The Indian Pariah dog is the landrace of Indian dogs. In other words, they’re the original aboriginal dog breed of the country. These are the dogs that humans first encountered as they spread across the Indian sub-continent tens of thousands of years ago.
Many people think that Pariah Dog is just the name for the urban street dogs of India; a mongrel breed of little consequence. While many Pariahs have found homes on the streets of modern urban India, they are much more than mangy mutts scrabbling in the trash. In fact, they are the genetic ancestors of all native Indian dogs.
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Table of Contents
- Indian Pariah Basic Profile
- History: the Autochthonous Landrace
- Ancient Dogs but Excellent Pets
- The Pariah Dog Appearance
- Indian Pariah Dog Temperament
- Living with a Pariah Dog
- Pariah in Name but not in Nature
- Future of the Pariah Dog
Indian Pariah Basic Profile
Friendliness: The Indian Pariah Dog is one of the most friendliest of all Indian breeds. Despite their primitive nature, they are actually very social dogs. They get along with both children and other dogs fairly well with early socialization. The only concern is if you own a smaller (toy) dog and/or pet. In this case, they may possibly bully them.
Trainability: They love to please their owners and are relatively intelligent dogs. Even novice owners and trainers will be able to train these dogs effectively. As long as you show love and support, they will do your bidding.
Grooming: An Indian Pariah Dog does not require much grooming at all. Outside of the basic grooming necessities, they don’t need much. Imagine living on their own for so many years, you would think they’d be perfectly fine without human intervention for grooming.
Adaptability: These dogs, although relatively small, need plenty of exercise. This means they aren’t suited for apartment life and it will be hard for them to adapt to such living conditions. Also, if you work long hours, they won’t like being alone for long periods of time because they are social creatures by nature.
Activity: Daily walks and physical activity is necessary and essential for healthy living. They typically require a good, long walk, as well as a large enclosed space for extra play. Failure to provide them with both mental and physical stimulation can lead to potential destructive behavior.
- Height: 18 – 25 inches
- Weight: 33 – 66 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 13 – 15 years
- Dog Breed Group: n/a
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History: the Autochthonous Landrace
Autochthonous comes from the Ancient Greek for “self” (auto) and “earth” (chthon). It means a species or ecosystem that was not introduced by humans. In other words, the Pariah dog was here before humans arrived over 60,000 years ago. However, some scholars think that they are descendants of the first Chinese domesticated dog breeds.
When the early Indians discovered this dog, they did the same thing that people did all over the world: they exchanged shelter and food for protection and hunting. Soon, some were domesticated and started to diverge into the myriad dog varieties that dot the Indian subcontinent. Breeds from elsewhere came in and mixed in, creating a wide genetic variety.
Through it all, a sizable population of Pariah dogs evaded domestication, even if they lived in close proximity to humans. Purebred Pariahs are ones that have avoided mating with other breeds. The breed we know as Pariahs are a fascinating mix of wild and domesticated traits.
A landrace is a species that has been domesticated after already adapting to its local environment. How much the Pariah is human intervention and how much is its environment is hard to tell.
The line of the Pariah Dog has been muddied with European mixes but there are still many purebred Pariahs, which has a breed standard recognized by the Indian Kennel Club and the Primitive and Aboriginal Dog Society.
Ancient Dogs but Excellent Pets
Most Pariahs Dogs are semi-nomadic: they wander around and they do their own thing. They are found all around India and Bangladesh, and maybe even further afield. Even though they are historically used to having a degree of independence, they can be domesticated, socialized, and trained quite easily.
How The Pariahs Survive
Pariah dogs are very social animals, often having large packs and a hierarchical system within their packs. They are quite used to being around humans, having lived in close proximity with us for thousands of years. However, the Indian Pariah dogs still have to deal with a lot of threats like tigers and bears in their very recent history. Because of this, they are still very cautious dogs.
Some people might mistake this caution for cowardice, but they would be wrong. Caution has clearly kept the breed alive for hundreds of years. When small sized dogs like the Indian Pariahs encounter a big threat, they band together with their pack to see it off. If the pack is not around, they will run away. Caution has served them well.
This cautious nature makes them shy with humans aren’t familiar with. However, with a little encouragement and trust, they can make fast friends. Naturally defensive, if you are on their side, they will literally fight to the death for you. That was how packs worked: sacrifice yourself for the survival of the group.
The Pariah Dog Appearance
Indian Pariah Dogs are found all around the Indian subcontinent and there is considerable variation in their appearance. They are generally tan, rust, or fawn in color with a white underside and markings. But they can be black, dark brown, and just about anything in between.
A breed standard has been officially recognized but that doesn’t mean these animals don’t have a lot of variety to them.
Most Pariah dogs have a tail that curls back on their body. The tail can also vary, as some are straighter and some longer. Their tails are usually quite fluffy and the fur on their body is short and sometimes glossy.
A stocky and short breed, they are tough and muscular when exercised. Their heads are wedge shaped with a pointed muzzle. With dark brown eyes that can sometimes go to gold, they have a distinctive look with their almond-shaped eyes.
With pricked ears that are usually facing forward, they have something of a fox look to them. A Pariah dog can grow up to 25 inches tall and weigh up to 66 pounds, so they are considered to be dense creatures.
They can live in good health for a long time with a lifespan of up to 15 years. With modern medicine and diets, they will probably live longer. These dogs managed to survive in the wild without puppy vaccinations and medical treatment. Imagine how well they’ll fare with regular check ups at the local animal hospital.
