India is known for many unique things. There’s Bollywood, the Taj Mahal, butter chicken, delicious Indian curry and more. But did you know the country is home to some of the most exotic and interesting Indian dog breeds?
As a result, some of the world’s most unique and rare dog breeds come from India. Here are 19 wonderful dog breeds of India that you probably have never heard of.
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Table of Contents
- Dog Breeds Originating From India
- 19. Kumaon Mastiff
- 18. Sinhala Hound
- 17. Mahratta Greyhound
- 16. Vikhan Sheepdog
- 15. Chippiparai
- 14. Rampur Greyhound
- 13. Kombai (Combai)
- 12. Tangkhul Hui
- 11. Bakharwal Dog
- 10. Jonangi
- 9. Pandikona
- 8. Rajapalayam
- 7. Taji/Tazi
- 6. Kaikadi
- 5. Indian Pariah Dog
- 4. Mudhol Hound
- 3. Bully Kutta
- 2. Gaddi Kutta
- 1. Indian Spitz
- Why Indian Dogs are Going Extinct
Dog Breeds Originating From India
Most of the indigenous dog breeds in India are quickly heading towards the path of extinction. Unfortunately, this is due to a huge demand for western dog breeds in India.
This trend led to over-breeding of foreign dogs and under-breeding of Indian dogs. Although people and organizations in India are trying to revive the near-extinct native dogs, they are still considered rare breeds today.
19. Kumaon Mastiff
Highlights: Courageous, Proud, Protective
Also known as the Cypro Kukor, the Kumaon Mastiff is a fierce molosser-type dog breed originally from the Uttarakhand state in India.
Their original purpose was to guard and protect livestock for the hill-side people of Kumaon. But like so many Indian dog breeds, the Kumaon Mastiff is in danger of extinction.
These Mastiffs sport a short and soft coat, typically in brindle or various shades of brown. They can grow up to 28 inches tall (at the shoulder) and look a little bit like the old Great Danes.
- It’s estimated that only a few hundred of these dogs still exist today.
- There may be more of these dogs in Italy or Finland, where they were introduced to in the late 19th century.
- Some researchers believe that they didn’t actually originate from India’s Kumaon region, but ended up settling there after migrating.
Kumaon Mastiff Temperament
As fierce and powerful as they were, the Kumaon Mastiffs were some of the best guard dogs to come out of India.
They’re known to be aggressive dogs and require a lot of obedience and socialization training. Kumaons have great protective instincts that made them formidable guard dogs in the past.
Unfortunately, there is not much information on these dogs in a family environment.
18. Sinhala Hound
Highlights: Energetic, Alert, Loyal
The Sinhala Hound is a dog breed that originated from Sri Lanka and several regions of India. Where they exactly came from is unknown till this day.
They’re very similar to the Indian Pariah Dog, and it’s speculated that they may have been derived from India’s landrace breed.
Though they may look like pariah dogs, they were actually have very different skillsets. As a matter of fact, the Vedda people (Sri Lanka indigenous group) used them for hunting.
- They were considered so special that Sinhala Hounds were popular wedding gifts among the Vedda people.
- The Vedda people were hunters. Furthermore, these hounds were so important that they were viewed as important as the bow and arrow.
- There’s a chance that these dogs originated from Indian Pariah Dogs. Though, no one is certain.
Sinhala Hound Temperament
Sinhala Hounds were fierce huntings that needed a lot of energy to keep up with the indigenous tribes.
Because they were hunting dogs, we assume they were faithful companions with a strong work ethic. The Vedda people wouldn’t have bred them for hunting if they weren’t
17. Mahratta Greyhound
Highlights: Courageous, Agile, Loyal
This Mahratta Greyhound is one of the rarest Indian dog breed. In fact, it’s even rare to see these dogs outside their native province of Maharashtra (western India).
They’re often compared to the smooth-coated Saluki dog. However, Mahratta Greyhounds are slightly smaller, standing around 21 inches tall.
As with sighthounds, the Mahratta is quite sturdy with a muscular frame and lean chest. Though the coat is short, it’s enough to protect the dog against the rough elements of the Indian terrain.
The legs are thin, but surprisingly powerful, giving them the speed and agility they need to chase down game.
