Combai

He is not recognized by the F.C.I.

Origin
India
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
This breed is also known as
Combai Boarhound
Indian Boar Hound
Kombai

A brief presentation of the Combai

The Combai is a versatile working dog native to southern India, more specifically the Tamil Nadu region. Originally developed by Indian royalty to hunt bears and other important and dangerous animals, this breed has mainly served as a guard dog for farmers in rural areas. The Combai is one of India's most remarkable hunting dogs because of the ridge of fur that grows down its back and in the opposite direction to the rest of its body. The Combai is now a very rare breed, even in its native India, and most experts believe it is on the verge of extinction. This breed is also known as the Indian Bear Dog, the Tamil Bear Dog, and the alternative spelling of Kombai.

History of the Combai

The Combai was developed long before any written records were kept of Indian dog breeding, and most of the breed's history has been lost to time. In fact, almost everything said about the breed's ancestry is little more than speculation. All that can be said is that the breed has been around since at least the 15th century, and has always been primarily associated with the region of southern India, now known as Tamil Nadu, where it was traditionally used for hunting bears. other large mammals. Many locals believe that the breed was first developed in the 800s by the Marava kings, also known as Maravar and/or Maravan, as a royal hunting dog, but these claims cannot be supported by further evidence.

Although there isn't enough evidence to really judge their validity, several theories can explain the Combai's ancestry. Most seem to believe that the breed originated from other Indian Greyhounds. The breed is probably more similar to these breeds than to any other, and has been used for similar purposes. Given the breed's protective temperament, somewhat broad head and black mask, it's also entirely possible that the Combai was developed from Mastiff-type dogs or Mastiff/Sighthound crosses. The Combai could also have been selectively bred from Dingo-like Pariah dogs found all over India. The crest on the dog's back strongly suggests that it is related to the Thai Ridgeback and/or Khoisan Dogs that gave rise to the Rhodesian Ridgeback, but the link between these breeds is unclear and may not exist at all. Given the age of the Combai and the fact that Indian sailors and traders had regular contact with Southeast Asia and East Africa in earlier centuries, the Combai was probably the ancestor of other Ridgeback dogs than the other way around. In this author's opinion, the Combai was probably developed by crossing Greyhounds, Mastiff-type dogs and other Indian breeds.

For many centuries, the Combai was kept mainly by the nobility of southern India, who used the breed primarily as a hunting dog. Unlike breeds such as the Chippiparai and Rajapalayam, which specialized in hunting rabbits, gazelles, game birds and other lively game, the Combai was mainly used for hunting dangerous species. The breed's main quarry has always been the sloth bear, Ursus ursinus, which was once widespread in India. The breed was so good at hunting bears that it became known as the Bear Hound. Although bears were Combai's specialty, this versatile and ferocious hunter was regularly used on all the major game species native to the region, including lions, tigers and leopards. The breed's success in hunting some of the most dangerous creatures found on earth earned it great acclaim, and the Combai spread throughout the southern part of the Indian subcontinent. At one point, the breed was numerous throughout the region, although it was still most widespread in Tamil Nadu.

Over the centuries, the Indian nobility gradually lost much of its power, wealth and prestige, a process that was greatly accelerated by the conquest. In fact, the Combai played an important role in the British subjugation of their homeland. The legendary Marudhu Pandiyar brothers, rulers of Sivavangai, Tamil Nadu, who were the first Indians to issue an official declaration of independence from British rule in 1801, made extensive use of this breed in their armed resistance to colonial rule. Although the Marudhu Pandiyar brothers were eventually defeated, they and the dogs they used are long remembered. As the Indian nobility was steadily weakened, the Combai found a new group of enthusiasts - rural Indian farmers. The same characteristics that made the Combai a fierce and dedicated hunter of dangerous game also made the breed a loyal and fearless guard dog.

Farmers kept Combai on their properties to protect themselves and their families from marauding wildlife, particularly the terribly frightening tiger and leopard. Although large land predators were threatened with extinction in India, at one time they were a constant and very real threat. The British Raj estimated that tigers alone killed around 100,000 people in India in the century between 1800 and 1900, not counting other large predators such as lions, leopards, hyenas, wolves and dholes. The ever-vigilant Combai would bark loudly to alert its master to the presence of a predator, and then to scare off the beast. If the beast was still determined to attack, the Combai would attack and try to ward it off. Confronted with a creature that would not flee, the intrepid Combai fought alone, until one or both animals were dead, or until his master came to help him in his struggle. As most Indian peasants could keep only one dog, the Combai usually worked alone. However, the breed was most effective when kept in small groups.

