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The Chippiparai breed of dogs belongs to the Tamil Nadu region of South India. A few of them also reside in Kerela, around Periyar Lake. Chippiparai dogs are hunters; they are sight hounds who depend on their sense of sight and speed to spot, chase and kill the prey. Independent operators, Chippiparai dogs work swiftly and quietly, and can effectively hunt deer, wild boar and hare. These days it acts like a perfect watchdog; guarding its master’s abode with full devotion.
It is rightly said that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’. This adage can be applied to the Indian dog breeds which are overlooked in comparison to dogs of foreign breeds. The dogs from the overseas are adorable and fine in their own right, but there are some native Indian breeds which are capable of living well in adverse conditions and still preserve its skills for which they were treasured once. This write-up would give you a brief introduction of one of the amazing Indian dog breeds – the Chippiparai, which is, now, living on the brink of extinction.
The roots of Chippiparai are believed to be linked with an Egyptian breed of dogs known as Saluki, who is also called the Royal Dog of Egypt. Probably, these Arabian sighthounds accompanied their masters, who could have been travelers, invaders or professional soldiers, to India; and later on bred with some local breeds of dog. Chippiparai could be a result of such an association. Chippiparai is also a sighthound like Saluki, and its strong physical resemblance with Saluki makes the connection between the two a more probable one.
Chippiparai dogs once formed a part of king’s entourage, engaged in pursuing the most popular royal recreation of the past – hunting. Their sense of vision and speed made them an apt companion for hunting excursions. In those times, dogs were also treated as assets which were exchanged as gifts along with gems and jewels, elephants, clothes and so on.
Down South two known breeds of hunting dogs were Chippiparai and Rajapalayam; Rampur hound executed hunts along with human masters in the North of India, and Mudhol hound did the same in the Southwest part of India.
Downfall from royalty
With the onset of British rule, like their people and manufactured goods, their dogs too got preferential treatment. Even after gaining independence, the position of the Indian breeds of dog continued to deteriorate, and now have come to the point that many previously celebrated dog breeds are now struggling for their survival.
One of the aspects of Britisher’s rule was to make the Indians feel inferior about who they are and what they have, so that it becomes easy for Brits to establish their unquestionable supremacy. Consequently, all western things and creatures came to be seen and treated as much more superior to anything local made or born.
Also, with royals losing their kingly statuses, the esteemed dog breeds also began to lose patronage and interest. Chippiparai was kept by the prominent and wealthy people who could afford to keep it and engage in recreation activities such as hunting. After they fell from grace, Chippiparai, along with other dog breeds, also fell from people’s eyes as the breeds bought from the oversees, belonging to the white race, started to become the most endearing objects to the Indian psyche.
There are no official records giving authentic figures regarding the history, size, weight and life expectancy of a Chippiparai. Whatever research has taken place to find out the origins of the local breeds is still in their early stages. It is hoped that the long strides in finding out the pedigree, and restoring the lost pride of this royal dog should not come when the information would be good only to be stored as an archive under the subject line – ‘extinct animals.’
One can usually spot a Chippiparai in brown, fawn, silver grey or reddish brown color, with a few or no white markings, or in various shades of fawn or grey. The coat may also display a dual shade, most general among them being the combinations of black and tan and black and grey.
The sighthound has a dome shaped head, which possesses a set of small, dark and alert eyes. It has medium sized ears, which resemble the shape of rose petals, and can usually be seen in a partly erect position. A medium sized dog, a Chippiparai can go up to the height of around 25 inches, when measured at the withers. Normally the weight of a Chippiparai hangs in the range of 15 to 20 kg. Also, the average life span of Chippiparai dogs extends from 12 to 15 years.
Its slender body should not be mistaken for weakness; they are robust and their straight, long and thin legs help Chippiparai to run very fast. The artistic and athletic looking body of the dog, when converse with air, makes for quite a delightful sight.
It has got a long and bony tail which rolls up, resembling the handle of an umbrella. Chippiparai’s back takes a slight upward curve, giving the tummy a tucked up look, and have a very deep chest, which accommodates a large heart and lungs; these very organs contribute towards giving the dog a better health.
