Names

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

Physical Traits

Type: Utility, Sighthound

  • 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

Rajapalayam dog at a glance

Rajapalayam breed traits infographics

The Rajapalayam dog. Are they really endangered?

Rajapalayam dog with a kitten

The Rajapalayam dog is a medium to large size sighthound. This dog originated in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Rajapalayam in the Tamil language means king’s fort, the dog derives its name from the Rajapalayam town. The Rajapalayam is one of the oldest native Indian dog breeds. The Kennel Club of India officially recognizes and registers this dog. 

As a sighthound, Rajapalayam’s primary purpose was for hunting wild boarsdeer, and other game. With India’s ban on all forms of hunting, the Rajapalayam of today excels in various roles, such as.

  • As guard dog.
  • As a police dog.
  • As a military dog.

The Rajapalayam is intelligent, courageous, and loyal, making them a versatile and multi-purpose dog.

In the 1980s, the Rajapalayam was the most popular dog in south Indian states. Their exceptional disease resistance, intelligence, and loyalty made them very popular. In the 1990s, with the import of foreign dog breeds, there was a drastic decrease in their popularity. Today, the Rajapalayam is endangered. Due to the decline in demand, the number of people who breed this dog has also decreased.

More recently, thanks to the efforts taken by Rajapalayam enthusiasts, the Government, and the Kennel Club of India, the Rajapalayam is making a come back.

The importance of Rajapalayam dog’s breed description

Rajapalayam happy and smiling

A search on the internet shows how little the world knows about the Rajapalayam. Accurate information about this dog is as rare as this dog. 

We have 30+ years of hands-on experience with this dog. Based on this, we present an accurate description of this dog. In this post, we unveil the real Rajapalayam dog by presenting.

  • The purpose of this dog as preferred by breeders in its homeland.
  • The traits of this dog.
  • The care needed for a healthy dog.
  • The current status of the Rajapalayam.
  • And how can you help this dog today in its fight for survival?

The need of the hour is a precise breed standard for this dog.

A brief history of the Rajapalayam

1940 Sketch of Rajapalayam dog

Rajapalayam dog is from Rajapalayam town in the Tamil Nadu state of south India. This town is nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats.

People from this town were farmers who were living on the edge of the forest. Animals from the forest raided their farms for food. Also, villagers went into the woods to hunt game for food. They needed a dog that can protect their farms from wild animals as well as hunt.

Major Edward N was the first to describe this dog. In his book, the scenes and sports in foreign lands written in 1840, he called this dog as the Poligar Hound.

The word Poligar is a title for a warlord. In the Tamil language, the name Poligar Hound means a war dog.  These dogs were not only hunters but also war dogs.

Old image of a Rajapalayam Poligar hound

This town was ruled by the Nayakars in the 17th century. During their reign, soldiers trained their dogs to fight against the BritishThese dogs were trained to bite the hamstrings of the war horses. These dogs rendered many horses unfit for battle.

These brave dogs fought and gave its life for freedom from the British. In war, they were the ultimate expression of courage.

The true purpose of the Rajapalayam Dog

Rajapalayam on guard

The Rajapalayam dog is a sighthound.

In the olden days, these dogs were used for.

  • Hunting wild boars
  • Guarding the farms and rice fields against wildlife
  • War dogs used in wars against the British

To meet these needs, the Rajapalayam dog had to be brave, trainable, and dependable.

Stories of their courage are well-known. It is said, to save their master, a pack of 11 Rajapalayam dogs fought off a tiger, some laying down their lives in the process.

Rajapalayam Dog hunting boar

These dogs are also capable of taking on wild boars that weigh over 150 kgs. 

Hunts were a grand affair. Dogs like the Kombai dogChippiparai hound, and Kanni hound from the nearby towns also joined in these hunts.

During these hunts, each dog breed had a specific role to play. The hounds were set loose in the woods to chase wildlife from the bushes. While the hunters, along with their Rajapalayam dogs, lay in wait.

Then Rajapalayams were let loose on the fleeing wild boars to stop and to hold them. Hunters then swiftly dealt with the wild boars with spears. Dog owners proudly displayed their dogs and their marks and scars from these hunts.

The plight of Rajapalayam dog today

Rajapalayam dog ignored by people and sleeping

The Rajapalayam dog is on the verge of extinction. 

 The below are the top three reasons.

