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Indian Alsatian Dog

Panting dogs that always look drained are, unfortunately, a common sight during summer. As people get more status-conscious, one can spot breeds of canines that were hitherto alien to us in city homes, be it Saint Bernards, Shih Tzus or Siberian Huskies, among many others.

Yes, they are cute and cuddly, but there's a reason these breeds are not native to India. Many international breeds have a thick coat, which is meant to keep them warm in their native countries and is the reason they are unable to cope with high temperatures here. "It's in the name. A Siberian Husky should be in Siberia, where the temperature is minus 20 degrees. When we bring them here, where the temperature is above 30 degrees, it becomes a big problem for them; they are misfits here. Dogs stop eating if it gets too hot, so many of them suffer from anorexia. Around 2, 000 human beings have died because of the heat this summer, imagine the condition of dogs that have thick coats, " says veterinarian Dr George M Alexander.

Divya Sundar, who has a Saint Bernard, says that even though the summer hasn't been that bad this year, her dog is unable to bear the heat. "She has become inactive, keeps puffing and panting, and lies on her back when she can't bear the heat. I give her ice cubes and have bought an air conditioner just to keep her cool. I am also considering shaving off her fur, but am hesitant because that is what makes her look so adorable, " she says.

Over a period of time, international breeds become accustomed to their new environment and begin mutating. The German Shepherd, for instance, is not meant for tropical Indian climates, so in an effort to cope, it has mutated over time to become the Alsatian — an Indian variety of the German breed. "The genes start to change, and due to inbreeding by local breeders, the dogs' look and characteristics also change. Many international breeds are not aggressive. The Rottweiler, for example, is not as aggressive in its native Germany as it is here. If a dog is aggressive, it means that it is not a pure breed, " adds Dr Alexander.

Dogs are supposed to sleep on their sides and it is unnatural for them to lie on their bellies with their hind legs spread out — which is how most dogs sleep now. Unable to take the heat, dogs choose this position to keep themselves cool. But this is dangerous as it can result in arthritis.

Another issue with international breeds is that we are unable to provide them the kind of nutrition that they require. "Big breeds like Bulldog, Great Dane and Rottweiler require highly proteinized food; the usual Indian dog diet consists of chicken and rice, which is not sufficient for these dogs. This is why Great Danes in the city are not that big in size, " says Dr Alexander.

They may not be as exotic as a Tibetan Terrier or Malamute, but Indian breeds are best suited for our climate and diet. The heat doesn't affect them much, which keeps their temperament in check as well. They are used to being around people, making it rare for them to be aggressive.

Here's how to make your dog comfortable

- Playing mild music calms your dog. Medication can also be used, but only in extreme conditions.
- The heat kills your dog's appetite, resulting in lower resistance, which makes your pet prone to diseases. So, ensure that their diet is nutritious.
- Keep your dogs in an air conditioned room.
- Shave your pet's fur. This will provide temporary relief, but it must not be done more than once a year.

15 International breeds that are not meant for India

1. Saint Bernard
2. Malamute
3. Afghan Hound
4. Tibetan Terrier
5. Lhasa Apso
6. Shih Tzu
7. Siberian Husky
8. German Shepherd

9. Rhodesian Ridgeback
10. Irish Setter
11. Bulldog
12. Great Dane
13. Golden Retriever
14. Mastiff
15. Rottweiler

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