Ginger Digest

Kanni from Tamil Nadu: An indigenous community’s pride and joy

Posted on November 28, 2016: Kanni, in Tamil, means unmarried girl or virgin. They were given as dowry to the bridegroom by the Kambalathu Naicker community from Tamil Nadu practised this custom. The dog is never to be sold, but is strictly to be treated as a family member, thanks to the age-old norms related to them. The Kanni is lovingly given to another family, only with the pledge that they’ll be unflinchingly loving and care for him/ her.

They are predominantly hunting dogs. They were used to hunt deer. Hunting deer is currently illegal in India. They were prized hunting dogs of Indian kings and nobles. The British motivated other communities to start breeding this dog.

The Kanni descended from the Saluki and is also an extension of the Mudhol Hound. The foremost ancestor of this breed is, however, the Indian wolf. They are believed to have been domesticated in the Middle Stone Age.

Unfortunately, the dogs of this breed are dwindling. Efforts to revive the dog haven’t yielded very successful results. These dogs have now made their way to Indian postal stamps!


This dog sports a tan and black colour with white chest and feet.  These dogs resemble a Doberman Pinscher or a smooth-coated Saluki. That is why they are referred to as the Indian Doberman Pinscher. Another variety of the dog which is cream coloured, is known as the Paalakanni. Some of these dogs are brindle (tiger striped).

The Kanni has a deep chest, slim body and moderate build. The chest dimensions facilitate the dog to hold a large heart within. The male dog is 64 cm at the whither, the female is 56 cm. Larger specimens of these dogs may measure 81 cm at the whither.


Despite the fact that this dog is shy, he/ she will always stand up and defend his/ her family. These extremely faithful dogs are simple to train. While on a hunt, they’ll use the grey cells of the independent mind to track prey. They are strong and very agile, simultaneously light on their feet. They are silent as a breed, who don’t have the habit of barking.                                                       

Living Conditions

The Kanni is traditionally fed milk for breakfast, corn porridge for lunch and Ragi porridge at tea time. As per tradition, meat is served on a weekly or monthly basis. Vets, however, recommend that Kannis receive a balanced nutrition. They recommend that premium quality dry dog food is blended with water, canned food or broth and served to these dogs. This breed loves to eat vegetables, fruits and cottage cheese, however, these food items should comprise less than one tenth of his/ her daily allowance. Pups need to be given premium quality, branded food. Giving people food can create nutritional imbalances in them, be detrimental to the teeth and bones, and add unnecessary adipose tissue to the dog’s body. Fresh drinking water needs to be accessible to the dog around the clock.

Kannis need regular walks and outdoor activities, failing which they will fall ill and become irritable. Simply a walk down the street and ten minutes of exercise in the backyard, will be insufficient.

The Kanni needs a peaceful place to sleep. It should be above the ground. You may consider making a wooden box or a dog bed. A blanket, clean sheet or pillow may be put inside. His bedding needs to be washed often. He/ she needs a warm and sheltered area during winters.

Medical Attention

Kannis are prone to having ticks and fleas during summer and warm weather. To reduce shedding, the dog needs regular grooming. They don’t need frequent bathing. Just a few baths a year will suffice. Heart worm tests need to be done annually, without fail. Tapeworms are another common problem. Ask your vet for the correct deworming medicine; instead of trying to buy one off the counter.

Kannis are prone to dental problems. If you sense bad breath, it should be taken very seriously. Especially watch out for dental plaque. To prevent this avoid giving the dog table scraps and brush his/ her teeth regularly. Periodontal gum disease is also likely to affect this breed. At times, professional cleaning of the teeth by the vet may be necessary.

Kannis may also develop bad breath if they have diabetes, liver diseases, intestinal ailments or kidney problems. Watch out for symptoms like excessive urinating, drinking large amounts of water, weight loss, lethargy, depression and slackened appetite.

Maintaining a Kanni in good condition may cost you roughly between Rs 9,000 to Rs 10,000 a month. So it would be prudent to only get one if you have the time to exercise the dog and the finances to give him/ her the lifestyle that is necessary to keep him/ her happy and healthy.



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