Dog specialists rightly value the Anatolian
Karabash, Shar-Pei and other "blue blood" species most highly because
of their rarity and the high demand for them at auctions. Few people
know that in the heart of Central Asia, in Kyrgyzstan, there is a breed
of Taigan which has been largely forgotten. The breed numbers barely
300 and is unfortunately decreasing.
Steppes and mountains stretch along the
Kyrgyz-China border. The altitude of the plateaus is about 2100 m. Any
dog out to worry foxes, marmots, badgers, hares, wild cats, wolves and
various hoofed animals in such conditions would have to be very strong
and sturdy. For centuries local people bred borzoi to adapt to hunting
in this area. The Taigan was always highly rated in its native land.
However as the need for hunting for food diminished, so too did the
need for the Taigan.
local proverb goes: "Taigan is running - blood is gushing from its
ears", an expression of admiration by the Kyrgyz for the impetuous
speed and single-mindedness of their animals, oblivious to the pain its
back paws cause to its ears as it tears along. Indeed the Taigan has no
equal in cross-country running. It is apt that the best of this species
are called Kara-Kush - the black bird. Like a shadow the Taigan glides
along taking all obstacles in its stride. It is amazing to watch it
bound and turn at full speed. From time to time the Taigan leaps like a
Persian gazelle, looking around, easily scaling steep slopes and
freezing at a scent, as if posing for an invisible painter.
The Taigan has all the best attributes of the
eastern borzois. Unlike its western congeners, which specialize in
chasing animals in open country, the Taigan has no problem in
overcoming mountainous terrain and is tireless in worrying the prey
cross-country. The Taigan can also track the prey using scent. Once
fresh tracks are located, the borzoi follows them to the den or lair
and then on seeing the animal courses the prey. The Taigan uses scent
to find the prey in wild grass and brush.
The eastern borzois often tear the prey before the
hunters arrive, which is why the hunters use good horses. In the West
the excitement of the hunt was everything and not much obedience was
expected of the dog. But in the East the hunt was above all the source
of food, which is why the Taigan does not tear the prey, rather
protects it and if it is small, takes it to his master.
The Taigan shows an extraordinary aptitude for
hunting and is skilled at all aspects, whether it be baiting or
rattling, whether the hunt is for animals or birds. Whatever the master
Hunting with golden eagles, a very ancient skill,
is still popular in Kyrgyzstan. The Taigan, which is highly intelligent
as well as obedient, works perfectly in tandem with these majestic
birds. The berkutch, the hunters with the golden eagle, highly value
Taigan. It should be noted that the Taigan is unpretentious, sturdy,
can manage without food and water for a long time, and can withstand
hot and cold weather. The Taigan alone can hunt down the wolf. In
running the Taigan shows incredible mobility, it can turn at full speed
and keep running. It can leap high. On wild sheep and goat hunts the
Taigan can even pursue the prey on impossibly steep slopes, either
keeping them at bay or killing them.
can be used for hunting animals and birds in steppes, plains and
mountains, and even compare well with the other borzois in open country
hunting. Taigan can successfully hunt for wolf, jackal, fox, badger,
marmot, beech-marten, corsac, goat, wild sheep, roe deer, Siberian
deer, wild boar, saiga, pheasant and partridge.
A few examples of the breed are protected by
locals adhering to the old traditions who do not take kindly to anyone
- foreign or local - taking an interest in their pets. This is
understandable when you consider that hunting is their passion; a while
ago it was a part of the Kyrgyz way of life and now it is destroyed by
the iron horse of the civilization. In Kyrgyzstan nobody sells these
dogs; they are only presented as gifts to relatives and friends. They
form strong bonds with their owners, they are beautiful dogs and have
proven capabilities all of which mean that although Taigan are now
rarely used for hunting, they are still regarded as precious.