The Bakharwal breed of dog is a rare and unusual breed of livestock guardian dog that originated with nomadic tribes in the Himalayan mountains, hundreds of years ago. These serious guardians are both courageous and determined enough to protect their flock from a predatory threat that outweighs them by quite a bit. While this breed is very amicable with most humans, it is less so with other dogs and can become quite aggressive. Unlike most canines, the Bakharwal breed does not eat meat but instead dines on bread, milk, and other dairy products. As this dog breed is extremely rare and difficult to breed, you may have some difficulty locating one to adopt into your family if you are not in the Himalayas.
The Bakharwal is an ancient breed that was developed in the area of the Himalayan mountains. The full history of the breed is lost to time, but most experts believe that the Bakharwal originated somewhere around three hundred years ago, with the Gujjar people, a nomadic tribe. The Bakharwal dogs were livestock guardian dogs, most often utilized to protect the sheep or cows as the tribe traveled from place to place and they still play that role today, although there is less travel these days. This breed has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years and is one of the rarest herding dogs in existence, and becoming rarer. While they are believed to be related to the Tibetan Mastiff dog breed as well as a descendant of some of the older molosser breeds, such as the Hyrcanian Mastiff, the Saih Sag, and the Tuvan Sheepdog. The Bakharwal dog breed is almost unknown outside of India and is not yet recognized by any official breed registries like the American Kennel Club or the Federation Cynologique Internationale so there is little to no demand for this canine outside of its native mountains in India. This, coupled with a less nomadic lifestyle requiring fewer dogs has reduced the overall demand for these large canines. During the 1857 uprising in India, many Bakharwal dogs were pressed into service, often on the front lines, and this meant heavy casualties for the breed. Unfortunately, this breed of dog is particularly slow to breed and produces smaller litters so that a female Bakharwal is only likely to produce one to three offspring each year.
This canine, like most molosser breeds, is a large, heavily boned dog with a deep chest and a great deal of muscle, although is a little bit leaner than most Asian molossers. These dogs typically stand over two feet tall at the shoulder, weigh between 85 and 130 pounds when full grown, and have a large head and a thick muscular neck. Their muzzles are slightly short but well-built with a black nose and they have almond-shaped brown or amber eyes as well as medium-sized pendant ears. Bakharwal breed dogs have an exceptionally thick coat of hair that comes in several colors including tan, beige, black, white, and even piebald, to both protect them from the cold in the northern mountains and to protect them from other predators. Dogs that have piebald coats, or coats that have large areas of both white and another color, often have skin that is naturally colored to match underneath.
These dogs have been bred exclusively as a livestock guardian dog for hundreds of years and they take their duties seriously. The Bakharwal is a steadfast and courageous guardian, effectively protecting its flock against threats as intimidating and dangerous as bears, lions, and wolves. This breed is generally tolerant of people of all ages, particularly those within its family, which the Bakharwal views as part of its flock, but they are known for being aggressively territorial towards other animals, particularly other dogs. While they are typically quite affectionate and benevolent towards children, they are also large, playful dogs and may be a little bit too boisterous for the smaller set. This dog has also developed to make decisions independently which creates a highly intelligent animal that tends to get bored with repetitive commands and is not particularly interested in following orders. This can make training the Bakharwal a very difficult proposition so strong leadership and confidence on the part of the trainer are needed with this canine.
Bakharwal breed dogs are known to be particularly agile and fleet-footed for a molosser breed dog, and they do require a fairly high commitment to exercise or a large backyard to roam in. They tend to prefer to get their exercise while out of doors and as they were developed to follow the nomadic Gujjar tribe, they have a great deal of stamina, so you will get your exercise too. If given enough activity and attention, these dogs are generally well behaved at home. If they do not receive enough attention and exercise at home, however, Bakharwal dogs have been known to become rather vocal and destructive.