We have so many Indian dog breeds out there — each with distinct features, unique histories, behaviour traits — but we hardly know anything about them. Dog owners prefer exotic breeds and are quick to forget about Indian native dogs, which are well adapted to our climate as well as local lifestyle.

Indian dog breed #1: Indian pariah dog
Indian dog breeds - Indian pariah dog

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Also known as Indie dogs, they are the first breed of dogs native to India. They are found aplenty but not every street dog you run into would be a pariah. Today’s urban stray dogs are usually a mix of several breeds.

Appearance: Medium sized stocky dogs with a short muzzle, pricked ears and curly tail. Their double coat boasts tan, fawn or brown shades.

Activity: Regular exercise, engaging activities and walks twice a day helps them expend their energy.

Temperament: Sharp and alert, they make good guard dogs due to their territorial nature. They are also social and highly intelligent, making them a good fit for families.

Indian dog breed #2: Indian Spitz
Indian dog breeds - Indian Spitz

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Often confused with the Pomeranian, the Indian Spitz was introduced to us by the British in the 19th century. Descended from the German Spitz, these dogs are smaller and have thinner coats. This helps them adjust to the Indian climate with ease.

Appearance: Furry dogs with a pointed muzzle and a fluffy tail. Their gorgeous coats are usually white, brown or black.

Activity: Energetic and playful. They can easily adapt to apartments if their daily exercise needs are met.

Temperament: Their friendly nature makes them great companions for children. They are easy to train and can adapt to varying environments.

Indian dog breed #3: Kombai or Combai
Indian dog breeds - Kombai

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An Indian dog breed from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Kombai were bred as watchdogs and hunting dogs. This dog breed has been with us since the 9th century.

Appearance: Square-bodied muscular build with a tan or brown coat. Their signature black muzzle hides powerful jaws.

Activity: Need regular exercise and are best raised in large, non-urban settings where they are free to roam and explore.

Temperament: Alert, intelligent and extremely loyal. They need expert training.

Indian dog breed #4: Mudhold hound
Indian dog breeds - Mudhold hound

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Also known as Caravan Hound, these sighthounds were popularly used in Mudhold, Karnataka. Their aquiline features make them fast runners ergo excellent hunters.

Appearance: Graceful long forelegs, tapering muzzle and floppy ears give them a unique look, akin to the Greyhound. Coats are usually fawn or brown coloured.

Activity: Extremely active, they need outlets to expend their energy everyday. They are unsuited for apartments or confined spaces.

Temperament: These Indian native dogs are not very sociable and are quite shy. They don’t trust strangers or other pets easily. Early training is very essential.

Indian dog breed #5: Jonangi
Indian dog breeds - Jonangi

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The Jonangi are hunting and herding dogs native to Andhra Pradesh. These protective dogs are good at combat. It’s interesting to note that these dogs don’t bark but yodel instead! However, this breed is sadly dying out.

Appearance: Short-haired dogs with a variety of coat colours such as white, black, grey, brindle or spotted.

Activity: Very agile and can cover huge distances without fatigue. They also have a tendency to dig holes in the ground to rest.

Temperament: Friendly but difficult to train. These high energy dogs should never be kept in apartments.

Indian dog breed #6: Kanni or Chippiparai
Indian dog breeds - Kanni

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These smart, easy-to-train dogs from Tamilnadu were bred by the royal families of Virudhnagar to hunt wild boar and deer as well as protect their estates. These are among the rare Indian dog breeds.

Appearance: Long legs, elongated muzzle, arched back and a long tail give them extreme agility. Single coloured coat variety (reddish brown, black or fawn) are called Chippiparai and mixed coat variety are called Kanni.

Activity: Like all other hunting breeds, they need tons of exercise and stimulation. They are robust, resilient against most diseases and do best in warm climate.

Temperament: Once they build trust, they are friendly and extremely faithful. They have a tendency to attack smaller animals and are not suited for apartments.

Indian dog breed #7: Pandikona
Indian dog breeds - Pandikona

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A primitive, hunting breed from the Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh, the independent Pandikona was typically bred by shepherd families in the region. It is one of the lesser known dogs in India.

Appearance: Medium sized muzzle with large pointed ears that droop at the tip. Come in fawn, white, cream, black or patchy coats

Activity: Need exercise and lots of space to run. They are hardy and easy to care for as they’ve survived in the wild.

Temperament: Territorial yet faithful. They can get on moderately with humans, but not so with other dogs. Can only adapt to basic training.

Indian dog breed #8: Indian Mastiff of Bully Kutta
Indian dog breeds - Indian mastiff

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An aggressive breed dating back to the 16th century, these large dogs are commonly found in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. Supposedly descended from the Alaunt, an ancient extinct breed from Central Asia & Europe, the Bully Kutta is commonly used for hunting and guarding.

Appearance: Large, muscular dogs with wrinkled skin, small ears and white or patchy coats.

Activity: An energetic breed that needs a lot of exercise. Might become destructive in enclosed environments or small spaces.

Temperament: Ferocious dogs which are not very friendly with humans or animals. They are difficult to train but make excellent guard dogs.

Indian dog breed #9: Rampur greyhound
Indian dog breeds - Rampur greyhound

Source: Wikipedia

These hunting dogs, bred in Rampur, have amazing endurance and were primarily used to kill jackals as well as big cats like lions, tigers and leopards. These strong dogs are a mix of English Greyhounds and Afghan Hounds.

Appearance: Lean, muscular build with wide set eyes that expands their field of vision. Flexible webbed toes make them excellent runners.

Activity: Need space to exercise and run around and would not do well in apartments.

Temperament: Very friendly with humans but need moderate training to socialize with other dogs. Training is easy once their trust is gained.

Indian dog breed #10: Rajapalayam
Indian dog breeds - Rajapalayam

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Among the top Indian dog breeds is the Rajapalayam, a regal Indian sighthound breed. They were originally bred as royal hunting dogs in Tamil Nadu and are still being used now to guard Indian borders.

Appearance: Short-haired dogs that usually come with a white coat, distinctive pink nose and a tail curled at the tip.

Activity: Need plenty of exercise and space to run around

Temperament: Friendly to family members and extremely loyal. Aggressive to strangers and other dogs. A little difficult to train.

Indian dog breed #11: Gull terrier
Indian dog breeds - Gull terrier

Source: Wikipedia

A fierce, aggressive breed Indian native dog that has a history of being used in dog fighting. The Gull Terriers are good guard dogs and were bred by crossing Bull Terriers with Indian breeds during the British Raj days.

Appearance: Tall, medium sized dog with coats that are usually white or have black patches. They are broad chested with large pointed ears.

Activity: Agile, fast dogs that need regular exercise, training and socialization. This breed is prone to deafness and blindness.

Temperament: Fierce and aggressive with strangers and unsuited for families with small children. They are territorial but respond well to training.