Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are seeing one of the many Street dogs sleeping in Mumbai, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Street dogs are known as free-ranging urban dogs or urban free-ranging dogs and they are unconfined dogs that live in cities. They live virtually wherever cities exist and the local human population allows, especially in the developing world such as India. Street dogs may be stray dogs, pets which have strayed from or are allowed freedom by their owners or may be feral animals that have never been owned.
Street dogs are known as free-ranging urban dogs or urban free-ranging dogs and they are unconfined dogs that live in cities. They live virtually wherever cities exist and the local human population allows, especially in the developing world such as India. Street dogs may be stray dogs, pets which have strayed from or are allowed freedom by their owners or may be feral animals that have never been owned.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 21, 2024

Street dogs in India

Street dogs may be stray purebreds, true mixed-breed dogs or unbred landraces such as the 'Indian pariah dog'. Street dog overpopulation can cause problems for the societies in which they live, so campaigns to spay and neuter them are sometimes implemented. They tend to differ from rural free-ranging dogs in their skill sets, socialization and ecological effects.

How many street animals are there in India?

There are an estimated 30 million free-roaming dogs on India's streets. There are also cows, cats, donkeys and other animals that live on the streets with none to care for them when they become sick or injured.

A common sight in many parts of India
Street dogs in India are a common sight in many parts of the country and these animals are often seen roaming around in groups, scavenging for food and shelter. They are an integral part of the urban landscape in many cities and towns. In India, street dogs are seen as a nuisance by some people, while others view them as part of the local culture and a source of comfort and companionship.

Unfortunately, in many places they also face a lot of abuse and neglect. Street dogs in India are a major public health concern, as they can carry and spread various diseases. These include 'Rabies', 'Distemper' and 'Parvovirus'. Street dogs are also a source of danger to humans, as they can sometimes become aggressive and attack people. The Government of India has taken various measures to try and control the street dog population and this includes capturing and neutering the animals, as well as providing medical care and vaccinations.

"In addition to these measures, there are also several animal welfare organisations that are working to help street dogs in India. These organisations provide food, shelter and medical care for the animals, as well as trying to raise awareness about their plight. Street dogs may not be the most popular residents of India, but they are an important part of the country's culture and landscape. With the right kind of help and support, these animals can live in harmony with their human neighbors"

Roaming pets in India

Barking and howling and dog fights over mating among dogs can be very disturbing to people and the smell of dog urine which is an unsavory product of territory marking can become quite pungent, especially among unspayed or neutered dog. To survive, street dogs need to avoid conflict with humans. However, dog bites can occur when dogs are trying to mate or fighting among themselves and pedestrians and other humans in the vicinity may be bitten by fighting dogs.

In addition, females with pups are often protective and may bite people who approach their litter. Dogs are known to be a highly adaptive and intelligent species and to survive in modern cities, street dogs must be able to navigate traffic. Much of the urban stray population consists of mongrels or mix-breeds, who are descended from pure-breed dogs, who have been allowed by their owners to interbreed with 'Pariahs' and the size of stray dog populations always corresponds to the size and character of the human population of the area.

Street dog sleeping in the street
Some of the stray dogs in Mumbai are seen crossing the large streets at pedestrian crosswalks. The dogs have probably noticed that when humans cross streets at such markings, cars tend to stop. The dogs have accustomed themselves to the flow of pedestrian and automobile traffic, where they sit patiently with the people at the curb when they are stopped for a red light and then cross with them as if a daily routine. As a result of the virtual extermination by the veterinary drug diclofenac of the vultures which formerly ate animal carcasses and well as dead humans, urban India has two features which create and sustain street dog populations.

Large amounts of exposed animal carcasses, which provide an abundant source of food and a huge population of slum and street-dwellers whose way of life includes keeping the dogs as free-roaming pets. For instance, Mumbai has over 12 million human residents, of whom over half are Slum dwellers. At least 500 tons of garbage remain uncollected daily. Therefore, conditions are perfect for supporting a particularly large population of stray dogs. India has the highest number of human rabies deaths in the world, which is estimated at 20,000 every year. The term 'Pariah dog' has been used inconsistently, but is sometimes used synonymously, if incorrectly, with free-ranging dog.

