Names

  • Rajapalayam Dog
  • Poligar Hound
  • Vellai Moonji Nai/White-faced dog

Conservation Status

ENDANGERED

Origin

India

Physical Traits

  • Type: Utility, Game hound
  • Weight: Male 25 – 30 kg; Female 20 – 25 kg 
  • Height: Male 60 – 65 cm; Female 55 – 60 cm
  • Coat: Single, short coat
  • Colour: Milky white
  • Litter Size: 4 – 10
  • Life Span: 9 – 13 years

The Rajapalayam Dog. Are they really endangered?

Rajapalayam dog is an endangered and ancient breed of dogs from the state of Tamil Nadu. They are medium-sized hounds developed for hunting wild boars and small game. Because of their strength, intelligence, courage, and obedience, Rajapalayam is often the preferred breed for many types of work. This includes guarding, police, and military roles. Today the Rajapalayam dog is a multipurpose dog.

The first step towards the preservation of Rajapalayam dogs should be an accurate and comprehensive breed description. This article is one of its kind and the most comprehensive breed description of the Rajaplayam dog anywhere in the world.

This article unveils the Rajapalayam dog by addressing the points below.

  • The primary purpose of the Rajapalayam as intended by native breeders
  • Traits and characteristics of Rajapalayam
  • The care needed in maintaining a healthy dog 
  • The current status of this majestic dog
  • Your contribution to the survival of the breed

A brief history of the Rajapalayam dog aka Poligar Hound

1940 Sketch of Rajapalayam dog

To understand the Rajapalayam dog, we first need to understand its origins and its purpose. This dog originates from Rajapalayam town, nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats.

The physical beauty of the Rajapalayam town is second to none. Green paddy fields, fertile soil, the majestic Western Ghats, and rich cultural heritage make Rajapalayam a special place. Historically Rajapalayam was a farming community. Close vicinity to the Western Ghats meant wildlife from the forest raided the crops. Also, villagers often ventured into the jungle to hunt wild boar, deer, and small game.

In his book Scenes and Sports in Foreign Lands published in 1840, Major Edward Napier was the first to describe this dog as Poligar hound. The word Poligar/Polgar in the local language refers to a feudal title for an administrator or a governer during the Nayakar rule. Poligar hound can be translated as a war dog.

When Nayakar ruled Rajapalayam town in the 17th century. Trained dogs fought against the British by entering the army stables to bite the hamstring of the horses. Intelligent, courageous, and trainable dogs fought in battles alongside their masters. These dogs were the ultimate expression of courage and loyalty on the battlefield.

The true purpose of the Rajapalayam Dog

The Rajapalayam dog is a sighthound. Selectively bred for hunting wild boar and for protection of farms and rice fields against wildlife. Hence, Rajapalayam dogs had to be courageous, trainable, powerful, and independent. Stories of their courage are legendary. Once a pack of eleven Rajapalayam dogs protected their master by fighting off a tiger.

Bred for courage and strength, their ability to take on a wild boar that weighs well over 150 Kgs is a well-known fact. It is interesting to note, Kombai dogChippiparai Dog, and Kanni Dog also originate from the neighboring towns. These dogs were, however, hounds slender and lean. On the other hand, Rajapalayam dog was muscular. In a hunt, Chippiparai dogs chased wild boars out of their cover. Rajapalayam dogs tackled and held these large wild boars until the hunters dealt with them. Dog owners proudly showcased their dogs and their injuries from these hunts.

The plight of Rajapalayam dog today

Today this magnificent dog is facing extinction. The following are the top three factors that are pushing the Rajapalayam dog towards extinction.

  1. Invasion of non-native dog breeds: The import of foreign breeds such as German Shepherds, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers has made the native dogs less popular.
  2. Lack of accurate information: Incorrect and misleading information about these dogs deter dog owners from adopting them. People incorrectly assume Rajapalayam’s as aggressive reading misinformation on the internet.
  3. Inbreeding: With the demand for Rajapalayam puppies decreasing, dog breeders are turning their attention to non-native dogs. There are only a handful of genuine Rajapalayam lines in existence today. 

