By M. Parthasarathy* & Aarthika Srinivasan**
The Alangu species dog supposedly stood at a magnificent 27 inches in height and with well-built muscles. The Alangu mastiff dog stood high and mighty back during the Chola period. It was said to be built more potent than any other Indian breeds existing today. They were characterized by their prickled ears like most naturally evolved Indian breeds. They were fierce, strong, and had territorial characteristics like none other.
Strong Alangu dogs were mainly used for hunting; they were fierce and could potentially take down tigers. They were used as watchdogs when they weren’t being used for hunting. They were beneficial in the protection and well-being of community.
During the Chola period in the vast lands of Thanjuvur and Tiruchi region, a mural depicting Alangu was painted in the famous Peruvudaiyar Kovil (Big Temple – Thanjavur), built on the Southern Bank of Cauvery. It stands as an example of fully realized Tamil Architecture. It was built by the infamous Chola king Rajaraja Chola–I (between 1003 and 1010 AD). The Temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples” along with Chola dynasty era Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple.
Picture: Mural depicting Alangu from Peruvudaiyar Kovil (1010 AD), Thanjavur – Tamil Nadu
Copyright: Sakthi Prakash
The following image is from Dharasuram temple, build by Chola king Rajaraja–II (1143–1173 CE); archaeologists say that this dog could be a representation of the Alangu breed. Apart from this, the temple is known to hold many other sculptural masterpieces and stands as a symbol of art and architecture to this day.
Sculpture: Depicting Alangu from Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram, Kumbakonam – Thanjavur.
Fast forward to today, 2021 – the fierce, strong Alangu breed is extinct because of Indians’ deep-rooted desire for exotic dog breeds. Media’s promotion of exotic breeds has led people to believe in their superiority when in reality, local breeds are well adjusted to the climate, habitat, food, and culture of their place of origination.
Alangu breed is nowhere to be found today. All that remains as proof of its existence are stone scriptures and the stone mural that was recovered from the Thanjavur temple.
It’s essential to keep in mind the authenticity and power of local dog species over huskies that cannot handle Indian weather. Native dog breed is perfectly equipped to handle the living conditions and is more strongly adapted to our living habitat. Being mindful of certain choices, we can help preserve what’s left of our magnificent local dog breeds.
*Author is the CEO of Augie Pets India Pvt. Ltd. He can be reached @firstname.lastname@example.org.