  1. The decline in the appeal of native dogs: In India, these dogs are no longer appealing. They have lost their place to foreign dogs.
  2. In-breeding: With a reduction in demand for native dogs. Breeders of native dogs are turning to imported dogs. There are only a handful of people who breed this dog. This has resulted in shrinkage of this dog’s gene pool. With a lack of fresh bloodline, this dog is now facing the threat of inbreeding.
  3. Lack of a breed description: Breed standard for this dog does not exist. Also, the internet portrays this dog as a taxing breed of dog. This keeps people away from this dog.

Physical traits of the Rajapalayam

Rajapalayam dog's physical traits

Rajapalayam Breed Standard

The Rajapalayam dog is a medium-sized sighthound. They are similar to the Dalmatian dog in build, muscular, and strong. The males are slightly taller and heavier than the females.

Rajapalayam’s head

Head of the Rajapalayam

The head should be in balance with the rest of the body. The appearance of the head should indicate its stable and loving character. Being a watchdog, they should have an alert expression. 

The eyes are oval and are in two colors, golden and silver. Their ears are triangle-shaped and are hanging, not erect. 

The nose, lips, and tongue should be pink. These dogs also have some loose skin on their heads.

Rajapalayam dog’s body

The neck is long and should blend into the dog’s shoulders. The topline is straight and smooth. They have a deep chest with visible ribs. 

The body should not be barrel-shaped (like a Lab). They should have a tucked abdomen. The bottom of their deep chest should curve smoothly into their tummy.

Similar to their neck, their tail should blend with their topline. It should not be set too high or too low. The tail is bony and tapers into a curve towards the end. The tail should not curve over the body but curve slightly upward.

Rajapalayam’s legs

Legs of the Rajapalayam

The front legs are long with muscular shoulders. Their legs are straight and held close to their body. 

The hind legs should be sturdy with well-defined muscles. The hind legs should be parallel to each other when viewed from the back.

Rajapalayam’s Coat and Gait

Rajapalayam dogs have a short and elegant-coat. The hair is dense. White is the only color.

The gait of the Rajapalayam dog should be majestic like that of a horse. The movement should be steady and effortless while on the trot. Legs should remain in-line with their body while on the run.

Bite force of the Rajapalayam

Bite force of the Rajapalayam

With powerful jaws, these dogs can crush and break bones. Some experts estimate its bite force to ranges between 200 to 220 pounds (90 to 100 kgs). This bite force is one of the highest in the canine world.

Rajapalayam versus Dalmatian, a visual comparison

Picture comparing attributes of Rajapalayam dog with DaDalmatian dog

Both of these dogs are of the same size and build. They are the same height and shape. Except for the black spots on the Dalmatian dog, it is difficult to distinguish these dogs.

Because of this, some claim these dogs to be related. Like most other information on the internet about this breed of dog, this too is falseThere are no records to show this claim as real.

Temperament of the Rajapalayam

Rajapalayam puppy playing with mom

India’s best guard dog

Legend says that these dogs can stand up to a tiger without fear. This dog is not afraid of anything and does not back down from a fight.  They are built like a tank, powerful and bold. They are 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.

Aggression in Rajapalayam

Rajapalayam dog play fighting

This is a friendly and loyal breed of dog. Our dogs have brought us joy and happiness. It pains us to see this dog’s reputation ruined. This dog will lay down its life for you. They are beautiful dogs at heart.

The internet portrays them as a vicious dog. Everything that you read online about this dog is not true. Over the years, our dogs have stood at our side and protected our homes. 

This dog needs to stay close to its family. They are likely to become aggressive when kept on a leash all day long Dogs that lack human contact become a pack leader. Dogs that assume pack leadership turn dominant.

In our view, aggression in this breed of dog is due to poor upkeep. Aggressive behavior is not an inherent trait in these dogsIt is important to socialize these dogs with friends and family. This helps this dog to know friends from foe.

Recommended Read: Another Indian dog that is similar, the Kombai dog.

Care

Rajapalayam dog sleeping

Rajapalayam dog is a low maintenance and care-free dog.

These dogs are healthy with few health issues. The oldest dog on record was 22 years old at the time of its death.

The average life span for this dog is 12 years. They are hardy dogs. These dogs can thrive in a wide range of weather conditions.  Keep this dog indoors during cold winter nights. Hot and humid weather is not an issue for this dog. 

The Parvo vaccine and anti-rabies vaccines are a must for puppiesAdult dogs need only deworming tabs. Shedding is unknown in this dog due to their short coat.

An excellent care-free dog for the home.

Recommended Reading: Cold weather tips for dog

Grooming

Rajapalayam showing its coat

These dogs have a short and dense coat that needs little grooming.