Physical traits of the Rajapalayam dog

Dog breed characteristics

Rajapalayams are a medium-sized dog with a muscular build. They are sighthounds exercising their sight and strength to hunt their prey. Rajapalayam has a powerful bite. There are no official estimates of their bite force. Some experts estimate Rajapalayam’s bite force to range between 200 to 220 pounds, one of the highest in the canine world.

Rajapalayam dog is milky-white, one of the very few dogs breeds to have one color. Their pink skin is clearly visible through the white and short-coat. They have pendant shaped drooping ears with head held high. Their jaws are powerful and muscular, with a whip-like tail that is bony and curved.

Rajapalayam dogs are hound-like in appearance, but with a muscular body. They have a straight topline, muscular legs and eyes are golden. Recent studies have shown that pups born with silver eyes are born deaf.

Due to its striking similarity with Dalmatian dogs. People speculate Dalmatians might have its origins from the Rajapalayam. This is highly unlikely. Dalmatians dogs originate from Croatia. Also, there is very little evidence to show that the Rajapalayam town had any trade with Croatia.

Temperament

Rajapalayams are courageous dogs. People incorrectly mistake their courage for aggression. A Rajapalayam on guard is an impressive sight ready to take on any intruder without fear. This dog will stand its ground and defend its territory fiercely. These are one of the best guard dogs in the world.

Rajapalayam dogs are extremely territorial and are aggressive towards unfamiliar dogs/pets/humans. Early socialization is, therefore, necessary to prevent aggression. A well trained Rajapalayam is a loyal family pet. It is important to socialize these dogs with friends and family.

Rajapalayams are mouthy dogs, they use their mouths readily than other dog breeds. They are very active dogs that have a stubborn character. Hence, they need to be trained properly.

Care

Front profile picture of Rajapalayam dog

Rajapalayam dog is well suited to hot and humid conditions. Their short coat does not provide them any insulation during winter. Here is an excellent article on protecting your Rajapalayam during cold winters. Excellent breeding practices for generations has ensured good health for the dog. Rajapalayam remains very active throughout its life. Their average lifespan is over 12 years.

The Parvo vaccine and anti-rabies vaccines are a must for puppies. Adult dogs require only periodic deworming and yearly anti-rabies vaccines. However, this does not mean these dogs can be neglected. Like all dogs, for Rajapalayam to be healthy, they require proper nutrition coupled with loads of love.

Grooming

Rajapalayam dogs have a short and dense coat that needs little grooming. Breeders apply virgin coconut oil on their skin once or twice a week to keep their coat in top condition. Shedding is minimal, making this a couch friendly dog. Rajapalayam dog’s shorter coat helps them during the hot summer months, unlike the non-native breeds that typically need special care.

Exercise Requirements

Rajapalayam dog jumping

Rajapalayam dog is a sighthound, requiring regular exercise. Bred for hunting, they have an innate desire to chase fast-moving objects. This includes people on bicycles and cars. Rajapalayam dogs need open spaces to run and play. They become bored and sometimes aggressive if kept confined to a small area. For this reason, they are not apartment-friendly dogs.

Rajapalayam dogs are strong. They can easily pull an average person at will. Hence, early leash training is essential to prevent leash pulling. Breeders recommend long runs for Rajapalayam dogs. Long runs help the dog to spend its energy positively. Rajapalayams, that are on a leash all day, without proper outlets for their energy typically turn to aggression as an outlet for this built up energy.

Recommended reading: Helping hunting dogs enjoy life without hunting.

Trainability

Rajapalayam is intelligent, extremely loyal, strong, and courageous. They are eager to please their master. Rajapalayam dogs also possess a stubborn character. Hence, strong leadership is required for training this dog. Positive reinforcement training works best for these dogs.

Dog handlers train their dogs with tongue clicks and hand gestures. These subtle hints are used to direct and control the dog during hunts.

Rajapalayam dogs learn through observation. Close proximity to the human family helps them learn and adapt quickly. This also helps them find their place in the pack. Rajapalayam that lacks human companionship will assume pack leadership. This can result in aggressive behavior.

