The Indian Air Force, in a first, has decided to induct and press into service the Mudhol Hound, a breed of sighthound to keep flightless birds and animals at bay from runways, thereby reducing risks of such animal accidents during flights.
Deputy chief minister of Karnataka Govind M Karajol handed over two male and two female Mudhol puppies to IAF on Friday via the Canine Research and Information Centre (CRIC) in Bagalkot district. It is a unit of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, Bidar (KVAFSU) from where the puppies were flown to the Agra airbase on Sunday.
What are Mudhol Hounds?
This is not the first time that Mudhol hounds are working with the Indian security forces. The hounds were first introduced in the Indian Army's inventory in 2017. After undergoing rigorous training at the Army’s Remount and Veterinary Corps Centre (RVC) in Meerut for over a year, six Mudhol hounds were given to the Army by the KVAFSU.
At that time, the director of the university’s Canine Research and Information Centre Mahesh Dodmani was quoted by The Hindu as saying, "It will be the first Indian breed to serve the nation. All these years, the armed forces used Labrador, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds.”
Even though the lean, indigenous breed of dogs are quite popular in and around the Mudhol taluk in Karnataka where they are raised in many households to market the pups, the canines became the talk of the town after PM Narendra Modi spoke of them in his Mann ki Baat address last year. Pushing for desi breeds to be adopted, Modi had endorsed Indian breeds like the Mudhol Hound, Himachali Hound, Rajapalyam, Kanni, Chippiparai and Combai and said how they required much less upkeep and were loyal. He had also mentioned how the Indian security forces have also inducted and trained these animals for their dog squads.
Are Mudhol Hounds a truly Desi breed?
These dogs come from the region bordering Karnataka and Maharashtra. According to several popular beliefs, these hounds were originally bred in the Middle East and accompanied traders on their travels through the Indian subcontinent and this is what inspires one of their early names- Caravan hounds. Some legends even say that the hounds became popular with the India royalty too, so much so that Maratha warrior Shivaji Maharaj got them trained and made them a part of the Maratha army.The dogs were also interbred with Persian and Turkish dogs that gave rise to the feathery Mudhol Hound, which also came to be known as Pashmi hound. With the introduction of European breed of canines, however, the Mudhols began to grow lesser in favour with the Indians. But in the 1920s, the hounds were revived once again by Shrimant Rajesaheb Malojirao Ghorpade of Mudhol. He observed that the local tribe of Bedar used the dogs for hunting. Sensing their agility, he helped restore the royal Mudhol hounds and while visiting England in 1900s, presented it to King George V, who christened them as Mudhol hounds, thereby bringing them into prominence once again.
What roles can Mudhol Hounds play in security forces?
Mudhol Hounds are similar looking to Greyhounds with a slim built and a smaller head but a tall legs and body overall. Their breed is known for their endurance, stamina and agile movements along with a razor-sharp bite. They are very well suited for tropical climates, however, they are not very well adept at handling cold weather conditions. They have also earned a reputation for being fiercely loyal to their owners and also for being great hunting dogs.
The RVC has also trained the hounds to sniff out explosives. Apart from the Army, the National Security Guard (NSG) also have taken in the hounds and are training them to track enemy movements along the border, search and rescue and infantry patrolling among others.
Also recently, the Central Reserve Police Force had also said that they will be inducting local dog breeds including the Mudhol hounds in the canine force to strengthen their squads.