In general appearance, the Kanni is similar to a smooth-coated Saluki or a Doberman Pinscher with natural ears and tail. The dog is usually black and tan in colour, perhaps with limited white on the feet and chest. There also exists a cream-coloured variety of the breed, which is known as "Paalakanni". The Kanni is agile, slim, graceful, and moderately built, with a deep chest and slim body. The dog generally stands about 25 inches (64 centimetres) at the withers, the bitch about 22 inches (56 centimetres), though some specimens have been known to reach 32 inches (81 centimetres).
The Kanni is usually shy but will always defend its home or master, if the need arises. They are a silent breed and are not nuisance barkers. The Kanni dogs are extremely faithful and easy to train but they will always think independently when on a hunt. They are also used to hunt deer as they are extremely agile and strong while remaining light on their feet.
The Kanni is found in and around Tirunelveli, Pollachi, Kovilpatti, Kazhugumalai, Kileral, Kodangipatti, Sivakasi, and Madurai. It is said that the name Kanni, which means Virgin Girl, comes from the fact that these dogs were given as gifts to the bridegroom just before marriage; it was in the list of dowry items offered to the groom. The coat is usually of brown, cream, black, tan or brindle. The Kanni is kept by families who do not sell them but may gift them if a promise is made to look after them well. They are not allowed to roam on the streets and are brought up as pet animals. They are given a diet of milk in the morning, corn porridge in the afternoon and a "Ragi" porridge in the evening. Meat is given once a week or once a month only. The breed is now extremely rare, and is on the verge of extinction. Efforts to revive the breed have not been taken up, as specimens are few, and there exists little information about them.