ASTANA – The tazy, one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, has a special meaning for the Kazakh people and has become part of the country’s cultural heritage.
Local scientists still argue about their appearance in Kazakhstan: some say it happened more than 7,000 years ago, and other researchers believe they appeared “only” 4,000 years ago.
The tazy is widely appreciated for its exceptional qualities: they are outstanding hunters in the steppe and in mountainous areas. They have an incredibly sensitive smell and can run for a long time at a speed of 12-15 kilometers per hour.
Tazys were used to hunt gazelles, saigas (small antelopes), foxes, hares and wolves and could save entire villages from starvation. According to the Zheti Zhargy (Seven Charters) set of laws, which was created by Tauke Khan in the 17th century, one Tazy could replace the bride’s dowry of almost fifty horses.
In an interview with The Astana Times, Inna Nazarenko, who acts as the chief cynologist of the National Association of Public Organizations of Hunters “Kansonar”, spoke about the status of the hunting dog in Kazakhstan and in the world, the how dog owners should care for their special breed and what support the state gives to the study and conservation of this breed.
How many tazys live in Kazakhstan and why is it important to preserve them?
According to Nazarenko, registration of hunting dogs is not compulsory in the country.
“Unofficial sources report that there are nearly 2,000 people across the country,” Nazarenko said.
The preservation of this breed is necessary for the country, because dogs, carriers of the history of the Kazakh people, have managed to survive to this day. The tazy have indeed been used with great success in commercial hunting because the dog catches the prey and does not damage its skins or spoil the meat.
Nazarenko said that the dog is now considered a Central Asian Shepherd Dog, but local cynologists do not agree with this title, so their goal is to give the dog the status of “Kazakh Tazy” at the levels national and international. Thus, the dog should officially become the national heritage of the country.
“Our breeders, dog keepers and the state should unite and do a lot of work to prove that the tazy breed comes from Kazakhstan. We have proven that tazy is an independent breed and not a variety of already registered dogs,” said underlined Nazarenko.
Are there concerns for the future of the dogs?
Nazarenko explained that it is difficult to answer the question because the total number of dogs in the country is not registered. However, there is another significant problem – the negligent attitude towards the tazy among breeders and owners, a trend that was observed several years ago.
“We have seen many abandoned dogs, whose owners forgot them on the hunt and did not come back to pick them up. We also know that some owners sometimes did not feed their tazys because they thought the hunting dogs could feed them Now the attitude has changed drastically and has become respectful: dogs are cared for, fed and respected,” she added.
According to Nazarenko, the tazy should be kept near livestock on peasant farms to protect the animals, since this is the main function of the dog. The Tazy feels good and confident in this environment.
“If a tazy dog does not see the steppes and does not smell blood, then such a dog is useless. Tazys are not allowed to be kept on a chain in the city, because then they will not be able to manifest their inherent natural qualities and can become easily excited and aggressive,” Nazarenko emphasized.
In addition to these recommendations, Tazy owners should consult with experts to properly select the correct Tazy female if they wish to crossbreed their dog with another.
“To date, the birth of the puppies is not registered, which means that we have dogs, but we are not able to assess them, so it will be difficult to prove to international organizations that our tazys are pedigree pure,” Nazarenko said.
About state support and necessary measures for the conservation of Tazy
In September, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed the Department of Presidential Affairs to coordinate work on the preservation of national heritage – the Kazakh breeds of Tazys and Tobets.
“It was certainly a joy for the whole ‘canine world’, for everyone in it. To date, working groups have been created to discuss all issues related to national dog breeds. It is planned to enact laws on the preservation of the national breeds of tazy and tobet,” Nazarenko said.
The video shows the recent open competition between tazys “Shyrga tartu” held in the village of Aktogai in the Pavlodar region.