The Taigan is a dog breed that comes from Kyrgyzstan. It isn’t the most common dog breed that can be found out there. However, the Taigan is held in high esteem by the Kyrgyz people because of its cultural role as well as other characteristics. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Taigan:
1. Sometimes Called By Other Names
The Taigan isn’t particularly well-known in the west. As a result, interested individuals might see references to it using one of its other names. For example, the Taigan is sometimes called the Kyrgyz Sighthound, which is a very simple and straightforward because it is indeed a sighthound. Similarly, the Taigan is sometimes called Kyrgyzskaya Borzaya, which isn’t a Kyrgyz term but a Russian term.
2. Is a Sighthound
It is common for hounds to be divided up into three categories, which would be sighthounds, scenthounds, and those who share characteristics with both sighthounds and scenthounds. Essentially, sighthounds are reliant on their sense of sight to keep up with their prey, with the result that they are fast runners. In contrast, scenthounds are reliant on their sense of smell to keep up with their prey, with the result that they are built for endurance. As for the third, those would be the hounds who use both sight and scent when tracking, meaning that they can’t be categorized as either sighthounds or scenthounds with ease. The Taigan is considered to be a sighthound, which should provide interested individuals with a very general idea of what to expect.
3. Comes from Kyrgyzstan
As mentioned earlier, the Taigan comes from Kyrgyzstan, which isn’t exactly a well-known country in the west. For those who are curious, it is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Given its name, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Kyrgyz people make up the majority of the people living in Kyrgyzstan. However, there are also sizable Uzbek and Russian minorities. Kyrgyz culture is Turkic but shows Iranic, Mongolian, and Russian influence, which makes sense because it has been the crossroads for more than one commercial route over the course of its existence.
4. Associated with Tian Shan
Kyrgyzstan is bordered by the countries of China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. This matters because the Taigan is associated with the Tian Shan region, which can sound rather strange because that is a Chinese-sounding name rather than a Kyrgyz-sounding name. However, it will make more sense once interested individuals realize that the Tian Shan region is a system of Central Asian mountain ranges situated on the border between China and Kyrgyzstan. Tian Shan is the Chinese name, which sees the most use in English, but there are other names for the same region such as both Tengri Tagh and Tengir-Too. Every single one of these names can be translated to something along the lines of either “Heavenly Mountain” or “Mountains of Heaven.”
5. Has Close Relatives
This dog breed has become rather rare in modern times. However, it is interesting to note that the Taigan has a number of close relatives in the region. For example, it is related to the sighthound called the Tazy, which comes from Kazakhstan. Similarly, it is related to the Afghan Hound, which is another sighthound that originated in Afghanistan before spreading elsewhere.
6. Supposedly Descended from a Bird
There is a local legend about the Taigan’s origins. Supposedly, the first member of the dog breed was hatched from an egg that had been stolen from a mountain vulture. However, he proved to be an exceptional dog who managed to save his entire village by driving off the wolves that had been threatening its livestock.
7. Good at High Altitudes
As mentioned earlier, the Taigan is associated with a particularly mountainous region of a particularly mountainous country. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it possesses good stamina in high altitudes, which is important because animals that don’t can struggle a great deal in said environments. Something that is particularly true when they engage in the kind of intense physical exertion that is expected from the Taigan.
8. Sometimes Used in Combination with Birds of Prey
It is interesting to note that the Taigan is sometimes used in combination with birds of prey that have been trained for hunting. In particular, they are paired up with golden eagles, which are one of the best-known eagle species that can be found out there. Partly, this is because golden eagles are so widespread. Said species can be found in huge stretches of Eurasia, North Africa, and North America, which is a reduction from its former range because it has seen serious losses because of human encroachment on its habitats. Besides this, it should also be noted that golden eagles are one of the most studied eagle species, not least because it has been a well-regarded bird for falconry for centuries and centuries. As such, it makes sense that the Taigan would get paired up with golden eagles for hunting purposes by those who own them.
9. Courageous Animals
Hounds are often courageous animals. After all, they are often expected to take on other animals, which is a process that comes with serious risks even if they possess a physical advantage. The Taigan is sometimes used to hunt smaller animals such as foxes and badgers, which are nonetheless capable of putting up a real fight. However, it is important to note that the dog breed is also sometimes expected to take on wolves and wildcats, which are even more formidable when pressed. Naturally, this means that the Taigan tends to be a courageous animal with plenty of fortitude packed into it.
10. Numbers Have Seen Significant Decline
Unfortunately, the Taigan has seen significant decline in recent decades. There is nothing nefarious about this. Instead, the Taigan is yielding ground because hunting has become less important in its homeland. Still, Kyrgyzstan prizes the dog breed, so there are institutions working to ensure its survival into the future. Furthermore, said institutions aren’t limited to its homeland, as shown by the interest of the Russian Kennel Club as well.