- The origins of these hounds are unknown. Some speculate they descended from Salukis, while others believe they’re descendants of local Indian sighthounds.
- To this day, the Mahratta Greyhound is not recognized by any of the major kennel clubs.
- These dogs are some of the oldest dogs from India. It’s estimated that they’re over 5,000 years old.
Mahratta Greyhound Temperament
Mahratta Greyhounds are brave dogs meant for hunting. Thanks to their superb eyesight, they’re able to spot wild game from a far distance.
Unlike other sighthounds, the Mahratta is used solely for hunting and not necessarily a companion dog.
For that reason, there is very little information on the temperaments of these hounds in a family setting. However, we do know they are faithful and loyal companions.
16. Vikhan Sheepdog
Highlights: Fearless, Intelligent, Loyal
The Vikhan Sheepdog is a breed that very few locals have ever heard of. They originated from the Himachal Pradesh region of northern India.
However, they can be found in bordering regions of Pakistan too (in the Chitral region).
Like with most sheepdogs, the Vikhan was bred to guard livestock. But it’s their fearless and courageous nature that makes them excellent leopard hunters.
Unfortunately, we don’t have too much information of these dogs because they are in fact rare. No one knows how far away they are from extinction.
- The Vikhan Sheepdog is known for amazing speed and agility. They could run as fast as a leopard in full sprint.
- Their name came from the ancient language “Vikh,” which is spoken in the area these dogs originated from.
- They’ve been called “Giant Rough Collies” because of their lavish coats, which were used as wool substitutes in Pakistan.
Vikhan Sheepdog Temperament
These dogs are known for their fierce personalities. It’s why they’ve made such excellent hunting companions in the past.
Vikhans love to work and can withstand long hunting trips with their incredible stamina. In addition, they’re smart canines too. They learn quick.
However, these sheepdogs are known to be very territorial and often times, possessive. For this reason, they make great guard and watchdogs. But I’d highly recommend socialization early on for Vikhan Sheepdogs.
Highlights: Energetic, Affectionate, Dignified.
The Chippiparai dog is perhaps the most famous and popular dog breed native to India. They’re the dog most people think of when they think, “Indian dog.”
This dog was bred in Chippiparai (near Madurai district Tamil Nadu) to hunt small to medium-sized game. And, they excelled at it too!
However, the Chippiparai is now seen as a symbol of royalty and dignity. For example, they’re what the Akita Inu is to the Japanese.
- The Chippiparai is also called the “Maiden’s Beastmaster” because they’re often gifted to newlywed brides as a ferocious guardian and companion.
- Depending on their coat color, this dog is also referred to as “Kanni,” which means “pure” and describes their purity of heart and devotion.
- These dogs were considered highly valuable and only kept by the elite class.
These dogs are extremely easy animals to care for. Many claim that they need little veterinary care because they are naturally strong and healthy animals. This does not mean they don’t need their proper puppy vaccinations if domesticated.
They make excellent hunting and watch dogs because they are alert and full of energy, especially as young puppies. The Chippiparai gets along great with people and with other dogs if socialized early on.
They hate isolation and demand a lot of attention and exercise from their owners.
14. Rampur Greyhound
Highlights: Devoted, Protective, Loving.
The Rampur Hound is a dying breed of dog originating from the West Bengal area of India. Currently, they’re found mostly in the northern regions of India – around Delhi.
There was a time when these dogs were popular, especially among the royal families in the country.
Some say they were the dog of choice for the princes of India (or maharajas).Today, their popularity among breeders and dog owners have taken a significant hit.
Back in the day, they served many purposes in India. For example, the Rampur hounds were used for jackal control. A single Rampur was able to take down a jackal with absolutely no fear.
They also help Indians hunt deadly large animals, such as tigers, leopards, panthers and even lions.
- At one point, these dogs were the dog of choice among the Maharaja rulers of India.
- The Rampur Greyhound has an astounding 270 degree field of vision.
- A single Rampur can take down a golden jackal, which were a problem among villages in India.
These are affectionate dogs with great loyalty towards the owner. They simply love human companionship and are always eager to please. Full of intense energy, the Rampur Hound can be a little scary when playing with each other.
They like to charge at each other with speed and force. To the outsider, this may be disturbing. But this is just how they play.
They generally do well with kids and have natural protective instincts. Typically, the Rampurs do better as a one-person dog, but they can also thrive in a family environment as well.
