Addressing a rally in Jamkhandi in Karnataka’s Bagalkot district on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised the Congress to “at least try to learn from Bagalkot’s Mudhol dogs”, which were “going out to protect the nation with a new battalion”.
Known for their hunting and guarding skills, the lanky Mudhol hounds get their name from the erstwhile kingdom of Mudhol (in present-day Bagalkot), whose rulers first began to breed them. The dogs are fast, with excellent stamina and agility, and have sharp vision and a keen sense of smell.
It is for these qualities that a batch of puppies of this breed was taken into the training centre of the Indian Army’s Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) in Meerut in February 2016. This was the first time that an indigenous breed was trained at the RVC Centre — which has a long history of training foreign breeds such as Labrador and German Shepherd — for possible induction into service with the Army. Army officers said that out of the eight dogs that were inducted for training, six were selected for field evaluation and suitability trials with the Srinagar-based HQ 15 Corps and Nagrota-based HQ 16 Corps.
“The field trials have just concluded and the trial report is being formulated based on the experience of handling these dogs in the field,” a senior Army officer said. The dogs will be inducted into Army Dog Units after the trial report has been thoroughly examined, the officer said.
“These dogs have been trained for explosives detection only. They have not been trained for guard duties, search and rescue or for tracking duties,” said an officer familiar with aspects of training of the dogs. If inducted, the hounds could play a key role in the detection of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in counter-insurgency operations. Officers said that as of now the only drawback that has been observed with the Mudhol hounds is that their performance dips in cold environments, which could be because the species is native to an area with a warmer climate. There is a possibility that this may impinge on their future deployment in certain areas, the officers said.
Army dogs have played a key role in counter-insurgency operations, and many Army dogs have been awarded Chief of the Army Staff’s Commendation Card for excellence in the field.