Commemorative postage stamps showing indigenous breeds of Indian dogs

Hindi / Urdu कुत्ता kuttā (dog)  is related to Prakrit kutta कुत्त  (= dog) which in turn is related to Sanskrit कुर्कुर Kurkura[1]. Though the only word for dog in Rigveda is śván श्वन् >> Pali sā & in Prakrit by sāṇa. Research suggests that  kurkura is perhaps a non-Indo Aryan word.

In a 12th century Sanskrit text named Mānasollāsa मानसोल्लास, there is an interesting description of types of dogs prevalent in India. The important ones were – 

🐕 ābhīra आभीर – North west India, thin coat

🐕 traigarta त्रैगर्त – From Trigarta kingdom near Jalandhar (modern Punjab), huge

🐕 sevuna सेवुन – Western India (Maharashtra), thin skinned

🐕 kalahera कलहेर – bright coat

🐕 paryanta पर्यन्त – coastal areas, short tailed

🐕 dugdhavaṭa दुग्धवट, Kashmir , Slim physique

🐕 karṇāṭa कर्णाट – northern Karnataka

🐕 āndhra आन्ध्र – Andhra Pradesh, strong, short bodied

🐕 vidarbha विदर्भ- Central India

🐕 tāptī ताप्ती – Near Tapti River central India., delicate physique

🐕 talanīra तलनीर

The oldest known reference to a female dog is found in Rigveda. Sages belonging to Indra and Angira clans sent a female dog named saramā सरमा to successfully find the cows that were stolen & hidden by Panis. She is also known as देव-शुनी, devaśunī.

The name sārameya सारमेय became synonymous with dogs, possibly the good breeds. Sanskrit Thesaurus अमरकोशः  Amarakośa mentions sārameya when it lists the 7 names of dog of India. The seven names are –

🐕  kauleyaka कौलेयक

 🐕  sārameya  सारमेय

 🐕 kukkura कुक्कुर

 🐕 mṛgadaṃśaka मृगदंशक

 🐕 śunaka  शुनक

 🐕 bhaṣaka भषक

 🐕 śvāna श्वान  

Interestingly the 1st European dogs were brought to India by the Portuguese traders.  Later English diplomat Thomas Roe brought Mughal emperor Jahangir 2 mastiffs, after his liberal predecessor Akbar had imported dogs from Afghanistan & made the earlier Islamic prejudice against dogs disappear. Jahangir was so much pleased with the dogs that he fed them with his own hands, & gave them four attendants each to fan them during the hot season, & had them carried about in palanquins.

On 9 January 2005, four commemorative postage stamps were issued by India Post (Government of India) for four indigenous breeds of Indian dogs i.e. Himalayan Sheepdog, Rampur Hound, Mudhol Hound  and Rajapalayam.


[1] Monier-Williams (1899) कुर्कुर [ kurkura ] [ kurkurá ] m. (= [ kukk ] ) a dog Lit. AV. Lit. VarBṛS. Lit. Pañcat.

कुक्कुर [ kukkura] is derived from kurkurá  कुर्कुर (mentioned in Atharva Veda)