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Himachali dogs

Dogs in Himachal and the mountains

Dogs are amazing creatures that can melt our hearts with their loyalty, intelligence and cuteness. Some dog breeds are native to India and have adapted to the harsh and beautiful environment of the Himalayas. Here are some of these dogs and their stories.

Himachali hounds 

Parvati Valley dogs

These dogs are also known as Gaddi dogs or mastiffs, and they are large and extremely fluffy, owing to their native region being parts of the western Himalayas and parts of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. They were originally bred as hunting dogs, but they are now widely used by local shepherds, a South Asian tribe called the Gaddis, for protection. They are courageous, loyal and friendly, and can withstand the cold weather with their thick fur. They also have a strong sense of smell and can track down prey easily. They are not very common in urban areas, but they are still cherished by the people who live in the mountains.

Vikhan Sheepdog

This is a rare short-fur dog breed that originated in Himachal Pradesh. Vikhan dogs usually guard livestock and are known to be fearless and fast. They have a muscular body and a short and soft coat that can be black, brown or white. They are also very friendly and playful, and can bond well with humans. They are not very demanding in terms of grooming or food, but they need a lot of exercise and space to run around. They are also very alert and can sense danger from afar.

Kumaon Mastiff

These dogs are powerful, fierce and originally known to guard and protect livestock of villagers in the hill areas of Uttarakhand. Kumaon Mastiff dogs are muscular with a short and soft coat and a thick neck. They look like the old Great Danes, but they are much more agile and strong. They are also very loyal and devoted to their owners, but they can be aggressive towards strangers or other animals. They need proper training and socialisation from an early age to avoid behavioural problems. They are also very rare and endangered, as many people prefer foreign breeds over them.

 Feral dogs

Monk being greeted by dogs

Apart from these native breeds, there are also many feral dogs in Himachal Pradesh that roam around the streets or the wilderness. These dogs are usually mixed breeds that have been abandoned or born in the wild. They can pose a threat to wildlife, livestock and humans, as they can carry diseases or attack them. A recent study found that Himachal Pradesh has feral dog density of 2.78 individuals per 100 square km on an average, ranging from 1.4 to 5.5 individuals per 100 square kms in Lahaul and Pangi. The study also suggested that feral dogs feed on garbage, livestock carcasses, rodents and birds, which can affect the ecosystem balance.

Dog lovers

Yolo Manali march 2023

However, not all is gloomy for the dogs in Himachal Pradesh. There are also many people who love and care for them, such as this old uncle from Hatu Peak who takes care of 16 dogs by providing them food and shelter. The dogs go up and down 3 mountains with him every single day where the man earns his bread, and they are all pretty much companions for life now. There are also many organisations that work for the welfare of dogs in Himachal Pradesh, such as People For Animals (PFA), Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust (HART), Dharamshala Animal Rescue (DAR) and others. These organisations rescue, treat, sterilise, vaccinate and adopt out dogs in need.

So, as you can see, there is a lot to learn about the dogs in Himachal Pradesh and the mountains. They are diverse, beautiful and resilient, just like the people who live there. If you ever visit this state, you might encounter some of these dogs on your way, so don’t forget to give them a pat or a treat if they are friendly. And if you are looking for a new furry friend to join your family, why not consider adopting one of these Indian breeds? They might surprise you with their personality and charm!

Text by Harender Singh

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