The Rajapalayam also has an intense prey drive. We recommend you learn to harness this instinct as a means of positive reinforcement. This is one of the quickest ways to train this breed of dog. Every time the dog obeys a command, they are allowed to chase a ball. This method of training reinforces human-desirable traits like obedience and gentleness in these dogs. This also increases the bond between the dog and its master.

Recommended reading: Leash training dogsDog body language

Nutritional needs of Rajapalayam

Rajapalayams require food that matches their activity level. Overfed dogs run the risk of becoming obese. Food must have high protein content. Rajapalayam Breeders feed their dogs’ homemade dog food. Rajapalayams are well accustomed to homemade food. They are fed two meals per day.

Breeders recommend a diet of chicken and rice/ragi or eggs and rice with milk/yogurt. As long as their nutritional requirements are met through healthy homemade food, they don’t require any commercial dog food for them to be healthy.

Recommended Reading: Which human foods are good and which ones to avoid

Adaptability of Rajapalayam

Rajapalayam is a sighthound and is very active. They require space to run and play around. Hence they are not dogs that can live in an apartment or leashed most of their day. People typically make the mistake of keeping these dogs on the leash most of the time.

Rajapalayams do well in hot and humid weather. They thrive in temperatures between 25 C to 45 C. Their short coats do not provide insulation from cold temperatures and require additional protection when the temperatures drop.

Top known ailments (health issues)

Rajapalayam dog with one sliver eye and one golden eye

As a result of sound breeding practice, the Rajapalayam dog is a very healthy dog with very few ailments.

  • Deafness: Rajapalayam is sometimes born deaf. Studies have shown a close correlation between eye color and deafness. Puppies born with sliver eyes are deaf. 
  • Parvo viral diarrhea: A deadly disease affecting dogs younger than one year, often resulting in death.
  • Dermatitis: Dermatitis causes the dog to lose its hair. As a result, it causes skin irritation and itching.

Recommended reading: Helping deaf dogs.

Are Rajapalayam dogs Albinos?

Albinism in dogs is a genetic condition where the dog lacks any pigmentation. Albinos dogs are white, their skin is pink, and with pink noses. Rajapalayam dogs have the same characteristics, they are milky white with pink skin. Old pictures and photographs of Rajapalayam show dogs with dark noses. However, the lack of clarity in old images makes it impossible to determine the true nature of these dogs.
Some breeders in the Rajapalayam’s native breeding tract also believe that the Rajapalayam dogs once had darker skin tones. We conclude that modern Rajapalayam may be an albino. This could be a result of the selective breeding of Rajapalayam’s with pink skin.

Natural remedies for Rajapalayam

The Rajapalayam dog breeders rely only on natural medication when treating their dogs. The following are widely used.

  • Skin allergies: Aloe Vera mixed with coconut oil is applied over the dog’s body. Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties that help fight allergies.
  • Injuries: Organic turmeric is powdered and mixed with virgin coconut oil to form a paste which is applied to the wound.
  • Deworming: Young Neem leaves are crushed and then ground into a paste. This paste is rolled into pill-sized balls and dried in the sun. One pill for 5 kg of dog’s weight is fed to the dogs. 

How much does Rajapalayam dog cost?

Rajapalayam puppies for sale

 

Puppy cost Avg. Food cost /month Avg. Vet cost/year The total cost/year
₹6,000 to ₹18,000 ₹1,000 to ₹3,000 ₹1,000 to ₹1,500 ₹5,000 to ₹12,000

 

The price of Rajapalayam dogs varies significantly depending on where you buy the pup. Breeders in Rajapalayam town sell Rajapalayam pups for less than ₹10,000. Rajapalayam pups will cost more than ₹15,000 if you buy it outside of its breeding tract.

We recommend that you choose a pup from breeders in Rajapalayam town. This will not only ensure that you get a true Rajapalayam but also will encourage the breeders.

The Rajapalayam dog has lost its place to non-native dog breeds. A few decades ago, these dogs were highly-priced since the demand was high. Today, for the breeders, these dogs no longer fetch the same price as they did once.

This reduction in price has also contributed to the Rajapalayam’s decline. The number of breeders who maintain and breed these dogs has significantly reduced. This has resulted in shrinking the gene pool. Now, this magnificent dog faces extinction.

When to choose a Rajapalayam dog?

