The Caravan Hound is a rare breed of sight hound from the state of Maharashtra in India. Its history goes back into the mists of time. It is also found along the Maharashtra/Karnataka border-line uptil Kholapur. This is what was known as the Osmansbad district of the Deccan region. They are extremely rare and no individual has been bought out of India at the best of my knowledge.
The smooth Saluki is a very close relative of the Caravan along with the Sloughi. It is said that these three breeds along with Azawakhs and Afghan Hounds all developed in the middle-east around the same time. The name "Caravan Hound" might come from two different sources:
1/ It is believed by some people that the name "Caravan Hound" was given to these dogs because they were seen coming into India with the traveling Caravans from the middle-east as well as Afghanistan. Now which part of Afghanistan is a mystery, it is possible that either it was from the lowland deserts or the high mountains. There might have been both, because if we look in northern India along the Caravan routes, we find many Afghani Taigans, not the heavy coated "western" type, but the native bloodlines. These type are lightly coated, with a resemblance to a heavily fringed Saluki, also in the same area we see the lowland desert veraity of Afghani Taigan, which in some western countries is called "Slughi Kuesh" or sometimes "Sloughi", originally the name for the North-African sight hounds of the Berber.
2/ Others believe the name "Caravan Hound", comes from the name "Karwar Hound". The history behind this is that it is said that middle-eastern Salukis, Sloughis and Azawakhs were bought to India with the Arabian ships carrying horses for the rajas. Now these ships use to sail on the wind currents blowing towards the south and they took advantage of this. When they followed the currents they landed up in an area just south of Goa, in Karnataka called Karwar. From there, the sight hounds might have gotten loose and hunted their way upto Maharashtra/Karnataka border-line and inter-bred. So the name Karwar Hounds eventually became Caravan Hounds.
Most of the Salukis bought over were obviously smooth, as is seen in their Caravan relative today, but there might have been some feathered dogs who either got depleated by the other Sloughis and Azawakhs and smooths, or bred with the other remaining feathereds to establish the gene pool for the Pashmi Hounds, who are even today come in only feathered bloodlines.
The Caravans of today look a lot like all of its ancestors, Sloughis [North African sight hound] or a Saluki [Persian or Arabian sight hound]. It moves like its other forebears, the Azawakhs [sight hound of Mali] and the Afghan Hound [Afghan sight hound], with a very flashy and springy gait. They always have a smooth coat that most commonly comes in the colors of red, fawn, creme, beige and off white [light creme]. These colors match the Caravans hunting area of the fields and tropical rainforests of central India. There are occasionally blacks, whites, mouse and slate grey and brindles. All colors except the greys, blacks and whites may have black masks and tipping. All the colors except whites and the greys may have white markings and Irsish white markings as seen in Azawakhs.
The most popular colors for Caravans in the show rings are the reds, brindles, fawns and cremes. The standard height is 68-74 cms for dogs and 61-68 cms for bitches. It is elegant, graceful and courageous. Its expression is dignified, even cold sometimes, its eyes piercing.
The Caravans hunting method is similar to that of a Saluki. Once game is sighted the hounds are slipped, it sprints at its prey making many mid-air turns and changes as it courses. The Caravan doesnt stalk its prey, like for example, the Pashmis do. Once they prey is caught they either suffocate the larger ones, or give a vigerous jerk and tear the flesh off from the smaller prey as hares. They do not retrive their prey, instead they try to devour it. For this reason the hunter must follow his hounds, fast, in order not to loose his catch.
In their native tracts the Caravans are bred as true working hounds. There are never over-angulated dogs or dogs with muzzles too long, as are sometimes seen in the show ring. If a pups muzzle is infact too long the villagers either cull the dog or give it away to someone not interested in hunting. This is due to the fact, if a dog has a muzzle too long it cannot hunt in the proper manner and can injure its muzzle badly. As for colors the villagers prefer more drab colors, so the colors usually seen in villages are reds, beige, fawn, brindle, and black.
The Caravans are currently recognized by the Kennel Club of India and the Indian National Kennel Club, both of these KCs are Indian orginizations, and its unlikely the Caravan will venture out of its homeland anytime soon. However, it has excellent potential as a lure coursing hound, an open field hound, free coursing hound, showdog and first and foremost a loyal companion.
No body in North America owns any Caravans at present and infact no body outside of India does. There was Mrs. Potts in Australia who co-owned a Caravan bitch with Nawab Nazeer Yar Jung of Hyderabad, however the dog never stepped on Australian land and many people saw lots Greyhound characteristics in her, such as being slab-sided and having rose ears. It is quite possible that she had a Greyhound sire and Caravan dam. So all the puppies in this litter were Mudhol hounds.
We are currently trying to promote this breed outside of India, and may be the only ones doing so in the world. It is very important to preserve this dog as there is no way to reproduce it, to create a dog that looks like a Caravan Hound is easy. However, to create a dog that acts like a Caravan, hunts like one and has the intelligance of one is impossible and no mortal human being can achive this.
You may also contact the Caravan Hound Preservation Society International, Denise Como (sec.) Kukkuripa Rampuri PO Box 137 Cassville, NJ USA 08527-0137 email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this unique breed, or for a membership which gets you the world's only journal about Caravan hounds ... "The Traveling Caravan".
The above was taken from an article written about Caravan Hounds by Neil Trilokekar (CHPSI Newsletters / Listings).