An ancient sighthound originating from the Karnataka state of southwest India, the Mudhol Hound is an excellent hunter and guard dog. They are less suited to living with humans when compared to other dog breeds. And although they can make loyal companions to one person or a family, they may suffer from neuroticism.
Known popularly as Caravan Hounds, they got this name from the occupying British, who saw them running alongside the “karawani,” (or caravans) in Karnataka. Intelligent, independent, and wary of humans, they have been used to guard property and to hunt game for centuries.
Nobody knows exactly when the breed first emerged but it is thought they are descendants of the Saluki or Tazi sighthounds of Central Asia.
In India, they are variously known as Mudhol Hounds, Caravan Hounds, Karawani, Lahori Pashmi, or Pisuri Hound. Due to their popularity around the area of Mudhol, this is the name they are most commonly known by in the North. Southerners call them Caravan Hounds, and locals sometimes call them Karawani.
The Mudhol Hound nearly died out in the last century but were revived by the efforts of one man in the early 20th century. The breed has royal connotations as well as being used by poor and lower caste members for hunting and guarding.
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Mudhol Hound Basic Profile
Friendliness: Mudhol Hounds are not known for their friendliness. If they aren’t socialized properly early on, they can experience major anxiety around humans as an adult. In addition, a Mudhol isn’t recommended if you have kids or other dogs (especially toy breeds).
Trainability: These dogs aren’t recommended for novice owners and trainers, as it can be difficult to properly train them. They are intelligent dogs, but can be stubborn when it comes to training simple commands. Socialization training is crucial early on for these dogs if you want to own a great family dog.
Grooming: Like most sighthounds from India, grooming is not a big deal. They have a short coat and don’t shed often, making them perfect for those that don’t like to groom their dogs. This doesn’t mean they don’t need basic grooming: you just wouldn’t need to hire a professional for it.
Adaptability: A Mudhol Hound is not suitable for apartment living. They are big dogs and if contained in an apartment, this can quickly lead to neuroticism. They also like hot climates, so any area with a colder climate will be difficult for them to adapt to.
Activity: These dogs need plenty of exercise each day, including a large yard for them to expend their energy. As hunting dogs, the Mudhol has a ton of energy. Unless you want your dog to destroy your belongings, make sure they get enough physical activity on a daily basis.
- Height: 25 – 28 inches
- Weight: 49 – 62 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 10 – 15 years
- Dog Breed Group: Working Dog
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The Mudhol Hound’s Looks
It is easy to mistake a Mudhol Hound for a Chippiparai, another of India’s sighthounds. Westerners might even mistake them for an English Greyhound. However, on closer inspection, they are very distinct.
Their heads are long and narrow with a tapering muzzle. Although their jaws might not look like they are very powerful, this is deceptive: they can deliver a savage bite. The nose of a Mudhol is either black or brown. Large, floppy ears hang around the sides of their heads and their necks are long and forward projecting.
Mudhols have a whip tail that will never curl back like a Spitz, although there is a lot of variation amongst the breed. Generally they are medium length, set low, and have low curve to them.
They can vary greatly in terms of coat color. Usually, they have fawn or brown colored coats with a lighter white or cream underside. Many Mudhol Hounds have darker stripes in their fur, which actually helps them blend in with their environments. Yes, like a chameleon.
Their coats are thin and short to cope with the heat of their native Karnataka. A feathered variant is referred to as a “Pashmi.”
Hazel coloured eyes are set back into their heads, giving them the 270 degree range of vision that make them such excellent sighthounds. By comparison, a human can see about 150 degrees. Their hearing is excellent, as is their sense of smell. Like many Indian sighthounds, they can hunt in several ways.
The stance of a Mudhol is graceful and poised: they have a lithe and powerful movement that makes them so distinctive to see. Their shoulders are set back and they stand forward on their front legs with back legs wider than hips.
This allows them to move fast at the slightest provocation. With long and straight forelegs and broad, strong back legs, they are built for running at high speeds for extended periods of time.
Mudhol Hound Temperament
The Caravan Hound is less friendly than some of its sighthound relatives like the Chippiparai. They are often aloof and wary of strangers but when they are familiar with you, they can be very loyal and companionable.
A Mudhol is usually a one-person dog, having been bred for independent hunting and guarding. However, with early socialization and training, they make very good pets for families.
Although they are not brilliant with children (infants should avoid this breed, they do not understand them), if they have been introduced properly, they will tolerate them. They like calm and unsurprising people. If you have small children, it’s important you teach them how to properly act around a Mudhol.
Prospective owners should not forget that the Mudhol Hound is a working breed. They are highly intelligent and have very powerful hunting instincts that cannot be easily trained away.
A Mudhol Hound will chase anything that looks like prey, including smaller varieties of dog and toy breeds. Cats, rabbits, and other house pets are all vulnerable to their hunting instinct, which overpowers any training they have had.
Calling back a Mudhol when it has its eyes set on its prey is a fool’s errand: they will not respond. Instead, they will bring you back the body of whatever poor animal they were chasing, which could very well be your son’s or daughter’s pet rabbit.
