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GREYHOUNDS IN RUSSIA
Mrs E M Skelton-Fortune (a translation)
Sometime around 1966 Mrs E M Skelton-Fortune of the famous Daxlore Saluki's published a translation of an article which appeared in the April 1996 issue of Der Windhund Freund, L'Ami du Levrier written in German and French by Urusula V Trueb on Greyhounds From Russia. This translation should prove of interest to both Afghan and Saluki enthusiasts as this article describes Tazi and Taigan hounds, often mentioned in Afghan and Saluki writings.
In the vast Asian regions in the deserts, the steppes and the mountains which constitute a beautiful landscape, a little known but interesting Greyhound is to be found, the Tazi. An untrained eye could easily mistake this dog with the better known Saluki, a mistake easily forgiven, for the Tazi is very similar. Between the Tazi and the Saluki the difference is not much stronger than between the Greyhound and the Sloughi. The Tazi is noticeably more strongly build than the Saluki.
As with all the other Greyhounds, the Tazi is today a very precious gundog and has retained all his qualities throughout the centuries. He is used for hunting hares, foxes and sometimes wild cats and gazelle, in certain regions, noteably Turkestan. On hard grounds the hardy and robust Tazi belongs to the fastest Greyhounds and, together with the acutest sharpness, possesses an unbelievable reaction.
The Tazi, or Greyhound, from Kazakstan is of a race originating from the regions of the Republic of Central Asia, where he has been known for centuries. Today the Tazi is confined to Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Turkestan.
General appearance and type - Dog of average size or more, with great constitution, shoulder height for dogs 60 to 70 centimetres and for bitches 55 to 65 centimetres. Length - about 100 cms. Colour = White, brown, grey in all tones, black, spotted with or without sprinkling of basic colour. Nose black. Hide - Short hair, soft and straight. On the ears long fine hair 5-6 cms from the ear rims, it forms a so called "Bourka" (felt coat). On the underside of the tail the hair is longer and forms a thin fringe. Skin, muscle and bone - Muscles and bone well developed, notably the hindquarters, bones very strong, the skin fine and elastic.
Head-Straight and long, with medium sized skull. The stop is weakly developed, rear point moderate. The bridge from the forehead to the snout is flowing. The lips are fine. The ears lying well on the cheek are neither pricked nor dropped. The general appearance reminds one of the Irish Setter. Ears - hanging covered with hair, in a line fith the eyes or slightly higher, fine and about 11 - 14 cms in length. Eyes - Large and elelids slanted, of a brown colour, disregarding the colour of the coat. Neck - long, sometimes a little arched, held high.
Body - Breast broadly formed and deep. Shoulders clearly well formed. Back straight can be slightly arched and broad. Rear and loins, broad and long hip bones rather prominent width between hip bones usually about 6 - 7 cms. Stomach - strong and fine. Limbs - Front legs as seen from the front the legs are parallel. Elbows sraightly pointing backwards. Breast usually broad and ovan. Shoulder angle 90 - 100 deg. Hindlegs seen from behind are parallel, broad apart with long bones. Joints well developed and prominent. Feet - Oval, back ones a little longer than the front, toes narrow and firm. Tail - thin and hanging like a sword, the tip curved in the form of a spiral.
Bad points - Height less than indicated. Long hair on the body is bad. Long hair on the sides, the quarters, back of ear rims, or points. Head; prominent bridge from forehead to snout over developed. Forelegs; weakly developed joints. Feet; Coarse or hanging sideways. All these points would be graded as bad when being judged.
In central Asia there is a further Greyhound resembling the Tazi but only found in the regions of Kirghises of the Tian-Tshan. He is probably a cross between the Afghan and the Tazi, though certainly nearer to the latter. Named the Taigan, he was studied by the Greyhound specialists E I Cherechevski and V I Kazanski.
The Taigan is today very rare and the total number of the pure breed is estimated at about 1000. It is therefore fortunate that this highly interesting dog has beensaved. It is not quite clear whether the Taigan is a type of Tazi which was accustomed to hard living conditions and which type became stable in the course of time, or whether he is an independent race of Greyhound.
If on one side the Taigan is similar in many parts to the Tazi, on the other side, the build and thickness of hair is similar to that of the Afghan. He shows, nevertheless, individual characteristics. His coat is wavy and coarse, the tail not very long, thin, fine and spirally formed at the end, the last tufts overgrown and the ears hanging and lying against the head and deep in contrast to the Tazi whose ears are set at a higher level, sticking out.
Finally the Taigan is an unusually strong built Greyhound with very strong bones. He is to be seen in several colours, black, red, grey and gold, white plain and spotted. The pure Taigan is never dappled. He is an excellent hunting dog, greatly respected by the Khirghizes. The Taigan is, with the Borzoi, the only Russian Greyhound with the strength, courage and keeness to hunt the fox.
He really is a greyhound of dignity and is greatly respected in Russia and he is deserving of being recognised with our Greyhounds.
There are some supplementary writings on early hound history , firstly an extract from "Is The Afghan Derived From The Saluki" and secondly "The Encyclopedia Of The Kennel" (Afghan/Persian Hound) Also see breed history for Russia for pictures of Tazi/Taigan Afghans.
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