FOR CENTURIES, Kazakhs have treated animals as unique gifts from God and considered them to be a symbol of happiness and wealth.

Living in Kazakhstan, I have been lucky enough to witness a very special breed illustrate that dogs are indeed a man’s best friend with their close relationship, loyalty and companionship with humans. This breed is Tazy, a Kazakh dog that has been a true friend of our people for several millennia.

Tazy are strong, clean-limbed with a proportional head and a strong low jaw

But rather than just being a good friend, throughout history Tazy have also played a crucial role in our way of life. As great hunters, they have in the past saved several villages from starvation during hard times. Even in Soviet times, this dog attracted a lot of attention thanks to its great hunting merits.

Sadly, despite being a national treasure for nomads, since the second half of the last century their number began decreasing and now this breed is nearly extinct. Today there are only around 300 Tazy dogs left. They are not included on any official register and consequently cannot be accepted by international canine organisations. They are not even recognised as a breed, despite having centuries-old roots. But I am not prepared to let this breed become extinct. As Chairman of the Kansonar National Association of Hunters, I believe it is my duty to save the beautiful Tazy.

Tazy are well known for their amazing hunting skills

For this reason, in September we organised the first Tazy show in Astana. More than 150 dogs from eight regions were inspected for their hunting merits. The event not only helped to raise awareness of the endangered Tazy, but provided us with an opportunity to conduct an expert examination of all dogs of this species in regards to the breed standards. The need for a common standard is key in preserving the breed. The next step will be to declare Kazakhstan as the country of origin of Tazy and the registration of Kazakh breed dogs by international dog organisations.

Tazy pups

Next year we intend to conduct inspections in all regions of Kazakhstan and create a stud book of Kazakh Tazy, which will be an important step towards the breed becoming accepted by international canine organisations.

Tazy is a national symbol and pride for our country. It is absolutely essential to continue breeding these dogs and save them from extinction. We owe it to our Kazakh ancestors for whom these dogs played a vital role in their daily life.