13. Kombai (Combai)
Highlights: Intelligent, Courageous, Alert.
The Kombai is a dog found in the Tamil Nadu region of India, bred for hunting boar, deer and bison. They’re a dog breed very similar to the ones in the terrier group – hence, the nickname: Indian Terrier.
This ancient dog breed can be traced back to the 15th century but is believed to have been around as early as the 9th century.
Kombai dogs were historically used by the military and played a big role in the Marudhu brothers’ revolt against the British subjugation at the start of the 19th century.
Recently, breeders and kennel groups in India have made an effort to repopulate the country with this beloved breed.
Due to the movement, Kombais are still very popular in regions of South India and are commonly used as family and hunting dogs.
- The Maravar kings of India used to breed Kombai dogs as royal guard dogs.
- A pack of Kombai dogs were fierce enough to take down a bear or lion, or at least die trying.
- Some people believe that they were derived from various sighthounds, originating from Central Asia.
Like with most terriers, the Kombai (Indian Terrier) is an extremely smart dog breed. They’re the gold standard for guard dogs in India because of their aggressiveness and aloof attitude towards strangers.
But with family, they’re as loyal as dogs come. Many have even claimed that the Kombai were once used to guard people’s cattle from leopards and tigers.
The Kombai is very alert and has and has a laid-back nature which make them seem lazy at times. Due to their good nature, they make excellent family dogs and do well with children.
12. Tangkhul Hui
Highlights: Free-spirited, Loyal, Alert.
The Tangkhul Hui, sometimes referred to as the Awang Huijao, was bred as a hunting dog for boar and other small animals in the jungle regions of India.
They’re mostly found in the Manipur state of India, within the Urkhul district. These dogs are considered to be an extremely rare dog breed, but can still be found.
Many speculate that the Tangkhul Hui descended from Myanmar dog breeds centuries ago. However, Indian mythology says they’re a breed evolved from the Asiatic black bear.
The eerie resemblance of the muzzles between the two animals is probably responsible for this Indian folklore.
Although the Tangkhul Hui is an endangered species of dog, several villages in the Urkhul district are joining forces to repopulate this breed.
- In terms of physical appearance, the Tangkhul Hui is said to vary a lot due to constant cross-breeding with western dog breeds.
- Local legend says these dogs were bred from the native black bears of Asian countries.
- Some historians believe they are “ancient dogs,” with a lineage of hundreds of years. However, poorly kept records of these dogs have not been able to confirm this.
Tangkhul Hui Temperament
The Tangkhul Hui is a very quick learner and generally a free-spirited dog. Like most dogs, they’re friendly to family members and other familiar faces.
However, with the unfamiliar, they can be aloof and cautious. These dogs are also obedient to their handlers, making them excellent guard dogs.
11. Bakharwal Dog
Highlights: Courageous, Independent, Alert.
These massive dogs of India have many other nicknames: the Kashmir Sheepdog, Kashmir Mastiff, Gujjar Wathdog and more.
The Barkharwal is a working dog, bred by the Bakarwal and Gujjar tribes located in the Jammu and Kashmir state of India.
Although their main purpose was to guard and protect livestock, they’re actually very versatile dogs. Unfortunately, the Bakharwal dog is on the brink of extinction today.
Indian folklore says the ancient Barkharwal descended from a cross between a wolf and a Molosser sheepdog hundreds of years ago.
However, the more likely theory is that the dog came into existence by breeding a Tibetan Mastiff and the Dhole dog.
- Some locals believe that the Bakharwal dogs have been crossbred with wild wolves in India.
- The Bakharwal dogs were used as guardians by nomadic tribes traveling in the Himalayan region.
- A Bakharwal can only produce 1 to 3 puppies per year, which is a big reason why they’re on the brink of extinction.
Being bred in the Himalayan regions, these dogs have a long fluffy coat and are well adapted to harsh cool climates. Bakharwals are known to be loyal to their family, but don’t usually play well with other pets.
They’re energetic, alert, brave, independent – all of which, are the perfect temperament traits that make an outstanding guard dog.
The worst thing you can do for your Bakharwal is to keep them confined in a small space. They are active working dogs and demand the freedom to roam.
Highlights: Spunky, Vigilant, Loyal.
