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