Telomian breed: the tireless guardian

Molnár Enikő

2024. March 12 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Rarely do we come across this dog breed, as it only became popular in the '60s and '70s. The Telomian originally hails from Malaysia, where it is widespread as a rural guardian and hunting dog. It's easy to fall in love with these energetic, affectionate dogs, but keeping them requires more careful consideration than one might initially think.


The Telomian is a cheerful and lively dog breed with a long history, but it only entered public awareness 60 years ago. It is an indefatigable guardian, appreciated for its effectiveness against pests. Intelligent and adaptable, they are suitable for hunting and feel most comfortable with an active owner.


Originating from Malaysia, the Telomian is an ancient breed that indigenous people there used as a versatile working dog. They guarded homes and livestock, hunted small pests (including snakes), thus aiding the daily lives of the Orang Asli tribe for generations. Due to the tribe’s architecture, these dogs excel at climbing. Some canine experts believe that this breed bridges the characteristics of Basenjis and dingoes.

Interestingly, this is the only Malay dog breed found outside Malaysia today. In 1963, an American anthropologist, Dr. Orville Elliot, first documented the breed and gave it its known name since locals only referred to them as “Malay village dogs.” Shortly after, two dogs were transported to America, marking the beginning of breed breeding.

A peculiarity of this breed is the abundance of sources and breed descriptions, yet it remains debated whether they should be considered a separate dog breed. They are not registered with the American Kennel Club, but it’s worth noting that even the Mudis were not recognized until 2022.

Breed standard

The Telomian is of medium size, athletic, and muscular, with a slightly compact body and thin, proportionally elongated legs. It stands approximately 38-48 cm tall at the shoulder and typically weighs between 10-14 kilograms. Its short coat usually shines in shades of brown, often with white markings on the chest and paws. The head is strong, tapering towards the nose. Its ears stand erect and pointed, while its eyes are mostly brown. The tail is held horizontally, curving towards the body. Similar to the Chow Chow, they have a blue tongue, which can appear as spots or range from very light, barely noticeable blue to almost black.


These dogs are exceptionally intelligent and possess a very high energy level. They thrive on mental and physical challenges, making them excellent working dogs and adept hunters. Due to their heritage, they excel in guard duties, but they can also be great family pets because of their friendly, protective, and playful nature towards family members. They can be tolerant of children but may not appreciate being constantly bothered, so introductions and teaching children proper handling should be supervised. Interestingly, they rarely bark but are more prone to howling.

Similar to other small hunting breeds, they have strong personalities and can be stubborn and wilful, which might pose challenges during training. Hence, they might not be the best choice for first-time dog owners. However, with the right owner and environment, their adaptability shines through, and they can become affectionate and loving companions.

Ideal environment

Telomian is generally not recommended for apartment living unless the owner can dedicate plenty of time to properly tire them out. They are true guardians who take their protective duties seriously and thrive best in a large area where they can move around freely. They can be suitable companions for those who spend a lot of time outdoors and enjoy frequent hiking trips.

Due to their strong hunting instinct, it’s not recommended to have them in households with other small pets like cats. This doesn’t mean that with early socialization, this issue can’t be addressed, but their hunting tendency must be taken into consideration.


Their grooming needs are minimal, as their short coat is easy to manage. It’s advisable to regularly check their teeth and nails to prevent any issues. They are not particularly prone to obesity, especially if their basic physical needs are met. A balanced diet in the chosen form is sufficient for them.

Common health problems

They are very resilient dogs and not particularly prone to illnesses. Currently, there are no known health issues that are specifically characteristic of this breed. However, to ensure their well-being, it’s advisable to avoid cold environments as they originate from regions characterized by humidity and warmth.

Literature :János Szinák-Veress István: Dogs of the World 1-2

breed breed description breeds hunting dogs rare breed of dog telomian

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