Pariah dog

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An Indian Pariah Dog

In ecology, the term pariah dog may refer to a dog with a pariah lifestyle: a free-ranging dog that occupies the "pariah niche", which is the ecological niche based on waste from human settlements. Ecologists also have spoken of pariah birds and pariah cats. When used in this way, the term would describe a very large percentage of dogs worldwide, especially in developing countries and large parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Among dog experts, the term refers to a specific, ancient, and numerous landrace of dog native to south Asia, including Indian Pariah Dog, which has evolved features specialized to the pariah niche. When used in this way, the term applies to such dogs regardless of the lifestyle of any individual.

At other times, dog experts use the term "pariah dog" for ancient or primitive dog, regardless of lineage or lifestyle.

In addition, the term is used for any dog which exhibits the "long-term pariah morph" (LTPM), the set of characteristics typical of the Indian Pariah dog, regardless of lifestyle or ancestry.

Feral dogs of India[edit]

Indian pariah dogs are typically medium-sized and have yellow to rust-colored coats. Indian feral dogs are thought to be the ancestral stock of Australian Dingo. Although a 2004 Swedish study of mitochondrial DNA found that dingoes originated from southern China, not from India,[1] more recent genetic research (2013) on aboriginal DNA seems to support the conclusion that sea-farers from India brought their dogs to Australia 4000 years ago and these constituted the ancestral population of the dingo.[2][3][4]

Sighthound and pariah group[edit]

The United Kennel Club (United States) recognizes purebred dogs bred for chasing large game in the Sighthound & Pariah Group. Included in this group are breeds that are either of early origin or modern reconstructions of early breeds or types. The group includes the Afghan Hound, Azawakh, Basenji, Borzoi, Canaan Dog, Carolina Dog, Chart Polski (Polish Greyhound), Cirneco dell'Etna, Greyhound, Hungarian Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, New Guinea Singing Dog, Pharaoh Hound, Portuguese Podengo, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, Sinhala Hound, Silken Windhound, Sloughi, Spanish Greyhound, Thai Ridgeback, Whippet, and Xoloitzcuintli.[5]

In place of "pariah" (pariah is derived from the Tamil word paraiyar), first used in English in 1613 to refer to the lowest level of the traditional Indian caste system; in English, it is used to mean "social outcast"[6]), most registries, other than United Kennel Club, use the term "primitive" (primitive in the sense of "relating to an earliest or original stage or state" or "being little evolved from an early ancestral type"[7]) to refer to pariah-type dogs. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale, for example, places its Pariah-type dogs within a breed group designated "Spitz and Primitive."[8]


The Carolina Dog found in the southeastern United States of America is one example of a pariah-type feral dog. The Carolina Dog closely resembles feral dogs found in deserts of middle eastern countries. Both the desert dog (known as the Canaan Dog) and Carolina Dog are recognized as purebred by major registries.[9]

All strains of pariah dogs are at risk of losing their genetic uniqueness by interbreeding with purebred and mixed-breed strays. To prevent this, some strains of pariah dogs are becoming formally recognized, registered, and pedigreed breeds as their fanciers attempt to preserve the pure type.

All pariah dogs are feral,[citation needed] but not all feral dogs are pariah dogs in the genetic sense. Though they are outcasts in the social sense, and thus may still be called pariahs by observers who are not dog fanciers, feral dogs may be of any breed or mix of breeds. The individuals may be stray pets, or descended from strays, or from litters dumped in wild or rural areas by irresponsible owners. They may form packs with other strays or attempt to join existing canid packs (such as a wolf pack). While pariah dogs are by definition feral, pariah-type dogs are not necessarily feral (wild dog populations which have not been re-domesticated), as well as recognized dog breeds with pariah dog heritage.

"Pariah Morph"[edit]

Mongrels the world over are said to exhibit the "pariah morph" to the extent that they resemble the Indian pariah dog.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stephan Reebs (November 2004). "Whence the dingo". Natural History Magazine, Inc. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  2. ^ McRae, Alice. (17 April 2013) Aboriginal genetic study suggests Indian migration. Australian Geographic. Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  3. ^ DNA study sheds light on aboriginal Australians' heritage – Los Angeles Times. (30 September 2000). Retrieved on 31 May 2013.
  4. ^ Choi, Charles (14 January 2013). "Secret of dingo's Down Under origin revealed". NBC News. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  5. ^ United Kennel Club. "United Kennel Club: Breed information". Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  6. ^ "pariah - definition of pariah". TheFreeDictionary. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  7. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition. "primitive: Definition, Synonyms, More". Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. Retrieved 2008-04-26. adj. Not derived from something else; primary or basic. Of or relating to an earliest or original stage or state; primeval. Being little evolved from an early ancestral type. 
  8. ^ "Breeds nomenclature" (in English, French, and German). Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "Dog owner's guide profile". Retrieved 2008-04-22. 

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