The dog has very short hair and thus is appropriate for the kind of climate it resides in, i.e. hot. A narrow pair of jaws, looks weak, but they are strong; the powerful jaws of a hunter.
Being so close to the skin, the coat is less prone to tick and flea infestation, as the parasites don’t get enough space to hide, and as a result are easy to detect. Moreover, due to the short coat, Chippiparai doesn’t even shed much; putting the efforts at grooming at a very minimum level. Even the minimal grooming can bring a shine to the short coat of the dog.
There is no need for professional grooming, what all is needed is regular brushing, occasional bath and normal maintenance routine like nail clipping.
A native Indian, the breed requires much less maintenance as compared to other dog breeds. Moreover, its strong and healthy body doesn’t even need regular veterinary attention. A hunter, yet Chippiparai possesses a mild temper. It doesn’t have a tendency to bark and is quiet a peaceful dog. Chippiparai dogs are not fussy eaters; neither do they need copious amounts of food to fuel their active, high energy life style.
The breed thinks on its own and can behave stubbornly on certain occasions. But its intelligence would make their training easy. Along with that always have safety measures, like a leash, on when outside the secured areas. That would ensure safety of your dog, of the general public, and especially of other animals that may, unintentionally, provoke Chippiparai’s hunting instincts.
Belonging to a hunter breed, Chippiparai’s are assumed to be unfriendly or hostile dogs. Though they are truly loyal and protective towards their masters, they can be trained to be sociable towards other people.
Adapted to its environment
Chippiparai is a fighter; it has won over the adverse living conditions of southern India – starting with its tropical hot climate, which is also a good breeding ground to a variety of infections and parasites, to the regular bouts of famines and food shortage. The presence of wild and dangerous animals like leopards, tigers, crocodiles, poisonous snakes and dholes also make the living difficult.
Chippiparai has adapted itself to the harsh climate; developed natural immunity towards many diseases and parasites; made itself able enough to survive on very low amount of food, and also intrinsically learnt the ways to tackle the dangerous animals of the wild.
High energy levels
Chippiparai’s were meant for hunting, thus there need for physically exerting themselves is greater.
An active session of exercise, extending from 45 minutes to 1 hour, daily, would be appropriate. Jogging and walking are some of the means to keep the dog fit, but an intrinsic desire and the best energy burner for the breed is to experience the thrill of running. As a pet parent you can try to find some safe enclosures for the purpose of undertaking a sprint, so that Chippiparai’s unspent energy doesn’t get translated into destructive behavior, nervousness and hyperactivity. And as a loving pet parent, you would find out that it won’t take much of your time and energy to content a few important needs of your pet; moreover, you can also combine your own fitness schedule with your dog’s and proudly stay fit just like your wonderful Chippiparai.
Please note that, because of their high energy they can’t really adjust in an apartment setup; an ideal home for them should be placed in suburbs, as it provides ample of opportunities for exercise.
Though sturdy enough to cope within limited means and harsh weather conditions, the breed does suffer from certain ailments and general health issues as does any other dog breed. Nonetheless compared with most of the other dog breeds, Chippiparai is very healthy and strong. Some of the more pressing problems for the dogs are – cold intolerance, food allergies, sensitivity to anesthesia, hip dysplasia and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).
The dogs which are brought to the various dog shows mostly belong to foreign breeds, which, normally are, high maintenance. Indian breeds, on the other hand, are not only tough, low maintenance, self-reliant, but also talented enough to take on other dog breeds.
The numbers of Chippiparai dogs have reduced over the years and also have become concentrated mostly in a few remote villages of Tamil Nadu and kerala. The dog is recognized by a few kennel clubs of India, but most of the members of the breed are not registered or/and not pedigreed.
If things go like this, our future generations may only hear about an Indian breed of dog, which had lesser bodily needs, yet was an expert hunter; one who had duly adapted itself to its environment; a runner who was more of a treat to watch and used to act like the finest guard one can have – loyal and observant.
Don’t let a living example of adaptation and survival go past this world due to a biased attitude based on false set of beliefs. Give recognition and care when it matters, when it can make a difference, when you can do justice to a living organism who has till now triumphed the obstacles of nature to come out a winner. Don’t let Chippiparai become a creature which would be remembered once it can only be found in the written and visual records.