The Vegetarian Breed On the Verge of Extinction

We delight in bringing “new” breeds to you, but the Bakharwal Dog, one of the oldest breeds of herding dogs, is hardly “new” to Central Asia where it’s been considered among the most resilient species of herding dog in India’s Himalayas. These dogs – described as having the strength, courage and ferocity of a Jaguar –  were most commonly seen herding large flocks of sheep and goats in remote areas of the higher altitudes of the Jammu and Kashmir state of India. Fascinating to us is that these dogs are vegetarians that avoid eating flesh. Raised in a nomadic community, the dogs lived on milk, milk products, and bread made of maize in the belief that it helps keep the dogs from attacking the flock. It’s said that Bakharwals prefer hunger over showing any predatory instinct or aggression toward the animals in their care.

Sadly, in what is becoming an all too common comment on these pages, this is another breed on the brink of extinction. This loss would chip away at the legacy of the Muslim nomadic Gujjar tribes because when we lose a dog breed, we lose the legacy of a culture that developed or worked with the breed for generations.

Sarah’s Dogs reports that an Indian Tribal Research and Cultural foundation survey on this indigenous dog of Kashmir and Jammu found that only a few hundreds of the dogs are in existence. Uprisings in higher regions of India have caused hundreds of these dogs to be killed, and remaining dogs live in extreme conditions. Most certainly, this breed will be lost forever if nothing is done to preserve it. Please understand: Preserving purebred dog breeds is no different than preserving other at-risk animals such as the Panda Bear or rhinoceros. Because the animal we want to protect is “just a dog,” little attention is given it until it’s too late. Please be an advocate for all our breeds.

Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt on information


7 thoughts on “The Vegetarian Breed On the Verge of Extinction”

  1. you have got to be kidding me. This breed of dog is not and never was a vegetarian. This breed is a Livestock guardian dog breed. LGDs guard livestock and do not kill their livestock, but that does not mean they will not eat them if the livestock happens to die….or if someone offers them meat. They were traditionally fed a poor diet (by today’s standards) but that’s because the herdsman didn’t want to butcher livestock to feed them. It was NOT the dog’s choice. Please do a lot more research before publishing such ridiculous information.

    • Don’t hold back, Cindy, how do you really feel? We glean our information from a variety of sources, and while you make a valid point as to the reasoning for such a diet (we’ve noted that some sighthounds are also on a similar diet in their countries of origin), neither do we fabricate the information.

  2. Vegetarian breed? That implies that the dog instinctively only eats fruits/vegetables/grasses/grains.

    First of all, this dog isn’t choosing its diet. Second, milk and milk products aren’t vegetarian. Third, IF the dog is actually refusing to eat meat it’s through training, not instinct. For example, when dogs are raised on a kibble diet they might not eat raw meat when first exposed to it. However, once they’re used to it they prefer it to kibble or other things.

    A simple look at the dogs’ teeth, jaws, and intestinal tract will show that they’re carnivores. The title of this article is misleading.

    • Perhaps, Lynn, but if it gets people to read about a breed they might not otherwise have known about?

    • Teeth shape designation are an arbitrary HUMAN made-up invention, just because teeth are shaped a certain way doesn’t mean a whole lot.

      • We can’t agree. As carnivores, dogs have teeth that reflect a meat-eating animal. Each canine tooth has a function, and that function is aided by the shape of the tooth. The canines are shaped like points and tear and grasp food, one reason their roots sink so deeply into the bone. Incisors are used to “cut,”scoop, and picking up food and objects, and while premolars break food into small pieces, molars grind the food into small pieces. Form follows function.

  3. Actually the region is also known for it’s people being vegetarian as well so it is no surprise. As the dog also eats milk, cheese, eggs and milk products it still gets its protein requirements. Wondering what their temperament is towards their people.

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