Royalty’s relationship with dogs in India goes back to mythical times. Dogs in Hindu mythology and royal history are easy to trace for the most part. Evidence of the love various Royal families had for their pooches can be found in orders past on to servants, family portraits, personal notes, and even commissioned portraits of just their canine companions. Interestingly, no one breed has been exclusively favored. Instead, different members of each Royal family have had their own preferences. Additionally, some preferences were made based on trends at the time. The royalty was known to pamper their dogs, and went to strange limits doing that. Sometimes they established laws against harming dogs and even took to the art of dog breeding themselves.
The Bonds of Loyalty and Friendship
Sanskrit poem the Mahabharata (possibly 5th century BCE), a major text of Hinduism, recounts the tale of Emperor Yudhishthira, trying to gain entry for his dog into heaven, where only gods and human heroes are permitted. To show his gratitude the dog transforms himself into the god Dharma and informs Yudhishtira that he will be the only king of who will enter Supreme God Indra’s heaven in his own body
The name of Wepwawet means the Egyptian god or opener of the way” and indeed the dog has opened the way for humankind throughout history. That the dog should have been elevated to high status by some many peoples and so frequently throughout history should come
The Dog game which was started by the Britishers with ship loads of pedigreed dogs of various breeds arriving at the Indian shores at regular intervals for the numerous British settlers here. In this fancy they were joined by the Rajahs, the Maharajas and of course not forgetting the nawabs.
There were several established Kennel Clubs all over India during the British Colonialization of India (1857–1947). This included Kennel Clubs in Hyderabad, Ootacamund, Mysore, Calcutta to name a few. These Clubs followed procedures followed in the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom. It was much after Independence that the idea for a centrallized structure for all these Kennel Clubs across the country was conceived. The Kennel Club of India was established in 1978.
The Maharaja of Junagadh owned 800 dogs, each with its own room, a telephone and a servant. When the Maharaja migrated to Pakistan during the Partition of India in 1947, he left behind many weeping wives so that his pampered canines could fly with him on his plane.
His Royal Highness Maharaja Bupinder Singh of Patiala (1900-1938) too had a Kennel. He would buy any good dog available anywhere. He gave Patiala a prominent place on the political map of India and in the field of international sports. This included his dog kennels and he and the Maharaja of Jind were equally interested in a range of dog breeds.
In 1896 the Kennel Club of India was formed and proudly continues till date with all its glory. Maharaja Bhupendra Singh of Patiala developed an interest in dog-breeding, and in the 1930’s was the President of the All-India Gundog League and vice-president of the Indian Kennel Association. H.H. the Maharaja of Jind became the Vice-President.
Then came the time for the British to leave our land in 1947 when we freed ourselves from their rule. At the time of leaving our country lot of English people took their dogs back with them and the ones who could not take them for quarantine and other restrictions had to give them away to people here in India who agreed to adopt them. While some decided to euthanize their dogs as they did not want their beloved pets to suffer after they left.
Other prominent dog lovers of Andhra Pradesh came from the illustrious Paigah family whose scion Nawab Yar Jung carries on the family tradition this day. Nawab Saheb’s love for the dog is inherited from his great great grandfather and his uncle Nawab Moinuddowla Bahadur who had numerous breeds of dogs in his kennel. Such was Nawab Moinuddowla’s love for the animals that he used maintained a vast private zoo. He was so well known for the love of dog that people of Hyderabad till today talk about Nawab Moinuddowla Bahadur and his hunting dogs.
Awagarh Kennels, had the best Labradors in India. Pekinese, GSP, Springer Spaniels, Golden Retriver, Pekinese, Dachund, Doberman and For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the term “field trials,” it is a sport in which the sporting dog competes under hunting conditions. The dog can pick up the scent of a rabbit or small animal and follow the trail until he’s found it. There is also the bird trials where the animal retrieves a fallen bird. During competition, the different breeds are divided into various groups. The following groups are: Pointing Dog Trials, Retriever Trials, Spaniel Trials, Beagle Trials & Hound Trials. The following guidelines are an example of what is expected before entering your sporting dog.
His Highness Prince of Berar, Azam Jha Bahadur, the crown prince of Nizam State, was a dog lover par excellence. He had practically all the well known breeds in his kennel and when the first Dog Show was organized in 1945, he entered his dog in that show. Furthermore he extended his patronage to the Hyderabad Kennel Club by becoming himself a patron. Shahabzada Nawab Basalat Jah Bahadur, an uncle of the prince of Berar, was also a Patron of this club right from 1948 till his death in 1993.
With the fall of the Maharajahs from power in 1947, so too, fell the popularity of the Rampur Hound. The effect of the arrival of the English was evident to the Rampur, as well as the native Indian people. With the decline in hunting in India the dog’s popularity plummeted. It was no longer fashionable or practical for the rich to keep them, while the poorer population simply could not afford to keep them.
Late Maharaja of Baria and the GKC Dog Show
The Gujrat Kennel Club organized dog show in fond memory of the former ruler of Devgadh Baria, Late Maharaja Jaideep Singhji at Laxmi Vilas Palace compound on Sunday in Vadodara. It was the 25th death anniversary of the late Maharaja. He was a great pet lover and was an eminent judge for international dog shows. He was also the chairman of the Kennel Club of India and founder of GKC.
Present Pooches and Royalty
The show was conducted to recognize his contributions to the animal world. “We have arranged this dog show with the support of GKC to mark his 25th death anniversary,” said Urvashi Devi Baria, the maverick princess of the former princely state of Devgadh Baria. She owns dozens of dogs herself.