The Jonangi is a hypoallergenic dog breed found in the Andhra Predesh state of India. They were bred to be hunting dogs, but also widely used to herd ducks for local farmers.
Farmers around Kolleru Lake have slowly moved away from ducks to other, more profitable aquatic animals.
Because of this, the once in-demand Jonangi was no longer needed. They were abandoned by farmers, left to fend for themselves in the wild.
The sad reality was that these dogs had to develop effective fishing techniques in order to survive. Eventually, they became pest to the local fish farmers. This led to a killing-spree of the Jonangi dogs and nearly forced them into extinction.
- The Jonangi dog doesn’t bark, they yodel instead.
- These dogs love to dig holes and often prefer sleeping in a hole instead of their dog bed.
- In the past, the Jonangi’s specialty was in herding ducks and other various birds.
Jonangi dogs are known to have a strong bond with their handler. They’re best as a one-man or one-family dog and don’t usually don’t get along with other dogs unless socialized early on.
These dogs are quick and agile, capable of easily chasing down game once they get into their sprint with long strides. Jonangi dogs have a quirky habit of digging large ditches.
When they’re not working, you’ll probably spot them chilling in ditches around their territory.
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Highlights: Confident, Loyal, Protective.
The Pandikona dog breed is aptly named after the location they originate from – Pandikona, near Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh.
They were bred to be hunting dogs that thrived in the harsh heat of the Andra Pradesh region. Temperatures can reach well over 110 degrees Fahrenheit here!
They hunt small game such as boar, rabbit and hare. But they’re known for occasionally killing snakes, rodents and other pests around the village.
Because of their strong territorial instincts, the Pandikona is often used as guard dogs. They protect property, livestock and guard villages.
If you stumble upon a Pandikona, it will likely give you warnings before swiftly attacking and defending its territory.
- Packs of Pandikona dogs will form a hierarchical system with highly intelligent communication.
- The Pandikona dog is still considered a “primitive dog breed.” In other words, they developed their characteristics without any help from humans.
- They were nicknamed the “Indian Doberman” by the British when they occupied India in the 1800’s.
This dog breed has all the qualities that make a superb hunting dog. They’re confident, bold and have territorial instincts – even as puppies. They’re loyal to their family and tend to play well with small children.
The biggest concern may be their territorial instincts, as they tend to fight other dogs and animals that get close. Pandikonas are better off in an environment where there is only one dog.
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Highlights: Affectionate, Loyal, Fearless.
Sometimes referred to as the Poligar Hound, the Rajapalayam is a sight hound originating from the southern region of India.
They’re companion dogs for royalty and aristocrats of the town Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu. This dog breed is an icon in India, having been featured on postage stamps issued by the India Post.
They’re usually situated on the borders of Kashmir serving as guard and watch dogs.
- Local folklore claims that 4 Rajapalayam dogs once killed a tiger defending their master.
- Some researchers believe that the Dalmatian dog breed may have descended from the Rajapalayam.
- In the mid-2000’s, the Indian Post started printing the Rajapalayam dogs on stamps. The purpose was to raise awareness of this prized Indian dog breed.
These dogs are affectionate and highly devoted to the owner. They operate better as a single-owner dogs and don’t like to be pet or handled by unfamiliar people.
In fact, they tend to be aggressive and hostile towards strangers. Don’t try to pet one without getting to know him first!
This means that its important to socialize a Rajapalayam early on with both human and dogs. Naturally, Rajapalayams don’t get along with cats and their hunting instincts could make them prey on the small feline.
Highlights: Playful, Alert, Brave.
The Taji, also referred to as the Tazi, is a dog breed originating from India. They were bred to be hunting dogs capable of taking down fox, gazelle, wildcat and marmot.
Unfortunately, there is not much information regarding these dogs.
They are near-extinct and it is extremely difficult to find a purebred Taji anywhere in India. The closest resembling dog breed is the Russian Taji (tazi) dog. However, the Russian counterpart tend to be bigger with more fur on the coat.
- It is extremely difficult to find a pure Taji in India. They’re believed to go extinct very soon.
- Most of the living Taji dogs are now found in Russia, despite originating from India.
- These dogs are skilled hunters capable of taking down animals as big as antelopes.
