Business is brisk for breeders after a long lull

: The Rajapalayam dog is back in business. The native breed whose fame spreads far and wide is in demand as a guard dog for homes, at a time when theft and robbery are on the rise in the suburbs dotted with large independent houses.

The dwindling numbers of this hound was a matter of concern till about a year ago. “The trend has changed now as the demand is again picking up,” says Dr. K. Vairavasamy, Veterinary Assistant Surgeon, Department of Animal Husbandry, Madurai.

Increased power cuts, sterilisation of stray dogs and the police advice to keep pet dogs at home for general safety are seen as the major reasons behind the newfound love of the Rajapalayam breed.

There is a long waiting list to get pups from the Dog Breeding Centre at Saidapet in Chennai. Says R.Thangathurai, Assistant Professor and Head of Veterinary University Training and Research Centre at Rajapalayam, “Earlier, the awareness of this breed was low. It is among the best hunting dogs. Only now people have started liking this native dog. It is obedient to the owner and ferocious with strangers.”

He says dog breeders are coming forward to promote this indigenous variety as the Rajapalayam breed has gained a new acceptability. “In and around Rajapalayam town, there are more than 50 breeders who enjoy brisk sales. This also happens to be the right breeding season,” adds Dr.Thangathurai.

P. Pothi, retired Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry, points out that the Rajapalayam breed is disease-resistant and adaptable.

“With cross-breeding, the purity of this breed comes under doubt. But if you get a pure one, you get the best watch and guard dog at a cost of Rs.6,000,” he says.

But R. Uma Rani, Assistant Professor in Veterinary Research Centre at Thirupparankundram, says in-breeding is the major cause of falling numbers of the Rajapalayam variety over the years. “In our families, we say that marriage among close relatives causes congenital problems for children. The same thing applies to dogs. In-breeding should be avoided to prevent birth defects,” she points out.

The Rajapalayam breed is considered to be most suitable for domestic security. S.Vinayagamurthy, dog breeder from Pankajam Colony with 36 years of experience, says they make the best guard dogs.

But, the Rajapalayam needs adequate open space. They are best suited to farmhouses, palatial bungalows with ample garden space or the open spaces of the villages.

The Rajapalayam is a low-maintenance breed. The only constraint is space. “If you want your dog to be happy, give him space,” he advises.

Vinayagamurthy warns against being duped by breeders.

“If you want to buy a pure breed, check out the dog’s eyes, height and tail. Or go through a person who knows about the breed,” he advises.

Dr.S.S.Senthilkumar, Assistant Veterinary Surgeon at Government Veterinary Poly Clinic in Tallakulam, says that the Dog Breeding Centre in Chennai is a blessing for the Rajapalayam as the department is keen to give this breed its due recognition.

“I know many people in Madurai who keep this dog confined to their homes. As it is essentially a hunting dog, it does not like cramped spaces and starts howling. That annoys neighbours. But the truth is the Rajapalayam is loyal to the owner, and can be trained,” he says.

According to Dr. Senthilkumar, cross-breeding with stray dogs has affected the physical stature of the native breeds.

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