Posts Tagged ‘tazi’

tazi mating with wolf

This image appeared on a Kazakh instagram account. 

The wolf appears to be a steppe wolf (Canis lupus campestris). In Kazakhstan, people keep wolves as pets and “guard dogs” fairly often, and according to Stephen Bodio, they are obsessed with wolves.

The dog is a tazi, a sighthound of the general saluki breed complex, that has quite a few wolf-like characteristics. The breed is usually monestrus, like a wolf, coyote, or a basenji, and females engage in social suppression of estrus and sometimes kill puppies that are born to lower ranking bitches.

I wonder if the wolf-like traits of this breed are somehow reinforced by occasionally crossings with captive and wandering wolves like this. As far as I know, no one has really looked into the genetics of the Kazakh tazi, but it is an unusual dog that lives in a society with a very strong tradition of keeping captive wolves.

We know that gene flows between Eurasian wolves and dogs is much higher than we initially imagined, but I don’t know if anyone is looking at breeds like these for signs of hybridization. The only study I’ve seen looked at livestock guardian dogs from the Caucasus, and it found quite a bit of gene flow-– and it was mostly unintentional.

It would be interesting to know exactly how much wolf is in Kazakh tazis. I would be shocked to learn that they had no wolf ancestry.

I seriously doubt that this is the only time a captive steppe wolf and a tazi were found in this position.


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I believe this is a gyrfalcon, but I’m not really sure.

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These dogs would not do well against large North American wolves, and they certainly wouldn’t do well if they had to fight off a pack of them.

We like to talk about how wolves will kill dogs that encroach upon their territories.

What we don’t recognize is that there are dogs that would do the same if they were also kept in large packs.

It’s a somewhat disconcerting concept.

But think about it.  People have run dogs in packs against wolves centuries.  Throughout history, I bet more dogs have killed wolves than wolves have killed dogs.

These numbers would be hard to prove, but if you think about it, it might make some sense.

Humans have trained hounds and guard dogs to specialize in hunting wolves, but very few wolves actually specialize in hunting dogs.

These wolves certainly do exist, but predation isn’t the main reason why wolves kill dogs.  The main reason wolves kill dogs is to protect their dens and offspring. They will also kill dogs that come in to mate with wolf bitches.

But dogs are killing wolves because it’s predatory behavior, and predatory behavior is always fun.

In the same way many dogs enjoy chasing squirrels, these tazi are enjoying the wolf chase and kill.

It’s somewhat disconcerting to think of dogs killing wolves in this fashion and for these reasons.

But humans want to kill wolves with dogs. It is humans who have trained the dogs to course the wolf.

It is humans who maintain the packs for this purpose.

I cast no moral judgment on people who hunt wolves in this traditional way.

I didn’t live  as a pastoralist in a former Soviet Republic in which firearms were strictly controlled.

The people of Kazakhstan needed dogs that could help them control the wolves under these conditions.

Wolves are complex creatures that always bring up complex questions.

So are dogs.

So are people.

When all three are mixed together, the issues become that much more difficult.

And these are issues we’re going to have to deal with as wolves begin to make a comeback across their former range.


Thanks to Sam Rizzardi for posting this video in the readers’ group on Facebook.

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Florence Amherst's champion show saluki, Ch. Sultan. Also a pretty "homely dog."

Jess’s tazi bitch gives her a lesson in functional conformation:

She isn’t pretty by some standards, she doesn’t have a stylish gait, or a pretty face, but what she does have is miles more important and much harder to breed, because you can’t find it just by trotting the dog around in a circle and looking at it stand four square. Nazgul reminded me why I was thrilled to get her in the first place, why her breeder imported her parents from far away, why my friend spent an inordinate amount of money to import her sister to his country. She reminded me of why I’m breeding these crosses in the first place, and it isn’t to make a bunch of pretty dogs that conform to an abstract idea of what is functional. Nazgul is a beautiful dog and I’m proud to be able include her in my breeding program.

from Schooled by the Homely Red Bitch.

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