Applying coconut oil on their skin keeps them in top shape. These dogs are couch friendly dogs with no shedding for their hair. 

They are prone to skin issues. Keeping the dog clean helps prevent these issues.

Bathing them once each month should keep their skin clean and fresh. The Rajapalayam is not fond of water and will run from a bath. The easiest way to bathe this dog is to have them on a leash and use a hose.

Recommended Read: The dog from the roof of our planet, the Lhasa Apso

Exercise Requirements

Rajapalayam jumping exercise

The Rajapalayam dog is an active breed of dog. They are alert and have a keen sense of sight and smell.

Being a hunting dog, they have a high prey drive. These dogs like to chase anything that moves. Cars, bikes, and bicycles are fair game.

This dog needs long walks to be happy. Devoid of these, they get bored and become destructive. They can chew on anything that fits into their mouths.

Don’t misjudge these dogs’ need for exercise. They are hounds and need an active life. In their native, breeders, take them on long runs. These dogs are strong and can drag a person at will.

Rajapalayam dogs need open spaces to run and play. They are not apartment-friendly dogs.

Recommended reading: Helping hunting dogs enjoy life without hunting, Leash training for dogs

Trainability

Rajapalayam puppy ready to train

This dog is smart, loyal, and courageous. They are eager to work and please. These traits make them easy to train dogs

Rajapalayam dogs are stubborn by nature.  One needs to show strong leadership when training this dog.

These dogs learn through observation. Proximity to humans helps this breed of dogs to learn fast. It enables them to find their place in the pack. 

Reward-based training works best for dogs with high prey drive. It is one of the quickest ways to train this breed of dog. Every time the dog obeys, they get to chase a ball or get a treat.

This method of training builds human-desirable traits in these dogs. It helps increase the bond between the dog and its master.

In their homeland, people train their dogs with tongue clicks and hand gestures. They then use it to control their dogs during hunts. 

Recommended reading: Leash training dogsDog body language

Nutritional needs of Rajapalayam

Rajapalayam puppies feeding

These dogs need food that suits their lifestyle. Active dogs need more calories than dogs that are not.

A male adult dog needs about 1650 kcal per day. A female dog needs about 1400 kcal per day.

These dogs run the risk of becoming obese. Take into account the dog’s age and weight while feeding these dogs.

Rajapalayam dogs need food that is high in protein. They thrive in homemade food. Breeders feed their dogs two meals per day. Homemade food for these dogs is chicken boiled with rice then mixed with yogurt. 

Recommended Reading: Which human foods are good and which ones to avoid, Dog food allergies

Top known ailments (health issues)

Rajapalayam dog with one sliver eye and one golden eye

This dog is a healthy dog with few ailments.

  • Deafness: Some dogs are deaf by birth. Studies have shown a close link between eye color and deafness. Puppies born with sliver eyes are deaf at birth.
  • Parvo: A deadly disease affecting dogs younger than one year. This disease can result in death when not treated.
  • Mange: This disease causes the dog to lose its hair and results in itchy skin. 

Recommended reading

Are Rajapalayam dogs Albinos?

Rajapalayam black and white photo in 1950

Albinism is a condition which makes the dog to lose its color. Albinos dogs are white; their skin is pink, and with pink noses.

These dogs are milky white, and their skin is pink, with no color. They have all the attributes of an albino.

To understand this, we dived into old pictures of this dog. The old black and white photos show a dog with a dark nose and in white color. 

We spoke to breeders only to get mixed views. Some say dogs of old were in many colors. It was in the 19th century that all-white dogs became popular. Breeders began culling pups that are not white.

We conclude that this breed of dog could likely be an albino. 

Relationship between the Rajapalayam and other South Indian dogs

Kombai dog

We wanted to understand the relationship between all the south Indian dogs. The question that we wanted to answer was?

  • How did distinct dog breeds such as Rajapalayam, KanniKombai, and Chippiparai, originate in a small area?

Out of the four, Rajapalayam, Kanni and Chippiparai are all sighthounds. What was the need for three sighthounds that were very similar to each other?

To find answers, we turned out attention to historical records by the British. Major Bannerman’s documents about the first Poligar war between the British and the Poligars of south India in 1799, he narrates his experiences with south Indian dogs. In particular, the Poligar Hound. Most experts believe that the Poligar Hound is most likely the Rajapalayam dog.