Wary of anyone they are not intimately acquainted with, they do not take kindly to being handled by anyone but their master or masters. This can make them standoffish and occasionally aggressive to people who anticipate they are more playful than they actually are.
Their guard dog instincts are still strong: they will defend their territory and pack to the death. Fearless in the face of danger, they will take on much larger prey without hesitation.
As they are very strong and agile dogs, they often fare well against big animals. In the hunt, they can run for hours and catch even the most agile of hares.
A Caravan Hound makes a good watchdog, with sharp eyes, a good sense of hearing, and a fiercely protective instinct. This is one of the reasons for their enduring survival: they are still being used for the same purposes they were hundreds of years ago with the caravanserais that roamed India and further afield.
Training and Exercise
Only experienced and patient trainers should take on a Mudhol Hound as they will not respond well to inconsistency or disrespect from their owners. Mudhol Hounds are very sensitive animals and even a little impatience during training can make them nervous or aggressive.
Once they have become neurotic like this, it can be all but impossible to get them back to being more relaxed.
However, when intensely socialized and patiently trained from a young age, they can be very good companion dogs. Exceptionally loyal to their pack or master, they will defend their territory to the death.
As a sighthound, they have bundles of energy that needs to have some outlet. A large fenced-off yard is a must: they cannot live in apartments without going mad and vicious. Daily exercise is also a necessary requirement and they will need around an hour of running a day to stay relaxed and calm. Without this exercise, they will become neurotic and possibly even violent.
Living with a Mudhol Hound
Life with a Caravan Hound is hard work: they are working dogs and need a lot of exercise. However, if you can keep on top of their exercise regime and provide them with loving attention, they are a joy to own. Their intelligence makes them stubborn and aloof but also lends itself to companionship.
Repetitive games often bore them and they cannot be let off the leash without bounding after the first small animal they see.
Most Caravan Hound owners keep them because they are good guard dogs. They are able to alert their masters to any intruder, then take the intruder out. A Caravan Hound is both smart and strong enough to deter all but the most determined would-be thieves.
Very young children are unsuitable for a household with a Mudhol Hound. However, kids over about 3 or 4 can be shown how to interact with a Mudhol in a way that will not aggravate them, and they should get along well. Kids might be disappointed by their relative lack of playfulness but they are very loveable nonetheless.
Grooming and Skincare
As they do not shed and are proud of their appearance, they need very little attention in this regard. A weekly brush will be nice and keep their fur in top condition but not much more is needed. As clean dogs, they rarely need bathing.
Mudhols love to be outside but they are not suited to colder climates and lots of rain. They lack any substantial body fat, which means they can lose body temperature very quickly. However, they love hot temperatures and can work effectively in baking heat. You might need to put some sunscreen on their skin because their fur is so short.
By all accounts, the Caravan Hound is a very healthy breed. Having lived outside in all the elements for thousands of years, weaknesses have been selected out of their line.
Hardy, rugged, and resistant to parasites and infection, they also have few inherited diseases, as far as anyone can tell. One source talks of a vulnerability to marasmus, a liver disorder, but this seems to be rare. Their lifespan can reach 15 years, maybe more with modern knowledge and techniques.
History of the Caravan Hound
Scholars think that the Mudhol Hound was introduced to the Indian Subcontinent from either Central Asia or Arabia, where the first sighthounds were domesticated. Almost certainly descendants of the Tazi or Saluki, they are likely a very old breed, even considered ancient.
They found a home in the Deccan Plateau of Western India, where they spread out and were widely popular for their hunting and guarding abilities.
Their loyalty, intense energy, stamina, and intelligence made them ideal companions for the caravansaries that used to travel huge distances to trade spices, fabrics, and precious items on the Silk Road. In exchange for food and shelter, they would protect the caravans. When the British first encountered them, they named them after the caravans they were so loyal to.
Saving the Mudhols
In Mudhol State at the turn of the last century, it was looking like the Caravan Hound might go extinct. A local dignitary, Shriman Rajesaheb Malojiro Ghorpade, noticed they were excellent hunters that accompanied an indigenous tribe called the Bedar.
This tribe had a pure line of Mudhols and through an effective breeding program, he was able to restore the line.
Such was the esteem for the animal, the Maharaja of Mudhol gave a pair of Caravan Hounds to the King of England in the first decade of the 1900s.
Indian Army Dogs
More recently, the Mudhol has seen use in the Indian army. They are investigating whether their unique combination of strength, agility, awareness, and intelligence could be utilized for surveillance and border protection. They were deployed in 2017 to Jammu and Kashmir.
Apparently, the Mudhol was used in Indian armies hundreds of years ago, where they were known as Maratha Hounds. Used to take down horses and humans, they were very effective in battle. Once the British took over, their use in battle stopped.
Future of the Mudhol Hounds
Unlike many Indian sighthounds, the Caravan Hound is not endangered. They are bred by many families in the Mudhol region and still used by many on the Deccan Plateau for hunting and as guard dogs. Their future looks assured.
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Saturday 18th of December 2021