Tuesday, April 10, 2012
History of the Breed:
The Caravan hound is a breed of dog from India, mostly found in the Deccan Plateaus of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The Caravan hound is first and fundamentally a working dog, capable of withstanding the rigors of an Indian winter, the heat of summer, and the difficult terrain over which he is called upon to work. His primary function is that of a swift and agile hunter, in second line he is to serve as a reliable and efficient guardian of his master’s person, property and livestock. Judges are asked to place great emphasis upon these facts when evaluating the merits of the dog.
It is imperative to remember that one cannot really decide what is a valuable specimen of this breed in the show ring, and one can only guess which ones might be promising candidates. The truth emerges only when the dog is taken out in the field to hunt game. Most of the things that really matter cannot be seen by looking at the animal in a show ring, but only by watching him work.
The villagers own these dogs more as a necessity than love for dogs. The worthiness of these dogs has created respect and admiration amongst the village folk, who are unaware about this breed’s anatomy nor do they follow any specific breeding program. Mother Nature sorts out the good hunters from the rest and the villagers use these successful dogs for further breeding. The Caravan hound is a true hunter, both physically and mentally, moulded for speed and the chase. These are normally used to hunt hares, jackals, blackbucks and chinkaras.
A Caravan Hound looks elegant even in repose, and is supremely beautiful in motion.
The Caravan hound should convey an impression of a beautifully balanced conformation of muscular power, grace and symmetry. It should be capable of great speed and endurance, coupled with strength and activity to enable it to kill quarry, over deep sand or rocky mountain.
An ideal companion, great variation in size and colour, highly adaptable in domestic and sporting surroundings.
To understand the inherent temperament of a Caravan hound one must necessarily understand the evolution and history of the breed. This breed is aloof with strangers, yet gentle and affectionate, dignified, intelligent and independent. It is neither nervous nor aggressive. Bred to hunt and kill, the Caravan hound is able to survive a rigorous life. They do not take readily to strangers, preferring not to be patted by people they do not know. But if they do know you well, it’s a different story; you will be greeted with much jumping, pawing and licking. They are very loyal to their owner.
The typical Caravan hound temperament is that of an elegant, aloof and highly sensitive intelligent creature, due to which some may appear a little reluctant to be handled by a stranger, while a young one, in particular, should be approached with sensitivity.
Head and Skull:
The skull is moderately wide between the ears ranging to one that is long and narrow i.e. a long triangle or a shorter triangle. Viewed from above, the head should always be wedge shaped, not domed, the stop not pronounced. The skull is rather flat and the muzzle tapering. The muzzle is well filled-in under the eyes. Jaws are long deep and powerful. The length of the foreface from the inner corner of the eye to the tip of the nose should be long, or slightly longer in length than the skull.
Eyes and Nose:
The eyes should be oval shape, not round, set obliquely, giving an oriental expression. The eye colour ranges from black to hazel, but should be in the harmony with the coat colour. Eye rim and nose pigmentation must be dark and solid, ranging from black to liver, to shield from the adverse effects of long exposure to sun. The liver pigmentation may sometimes be seen in light coloured dogs.
Pendulant, set quite high, they are fine, hanging close to the skull and mobile. Their shape is that of a triangle with a slightly rounded tip, the base raises when the hound is attentive. May be folded back when the dog is in action, but never rose-eared.
The jaws should be strong with perfect regular and complete scissor bite. Full dentition is extremely important.
The neck is strong but streamlined. It should be long, supple and well muscled, elegantly arched, well let into the shoulders. Any suggestion of a weak ewe-like neck is undesirable. Too long a neck is not desirable either, because great strength is required to hold a 5 kg hare while tumbling at nearly 40 mph, or to pull down a blackbuck at that same speed.
The back is fairly broad. There is slightly arch to the loin due to strong muscling which allows for flexibility at the gallop. The loin is wide, deep and strong, not too short and not too long. The body is narrow, flat sided and deep in the chest, which should not be below the elbows, with no indications of herring-gut, providing adequate heart room and lung play. Ribs well sprung out from the spinal column, flat along the sides, long in their bony section, good in size and angled backwards at approximately 45 degrees.