The exotic looking dog of the Far East is poetry in motion.
Maharajas practiced a form of hog hunting known as pig-sticking. This type of hunt involved shooting hogs while on horseback, and as in centuries before, was seen as a show of skill and bravery.
You can see that if you like dogs you are in good company. Maybe these powerful people enjoy the company of dogs because they relate to you as you are, not being swayed by money or position. It must be comforting to know that when a dog wags his tail or gives you a lick he genuinely loves you – but then I guess that is the enjoyment we all get from our dogs.
Gundogs – Hunting Dogs in India
The dog is claimed to have the ability to run about 60 kilometers per hour. The dog is a Rampur Greyhound, dubbed as the Greyhound of the Orient and the favorite hunting dog of the Indian Maharajas. The precise history of this hunting breed is unknown although it was believed that the breed was developed in the Rampur district between Delhi and Bareilly in Northern India. This breed that has been around for hundreds of years was highly valued for its ability to control jackal population. Hunting was a favorite sport in India during the royal era. Breeds of hounds were developed to cater to the aristocracy’s need for outstanding hunting dogs. The Rampuri Greyhound is one of these breeds. The dog’s exceptional hunting prowess is combined with speed and endurance. The dog can cover great distances and withstand long hours of hunting even in the harshest terrain and under India’s extremely hot weather. Rampuri Greyhounds were favored hunting companions of maharajas as the dogs’ legendary hunting ability was proven. These very ferocious dogs will not be intimidated by lions, tigers, leopards and panthers. These dogs hunt wild boars, foxes, hares and a variety of fowls as well.
While some intensely loved them, others hated them with equal candour. The Maharaja of Junagadh, Nawab Sir Mahabet Khan Rasul Khan, invited Lord Irwin to grace the occasion of marriage of Roshanara with Bobby. But the Viceroy refused. Understandably so. After all, Roshanara was the Maharaja’s favourite pet dog, while Bobby, a royal golden retriever, belonged to the Nawab of Mangrol, and Lord Irwin was in no mood to indulge the eccentric Maharaja in this unprecedented and frivolous pastime. Films and photographs were taken of this widely world-reported unique three-day event, where no less than `A3 22,000 were spent.
A number of ruling royals and dignitaries attended the marriage. Shampooed, perfumed, ejeweled and decked in brocade, Roshanara was carried in a silver palanquin to the Durbar Hall. Earlier 250 dogs attired in brocade, a military band and a guard of honour had received the groom Bobby, bedecked in gold bracelets and necklace, at the railway station. This had been followed by a grand wedding feast.
After this, dog weddings were much in vogue among rulers in North India. Maharaja Ranbir Singh of Jind and Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala celebrated the weddings of their dogs in a pompous manner.
The Maharaja of Junagadh owned 800 dogs, each with its own room, a telephone and a servant. A white-tiled hospital with a British vet attended to their ailments. When a dog died, Chopin’s funeral march was played and a state mourning was declared.
“To annoy the Raj whose airs and graces he resented,” the Maharaja of Junagadh had his liveried staff dress his dogs in formal evening suits, mount them on rickshaws and drive them on British summer capital Shimla’s fashionable Mall. “The women were infuriated, often feeling a dog’s breath on their pale powdered faces as the rickshaws jostled for space on the way to Cecil Hotel for a dance. The Maharaja had a stormy meeting with the Viceroy and promised to keep his dogs locked away. He had to agree but waited until there was a ball at the Viceregal Lodge and ordered his servants to round up every crazed, lunatic pi dog in Simla. He set them loose in the grounds and was rewarded by the sound of horrified memsahibs shrieking like peacocks,” writes Ann Morrow in her highly readable Highness.
While the Maharaja of Junagadh adored dogs, the Maharaja of Alwar intensely hated them. He accepted an invitation from Lord Willingdon to stay with him in Viceregal Lodge in Shimla, an invitation very keenly sought by Indian rulers. Through his Military Secretary, the Viceregal Lodge staff was made aware of his dislike and instructions were issued that dogs be kept chained during the Maharaja’s visit. At a banquet in the Viceregal Lodge, somehow Lady Willingdon’s pet Pekinese got loose and ran to the Vicereine under the dining table and then licked the feet of the Maharaja, who being the principal guest, was seated at the right hand of Lady Willingdon. Infuriated the Maharaja left the banquet without a word of apology, dashed to his suite to take a bath to purify himself. Wearing another dress, he returned to the table. This incident earned him a black mark in the political department’s files. Maharaja Paramjit Singh of Karputhala, who is said to have married a cabaret dancer called Stella Mudge, went into a stupor when he was told to marry a simple Indian girl. It was Stella who woke him up with her endearments, “My doggie darling, mon petit chou, mon bien aime, I love you”.
Large breeds were popular in the Rambagh Palace of Jaipur, in the end of the 19th century. Servants sporting starched pugrees and golden cummer-bunds walked Scot terriors, St. Bernards and Danes.
His Royal Highness Ahmed Ali Khan Bahadur bred these dogs by combining the blood lines of very powerful but ferocious Tazi, brought in by the Afghans, and the English Greyhound that was more obedient but less resistant to the varying climatic conditions. He gave the name ‘Rampur Hound’ to the dogs he bred. The Rampur Hound far exceeded his expectations. From its Tazi and Afghan ancestors it got its looks and stalwart character, and from the English Greyhound it got its speed. Here was a dog that would seldom back down in confrontations, and could more or less keep up with the fastest prey.