South Asian Village Dog

Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club

The 60 million Indian pariah dogs, or village dogs, represent the largest village dog population in the world. These dogs are often independent but can be very playful and loyal companions.

Fun Fact

A village dog is the oldest known fossil dog. The dog lived nearly 15,000 years ago in what is now Germany and was buried with a human family.

  • About the South Asian Village Dog

    Village dogs are the free-breeding, “outside” dogs found around the world living in and around human settlements big and small. They’re also known as island dogs, pariah dogs, or free-ranging dogs. Many village dog populations precede the formation of modern breed dogs. They make up about 3/4s of the billion or so dogs living on Earth today. They serve as trash cleaners, sentinels, and even sometimes companions while still retaining much of their freedom. Because village dogs are found all over the world and pre-date modern breeds, they don’t have a breed standard— they come in many colors, a variety of sizes, and can have short or medium length fur. Dogs were originally domesticated in Central Asia (in fact, Central Asian village dogs are suspected to be the closest living relative to the earliest ancestors of domestic dogs) and followed humans into Europe where they found a living eating scraps and trash everywhere they went. Over time, some of them adapted to roles helping humans hunt, tend and guard livestock, and guard homes. They also changed humans wherever they went, making dog lovers of many people. Prospective owners are unlikely to find a breeder of village dogs because they have developed in rural areas and are often strays. Village dogs should be appreciated for their historical and genetic significance. Without their contribution to the doggie gene pool, it is possible we wouldn’t have the myriad of breeds that we love and appreciate today.

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