Discovery Kyrgyzstan
 
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008
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The dog which is not for sale: Taigan, Kyrgyz Borzoi, Tajgan

The dog which is not for sale: Taigan, Kyrgyz Borzoi, Tajgan

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.

The dog which is not for sale: Taigan, Kyrgyz Borzoi, TajganThe 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 commands.

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.

The dog which is not for sale: Taigan, Kyrgyz Borzoi, TajganTaigan 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.

Discovery Kyrgyzstan #5

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