Taji dogs are usually very playful dogs with high energy. They’re alert and confident dogs, which is why they made great hunting dogs for their owners.
The Taji can be very loyal to the family and is always willing to please. Outside of this, not much is known about the Taji.
Highlights: Lively, Diligent, Independent.
The Kaikadi dog is from the terrier group. They were named after the Kaikadi tribe in Maharashtra, India.
Originally bred as herding dogs, they’ve been used as hunting dogs as well. Kaikadi dogs hunt mainly hare, fox, rodent and other vermin.
They have really distinct features, such as thin long legs and a tapering long tail. Their head is long and thin, while the ears are long and pointy.
Because of the short hair, the Kaikadi dog breed requires very little grooming and maintenance.
- Despite their looks, these dogs are believed (by many researchers) to be from the Terrier Group.
- The Kaikadi dogs lived nomadic lives, often traveling with tribes and watching over herds.
- These dogs usually come in black, tan or black coats. Sometimes, they’ll have a combination of colors.
The Kaikadi is a terrier, meaning they are generally energetic and lively. They aren’t suited for an urban environment, but rather in large open spaces like farms.
They make excellent companion dogs but usually don’t play well with other dogs. So, socializing of the Kaikadi is important as a puppy.
If you have the energy to match a Kaikadi, then they will be great dogs for you.
Highlights: Vigilant, Sociable, Protective.
The Indian Pariah Dog (or Indian Native Dog) is the aboriginal landrace breed of India. The country is home to millions of stray dogs and many of them are at least mixed with this breed.
Consequently, this dog has numerous names from all around India. Some of which include: Pye-dog, Naadan, Theru naai, Neri Kukur, Desi Kutta and more.
The Indian pariah dog is not only found in India, but also Bangladesh and even some parts of South Asia. The breed is only recognized by the Kennel Club of India.
However, the Primitive and Aboriginal Dog Society (PADS) based in the United States also recognizes this breed.
- Some scholars and historians believe that the Indian Pariah dog lived in India before humans came 60,000 years ago.
- The “pariah” stems from Tamil, where “parai” means a drum, which refers to “hereditary drummer.”
- The Indian Pariah Dogs are genetic ancestors of nearly all Indian dog breeds.
Indian Pariah Temperament
The pariah dog is highly sociable. They love their family and are often very protective over them, making them excellent watch dogs.
With strangers, it’s a different story. Socialization early on is very important for this dog breed.
They’re highly intelligent dog breeds and very easy to train. Not only do they need physical stimulation, but also mental stimulation. Pariah dogs can get bored easily, especially with repetitive games, such as fetch.
4. Mudhol Hound
Highlights: Elegant, Courageous, Loyal.
The Mudhol Hound is a sight hound breed from India. They’re also commonly referred to as the Caravan Hound. Unlike the many other Indian dog breeds, the Mudhol is thriving in the country.
In fact, they’re actually common pets for families of villages in the Deccan Plateu. Furthermore, they serve as companion dogs, but are also used as hunting and guard dogs.
Along with the Rampur Hound, Rajapalayam and Himalayan Sheepdog, the Mudhol is featured on a postage stamp issued by the India Post.
- Also called Caravan Hounds, the Mudhol got their nickname from the British, who frequently saw them with caravans in Karnataka.
- These dogs nearly went extinct in the last century. However, the efforts of a single man saved them in the early 20th century.
- Mudhol Hounds are currently being used by the Indian army for surveillance and border protection.
They are working dogs capable of working in even the most severe conditions. They are seen as elegant and graceful creatures.
But at the same time, these dogs have bold personalities with a ton of courage and confidence.
The Mudhol is one of the most fierce hunting dogs to come out of India. Not only do they run with great speed, but they have considerable physical strength. Their amazing stamina allow them to chase down wild game over long stretches.
Mudhol hounds are not the most friendly dogs. They’re very aloof towards strangers and usually don’t like to be touched by them.
But as long as you treat your Mudhol with kindness and care, they will show immense loyalty.
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3. Bully Kutta
Highlights: Fearless, Confident, Protective.
The Bully Kutta is also known as the Indian Mastiff, or the “Beast of the East.” They originate from the Sindh region between Pakistan and India.
Not only are they used for hunting and guarding, but unfortunately, also fighting. In areas of Pakistan and Punjab, India, these dogs are still subject to illegal dog fights.