The Combai developed largely through natural selection. Only the fiercest and strongest examples could fight off a tiger and live to pass on their genes to the next generation. The breed has also developed enormous resistance to heat, as the Combai can work for hours in temperatures that can kill most dogs in minutes. Perhaps most importantly, the Combai has developed a natural resistance to the diseases and parasites that plague southern India. This breed has become so well adapted to life in its homeland that it has thrived in a place where many breeds perish within weeks. Few Indian breeders artificially selected Combais breeding partners, although they were penned or tied to keep the breed relatively pure.

For centuries, man and nature were engaged in an ongoing battle for survival in India, a battle in which neither side could gain the upper hand. The introduction of modern technologies such as automatic weapons and antibiotics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries led humans to permanently alter this balance. Tigers and other predators began to be hunted intensively and completely disappeared from vast areas where they had previously been common. India's human population began to grow at an almost unimaginable rate, and almost all of the country's remaining undeveloped land was converted to residential, agricultural and/or industrial uses. The few predators that survived the gun often found they had nowhere to live and no prey to hunt. By the end of the Second World War, the threat posed by large predators was only a fraction of what it had been a few generations earlier. The disappearance of the predators against which the Combai had been used for generations to hunt and protect itself meant that the breed was now virtually irrelevant. Most Indian farmers struggle to feed their own families, which was particularly true several decades ago. This meant they couldn't afford to keep a dog that served no purpose, and Combai numbers began to fall dramatically.

Once a widespread breed in southern India, the Combai has almost entirely disappeared from most of its former range. The Combai is now almost entirely confined to the state of Tamil Nadu, located in the extreme southeast of the Indian subcontinent. The breed is so rare outside this fortress that most Indians confuse it with a Rajapalayam or Chippiparai, even though these breeds do not particularly resemble the Combai. The plight of the Combai is currently exacerbated by a number of factors. Since colonial times, Indian dog shows have been dominated by foreign breeds, especially European ones, considered more fashionable and valuable than Indian dogs. For this reason, native breeds have been largely ignored by Indian breeders. Like many Indian breeds, the Combai does not have a major breed club dedicated to its promotion and protection, and it's hard to know what interest there is in creating one. Although the Combai has occasionally made appearances at Indian dog shows, the breed is a very rare sight in the show ring. Bred almost exclusively as working dogs, the vast majority of Combais are neither descended nor registered. This lack of registration has meant that many breeders have widely crossed their Combais with other breeds and mixed-breed dogs. Pure-bred Combais now belong to a very small number of breeders and kennels in Tamil Nadu, and their numbers are steadily dwindling. The Combai is so rare that most dog specialists believe the breed is on the brink of extinction, and will disappear altogether in the near future if nothing is done to save it.

Appearance of the Combai

Because the Combai is not bred to a unifying standard and is frequently crossed with other dogs, the Combai presents a much greater variation in appearance than is common among modern breeds. In fact, it's very difficult to make anything other than very vague generalizations about the breed's appearance. The Combai is a medium-sized breed, although individual dogs vary enormously in height and weight. This is a very natural-looking breed, with no characteristics that would detract from its working ability or survivability. The Combai is an incredibly muscular and athletic breed, but should always look lean and fit rather than stocky or bulky. Some individuals are more built like a Catahoula Leopard Dog, while others are more built like a Borzoi. The Combai's tail is quite variable, ranging from medium to long and from straight to completely curled in a vertical circle over the back.

The Combai's head and face are relatively narrow, but considerably broader than those of most Greyhounds. The muzzle and skull of this breed are generally not entirely distinct and blend very well together. The muzzle is fairly long, usually at least as long as the skull, and normally tapers slightly from base to tip. Although not particularly broad, the Combai's muzzle is generally much wider and more powerful than most similar breeds. The Combai's ears are also highly variable. They usually fall to the sides of the head or fold back, but many individuals have very different ears, or even two different ears.

The Combai's coat is probably the breed's defining characteristic, and it's what most distinguishes the breed from other Indian dogs. Like most Indian dogs, the Combai has a short, smooth coat that keeps the breed cool in the Indian sun and makes it easier to find and kill parasites. The coat is generally of uniform length all over the body, but is often slightly shorter on the head, face and front of the legs. The most important feature of the mantle is its distinct crest on the back, which grows in a different direction from the rest of the mantle. This crest closely resembles that of the Rhodesian and Thai dorsals, although it is often not as pronounced or as large. Combai vary considerably in coloring, but most members of the breed are predominantly rich in red, beige or brown. Most members of the breed are noticeably darker on the back and sides than on the chest and belly. The vast majority of the breed's members also have black masks covering their muzzles and black markings on their ears, but some lack these markings. Many Combais also have white markings on their chest, belly and feet, although this is less common than the black mask.