'"Pariah dogs' are canines that have kept close to the original form and have evolved with little or no purposeful human intervention. 'Pariahs' in all countries tend toward a very similar. Typically, these canids have a spitz-like appearance. A wedge-shaped head with a pointed muzzle, almond eyes, erect ears and a long, tail curved over the back"

Unlike modern breeds, 'Pariah dogs' have one annual estrus cycle. People sometimes distinguish between stray dogs and feral dogs. Stray refers to lost and abandoned pets or others that had socialized to humans before taking to the free-ranging life and feral to dogs that have lived all their lives apart from people. This distinction is important to them, because stray dogs can be relatively easily taken into captivity, whereas feral dogs are more fearful and difficult to keep as pets and so are more often captured, spayed or neutered and released back into the parks, vacant lots and other hiding places on the margins of human society where they are most commonly found.

Feral 'Wild animal' implies the animals that have run wild or having escaped from domestication. Feral dogs include the second generation offspring of former strays which, having had little or no contact or bonding with humans, may have formed pack communities and reverted to instinctive canine behaviors and they may scavenge for food on the periphery of human populations.

"Originally, it referred to the landrace of free-ranging dogs native to India and other Asian countries. It later came to be used for primitive natural breeds of dogs of a similar physical appearance in other parts of the world. Primitive dogs are distinctive, local, free-ranging landraces. Breeds recently developed from naturally selected populations and very ancient breeds"

See this video about street dogs in India made by India Today.

The photographer's own experience with street dogs in India
"- One of the most striking aspects of India's vibrant and diverse landscape is the presence of its street dogs. While their presence is pervasive, many people have a preconceived notion of them as being strays, unwanted and even dangerous. However, my firsthand experience with India's street dogs revealed a side of them that is often overlooked – their resilience, intelligence and the heartwarming bond they have with locals", the Photographer says.

"- As I ventured into the bustling streets of India's cities and villages, I was immediately greeted by the sight of these furry companions. They roamed the streets with an air of independence, their tails wagging with curiosity as they observed the world around them. Despite their often meager existence, they carried themselves with an innate dignity that was both humbling and inspiring. What surprised me most was the deep-seated connection between street dogs and the local communities. I witnessed the kindness and compassion of people towards these animals, often sharing their meager meals with them or providing them with shelter from the harsh elements. The dogs, in turn, seemed to reciprocate this affection, forming strong bonds with their human counterparts"
, the Photographer says again.

"- One particular incident that touched my heart involved a young boy and his canine companion. The boy, barely out of elementary school, would often spend his days walking the streets with his furry friend, the two of them inseparable. They would play together, eat together and sleep together, forming a bond that transcended the boundaries of language and species. As I delved deeper into the lives of India's street dogs, I discovered a thriving network of organizations dedicated to their welfare. These organizations provided food, shelter and veterinary care to these animals, ensuring their well-being and improving their quality of life. Their work was truly remarkable, demonstrating the compassion and dedication of individuals who were committed to making a positive difference in the lives of these often-overlooked creatures"
, the Photographer says again.

"- My experience with India's street dogs was a profound reminder of the resilience and spirit of these animals and the deep connection they have with humans. They are not simply strays or nuisances – they are sentient beings with their own unique personalities and stories to tell. Their presence adds a layer of vibrancy and character to India's rich tapestry and their resilience in the face of adversity is an inspiration to all. I encourage anyone visiting India to take the time to appreciate these remarkable animals and to learn about the work being done to protect and care for them. By understanding their plight, we can all become part of the solution, helping to ensure that India's street dogs continue to enrich the lives of those they encounter"
, the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Mumbai street child

Mumbai street child

Read also:  Mumbai street child

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a street dog in Mumbai. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.