It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 that Kyrgyzstan achieved its status as a nation-state. It is now a country bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. Landlocked with mountainous terrain, Kyrgyzstan has extreme climate and unique wildlife. Around 94% of the country is at least 1,000 meters above sea level with about 500 snow leopards roaming around the mountains. Bordering with China, the country holds an event that is already banned and stamped illegal in many countries; dog fight. In 2011 the authorities had to take down 10,000 stray dogs around the capital of the country. One of the breed of dogs native to Kyrgyzstan that is never used in the fighting arena is called Taigan. Let us now get to know it better.
Taigan is a member of the Eastern Sighthound family that is spread from Northern Africa to Central Asia where Kyrgyzstan is situated. In the early history of the country, the majority of the Kyrgyz were nomadic people that migrated from Siberia to Central Asia. They already lived with dogs at that time, so it is suspected that the ancestor of Taigan come from several breeds.
When the Kyrgyz started to settle down, Taigan breeding was concentrated in several farms. But, after the Soviet Union broke up and Kyrgyzstan became an independent nation, the farms collapsed and people who lived in the rural areas returned to the nomadic life and brought the Taigans as their hunting companions. However, the upper class of the country respected Taigan as a symbol of national heritage and put the breed under the protection of Ministry of Environmental. So there has been two ways of living for this breed within the country – it is all about fate for each of them, just like for people.
Appearance and Temperament
If you have read this other article about Borzoi, a Russian native dog that is famous as a hunting companion, then you can picture Taigan better because these two dogs have similar looks – given both come from the hound family. Taigan is not as tall as Borzois since it belongs to the medium-size hound with average height around 58 to 69 centimeters and average weight around 24 to 33 kilograms. The legs are long and the body is clearly deep-chested. The coat is soft, long, wavy and thick that makes Taigan a perfect dog to hunt with in the mountain areas of Kyrgyzstan that can get really cold during winters. The coat comes in many colors including gray, brown, black, yellow, white, biscuit and the combinations of the colors.
Being a hound dog, Taigans are devoted to their people and make great companions. They are intelligent, alert, calm, sensitive and independent. Though can be quite reserved with strangers, Taigans can get aggressive if handled roughly. They can develop a strong bond with their closest people and would be more obedient if trained since puppies especially if they have to share spaces with children and other pets.
Health and Treatment
Similar with Borzois, Taigans with its deep-chested build are prone to gastric issue. Other than that, this breed is generally healthy and fit with minor records of hip dysplasia, cancer, and skin and food allergies. The life span of a Taigan is around 10 to 13 years. The coat needs to be brushed weekly, the nails trimmed monthly, teeth brushed twice a week, and the bath is only needed when the coat gets too dirty. Two portions of high nutritious dry kibble would be sufficient for this dog.
Like other hound dogs, Taigans need its long walk and secured space to run within. When taken for a walk, a Taigan must be put on a leash since it would be triggered to run after small animals due to its hunting instinct. When strangers come close to pet your Taigan, make sure to have them at a safe distance first and with treats in their hands to prevent the dog gets agitated.
Interesting Facts about Taigan
1. Initially bred and developed in the high lands of Kyrgyzstan, Taigan grows strong bone structure, thick coat and such a large lung capacity that allows it to work effectively at the altitudes up to 4,000 meters above sea level.
2. Unlike other hound dogs, Taigan could hunt not only with its sight but also hearing and nose as hunting in the mountain areas could be hard and tricky.
3. A Taigan has a unique feature at the end of the tail which is a vertebrae joint that makes it permanently curled like a ring.
4. A Taigan can run up to 60 kilometers per hour maximum.
5. A Taigan can work together with Golden Eagle to hunt down wolf, fox, jackal, badger, marmot, goat, wild sheep, Siberian deer, wild boar, pheasant and partridge. In open country hunting, Taigans can be compared with Borzois.
6. In Kyrgyzstan, nobody sells Taigans. These dogs are respected as loyal family members and can only be overhanded as gifts, not trading. To Kyrgyz, a Taigan is not just a pet but also a part of their tradition even though hunting has started to die down in the country.
7. Taigans can be without food and water for a long time and stand the extremely cold and hot weather of Kyrgystan. They are perfect hound dogs as the speed is amazing and the leap is high.
8. Taigan is not recognized by the American Kennel Club or FCI but known by the German Kennel Club. This is understandable as Taigan is a very rare dog and there are only a few of them left in the world.
Now that you already know facts about Taigan the sighthound dog from Kyrgyzstan, you can see beyond the breed itself but also its value as a living being.