Bakharwal Dog: Characteristics, Origin, Temperament & Lifespan

The Bakharwal dog is a very beautiful and ancient breed of dog. It is a working Indian dog found across the Pir Panjal Range of India. It is also known by some other names such as Bakarwali Shepherd Dog, Indian Bakharwal Dog, Kashmiri Sheepdog, Kashmiri Mastiff and Gujjar Watchdog.

The Bakharwal dog breed is found across the Pir Panjal Range of India, where it has been bred for many centuries by the Bakarwal and Gujjar nomadic tribes as a livestock guardian dog and settlement protector. The breed is used by the Indian Police Service to capture militants across the country.

A recent study says that this breed is on the verge of extinction and Bakerwal community has appealed to include this animal in the endangered species category. Of late, there were many cases when this mountain breed of dog contracted rabies or was shot by separatist militants.

The origin of the Bakharwal Dog lies in northern India, specifically in the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. It has been bred by the Gujjar and Bakerwal castes, as well as other local people of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, for the purpose of guarding their flocks of goats, sheep and cattle, along with their houses, from centuries.[1]

The Bakharwal dogs may be descended from crossbreeding of the Tibetan Mastiff with the Indian pariah dog. Though other scholars state that these dog is the ‘oldest Indian dog which since centuries has been surviving with the Gujjar tribe’.

There are two strains of this breed, the Simple Bakarwal and the Ladakhi Bakarwal. The Ladakhi Bakarwal strain has a specific unique ability of open mouth barking, for an extensive period of time, also called as ‘hk-saya’ or ‘yak-saya’ in the native language spoken there. It means nonstop barking without taking a breath or continuous bark in one breath.

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The Bakharwal Dog has been targeted by separatist militants in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, who shot the dogs to prevent them from alerting people of their intrusion. These separatist militants prevented herdsmen from going to higher reaches, which caused many Bakharwal Dogs to catch disease and die.

Along with the availability of Bakharwal dogs in India, the breed is also found in Afghanistan and Pakistan in smaller numbers. The breed is not recognized by any major kennel clubs.

Bakharwal Dog Characteristics

The Bakharwal dogs are very powerful, heavy bone and medium to large sized dogs. It is an agile and a sturdy breed. Bakharwal is a typical mountain dog with a furry coat and plumy tail that gives it a majestic look.

The Bakharwal looks like a medium version of the Tibetan Mastiff. The breed is mostly in black color with white at toes and chest. The dog has a vegetarian appetite that mainly includes bread made of rice chaff, maize and milk. However, some nomads, who have domesticated the breed, argue that it can have meat as well.

Common colors of the Bakharwal dog breed are black and tan, red, fawn, pied, sable, white and brindle. In the Ladakhi strain of the Bakharwal breed, less furry coat and less plumy tail are observed. The breed has more hair on its ears, neck, has a sturdy back, bushy tail and prefers colder climates.

Average body height of the mature Bakharwal dog is between 24 and 30 inches at the withers. And the mature dogs on average weights between 38 and 59 kg.

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Photo From: Bakharwal Dog Kennel


The Bakharwal dogs have been bred exclusively as a livestock guardian dog for hundreds of years and they take their duties seriously. The breed is a steadfast and courageous guardian, effectively protecting it’s flock against threats as intimidating and dangerous as lions, bears and wolves.

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The Bakharwal dog breed is generally tolerant of people of all ages, particularly those within it’s family. But these dogs are known for being aggressively territorial towards other animals, particularly other dogs.

They are typically quite affectionate and benevolent towards children. They are also large, playful dogs and may be a little bit too biosterous for the smaller set.

This dog has also developed to make decisions independently which creates a highly intelligent animal that tends to get bored with repetitive commands and is not particularly interested in following orders.

This can make training the Bakharwal dogs a very difficult proposition, so strong leadership and confidence on the part of the trainer are needed with these dogs.


Average lifespan of the Bakharwal dogs is between 10 and 12 years.


Feeding How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Bakharwal dogs are large animals. So, their diet should be formulated for a large sized breed with average energy and exercise needs. You can consult with your vet for better recommendations.


Taking good care of your animals is very important for raising Bakharwal dogs. These dogs need plenty of exercise to stay fit and stay in shape. They need to be taken on a daily, long brisk walk, if they are not actively working as flock guardians.

The Bakharwal dogs are not recommended for apartment life and would do best with a mid-to-large sized yard (they require space). They are not really active indoors, but need regular exercise outdoors. A fence is a must as they may wander away in search of the borders to what they believe is their territory.

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The Bakharwal dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include hip dysplasia, bloating, patellar luxation, obesity and cryptorchidism. Always keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed Name Bakharwal
Other Names Bakarwali Shepherd Dog, Indian Bakharwal Dog, Kashmiri Sheepdog, Kashmiri Mastiff and Gujjar Watchdog
Breed Size Large
Height Between 24 and 30 inches at the withers
Weight Between 38 and 59 kg
Good as pets Yes
Climate Tolerance All climates
Color Black and tan, red, fawn, pied, sable, white and brindle
Lifespan Between 10 and 12 years
Good for children Yes
Rarity Common
Country of Origin India