There should be a good flow of top line where the hip bones are pronouncedly seen. In a correctly angulated hound, the length of the Caravan hound should be slightly longer than its height to prevent interference between fore and hindquarters when galloping.
The muscles holding the abdomen should be tight and firm.
Shoulders are laid well back, well muscled but without being loaded. The chest is moderately narrow and deep but not below the elbows. The forelegs are straight and long from the elbow to the pastern. The shoulder is clearly defined at the top at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. The upper arm should be equally as long and set at a wider angle to the shoulder blades. It follows that the elbow is carried well forward and below the brisket line giving great freedom of movement and with the dog well up on the feet. The ribs should be moderately sprung, never barrel ribbed or slab sided. Caravan hounds are slow matures, hence the maximum depth of chest may be attained until the age of 3 to 5 years. The rib cage should be of good length, and in optimum conditions the last three ribs should be slightly visible. The scapula should be set on the rib cage close to the ribs and with ample layback.
The legs must be straight with fine, dense, never round bone. The pasterns must slope slightly as they are the shock absorbers of the sprinting hunter. Straight pasterns as well as any indication of knuckling-over are extremely undesirable. Elbows, pasterns and toes should incline neither outwards nor inwards.
Hindquarters are strong with hip bones set wide apart and the stifle moderately bent. The hindquarters should appear wide and muscled across the hips.
The hocks should not stand far behind a line dropped down from the tail bone, if they are behind such a line, the dog is probably over-angulated or even sickle-hocked. The hock joint broad with a long ‘os calsis’, well let down for endurance, set high for initial speed. Stifles, hocks and toes should incline neither outwards nor inwards. The croup should have a moderate slope of 30 to 35 degrees indicating a powerful running and jumping ability.
The feet are of the long, hare-foot type, with elongated centre two digits. They should be well knuckled, up never flat, but also not cat-footed, and should have thick pads, the whole being strong and supple. The front feet can point straight ahead or may turn out at a small angle for added manoeuvrability.
The base is strong, low set, and used as a rudder for quick manoeuvring while running. The tail is not too long and carried naturally in a graceful semi curve not over the back. When the dog is excited the tail may be carried above the horizontal, the so called ‘gay tail’.
Gait / Movement:
The Caravan hound’s gait must reflect that it is an efficient speedy galloper and not a trotter. The gait is very light, effortlessly easy, should move ‘high footed’ without being hackney, showing ability to flex all four legs, covering plenty of ground with each stride but without any exaggerated reach.
A galloping dog’s pasterns bend, at the trot, should be approximately 45 degrees from the horizontal, indicating adequate extensor tendon strength and elasticity to absorb the shock of sustained running. A pastern bend above horizontal is extremely undesirable because it indicates week extensor tends.
A Caravan hound’s trot can be best evaluated at a moderate pace. The head is carried elegantly, forward from the vertical creating a graceful flowing line from nose to tail. Caravan hounds have a floating movement.
The skin is fine and tight, skin tone denoting muscle tone.
There are two varieties of this breed: (1) the smooth variety, which has a fine, close coat without feathering and (2) the feathered variety, also known as the Pashmi, which has a coat of silky texture featuring feathering on the ears, legs, backs of thighs, between hock and heel and on the underside of the tail.
All colours and combinations of colours are acceptable. Those that lend to camouflage by blending in with the type of country over which these dogs work tend to be most common: fawn, fallow, red, cream or any of these colours broken with white.
On average, dogs 24 to 30 inches at the withers, bitches proportionately smaller, 22 to 28 inches. The variation in the height stems from the variety of game the hound is expected to chase in different terrains, with smaller dogs being more suitable for catching hares while larger ones are more capable of bringing down Blackbuck. Therefore small or large Caravan hounds falling within the allowed height range must be neither penalized nor shown any preference.
In any case, the Caravan hound should be well balanced and in proportion, neither coarse nor weedy, in trim hunting condition, and should be trim and well muscled.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be in exact proportion to the degree.
Males should have two apparently normal testicles, fully descended into the scrotum.
Compilation: Shailesh Gajanan Nabar
Credits: PRASAD RAGHUNATH MAYEKAR
Image : Late Parsha (Debashish Das)