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Himalayan Sheepdog

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021
The Himalayan Sheepdog is a large purebred from Nepal and India bred to be a herding dog and livestock guardian. Its other names include the Himalayan Shepherd, Himalayan Shepherd Dog, Bhotiya, Bhote Kukkur, Gaddi, Gaddi Leopardhund, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayan Guard Dog, Himalayan Mastiff Guard Dog and Himalayan Chamba Gaddi. It has a life span of 10 to 14 years and is rare beyond its home regions. It is mostly still used for herding today but as well as being hard working it is also a good and loyal companion.
Himalayan Sheepdog at a Glance
Name Himalayan Sheepdog
Other names Himalayan Shepherd, Himalayan Shepherd Dog, Bhotiya, Bhote Kukkur, Gaddi, Gaddi Leopardhund, Himachal Pradesh, Himalayan Guard Dog, Himalayan Mastiff Guard Dog, Himalayan Chamba Gaddi
Nicknames HS, HSD
Origin Nepal
Average size Large
Average weight 65 to 85 pounds
Average height 24 to 32 inches
Life span 10 to 14 years
Coat type Dense, rough, long
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, light brown, beige
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Above average
Tolerance to heat Good
Tolerance to cold Good to very good
Shedding Average to frequent – will be hair around the home
Drooling Above average to high – expect drool and slobber
Obesity Above average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Above average – Brush three to four times a week
Barking Occasional – but its bark is deep and loud
Exercise needs Very active so needs active owners
Trainability Hard so experience helps
Friendliness Very good
Good first dog Moderate – best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Good to very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good to very good with socialization
Good with strangers Good but wary – make sure it is well socialized
Good apartment dog Moderate – needs a home with space and a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone for long periods of time
Health issues Quite healthy, a few issues include joint dysplasia, patellar luxation, obesity and arthritis
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $1000 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported “

The Himalayan Sheepdog’s Beginnings

The Himalayan Sheepdog does not have very clear origins as it is truly an ancient breed, dating back to times when records and documentation were not kept. It comes from Nepal and the north of India and was used by local tribes in those regions as a herding dog and guard dog. It would help them move their flocks and guard them too from dangerous predators. It has also been used over the years to hunt large game and has adapted to be able to be agile and weather resistant even in harsh terrains and cold climates of the mountains. It is similar in that regard to dogs like Tibetan and Indian Mastiffs and it is believed to be related to the Tibetan long haired Kinnaur Sheepdog.

It has been a loyal driver, herder and guardian for thousands of years and those guarding duties extended to tribe encampments as well as the flocks. It is believed the Tibetan Mastiff may have actually been used in its development. It is a type of Gaddi dog, a term the people in those regions give to all big dogs from the Himalayas. Gaddi covers different breeds with different purposes. The Himalayan Sheepdog has a variety of names because it changes from one area to the next. In Nepal it is more likely to be called a Bhote Kukkur or Bhotiya for example. .

New Lease on Life

Unfortunately the Himalayan Sheepdog is currently in need of a new lease of life as it is on the edge of extinction because of no breeding program, not enough breeders committed to helping them and the gene pool being diluted. It is basically unknown outside of its home regions, but there it more known though the numbers are not looking good. In 2005 four commemorative stamps were issued by India Post depicting 4 native breeds, these were the Mudhol Hound, the Rampur Hound, the Rajapalyam and the Himalayan Sheepdog. Apart from in India and Nepal it is not recognized by many major kennel clubs elsewhere in the world, and that includes the AKC. .

The Dog You See Today

The Himalayan Sheepdog is a large athletic dog weighing 65 to 85 pounds and standing 24 to 32 inches tall. It has a muscled and strongly built body and it is worth noting that dogs bred out in their natural mountain terrain tend to be more stocky and powerful while those in kennels tend to be taller. It has a strong neck and shoulders and a deep chest. Its front legs are straight and the dew claws are usually removed. The tail is medium length, bushy and thick and set high and it is usually held curled lightly over its back. It is often compared to the Tibetan and Newfoundland Mastiff but is shorter and lighter. .

It has a double coat, the under is thick and soft and the outer is weather-resistant protecting it from the cold, harsh and long. Common colors are white, black, tan and golden. It has a mane of longer hair around its neck. It has a broad head that is medium to large with a wide forehead and is flat on top. The muzzle is wide, strong and pointed and the nose is black. The ears are set high and are triangular and hang down close to the head. They are of medium length. Its medium sized eyes are deep set and close and almond shaped. .

The Inner Himalayan Sheepdog


It is important to ensure this dog is well exercised and trained and then it can be a faithful companion as well as being a working dog. It is loyal with its owners and can be gentle, affectionate and acceptable family pets. It is intelligent and out working it is fearless, brave and committed. With strangers though it is more wary and even suspicious which can turn to aggression. It has a strong stubborn side, being strong willed and obstinate so needs experienced, confident and firm owners. It is playful and affectionate towards other family members but tends to bond more closely with one owner, the one that exercises and trains it. .

It is territorial and alert and will bark its deep and loud bark to let you know if a stranger is approaching or trying to get in. It is also likely to defend its home and its family. It is not at all an indoor dog, it needs to be out, protecting, droving and even sometimes hunting. It does not like to be alone for long periods though, it needs some attention and companionship. .

