The Kanni of India is a stunning sighthound, but the object of debate.
Local dog experts insist that the breed is a variation of the Chippiparai, or even an extension of the Caravan Hound, and the Kennel Club of India registers the breed with two names: Black and tan colored dogs are known as Kanni, and the rest as Chippiparai.
Others argue that this rare indigenous breed found in the state of Tamil Nadui has subtle differences that set it apart from the Chippipari. The Kanni is typically taller and heavier, and its tail is longer, descends downwards, and is semi curved (unlike the tail of a Chippipari which points upwards). It’s possible that both dogs descended from a common ancestor.
Breeders have many different names for the Kanni dog based on its color (the cream colored dog seen at the top is known as Paalakanni), but there are at least twelve more color names including Paal Kanni, black with fawn colored dots on eyebrows, face and legs, and a light red colored Kanni called Sevalai. As an aside, the two distinct brown spots above the eyebrows in some dogs is referred to as pottu kanni, meaning “the one with a tilak.” Dogs without them are known as karun kannni, meaning “the black kanni.”
The breed is colloquially known as the “Maiden’s Beastmaster” for its voracity with which it defends its territory, and as such, a dog is often gifted to a newlywed bride as her guardian, but a dog could also be part of a bride’s dowry. Only black and tan Kanni were given as marriage gifts. Certainly, the dogs were never bought or sold, and given only as gifts. The tradition continues to this day.
Sadly, the breed is so rare that it’s on the verge of extinction, and at one time, attempts to resurrect the the Kanni seem to be non-existent. In 2018, however, news came that the Dog Breeding Unit (DBU) of the Animal Husbandry department in Saidapet was set to breed Kanni (the DBU is the nation’s sole state-run facility to breed native dog breeds). That, however, also became debated when PETA India made claims of neglect while the DBU counter-claimed that it was in compliance with India’s animal-welfare laws. When we learn of the outcome, we’ll update this post.
Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt