Tamil Nadu Native Dog Breeds and its History

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The Jallikattu protest brought huge awareness about native breeds. Tamil Nadu youngsters are willing to buy or adopt native dog breeds Rajapalayam, Kanni, Chippiparai, Kombai and other breeds. There is an increase in demand for native breeds because people are proud of their native breeds’ history.



This breed looks like a miniature Great Dane, with its powerful, muscular, and heavy build.  It is a typical boar hound which was used for hunting wild boar and hare. It is usually white in colour, the skin is pink. It has a deep chest. The hair is soft on the head but coarse on the body. It may be about 65cms. tall and about 25 kgs in weight. The bitches are about 60 cms in height and about 20 kgs in weight. It has a domed head that is carried high. There may be a little wrinkling on the skin of the head and throat but no pronounced dewlap. The skin is loose all over the body and the eyes are dark and usually deep brown. The ears are pendant and feel like soft leather. The jaws are long, fine and powerful. It has a scissor bite. The tail is whip-like with a noticeable thinning after about 1/3 its length giving it a bony look. The legs are long and straight.

The Rajapalayam was bred to be a vivacious hunter who had a huge appetite to please his or her master. They were developed to hunt for wild boar and other small prey. They make excellent guard dogs for the family. They are wary of strangers and their large size can intimidate almost any intruder coming into your home. You have to keep in mind that these fearless sentinels will not like to be petted or even touched by strangers. On the contrary, they can charge towards strangers if they find them threatening.


Let us start from the beginning; the Rajapalayam has been bred in the Nayak dynasty of Tamil Nadu. There are some scholars who believe that they also have a presence in the modern day Dalmatian but there are no records for the same. Leaving this to speculation, these dogs were used in the Carnatic and Polygar wars.

These dogs have been used since time immemorial to guard rice fields, houses, and farms and have legendary stories around them as well. One of the stories says that four Rajapalayam together saved the life of their master by killing a tiger. Their fierce loyalty and guarding potential have seen them being deputed as guard dogs in the borders of Kashmir by the Indian Army.



Born and bred in Tamil Nadu, India, the Kombai is a sight hound par excellence. They make lovable pets and are also known to guard their home and family with their lives. The stocky, muscular Kombai is rumored to be strong enough to kill a bear. Their lineage and upbringing in the diverse subcontinent ensure that they have very few breed-related health issues, so they’re capable of living and living well in most kinds of weather.


The Kombai’s existence can be traced back to the 15th century and historically, they are known to have been bred to hunt wild boar, deer, and bison. Some breed enthusiasts and natives of South India believe that the breed existed even as far back as the 9th century. Kombais were used by the armies of the Marudhu brothers or Marudhu Pandias, who headed the revolt against the British subjugation of the Kalaiar Koil of the Sivakasi Kingdom at the beginning of the 19th century. Kombais continue to be popular in South India and are celebrated as not just strong hunters but loyal family pets.



The streamlined, lithe, and graceful Chippiparai is a sight hound that originated and has been bred in Tamil Nadu in South India. Often compared to the Greyhound because of its equal agility and lean body, as much as this feature is true of most Indian hounds, the Chippiparai epitomises the strong and silent hound dog. These are perfect guard dogs for homes as well as estates, sharp and brave enough to protect the family and affectionate and loyal enough to make a great family pet. This breed is also known to make a great one-man dog, because of their ability to imprint on one human being and become a dedicated companion to him or her for the rest of their lives. This exquisite hunting dog is now close to extinction and unless responsible and ethical breeders work hard to preserve them, they will soon be another thing of beauty relegated to history books.


Bred by the royal families of Chippiparai near Madurai district in Tamil Nadu, India, the Chippiparai was and continues to be a symbol of royalty and dignity amongst the Tirunelveli and Madurai rulers. Chippiparais are known to be fierce hunters and were bred for this express purpose. They were predominantly used to find and kill their prey, mainly deer, wild boar, and the hare.



The Kanni, which means maiden, is a rare indigenous South Indian dog breed found in the state of Tamil Nadu. The breed is a further extension of the Caravan or Mudhol Hound, and is also a descendant of the Saluki. However, the Kanni does not possess the grand features of these breeds. It is used mainly for hunting.


The Kanni is found in and around Tirunelveli, Pollachi, Kovilpatti, Kazhugumalai, Kileral, Kodangipatti, Sivakasi, and Madurai. It is said that the name Kanni (which means ‘unmarried girl’) comes from the fact that the dog used to be given as a gift to the bridegroom just before the marriage. They are usually of four colours, brown, cream, black & tan, and brindle. The Kanni is kept by families who do not sell them but may gift them if a promise is made to look after them well. They are not allowed to roam the streets and are brought up as pet animals. They are given a diet of milk in the morning, corn porridge in the afternoon and a “Ragi” porridge in the evening. Meat is given once a week or once a month only. The breed is now extremely rare and on the verge of extinction. Efforts to revive the breed have not been taken up, as specimens are few, and there exists little information about them.



The Alangu Mastiff is an extremely rare breed that originated from Thanjavur and Trichy districts of Southern India. This breed is noted for its alert and protective nature. The breed was in fact considered as the official guard dog of the Persian army. The breed is, in fact. still used in Pakistan in dog fighting and lumped together with other breeds as Bully Kutta. 


It’s believed that Alangu was used as the guard dog by the Thanjavur royal family and as a hunting dog by Tamil kings.

Let’s save our native dog breeds

Thanks: Katie Nathan www.chennaifocus.in

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Karthick PJ

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