India's Matchmaking Craze ... for Dogs

PHOTO Dog MatchingABC News

Like pet owners across the world, Pratima Kahalawat loves her dogs like family. But unlike most dog owners, she faces a serious predicament.

"I have problem with this one, Mozo," she said, pointing to her beloved American cocker spaniel. "I'm not getting a bride for him."

Kahalawat has been looking for a mate for her precious pooch for over a year -- with no luck. To her dismay, and his, Mozo is still a virgin.

Love Sick PuppiesPlay

Thoroughbred dogs are all the rage in India and for the surging middle class, pedigree pups have become a status symbol. Given India's obsession with marriage, it's no surprise that pet owners want their dogs to tie the knot suitably.

Some Indians are falling back on a time-honored tradition: the matchmaker.

Vishal Sharma, a vet and owner of the pet shop Pets Planet, in Dehli, launched a dog matrimonial Web site, offering matchmaking services to the scores of Indians looking for love for their dogs. He says business is booming.

"They are very much interested that their dog should get married sometimes at least so that a whole life cycle should be complete," he said. "And it should have a normal life. Sometimes the pet becomes irritated if it is not mated at least once in its life. They think if they don't get it mated some physiological or psychological problems can be there."

But there's a growing problem since the vast majority of dog owners opt for males.

"This is the Indian mentality," said Sharma. "They said, 'No, we don't want female, we want a male only.'"

Sharma said the preference for male dogs comes in part from the belief that females -- with their menstrual cycles and propensity for puppies -- are messier.

But now, females are in high demand as mates. Sharma said that the female section on the Pets Planet Web site is completely empty.

Dating Prospects Grim

Despite the matchmaker's best effort to match dogs like Mozo with a female of the same breed, it's becoming increasingly difficult.

Pet owners post lonely hearts advertisements in the window, but it's clear that for dogs like Franky the Pekinese and Don the Rottweiler, dating prospects are grim.

And not all breeds are created equal. Among the most presitigious breeds are poodles, pugs, Labradors and dalmations. I showed Sharma pictures of my two poodles, Angel and Truffle.

"These [poodles] are high in demand in India, you know, this is coming in trend," he said. "This is considered to be a status symbol if you are keeping a poodle because if you keep a poodle even a single haircut can cost you 2,000 rupees."

That's more than $40 -- a small fortune in a country where millions of people live on less than a dollar a day. But these pet owners say it's a small price for the prestige.

Given her problems getting Mozo married off, Kahalawat now only buys female dogs. Minky is her newest pup.

So far, she said, Mozo has tried to put the moves on Minky -- without success.

"[Mozo] has tried, he has tried, but somehow he wasn't successful," she said, "Maybe because of the size."

"I'm still trying," she added, on her search for Mozo's bride, "I haven't given up."