Pariahs & Primitives
Pariahs & Primitives – General Information
The United Kennel Club recognizes some breeds, termed pariah dogs, or pariahs, and includes them with the sighthound family. The dogs were bred for chasing large game similar to other sighthounds.
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale refers to these as primitives and includes some additional breeds in the classification.
Some of the breeds follow prey by both sight and scent. These are difficult to classify other than to say they are neither sighthounds nor scenthounds. None the less, they are considered hounds based on their attribute of assisting hunters by tracking or chasing the animal being hunted.
Definition & Terminology
The term pariah dog (also pye dogs, or pi dogs) originally referred to Indian feral dogs of a particular type, but it is now used by the United Kennel Club to refer to a purebred dog category.
Pariah-type feral dogs are typically medium-sized and have yellow to rust-colored coats. It was once thought that Indian feral dogs were the ancestral stock of Australian dingoes, but a 2004 Swedish study of mitochondrial DNA found that dingoes originated from southern China, not from India.
The term pariah used to be an epithet to the same extent that the word pariah meant outsider or not your own. Pariah is now used without negative connotation. The United Kennel Club (United States) recognizes purebred dogs bred for chasing large game in the Sighthound & Pariah Group. Included in this group are breeds that are either of early origin or modern reconstructions of early breeds or types.
In place of “pariah” (pariah is derived from a Tamil word first used in English in 1613, to refer to the lowest level of the traditional Indian caste system; in English, it is used to mean “a social outcast”), most registries, other than United Kennel Club, use the term “primitive” (primitive in the sense of “relating to an earliest or original stage or state” or “being little evolved from an early ancestral type”) to refer to pariah-type dogs. The American Rare Breed Association, for example, places its Pariah-type dogs within a breed group designated “Spitz and Primitive.”
Varieties of Pariah Dogs
Populations of pariah dogs are distributed in India, Thailand, Myanmar, Southeast China, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Borneo, United States, Korea, and the Philippines.
The Carolina Dog found in the southeastern United States of America is one example of a pariah-type feral dog. The Carolina Dog closely resembles feral dogs found in deserts of middle eastern countries. Both the desert dog (known as the Canaan Dog) and Carolina Dog are recognized as purebred by major registries.
All strains of pariah dogs are at risk of losing their genetic uniqueness by interbreeding with purebred and mixed-breed strays. To insure against this, some strains of pariah dogs are becoming formally recognized, registered, and pedigreed breeds as their fanciers attempt to preserve the pure type.
All pariah dogs are feral, but not all feral dogs are pariah dogs in the genetic sense. Though they are outcasts in the social sense, and thus may still be called pariahs by observers who are not dog fanciers, feral dogs may be of any breed or mix of breeds. The individuals may be stray pets, or descended from strays, or from litters dumped in wild or rural areas by unscrupulous owners. They may form packs with other strays or attempt to join existing canid packs (such as a wolf pack). While pariah dogs are by definition feral, pariah-type dogs are not necessarily feral (wild dog populations which have not been re-domesticated), as well as recognized dog breeds with pariah dog heritage.
Pariahs & Primitives – Breed List
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