People choose Rajapalayam as a guard dog. They are a one-man dog and require early socialization to avoid aggression against other pets and humans.

  1. You have extensive knowledge about handling a large breed
  2. You have time to spend with the dog and can provide an ample amount of exercise
  3. The dog has a place to play and run around
  4. When you can provide for the dog, they are a large breed of dog
  5. Adult supervision is necessary when they are with kids or smaller pets

Rajapalayam Dogs around the world

We spent a considerable amount of time in research to find Rajapalayam dogs across the globe. One of the biggest challenges that this dog faces is a lack of international recognition. At this point in time, there are no international Kennel Clubs that recognize or register this dog.

Rajapalayam Dogs in the USA

The American Kennel Club does not recognize or register the Rajapalayam dog in the US. The American influence in India dates back many centuries. American College was established in Madurai by Rev George Washburn along with a team of American missionaries. Old newspaper article points out how these folks were fascinated by these dogs. It is highly likely some Rajapalayam dogs were imported into the US. However, we don’t believe any Rajapalayam dog lineage exists in the US today.

Rajapalayam Dogs in the UK

The Kennel Club of the UK does not recognize or register the Rajapalayam dog. British ruled India for almost a century. It is a well-known fact that Indian dogs were imported into the UK. However, no lines were established in the UK.

Rajapalayam Dogs in Australia and rest of the world

There is no known lineage of Rajapalayam dogs outside of India. Some Rajapalayam dogs may be found in countries like Sri Lanka. Today only the Kennel Club of India recognizes Rajapalayam dogs.

Interesting Facts

  1. Rajapalayam dog is named after the town Rajapalayam
  2. Courageous enough to defend its master from a tiger attack
  3. In 2005, the Government of India released a postal stamp commemorating Rajapalayam dog
  4. Puppies born with silver eyes are usually born deaf
  5. Introduction non-native breeds of dogs, improper management are pushing Rajapalayams towards extinction

Frequently asked questions

How to identify an original Rajapalayam dog?

Rajapalayam dogs are medium-sized sighthounds with a milky-white coat. White is the only recognized color. The most notable feature is their pink nose, Rajapalayam dogs have pink skin. They have golden eyes, studies have shown dogs with silver eyes to be deaf. Rajapalayam dogs have a broad neck and chest with a tucked abdomen.

Where to buy a Rajapalayam dog?

If you live in India, we recommend you get in touch with breeders directly. DogsIndia.com has a list of Rajapalayam breeders and their contact information. Genetically pure Rajapalayams are only available with breeders from Rajapalayam and the surrounding districts. We recommend you to visit the breeder at their home and meet the dog in its environment. Don’t choose a shy/nervous dog. Most nervous dogs tend to be aggressive when they become older.

How can I help save the Rajapalayam dog?

We are glad that you asked! Rajapalayam dogs are not well known despite being a very ancient breed. The knowledge about this breed is slowly eroding with time. Once a prized and proud possession, now a sad picture of neglect.

  1. You can help by increasing awareness of this dog by sharing this article with your friends on social media.
  2. If you are an expert and have first-hand information about these dogs, we encourage you to contact us. You can use this as a forum to share your knowledge with the rest of the world.
  3. If you are looking to buy a guard dog, choose Rajapalayams over other non-native breeds.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Rajapalayam is facing extinction due to neglect in its homeland. The Kennel Club of India is leading the effort in promoting indigenous dog breeds. We urge our readers to choose native dogs, they are healthy, easy to maintain, and thrive in hot and humid conditions. Rajapalayam is one of the top dogs in the world. 

Disclaimer

The reader should note, there is very little information available about these dogs online. We have compiled this information by speaking with breeders, reading research papers, and original research. However, feel free to contact us if you have more/better information.

The issue that the native breeds face today is a lack of accurate information. Also, there are no published breed standards in existence. The villagers who breed these dogs don’t speak English. They do not use the internet. The only way to get facts is to interview them. The need of the hour is to document these dogs before they become extinct. 

We encourage our readers to join us to preserve and document this magnificent dog. Please let us know if you are an authority on these dogs. We aim to promote these dogs and equip our readers with correct information. Please use the contact us page to reach us.

References