Indian Pariah Dog Temperament
Their cautious nature can make them seem a little aloof and shy. However, when they realize you aren’t a threat (it doesn’t take long), they can warm up to you quickly. Playful and very intelligent, they make great playmates for children. As guard dogs, they take good care of your kids and property.
Training and Obedience
Training a Pariah Dog is very easy: they are smart enough to pick up on cues and commands, and love to please their masters. With early socialization and training, they can make fantastic pets.
They are alert and aware nearly every second they are awake, which can be tiresome to people who are more used to mellow dogs. Pariahs have a lot of energy to expend, so they need quite a lot of attention.
Aggressive When Threatened
Their guard dog nature has made them cautious of strangers and aggressive towards people and animals that threaten them. However, they are not needlessly aggressive and would rather avoid a fight than take part in one. When pressed or threatened, they will stand their ground effectively and are capable of taking down animals and humans much bigger than they are.
With Children and Other Pets
Even though they are capable of being very aggressive with intruders or people they see as a threat to their pack or territory, they are generally very gentle animals. Pariahs are wonderful with children if they have been socialized, even young children who can make the mistake of pulling their tails or grabbing a painful handful of fur. If they are brought up with a family, they will be very protective of their pack and make very good guard dogs.
Generally, the Pariah Dog is not much of a threat to other pets. But as with many guard dogs, they can be a threat to smaller dog breeds and toy varieties, who can look like lunch to them. While keeping other pets in the household is not advised, they generally get on OK with cats and other dogs. Early socialization is highly recommended in these cases.
Living with a Pariah Dog
Pariahs are easy to live with if you like exercise and or have a big yard they can play around in. They need daily exercise and lots of it. At least 45 to 50 minutes of exercise daily should keep them healthy. If they are not exercised, they can develop serious health problems down the line.
This incredible energy can make them unsuitable for apartment living. They need space to stretch their legs and regular walks. Pariahs are intensely loving and social creatures, and will not respond well to being left alone and enclosed for long periods.
Children love Pariahs, as they are protective, intelligent, and playful. For a growing family, a Pariah dog can make the perfect pet. They will keep the kids safe and make them feel safe. As they are easily trainable, they can be adopted by even inexperienced dog owners, although it is always recommended that a first-time owner talks it through with an experienced trainer before taking on a Pariah.
The Pariah Dog does not need brushing very often and will not shed excessively. You will find hairs around your home but not many compared to many other dog breeds. Indian Pariahs do not drool and rarely need bathing. Only the most basic dog grooming practices are needed for these dogs.
An excellent feature of the Pariah is their lack of odor: they have fewer oil glands in their skin and do not produce much of a smell as a result. Many owners go as far as saying they don’t smell like dogs, but rather like human.
Excellent Guard Dogs
They may not make the cut for a police or military dog breed, but they can certainly hold their own. As guard dogs, they are prepared to bark at any perceived threat. This can be annoying, but they are generally not yappy dogs. Their barks are serving a definite purpose, such as notifying you of an intruder.
Keep in mind that these dogs aren’t the biggest guard dogs. They aren’t as fierce and intimidating as the Bakharwal or Pandikona, but they will fight for you. It’s probably better to think of them as dogs that’ll alert you of anything unordinary happening on your territory.
A fenced off garden or yard is necessary because they will wander off if given the chance. Unlike the Rajapalayam, Chippiparai or the Rampur Greyhound, they will probably come back – but it can be concerning.
Indian Pariah Health
Not having been subjected to breeder pressure for appearance, they have no common inherited diseases and few problems like hip dysplasia. They are very resistant to parasites and infection as well.
Breeders remark at how healthy the breed is. A visit to the vet should be a rare occurrence for these dogs. Of course, you need to brush their teeth and clip their nails. And, they still need vaccinations, as they are not immune to the common dog diseases (mainly Rabies and Bordetella).
Pariah in Name but not in Nature
The word pariah has come to mean a social outcast in the English language. However, that is not the intended sense of the word. The pariah name comes from Tamil, where “parai” means a drum. A “hereditary drummer”, or Paraiyan, was a member of a low caste who would perform ceremonial drumming duties. Their lower caste status was the root of the English meaning for someone rejected by society.
Indian Pariah Dogs got their names because they were believed to be scavengers, roaming around and picking up scraps that humans left behind. As English adopted the word Pariah, it gave the dog a somewhat undeserved reputation for being outcasts. However, they are highly social and intelligent animals that are happy to live in and around humans. They are far from being pariahs.
Other Names for the Pariah Dog
Other names for the breed include “nadaan” in Malayam, “naatu naai” in Tamil, “Neri Kukur” in Bengali, “Iuru” in Himachali, and “bhouta” in Assamese. All generally mean “street dog” or “native dog.” In Hindi, “desi kutta” means “native dog.” Some local people even refer to them as ‘INdogs.’ Another common name is the “pie or pye dog,” derived from the same root.
Rudyard Kipling, the Indian born writer of The Jungle Book, wrote about them and called them the “yellow pariah dog,” which is perhaps the root of the name in English.
Future of the Pariah Dog
The future of the Indian Pariah Dog looks hopeful. They are widespread and well regarded, with celebrities like Tushar Kapoor owning and showing off the breed.
Pariahs make ideal pets and are only getting more popular amongst the growing middle classes in India, as well making its way all around the world.
A breed standard has been formalized and they have a protected status. Breeding them is not a problem, and breeders are not concerned about the ultimate fate of the breed. Inbreeding with European varieties in cities has diluted the gene pool a bit but there are enough “purebred” Indian Pariahs to have a healthy gene pool for a long time to come.
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