The Central Asian tazi is a true treasure of Kazakh nomadic culture. Visually, the elegant greyhound is easily confused with the Persian Saluki, to which it is undoubtedly very closely related. We believe that the critically endangered breed should definitely be saved, so we present them briefly:
Identifying Features of the Tazi
There is no European breed standard for Taxis, but in Kazakhstan, they are listed as a separate breed. The regional types can hardly be distinguished from each other today and have been mixed up extensively over the past 100 years. There are no standards in German or English, only Russian descriptions give an indication of the breed standard maintained primarily in Kazakhstan. In general, greyhounds are still selected for breeding based on their health and hunting skills.
- Khiva Tazy
- Crimea Tazy
- Kyrgyz tazy
- Brother Tazy
- Christophersov Tazy
- Gorskie Tazy
- The strokes are no longer purebred today but crossed with each other. Almost all modern Taxis carry Horty and/or Brudy blood.
- Today the breed is divided into the larger Kazakh breed and the smaller Turkmen breed.
- Shi-Taxis is a small special form of the Kazakh Taxis.
Height and weight
Measured at the withers, males should be at least 60 cm tall, they can grow up to 70 cm. Despite their stately size, they are very slim and bony and only weigh about 20 to 23 kilograms.
Breed Description According to the Kazakh Standard
- The head is lean, with a “sharp” occiput and a very narrow, wedge-shaped skull.
- There are no wrinkles on the muzzle, the entire muzzle appears long, straight, and very narrow, as is typical for all greyhounds. The stop is hardly pronounced so that the bridge of the nose merges harmoniously with the forehead. The nose should always be black or at least dark in color.
- The lop ears start at the back of the head and lie close together. They are well feathered, but not as pronounced as in the Saluki. The ear lobes are shaped like narrow triangles with rounded tips.
- According to the breed standard, the dogs should have “black, bulging eyes”. They are round and so dark in color that the iris can only be seen up close.
- A particularly beautiful feature of the breed is the long, narrow neck, which merges into a chest that is quite broad for sighthounds, and which tapers slightly towards the front. The shoulders are muscular and clearly visible.
- The upper profile line is slightly humped in males, in females, one speaks of a “bank” because their spine is straight. Protruding hip bones are perfectly normal, even in well-fed dogs.
- The elbows are slightly turned outwards on the forelegs. Overall, the legs appear very sinewy and bony, and the muscles in the body are graceful in action. The hindquarters are erect, with the thighs wide apart.
- The toes are very narrow and give the dog more support when standing. With their sinewy heel and strong toes, the paws appear similar to rabbit feet.
- The dry tail should not be much thicker than a finger and is well feathered on the underside. It is usually worn like a sickle.
Coat and Colors of the Central Asian greyhound
The fur is not particularly warm, but according to the breed standard, it is of good quality. It is wavy and rather silky in texture, the feathering on the tail and ears are striking. Since there is no undercoat, the fur feels very soft and delicate. Pants or feathering on the underside of the body almost never appear.
A Valuable Legacy of Kazakh Culture
The word Тазы́ is generally used in the Russian language environment for sighthounds of any type but also serves as a breed name for the среднеазиатская борзая, the Central Asian sighthound. The Central Asian Tazi is not recognized as an independent dog breed in Europe and is therefore completely unknown among European dog lovers. It is estimated that there are only about 300 Central Asian Taxis left in Kazakhstan and a few hundred copies worldwide. The venerable history of the breed is in no way inferior to others:
The emergence of the Taxis
- Where Taxis came from can no longer be clarified exactly today. They are thought to have evolved as regional breeds from descendants of Salukis. The oldest Kazakh representations and mentions of greyhounds in Central Asia go back to the 12th century BC.
- Modern southern Kazakhstan is named as the region of origin, from the Karatau Mountains to Semirechye.
- For centuries, taxis have accompanied nomadic tribes in Central Asia and are therefore perfectly adapted to life and hunting in the steppes. They have always been valued for their great hunting skills.
- A tazi in ancient times was worth a slave or nearly 50 horses. The dogs fed entire families and contributed significantly to the nutrition of their owners. In contrast to other dog breeds, Taxis were allowed to live in the house as early as the 18th century and were held in high esteem by their owners.
- The first official breed descriptions were published in 1932. In the 1930s, the breed was also deliberately bred as wolf hunters for fur makers and farmers. At that time, the number of Taxis was estimated at over 10,000.
- In the course of the following decades, targeted Tazi breeding was almost completely discontinued. It was not until the 1980s that renewed efforts to preserve the breed began. Commercial breeding has been practiced since 1996 but is almost exclusively limited to Kazakhstan.
- Since 2007, the Suzy has been considered an independent breed in Kazakhstan with a modern breed standard.
Stories and legends about the Central Asian greyhounds
This is something very special for Kazakhs. “One Tazi feeds the whole farm” is still roughly translated today in the home of the animals. They are held in such high esteem in Kazakhstan that people don’t like to call them dogs, but consider them members of the family. Two special abilities of greyhounds give their humans so much respect for them:
- In the 1930s, Taxis captured about 50% of all wolf skins made in Russia.
- Traditionally they are used together with golden eagles. The eagle tracks down the game, which is then tracked down and killed by the dog.
- Taxis seek out and kill wolves entirely on their own, which requires a great deal of courage, agility, and strength.
- Taxis catch small and large game such as deer, foxes, badgers, wolves, and rabbits.
- They are extremely independent and bring home large prey themselves.
- According to a Kazakh legend, the greyhounds cannot be bought, they can only be found in the nests of certain ducks. It is said that whoever finds a Tazi egg will have a happy life.