Breed Information

The Kanni, which means maiden, is a rare indigenous South Indian dog breed found in the state of Tamil Nadu. The breed is a further extension of the Caravan or Mudhol Hound, and is also a descendant of the Saluki. However, the Kanni does not possess the grand features of these breeds. It is used mainly for hunting.

Breed History

The Kanni is found in and around Tirunelveli, Pollachi, Kovilpatti, Kazhugumalai, Kileral, Kodangipatti, Sivakasi, and Madurai. It is said that the name Kanni ( which means Unmarried Girl) comes from the fact that the dog used to be given as a gift to the bridegroom just before the marriage. In fact, it was in the list of dowry items offered to the groom. They are usually of four colours, brown, cream, black & tan and brindle. The Kanni is kept by families who do not sell them but may gift them if a promise is made to look after them well. They are not allowed to roam on the streets and brought up as pet animals. They are given a diet of milk in the morning, corn porridge in the afternoon and a "Ragi" porridge in the evening. Meat is given once a week or once a month only. The breed is now extremely rare, and on the verge of extinction. Efforts to revive the breed have not been taken up, as specimens are few, and there exists little information about them.

Breed Characteristics


In general appearance, the Kanni is similar to a smooth-coated Saluki or a Doberman Pinscher with natural ears and tail. The dog is usually black and tan in colour, perhaps with limited white on the feet and chest. There also exists a cream-coloured variety of the breed, which is known as "Paalakanni". The Kanni is agile, slim, graceful, and moderately built, with a deep chest and slim body. The dog generally stands about 25 inches at the withers, the bitch about 22 inches, though some specimens have been known to reach 32 inches.

The Kanni looks similar to the Doberman pinscher, with natural ears and tail it is an elegant and graceful dog. The colour of the breed is usually black or tan. As with many of the popular Indian breeds this dog does not have a thick coat. It is slim, agile and powerful breed. It has a lean chest and the body is designed for running very fast. It has a height of about 25 inches which is average and the female is about 22 inches.

This breed is usually seen as a house pet today. It was used extensively for hunting purposes. It was very good at chasing down the game. They can develop extremely sharp bursts of incredible speed but they do tire quickly. Their temperament is shy and playful. They are not very intelligent but they can be trained well. It is a priced possession for the family, in fact it forms part of the dowry system ritual were the girl’s party has to offer cash, gold and other items to the grooms family. The worth of this dog is very high and hence it is part of that list. This dog has found a place in the customs and rituals of the South Indian states. It is a very popular breed and is seen all over.

Today the number of the Kanni dog have dwindled and it is one the verge of extinction. Work to reverse the process has not been taken up because there are very few specimens remaining and there is not a lot of information about it. This has been detrimental to its existence. Since it has been kept as a house pet it is fed on the food items that the humans have. They are rarely given non vegetarian food and they are not dogs which complain. This is because they are used to this diet and any change would upset them.

They are used as guard dogs as their bark is very aggressive. They are also very aggressive towards strangers and have been known to bite them. This is the reason they are not popular in urban areas. The breed needs to be disciplined and will only listen to its master. All these reasons have made the breeding of the Kanni breed very difficult. Since the Kanni breed shares its genes with other successful breeds, they may have a good chance of surviving and moving on.