This is a very old ancient Indian breed that has its roots in Northern India, to be more specific in the states Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir where it is used for centuries by nomadic Gujjar people and Bakarwal tribes for protecting its homes but most importantly their livestock.
Because the breed is so old and because there is not much written documentation about the breed, no one can be really sure what is the exact date of origin nor what is the exact ancestry of this breed. One theory says that this is one of the oldest of all indian dogs evolved by adapting to the harsh environemnt of Indian mountains. But there is another theory, that says, that the Bakharwal is closely related to the Tibetan Mastiff and that it might be a result of Tibetan Mastiff crossing. It is true, that the Bakharwal is quite similar to the Tibetan Mastiff, although it is slightly smaller, but again, no one can be absolutely sure about the exact breeds ancestry.
The main purpose and utilization of Bakharwal always was and still is protecting farms and homes as well as goats and cattle. These dogs create quite a strong bond with the livestock and with its owners and they are always ready to protect them against very strong predators. These dogs are often times working alongside another very strong Indian livestock guardian – the Gaddi Kutta. Lately, these dogs are also sometimes used by Indian police for fighting against militants on the borders. This is definitely very courageous, loyal, faithful and brave breed.
On the first sight, you can tell that this is a very strong and muscular dog breed. But it is also a very agile and athletic dog! These dogs just have majestic appearance. They have a broad head with hanging ears that are set high on the head. This is a sturdy, deep chested and heavily boned dog and it is not uncommon for them to be 30 inches tall, which is 75 cm and 150 pounds heavy, which is 70 kg.
The Bahkarwal is a typical mountain dog with furry coat and plumy tail. The coat is very dense and practical and it is providing the dog protection agaisnt the harsh mountanious climate. You can find this breed in different colors, but the black and fawn are the most common. These dogs can have white spots, typically on the chest and toes.
Just like majority of native Indian breeds, even the Bakharwal is quite rare these days. It is believed that there is only few hundreads pure Bakharwal living in India, but there are some passionate breeders who are trying to save the breed from extinction. These dogs can also be found in very small numbers in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Most often the Bakharwals have vegetarian diet and they are fed by maize, milk and other dairy products or bread made from rice chaff. But even though they are most often fed by these non meat products, they are capable of eating and processing the meat.
The Bakharwal is definitely not a dog for novices or unexperienced owners. It is because this is very powerful, courageous, independent and kinda stubborn breed. All these characteristics are essential to be good livestock protector, but they need a strong, patient and consistent trainer who has experiences with strong independent dogs and who knows how to properly train them and socialize them. Around its family, the Bakharwal is quite gentle and friendly dog and they can even be good patient partners for kids, who are old enough to know how to treat dogs properly. The Bakharwal creates a very strong bond with its family and is absolutely devoted to it.
These dogs have extremely dense double coat which always shed some deal and the coat requires some maintenance. Of course, regular weekly brushing is very beneficial so the coat does not tangle and it will also minimize the shedding. On some places where the coat is very long, you can also trim it, but you should never shave the coat completely, it would only hurt the dog. These dogs also have relatively high energy level and they need daily proper exercise to stay healthy and happy. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check the dogs ears, eyes, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
Great fact is that this is usually very tough, hardy and healthy dog breed who can survive very cold, but also pretty hot weather. Just like any other breed, even the Bakharwal may suffer from some health issues such as hip dysplasia, bloating, patellar luxation or some allergies, but none of those is extremely common with this breed. The average lifespan is between 10-12 years.
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