If you ever had a dog at home, you will of course know that a dog is truly man’s best friend.
This time around on my trip to Chamba, I discovered an inspiring friendship between the local shepherds and their huge, almost wolf like dogs. Trust me these dogs are huge and fiery, but very faithful, and highly intelligent. They are muscular and can scare the life from any regular being even when it means affection. Yes, we’re talking about the ‘Gaddi Kutta,’ the favourite of the shepherds.
From what I gathered from my talks with the shepherds, these dogs have been accompanying the Gaddi tribes for as long as one can remember, and herd their livestock real well. Other amazing facts about the dogs are listed below:
Generally found in the Himalayan ranges, gaddi kutta (dog) can be easily spotted herding flocks of sheep with shepherds who are commonly called ‘Gaddis.’ The English name for these dogs is ‘Indian Panther Hound’ or ‘Mahidant Mastiff.’ The dogs are so reliable with defence that a Gaddi (Himalayan Shepherd) has to barely worry about managing and protecting a large flock of sheep. Three – fours gaddi dogs are as much as necessary to protect a flock of nearly two thousand sheep. They keep the sheep safe from attacks by dangerous animals like the snow leopards or bears.
Although, the gaddi dog has always been an important component of the Himalayan life, sources about its origin are still ambiguous. Himalayan shepherds justify the origin of the gaddi dog as a cross breed between a tiger and a dog. But that’s probably because the breed is as ferocious as a tiger and as loyal as a dog. Another legend says that the dogs are a cross between the wild dingo-like hounds from Himalayas and fighting line of Tibetan Mastiffs. Besides the two countering statements, there’s a judicious answer to origin. Gaddi dogs are basically sub-breed to Tibetan Mastiff and have naturally adapted themselves to survive in rough outdoors.
Known for its courageous temperament, a gaddi kutta (dog) has unmatched protective instincts. The breed has a heavily arched and massive neck acting as natural shield from attacks by not allowing predators to sink their teeth deep into flesh. Also, the dog has a massive skull, and his overall sharpness gets balanced with his sturdy built. The figure is perfectly matched with a prominent occipital, straight back, deep low brisket and high hocks.
Rocky steep terrains and rapidly changing weather makes the Himalayan region a survival conflict. Moreover, things can get worse when protecting sheep from the predators of the night during the freezing winters. However, for a gaddi dog all such challenges are a child’s play. With a thick, heavily-feathered tail and distinctive double coat around the neck & shoulders, the dog can easily stand a snow storm, and still not wither.
Unlike Tibetan mastiff, the Himalayan gaddi has a sturdy square build with strong muzzle and a thick mane above a dense woolly undercoat. The dog has long legs that are heavy boned and perfectly matched with large feathered feet. Moreover, he’s not as bulky as the Tibetan mastiff, and yet more agile and vigorous. With its strong low set hocks and a powerful, muscular build-up, the gaddi dog is endowed with iconic endurance, speed and grace that outshines the Tibetan mastiff by a significant margin.