajapalayam is another such breed that is used for hunting. They are distinguished by their milky white coat and a pink or purple nose. This breed has evolved from the Rajapalayam city in Tamil Nadu. Recently, these dogs have been standing guard with our armed forces at the Kashmir Border.

Another interesting breed that most people don’t know about is the Gaddi/ Bakrwali breed. These dogs originate from the Himalayas and are a breed of mastiffs. India has a bunch of citizens who spend a ton of money on getting exotic mastiffs imported from Russia. Our very own Gaddi is no less. Gaddi acts as a shield to protect its owners from leopards and other threats. A different breed of Indie dogs is the Kanni, which is a silent, well natured dog that is used to hunt deers as they are extremely agile and quick on their feet (A more apt word would be paws). These dogs are also protective of their owners but unfortunately are on the verge of extinction and no attempt has been made to save this breed of canines.

There exist over 20 different breeds of Indian dogs and we as Indians don’t know about a single one of them even if we’re the most ardent of pet lovers. We have the occasional neighborhood dog lover who feeds all the strays in the area while most of his/her neighbors stay protected in their homes and give their pedigreed dogs love, food and access to medical care. Our Indies deserve the same love and treatment as their pedigreed counter parts.

Another problem that people fail to realize is breeders. They keep these dogs in horrible conditions, many of the dogs don’t have access to clean drinking water or even food. They tie the mother away from her puppies and there is zero cleanliness. They dogs are treated badly and are infested with ticks and fleas. They don’t get them vaccinated and force female dogs to deliver over 6-7 times and once she’s done, they dump her. The puppies are taken away from the mother much before the advised time by the veterinarian and this leads to further health issues and separation anxiety in dogs as they grow older. The worst part is if any puppies are not bought by people, these poor little ones are also dumped on the side of the road. Breeders have zero care for the dogs and profits are the only thing that matter to them.

Instead of saving these pedigreed breeds the trauma of diseases due to our climate and adopting our lovely Indian Breeds, people have no compassion for them and don’t even let them live on the road in peace. Many strays are abused in the most brutal ways, puppies are burnt alive, mothers are killed and dogs are hurt. When people try to help these dogs by feeding them, they are ostracized by the community and are deemed a nuisance. Many activists have been physically abused and people have lost their rented homes due to the number of pets they have. We’re not asking you to adopt an Indie and keep them at your houses, but the least people can do is let others who want to help these dogs live in peace.

I hope whoever reads this keeps all of this in mind the next time they decide to get on ‘OLX’ or any other website to buy themselves a dog. They’re not commodities, they’re living things that will love you even when you dump them on the side of a road. They will roam those streets and look for you till their last breath, they will protect you, wipe your tears when you’re down and bite your shoes (which you will happily let them do once you look at their innocent faces).

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