At a time when there is a surge of interest in native dog breeds but there are no adequate numbers matching the breed standards, Tamil Nadu University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (TANUVAS) decided to establish a native dog research center in Tenkasi district “to restore and conserve the breeds”.
“The government has sanctioned ₹1 crore for the project, and it will cater to those who wish to conserve native dog breeds,” TANUVAS Registrar P. Tensingh said.
TANUVAS will breed and sell Rajapalayam, Chippiparai, Kanni and Kombai, the Tamil Nadu breeds known for their guarding and hunting abilities. Although TANUVAS operates poultry farms and research centers on indigenous cattle breeds, this is the first time that it has started a project to breed indigenous dogs.
“We have already gained experience through the breeding and rearing of Chippiparai and Rajapalayam dogs at our research farm in Madhavaram. The research center will include Kombai and Kanni,” Mr. Tensingh said.
“Our project seeks to address these issues. Even in Rajapayalam we are not able to find many breeders with good specimens. Our goal is to create awareness and interaction with breeders and raise puppies with breed standards,” said S. Meenakshi Sundaram, Teacher and Head of TANUVAS Breeding Complex at Madhavaram.
The proposal was prepared by T. Ravimurugan, Professor and Head of Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, Veterinary College and Research Institute, Tirunelveli.
“TANUVAS chose Tenaksi, as Tenkasi and its surroundings were the original traces of these races before they moved to Virudhunagar district. We are planning in situ conservation aimed at restoring and maintaining viable populations of the species in their natural environment,” said Dr Ravimurugan.
Inbreeding, he said, took a heavy toll on native breeds and led to the dilution of breed standards. “Deafness is a common problem in Rajapalayam dogs and inbreeding is the cause. He doesn’t spare Chippiparai either. There are blind dogs. Today, Kanni can only be distinguished by its color. Genotyping revealed that it had been crossed with Chippiparai or Rajapalayam,” said Dr Ravimurugan.
Dr Meenaksi Sundaram said native dogs would be ideal as “they are hardy, low maintenance and free from many diseases and problems like hair loss”.