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Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

Explained: Potentially tasked with protecting the PM, what are Karnataka’s Mudhol hounds?

In a 2020 Mann ki Baat address, PM Narendra Modi praised “very good and capable” Indian breeds. What are the characteristics of Mudhol hounds, which already serve some security forces?

Karnataka's Mudhol Hounds that may be inducted in PM's security force SPGKnown 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. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

News reports on Thursday (August 18) said Mudhol hounds, a breed of hunting dogs native to north Karnataka, could be inducted into the Special Protection Group (SPG), the elite force protecting the Prime Minister of India.

The dogs already serve with the Indian armed forces and some paramilitary forces and could become the first indigenous breed to be part of the SPG. The reports said SPG officials had visited the Canine Research and Information Centre (Mudhol Hound) at Thimmapur in Karnataka’s Bagalkot district in April and taken two male puppies.

Also Read in Explained |This Word Means: Mudhol Hound

Prime Minister’s mention of the hounds

The Mudhol hounds hit national headlines on May 6, 2018, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally in Jamkhandi in Bagalkot district, advised the Congress, “who fall sick at even the mention of nationalism”, to learn, if not from anyone else including Mahatma Gandhi, “at least from Bagalkot’s Mudhol dogs”, which he said were “going out to protect the nation with a new battalion”.

A couple of years later, in his Mann ki Baat address in August 2020, the Prime Minister mentioned by name several Army and disaster mission dogs, and added words of praise for “very good and capable” Indian breeds. “Among the Indian breeds, Mudhol hound and Himachali hound are of excellent pedigree,” he said. “Rajapalayam, Kanni, Chippiparai, and Kombai are fabulous Indian breeds. They cost less to raise and are better adapted to the Indian environment and surroundings.”

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Security agencies were inducting these Indian breeds, Modi said. “In the recent past, Mudhol hound dogs have been trained and inducted in the dog squad of the Army, CISF and NSG; Kombai dogs have been included by the CRPF.”

Also, he said, “Research on the Indian breed dogs is also being done by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research with the aim to make them better and more beneficial.” He asked people to bring home an Indian breed: “At a time when Atmanirbhar Bharat is becoming a mantra of the people, how can any domain be left untouched by its influence?”

Characteristics of the Mudhol hound

Known for their hunting and guarding skills, the characteristically 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 runners, with excellent stamina and agility, and have a sharp vision and a keen sense of smell.

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The Mudhol hounds are believed to have been bred first by Raja Malojirao Ghorpade of the erstwhile Deccan kingdom of Mudhol who, after seeing the qualities of the dogs that the tribals of his territory kept, decided to breed them selectively. The Raja is said to have presented a couple of these dogs to King George V on a visit to England, whereafter the breed got the name of Mudhol hound.

Commissioning in the Indian Army

For the specific qualities that they possessed, the Indian Army took a batch of Mudhol hound puppies into its Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) training centre 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.

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“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 had told The Indian Express in May 2018. The dogs would be inducted into Army Dog Units after the trial report had 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,” an officer familiar with aspects of training of the dogs had said at the time. The hounds could play a key role in the detection of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in counter-insurgency operations, the officer said.

Concerns with using the Mudhol hounds

There aren’t too many drawbacks of using Mudhol hounds in security duties. One issue that has been observed, however, is that the performance of the hounds appears to dip in cold environments, officers had told The Indian Express — this, they said, 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.

First published on: 18-08-2022 at 05:06:54 pm
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