Living with a Himalayan Sheepdog

What will training look like?

Being this independent and strong willed dog it is not easy to train and takes experience, patience, consistency and an owner with a strong will of their own. You need to be able to make it clear you are the pack leader being firm with it but still use positive training techniques, motivate, reward and encourage it. Also try to avoid sessions that are too long and repetitive, when it gets bored it will lose focus. Several shorter more engaging sessions are going to more effective than longer ones. Make sure you also start socialization early with it, introduce it to different people, places, animals, situations and sounds so it learns how to react to them in an acceptable way. .

How active is the Himalayan Sheepdog?

This is a very active breed, it was developed to be a working dog, able to work for hours outside with its flock duties. If it is not a working dog it will need two or three long vigorous walks a day, along with physical playtime with you too. It would also be happy to join you for jogs, hikes or any other exercise activity you might do outside. Do not leave it alone for long hours in the home, if it gets bored it will get destructive and hard to control. It is not an apartment dog at all, it needs space in its home and at the minimum a large yard, but best with some kind of acreage. It is definitely a rural dog not an urban one. .

Caring for the Himalayan Sheepdog

Grooming needs

It sheds an average amount so expect some loose hair around the home that will need picking up, and give it a brush twice a week to keep up with that and get rid of other debris and such. In winter time the coat is thicker so brushing may take longer. It also means come spring it will shed that heavy coat in heavy clumps so a daily brush is needed, and there will be a lot of hair in the home and on you. Bathe it just when it is needed to avoid damaging its natural oils and at bath times you should only use a shampoo made specifically for canines. .

Other grooming and care involves looking after its nails, its ears and its oral hygiene. The last one means giving it a teeth brushing at least a couple of times a week, daily is preferable though. Use a dog toothpaste and toothbrush to do this. Its nails will need clipping when they are too long taking care not to cut into the quick of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves. Accidentally cutting those will hurt your dog a lot and actually cause a surprising amount of bleeding. Then its ears should be given a weekly inspection for infections signs like a bad odor or discharge, and a clean with a damp cloth or dog ear cleanser. Only wipe at the parts you can reach easily. .

Feeding Time

The Himalayan Sheepdog will eat about 3 to 4 cups of a good to excellent quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. The amount varies depending on its level of activity, metabolism, size, health and age. Make sure there is water and that it is kept as fresh as possible. .

How is the Himalayan Sheepdog with children and other animals?

If well socialized and especially when raised with them too the Himalayan Sheepdog is patient and good with children. It will happily play for ages with them but supervision may be a good idea with young children as they can get knocked over! Be sure to teach your children how to stroke, touch and play in an acceptable way with the dog. It can be tolerant of other dogs with good socialization but being territorial if a strange dog comes into what it deems its space there may be issues, and will be if both are not neutered. With other pets if it has grown up in a home with them it accepts them as part of the family in most cases, but some are jealous about the attention other animals get so take care with that. .

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Himalayan has a life span of about 10 to 14 years and is quite a healthy breed but some issues to look out for are joint dysplasia, patellar luxation, obesity, eye problems, arthritis and ear infections. .

Biting Statistics

In reports of dog attacks against people that have done bodily harm in North America over the last 35 years there is no mention of the Himalayan Sheepdog. It does need good socialization and training though to make sure its protective instincts do not lead to over reacting. No dog is completely guaranteed at all times to be 100% safe, but raising your dog properly and giving it the exercise, mental stimulation and companionship it needs can help lower the odds. It is not surprising too that there is not mention of this dog since in that region it is almost unheard of! .

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Himalayan Sheepdog puppy will cost about $800 from a decent breeder and more than that if you are wanting to work with a top breeder. Take time to explore your options and check the breeders out making sure they are reputable and have experience and rule out ones that are certainly not like backyard breeders, some pet stores and puppy mills. Make sure you consider the fact that finding a breeder outside of India and Nepal is a lot harder. If you can also think about whether you can adopt there are rescues and shelters with lots of dogs hoping someone takes them to their forever home. Fees for adoption tend to run from $50 to $400.

When you have a dog that is on its way home get some items that you will need like a crate, carrier, bowls, leash and collar and such for a cost of about $240. The health costs are another factor when it is home, as it will need some initial medical check ups and procedures such as a physical exam, shots, micro chipping, blood tests, deworming and spaying or neutering. These come to about $290. .

Then there are the ongoing costs to being a pet owner. It is your responsibility to give it good basic health and have pet insurance to cover emergency health issues and that will cost about $485 a year. Feeding the dog will cost another $270 for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Other costs like toys, basic training, license and miscellaneous items come to about $245 a year. This means a total annual cost is $1000 as a starting figure. .


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The Himalayan Sheepdog is a working dog first and then a companion though for very active and experienced owners it can be the latter, it would just take a lot more commitment to see that it gets what it needs. Be prepared for training to be a gradual process and for that seasonal heavy shedding. Make sure it is well trained and socialized so that its territorial instincts and wariness around strangers do not become an issue. .

Featured Image Credit: ayush sam, Shutterstock


Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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