Pariah dog

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An Indian pariah dog

In ecology, the term pariah dog refers to free-ranging dogs that occupy an ecological niche based on waste from human settlements. When used in this manner, the term describes a large percentage of dogs worldwide, especially in developing countries, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

While most pariah dogs are free-ranging, not all free-ranging dogs are genetically pariah dogs. Though they are "outcasts" in the social sense, and thus may still be called pariahs by observers who are not cynologists, feral dogs may be of any or mixed breeds. Individual dogs may be stray pets, descended from strays, or from litters abandoned by owners. They may live in packs, pairs, or singly.

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

Breed groups in kennel clubs[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.[1]

In place of "pariah", which is derived from the Tamil word paraiyar and was first used in English in 1613 referring to a lower class within the traditional Indian caste system or "social outcasts",[2] 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"[3] 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."[4]


Carolina Dog[edit]

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 the deserts of the Middle East countries. Both the desert dog (known as the Canaan Dog) and Carolina Dog are recognized as purebred by the American Kennel Club.[5]

Indian pariah dog[edit]

Indian pariah dogs are typically medium-sized, erect-eared and curly-tailed landrace dogs native to India. They are kept as house pets as well as free-roaming pets in cities and villages. They are quite primitive dogs, dating back to the Neolithic age. Paintings in Bhimbetka cave also show such pariah-type dogs. They are genetically distinct from mixed breeds found mostly in cities. Pure Indian pariah dogs or Indogs, not admixtured with other breeds, are found in remote villages among Gond and other tribals, who keep these dogs as herding, hunting and watch dogs. They are also used by police departments around the country, such as Chattishgarh and West Bengal, as sniffer dogs, and have excelled in the field, proving better sense and agility than purebred dogs.

Indogs are naturally selected dogs, extremely alert, territorial, adjustable and social. They have been living alongside humans for several millennia. They were featured in the National Geographic documentary, "Search for the First Dog".

Indogs are recognized by the INDog Club, Mumbai, and the Primitive and Aboriginal Dog Society in the United States. In 2015, the Kennel Club of India has published an article about Indogs in Kennel Gazette, the Indian breeds edition.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ United Kennel Club. "United Kennel Club: Breed information". Archived from the original on 2011-01-03. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
  2. ^ "pariah - definition of pariah". TheFreeDictionary. Retrieved 2008-04-26.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Breeds nomenclature" (in English, French, and German). Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  5. ^ Club, American Kennel. "Carolina Dog". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2017-11-25.

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