Temperament of the Combai

The Combai's temperament is the breed's defining characteristic and the main reason why the breed has been preserved for centuries. Many sources compare the breed to the Rottweiler and Bull Terrier. The Combai is known for being an incredibly ferocious and savage breed towards its enemies, whom it will fight fearlessly to the death. It's a surprise to most people who know the breed for its legendary ferocity that the Combai is also an affectionate and loyal companion. This is a breed that forms an extremely close bond with its family. Combais want to be in the constant company of their families, and thrive on companionship. This breed is also known to be exceptionally loyal, and some sources indicate that it can be very difficult to return home. Combais lived very close to the families they protected, and had to be tolerant and gentle with children. When properly trained and socialized with them, most Combais are very good with children and are particularly fond of playing with them. Because this breed can develop aggression problems, it's not a good choice for a novice dog owner.

This is a breed that prefers the company of its own family to that of strangers. The Combai has been kept as a guard dog for centuries, and most members of this breed are extremely wary of strangers. Proper training and socialization are absolutely essential for a Combai. With it, most members of the breed become highly perceptive guardians, able to determine what constitutes a real threat. Without it, this breed can develop aggressive and potentially serious problems. The Combai is highly territorial, extremely protective and constantly on the alert, making it an excellent watchdog. This is a dog whose bark is far worse than his bite, and a Combai is an excellent guard dog who will not allow an intruder onto his property uninvited. The Combai is said to be completely fearless in its work and attacks tigers, lions, bears and armed assailants without hesitation. This breed is also an unparalleled personal protection animal, as anyone attempting to harm a member of the Combai family will have to go through the dog first and almost certainly kill him.

Needs and activities of the Combai

The Combai was designed to hunt and protect against some of the world's largest and most dangerous predators. This breed is generally extremely aggressive towards animals and will probably try to attack and kill any canine animal it detects. Most breed members will be trustworthy and very protective of the animals they have been raised with and believe to be members of its group, but they will probably try to attack animals with which they are not familiar. Although generally not as aggressive as many guardian breeds, the Combai is known to present dog aggression problems, particularly territorial ones. Dog aggression is extremely serious in the Combai, as this dog is an incredibly determined fighter. The Combai will generally be trusted with the other dogs it has been raised with, but generally does best as a dog on its own or in a household with only one member of the opposite sex.

As the Combai is used almost exclusively as a guard and hunting dog, there are virtually no reports of its trainability other than for these tasks, although it is supposed to follow both, naturally without training. Most sources claim that the breed is highly intelligent and eager to please its master. Some even claim that they are one of the most trainable of the American Indian breeds. Given what else is known about the Combai's temperament, this breed probably needs an experienced trainer, capable of maintaining a consistent dominant position. Like most hunting breeds, the Combai usually becomes so focused on the hunt that it can be impossible to call him back. For this reason, the breed should be kept on a leash at all times, even in enclosed spaces.

The Combai is a very active and athletic dog that requires a significant amount of exercise. Exercise requirements vary considerably between breed members, with hunting lines generally requiring more and guarding lines generally requiring less. All breed members should receive at least 45 minutes to an hour of vigorous daily exercise, although ideally more. The Combai is an excellent jogging and biking companion, but really wants to run free in an enclosed, secure space. Breed members who don't get enough exercise are at high risk of developing behavioral problems such as destructiveness, hyperactivity, excessive barking, excessive excitability and aggression. Because of the Combai's exercise requirements, the breed adapts very poorly to apartment living, although it does adapt well to suburban living.

Maintenance of the Combai

The Combai is a very low-maintenance breed. This breed should never require professional grooming, only occasional brushing. Other than that, only the routine maintenance procedures required by all breeds, such as tail trimming and ear cleaning, are necessary. There don't seem to be any reports of Combai shedding. It's probably safe to assume that the Combai sheds, although most certainly very slightly.

It does not appear that any health studies have been conducted on the Combai, making any definitive statement on the breed's health impossible. Most enthusiasts seem to believe that the breed is in excellent health, and it does not appear that the Combai suffers from hereditary diseases at a high rate. In fact, this breed is known to be incredibly resistant to disease and parasites, a necessity for a dog native to the tropics. Other Ridgeback breeds, such as the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Thai Ridgeback, are known to be highly susceptible to an extremely painful and often fatal spinal condition known as dermoid sinus. However, this condition does not appear to have been recorded in the Combai. There appear to be no reliable life expectancy statistics on the Combai, but existing statistics would probably be greatly skewed by the fact that dogs in India live several years less on average than Western dogs on a superior diet and veterinary care.

Although visual and skeletal problems are not common in this breed, owners are strongly advised to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). OFA and CERF carry out genetic and other tests to identify potential health defects before they appear. This is particularly useful for detecting conditions that only manifest themselves when the dog has reached an advanced age. It is therefore particularly important for those planning to breed their dogs to have them tested to prevent the spread of any genetic diseases to their offspring.

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