By Arthur

The name of this rare breed is sometimes written as Tajgan or Tagan (pronounced `tie-gun’) and means ‘swift, fast’. It is also called the Kirghiz Greyhound, the Kirgizskaya Borzaya or the Kirghiz Borzoi, which means ‘greyhound of Kyrgyzstan’. It is a large sighthound developed to hunt antelope, wild goat, wild sheep, fox, marmot, badger, wolf and wild cat, across dcult, mountainous terrain..

The main centre for this ancient but little-known breed is the Tien-Shan mountain range on the Russo-Chinese border. It has been specialized as a mountain hunter, possessing great speed and stamina, and capable of operating at altitudes of up to 10,000 ft (3,000 m). In recent years it has become increasingly scarce, and there are now thought to be only about 1,000 of them left alive.

As one might expect of a rugged mountain. breed, the Taigan has a long, thick, double coat with heavy feathering on the ears, tail and upper legs. The long hair on the ears is referred to as the ‘bourki’. The tail hangs like a sabre and has a spiral tip called a ‘ring’.

In some respects, this breed is in. termediate between the Tazi and the Afghan. Compared with the Tazi, it has a heavier build, a thicker coat and ears that hang lower. Compared with the Afghan, it has a shorter coat, a longer body, a ringed tail-tip and `shoes’ on its feet in the form of heavy-haired paws. Some authorities consider it to be no more than a cross between those two breeds, but others view it as a distinct, independent breed in its own right. It seems likely that the latter opinion is correct, but that in modern times its numbers have been so reduced that it has been crossed all too freely with the local Tazi dogs. This is thought to have happened most in the north of its range, in the Kirgizstan region of Chu Oblast.

In personality, the graceful, courageous Taigan is usually calm and relaxed, but as soon as it is on the hunt and sights its quarry, it becomes intensely excited.

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