Kanni Dog

History of the breed

This extremely rare breed of dog comes from royal stock. Bred as a hunting dog for Indian royalty centuries ago, it was used to hunt game for the nobility in Southern India.

Stories say that Kannis were often given as a gift to a bridegroom before marriage in this region of India and were popular in homes to protect the family.

Its name means “pure” in Tamil and this beautiful sighthound was a much sought after pet and hunter. The name also applies to the breed’s dual colour of black and tan or black and sable. Single colour versions, although closely related, are known as Chippiparai.

Tragically, the breed is being seen less and less and is regarded as a rare breed nowadays.

Physical characteristics

The Kanni resembles a greyhound in appearance with its long, lean body and angular face. They are agile, slim and graceful to look at. The breed has a medium-sized body and deep chest, with a straight head and golden coloured eyes. They have a solid, strong jawbone and a black nose.

Dogs generally reach around 25 inches high, with the bitch reaching around 22 inches. They weigh somewhere in the region of 35 to 48 pounds.

With a short coat that is well versed in keeping cool in the hot, humid seasons of Tamil Nadu they are very low maintenance in terms of grooming and are not prone to shedding. This strong, lean breed is incredibly agile and light on their feet. With their flexible spine they are often compared to the cheetah.


With the breed becoming so rare there is far less known about the overall health and genetic disposition of the Kanni. What is know is that, based on breeding background, coat and size of the animal these dogs may be prone to some skin conditions and possible dental hygiene issues. However, this is more of a reasoned assumption based on breeds from similar stock.

The Kanni is expected, in general, to have a life expectancy of between 14 and 16 years following a balanced and diet and receiving the right amount of exercise. They are known to be good eaters and generally not finicky with food.

Temperament and training

The Kanni is famous for how easy it is to train, presumably because it was originally bred to work so closely with its human masters and listen to their every call.

Its history and instinct to hunt can come to the fore during training and to start with the Kanni may want to think independently and follow his prey drive.

This can be corrected through early training and teaching obedience to commands given to the dog before a situation may occur when the dog darts off.

As with all dogs, the earlier training begins, the easier it is to correct any unwanted behaviours and the quicker the animal will take to the training. They need a strong but kind trainer, preferably someone who knows these sightdogs well and has a good knowledge of what does and doesn’t work with this particular breed.

When it comes to this breed’s temperament, the Kanni is know to be a kind, gentle and fiercely loyal creature.

Hundreds of years of training have bred into the Kanni a devotion to its owners that few other breeds can rival.

They can be a little shy but won’t hesitate to step up should they feel you or your family is under threat. This loyalty means they do make great family pets just as long as they’re socialized with children and other pets from a young enough age.

Not generally known as destructive or overly noisy, the Kanni really only begins to exhibit problem behaviour if it doesn’t get enough exercise or is left alone in too small an environment for too long.


If you have a very young dog, or if you don’t know much about their origins, then it’s always worth getting them checked out by a vet before you start letting them off the lead or out for too long.

As a hunting breed, the Kanni requires a lot of exercise. Don’t underestimate how much they will need every day.  They will need at least one hour, more if they are being used for their original purpose.  They’re not really suited to apartment living, unless they have access to a good size outside space.

Having been bred with such high exercise needs the Kanni can cause havoc if these needs aren’t met.

Ups and downs of owning a Kanni

These animals are a truly magnificent looking breed and their nobility shines through their strong, intelligent faces. If you’re looking for an animal that will defend you to the death and be the perfect long distance running companion, then look no further.

With the relative ease of training the Kanni and their shy nature they are fine for most family set ups but not, we would suggest, particularly suitable for first time owners. They do require a firm hand to control their independent desire to take off after the hunt and need strong guidance on when to exercise their protective instincts.

Once the Kanni is integrated into your ownership, you can expect a devoted, gentle and fun pet. They will need some mental as well as physical stimulation, so expect to play lots of games together.

The challenge for most Kanni owners is finding the time to make sure your dog gets all the exercise they need. For working owners it can be hard to carve out at least an hour every day devoted to letting your pet run around. Anything less than that though can lead to a bored, stressed and destructive dog.

The hope is that these lovely animals will once again start growing and thriving, both in their home country and across the globe.  The beautiful Kanni deserves a fighting chance of making a comeback and being invited into the hearts and homes of owners across the world.