This dog breed of India is very popular in Punjab and is by no means facing extinction like the others. The Bully Kutta’s prominence in dog fighting has actually kept the breed alive.
- Akbar, the great Mughal emperor, used to keep Bully Kuttas for both protection and hunting.
- Illegal underground dog fights have played a big part in keeping the Bully Kutta from extinction.
- They got their name from the word “Bholi” (bully), which means “heavily wrinkled” and describes their face / body.
Bully Kutta Temperament
This dog breed is highly intelligent but can be very aggressive, which is why they’re popular fighting dogs. They are not ideal dogs for families and small children.
Because of their dominating nature, they must be handled by experienced dog owners and/or trainers. There has even been cases where Bully Kuttas have mauled and mutilated other smaller dogs to death.
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2. Gaddi Kutta
Highlights: Intelligent, Devoted, Calm.
The Gaddi Kutta is a mountain dog originating from the northern region of India. They’re found in states bordering the Himalayas region, such as Himachal and Pradesh.
The Gaddi has many other names including, the Indian Panther Hound and the Mahidant Mastiff. Both of which, are equally awesome names.
This dog breed has many different skills and are used for various jobs. They hunt game, herd sheep (and goats) and guard livestock from snow leopards and other prey. The Gaddi is essentially the all-purpose mastiff dogs for the Gaddis tribe of India.
- The Gaddi Kuttas are natural sheep and goat herders, requiring little to no instructions and/or training.
- They get their nickname “Indian Panther Hound” because of their ability to take down a single snow leopard.
- The Dingo dogs (Australian dog breed) share a genetic inheritance with the Gaddi, however, we don’t know exactly how.
Gaddi Kutta Temperament
They are highly intelligent dogs with a natural instinct to protect its territory. Because of this, they’re often aggressive to strangers on its land.
Despite this, they’re rather calm dogs when things are normal at home. Plus, they will show great loyalty to its family.
1. Indian Spitz
Highlights: Affectionate, Playful, Energetic.
The Indian Spitz is like the Indian cousin of the Pomeranian. In actuality, many people erroneously call them Pomeranians.
However, before India started to import foreign breeds, the Indian Spitz were the most popular Indian dog breed. In fact, they were household names back in the 1980’s into the 90s.
Indian breeders wanted to introduce a Spitz that could withstand the harsh climate conditions and terrain of India. So, they derived this breed from the German Spitz through many years of breeding.
In the end, they got a dog that looked similar to the cross between a Pomeranian, German Spitz and Samoyed.
- The Indian Spitz is considered by many to be the most intelligent Indian dog breed because they’re very easy to train.
- These dogs became massively popular in India because of a restrictive import regulation imposed by the government in the 1980’s to 90’s.
- There are two variations of the Indian Spitz: a larger and a smaller version.
Indian Spitz Temperament
The Indian Spitz is a versatile dog breed that can adapt to various environments. Whether they’re in an urban setting or on a large farm, they’ll thrive.
These dogs live off a diet of many different kinds of foods, such as chicken, milk, rice, yogurt and more.
Overall, the Indian Spitz is a very active dog breed with a ton of energy. They’re also friendly around all humans and love human attention. Whether you have small children or elders, they make excellent companions.
Why Indian Dogs are Going Extinct
If you haven’t realized already: nearly half of all dog breeds from India have gone extinct. In addition, many others are seriously endangered. Why has this happened in a country with tens of millions of dogs?
This rapid decline in native Indian dog breeds is caused by a culture that has never fully embraced domestic breeds. Meanwhile, accepting foreign breeds with open arms.
An article by Quartz titled ‘The Indian dogs that are dying out because everyone wants a Labrador‘ explains just how bad this problem is.
In the past few decades, people of India have fallen in love with western dog breeds for various reasons. And the fact that they continue to shun indigenous dog breeds doesn’t help the cause.
When the foreign dog breeds arrived, there was a ton of cross-breeding. In addition, the government had no interest in preserving pure-bred indigenous dogs.
To make matters even worse, Indian rulers with pet dogs actually preferred the foreign breeds. The only attempt at preservation came from British dog enthusiasts.
Although many groups in India are working to repopulate India with these dogs, it is simply too late for many extinct breeds.
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