Bhutia The Indian Tibetian Mastiff
Did you know that every country has a special indigenous dog breed associated with it? Germany is known for German Shepherd and Rottweilers, China for Pug, France for French Bulldog and England for English Bulldog? Well, ever wondered which is the breed that India is known for? Well, there is none!
While everyone seems to be obsessing over international dog breeds, we have totally forgotten about the various indigenous breeds that are available and how they’re just as pawsome as any other international breed. The breeding industry takes advantage of these demands and tries to meet demands by breeding more animals, even if it is under bad conditions. Some of these breeds are very prone to illness and have a relatively shorter life span as they do not suit well in the environment. Most of the time, if they’re lucky to survive, they tend up having a very weak immune system. It is common for a pedigree dog to have problems with weak bones, diabetes and several gastronomical or digestive issues.
That is when our indigenous breeds come to rescue! There are several Indian breeds which are best known for its loyalty, sturdiness, guards and are more resistant towards diseases. What more could one ask for? There has even been a paradigm shift wherein people are now more open to adopting Indian breeds than exotic foreign breeds. The best part? Indian breeds are well acquainted with the climate and that wouldn’t cause any health issue.
Introducing- The Bhutia Breed
Hailing from India and Nepal, the Bhutia dog breed is also known as the Himalayan Sheepdog. They are most famous for their courage, aggression and determination to protect the herd. Not only that but they also match the ferociousness of a leopard and can even be the protector of cattle in villages. Although the exact origin of the Himalayan Sheepdog or the Bhutia breed has not been well recorded, they are believed to have a rich heritage in North India and even in countries like Nepal and Bhutan. The Himalayan breed is believed to have been there since ancient times.
Origin and Ancient Stories
Throughout their history, the Bhutia breed was also used for hunting especially in the harsh mountainous terrains in its region. For now, Bhutia breed is common only within the boundaries of India. It is believed to have been with Pandavas during their expeditions in the north. According to sources, Bhutia breed was also there during Gautam Buddha’s reign.
Where Is It Exactly Found?
This breed is mostly found around the meadows of Kuari Pass in Uttarakhand and is famously known for its pier and herding instinct. It’s an epitome of being a guard dog and won’t think twice before risking his life for the owner. It makes a great companion as it is very friendly and affectionate towards its owner.
Along with Uttarakhand, these breeds are also found in Himachal Pradesh, Nainital, Walkeshwar, Ghamsali, Badrinath, UttarKashi, Malam glacier, Ralam glacier, Pindari glacier etc. It has different names in different regions. For instance, in Nepal and Himachal Pradesh, it is known as Bhote Kukkur or Bhutia Gaddi Leopardhund respectively.
Ferociousness and Strength
Bhutia breed is known for its ferociousness and strength. It is a very strong dog with guarding instincts. In the mountainous regions, it guards the shepherds and herds. Mountainous regions have to face a lot of problems due to the number of leopards in their region. A pair of Bhutia breeds are enough to scare a leopard or any other wild animal. It just needs a sharp spiked collar around its neck so that a leopard doesn’t directly attack him on his neck.
Features And Grooming
The Bhutia dog or Himalayan sheepdog is one of the Himalayan dog breeds and majorly are in solid colours of black and tan, dark fawn and sometimes reddish, black and shadow white colour. Their average height ranges between 26-32 inches and the average weight is between 60-84lbs. It’s the best herding dog and can walk up to 20-25kms daily. Moreover, it needs a minimum of 5km walk daily for exercise.
With respect to grooming, it needs the utmost care just like any other dog with a lot of focus on the fur as it has very thick fur. You may ask what is the best way to raise them? Well, just like any other Indian dog, the Bhutia breed just needs socialising from a very young age and as an owner, you need to inculcate in them which behaviour is acceptable and which are not. A strong dog undoubtedly needs a strong leader and they should have respect for the owner as they can be quite willful and stubborn. But apart from these traits, they are a wonderful companion who will guard and will protect you forever.
Bhutia breed, just like many indigenous breeds, is at the verge of extinction due to dilution in the gene pool and lack of dedicated breeders and breeding programs. This breed is not suited to the urban environment as it needs a lot of free space to move. However, outskirts of a city, holiday home or an apartment alongside a garden would be the best option. He can eat the regular human food also like rice and curd or sometimes roti and if one wishes, they can give them the dog food as well. Training it can be a difficult task but at the end of the day, it will all be worth it.
A Person’s Journey With The Bhutia Breed
Looking out for more insider information on the Bhutia breed? Here’s Aagam’s experience on having a bhutia breed as his furry companion:
“It was June 2018 when I had visited Himachal for a month-long trip. I was strolling across the village and found several other Bhutia dogs as well. However, one puppy Bhutia dog who might just be 3 months old was also there. The cuteness of it is just indescribable. Around him, there were elder bhutia dogs who were taking care of him as well as the herd. They’re the best guards and are very strong and intelligent too.
I visited the puppy very often and then became a close acquaintance with his other family members as well. It was fun watching him play, sleep and roam around with his friends. Sometimes, his silly behaviour had us in splits. After all, he was a puppy and yet to be acquainted with how ferocious, strong and intelligent adult Bhutia dogs were. There were very few people in the mountainous regions who kept them as pets or for guarding their homes and hers. Most of them had German Shepherds and the elite had Husky. It was strange to see this trend, as Bhutia dogs are way smarter and stronger than them and are very well adjusted in India’s tropical climate as opposed to Huskies who require a relatively cool climate.
As my trip was nearing an end, I wanted to adopt the dog and was thinking of the perfect place to keep him.I thought of keeping him in Andheri’s Bhavans Nature and Adventure Club (BNAC).
After we reached Mumbai, Greggor was a bit tired because of the travel but yet excited to see his news place at BNAC. He was happy with the number of animals and greenery that had surrounded him. He slept for a very long time and later after waking up, he was totally re-energised to play with his new friends. Needless to say, he was the closest to the Tibetan Mastiff but was even a lot friendly with the German Shepherd and Labrador.
It is 2020, and Greggor is now 3 years old. As healthy and wise he could be, he loves his place, the people and of course, me. Even though he has hardly learnt herding and guarding from his parents, he does not leave a stone unturned in doing that here. He is always alert and sleeps outside the room or beside Himanshu sir. He will not only lead the pack but will also ensure that he will guard it. His alertness and ferociousness is inexplicable.
It is pure bliss to see school children around Greggor. At first, they’re always scared and unsure because of his size, but later, they also realise that he is a friendly pet and spend some quality time with him. Though maintaining his fur is a hassle, at the end of the day, the small bloops and nudge makes it all worth it.