Major Bannerman and other officers in their reports describe several different types of dogs, hounds, and guard dogs. It is clear from early British records that these dogs were around even before the British arrived in India.
Records that predate the British are hard to find. We can conclude that the south Indian hounds are ancient, and it will be impossible to find their precise origins. Each of these dogs served a specific purpose.

Natural remedies for Rajapalayam

Rajapalayam dog lying down

Breeders rely only on natural medicine while treating their dogs. This practice has made these dogs strong. They use the list below.

  • Mange: Aloe Vera has many medicinal uses. Applying it on the dog’s coat helps fight disease. This helps to keep ticks and fleas from the dog.
  • Injuries: Breeders dry the Turmeric in the midday sun. It is then powdered and made into a paste by mixing it with oil. This paste acts as an antiseptic that stops the infection.
  • Deworming: Breeders grind dried Neem leaves into a powder. They mix 5 mg of this in dog food to treat their dogs for worms. 

Recommended Reading: Apple Cider Vinegar for dogs

What is Rajapalayam dog price?

Rajapalayam puppy for sale

 

Puppy costAvg. Food cost /monthThe total cost/year
₹6,000 to ₹20,000₹1,000 to ₹3,000₹5,000 to ₹12,000

 

The 2020 price of these dogs varies depending on where you buy them from. Breeders in Rajapalayam town sell pups for less than ₹10,000. The same dog will cost more than ₹20,000 if you buy it outside of its home.

We recommend that you choose a pup from breeders in the dog’s homeland. This will encourage them and will help this dog to survive. This dog has lost its place to non-native dog breeds. A few decades back, these dogs were highly-priced since the demand was high.

For the breeders, these dogs no longer fetch the same price as they once did. This reduction in price has contributed to this dog’s decline. The number of breeders who breed these dogs has reduced.

When to choose a Rajapalayam dog?

Rajapalayam puppy

People choose this breed as a guard dog. They are a one-person dog. Choose this dog only when.

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

Rajapalayam Dogs in USA and around the world

We wanted to know if these dogs left the subcontinent. The Egyptians were the first to import dogs from this part of the world. They used these dogs in hunts and in war.

It is difficult to know if these dogs were Rajapalayams. British and American hold on India is well-known. Their love for these native dogs saw some of these dogs arrive in their shores. 

There is no evidence to show if these dogs lived to set up any lines.

Interesting Factis about the Rajapalayam dog

Rajapalayam standing
  1. This dog gets its name from the Rajapalayam town in South India.
  2. They are bold and can defend their master from a tiger.
  3. In 2005, India issued a postal stamp with an image of this dog. 
  4. Puppies born with silver eyes are deaf by birth. 
  5. Non-native breeds of dogs are pushing these dogs to extinction.

Is Rajapalayam a descendant of the Indian Pariah dog?

Image of a Indian stray dog (Indian Pariah)

The Indian Pariah dog is one of the oldest breeds of dogs in the world. Rajapalayam could be a descendant of the Indian Pariah dog, interbred with a hound from the Middle East.

How to identify an original Rajapalayam dog?

The Rajapalayam dog is medium in size and with a muscular build. They are sighthounds. They are one of the very few dogs to occur in one color, milky-white. They have pink skin, which is visible through the short-coat. The Rajapalayam dogs have a broad head with a pink nose. Their ears are pendant- shaped and are drooping. With jaws that are strong and sturdy and can break bones.

Where can I buy a Rajapalayam dog?

We recommend you get in touch with breeders. DogsIndia.com has a list of breeders and their contact. You will find pure Rajapalayams only in their home town.
We recommend that you visit the breeder at their home. It is vital to meet the dog in person. Do not choose a shy dog. Most nervous dogs tend to be aggressive when they get older.

How can I help save the Rajapalayam dog?

We are glad that you asked! These dogs are not well known despite being an ancient breed of dogs. The knowledge about this breed is eroding with time. Once a prized dog, now a sad picture of neglect.

  1. You can help by bringing the plight of this dog. Do this by sharing this post with your friends on social media. 
  2. If you are an expert on 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 for a dog, choose this breed over other non-native dogs.

Conclusion

People caring for a Rajapalayam

The Rajapalayam dog is facing extinction. Without your help, this dog will disappear.

We urge you to choose native dogs over other dog breeds. These dogs are healthy, care-free, and are great pets. Please share this with your friends to help these dogs. 

The Kennel Club of India is doing its part to save native dog breeds. They run native breed dog shows to bring to light these dogs. 

In our view, the Rajapalayam dog is one of the top dogs in the world.