The present day inhabitants of modern Turkey arrived in the country with the expansion of the Turkic Empire out from Central Asia in the middle of the eleventh century. They travelled with their herds and flocks and with the guard and hunting dogs as part of their array of domestic animals. In the one thousand years since their arrival several specialized dog breeds have developed. This paper describes three such, one is a sighthound, one is a scent hound, and one is a chaser dog. The sighthound (Tazi) is similar to other Near and Middle East greyhounds. The scent hound (Tarsus Catalburun also known in English as Fork-nose and Turkish Pointer) is little known outside Turkey but is celebrated in its home area for its skills and is finding employment as a sniffer dog for narcotics, explosives and live and dead people. The chaser dog of Zagar is also called as Kopay, Kopoy, Tavsanci (Hare hunter), Izsüren (Chaser), Cakir. It is especially used for hare hunting.
Situated at the junction of Europe and Asia, Turkey is a geographic bridge that has been traversed by traders, travellers, treasure seekers and trespassers for thousands of years. It is thus also a cultural bridge imbued within the DNA of many civilizations. In part because of this history Turkey is a repository of a rich array of domestic livestock resources that includes bee, camel, cat, cattle, dog, domestic fowl, donkey, duck, goat, goose, horse, mule, pig, rabbit, sheep, silkworm, water buffalo and other of domestic birds (partridge, pheasant, pigeon and ostrich) (Wilson and Yilmaz 2013a,b, Wilson et al., 2011, Yilmaz and Ertugrul 2011a,b,c, Yilmaz 2012, Yilmaz and Ertugrul 2012a,b,c, Yilmaz et al., 2011a,b,c,d, Yilmaz et al., 2012a,b, Yilmaz et al., 2013a,b).
The present day inhabitants of modern Turkey arrived in the country with the expansion of the Turkic Empire out from Centra Asia in the middle of the eleventh century. They travelled with their herds and flocks and were accompanied by the guard dogs that protected these livestock and the present day inhabitants of modern Turkey arrived in the country with the expansion of the Turkic Empire out from Centra Asia in the middle of the eleventh century. They travelled with their herds and flocks and with the guard dogs that protected these animals and hunting dogs that assisted in the search for food. In the one thousand years since the Turkish arrival in Asia Minor and Thrace several dog breeds have developed. Whilst Turkish hunting dogs are analogous with those of much of Europe the “shepherd” dogs of Turkey are guard dogs bred for and trained to protect the flocks and not to control the sheep.
This review is part of a series of papers that will eventually cover most species of domestic livestock in Turkey (Wilson et al., 2011, Yilmaz et al., 2011a, 2011b, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c). The paper provides information on a sighthound, a scenthound, and a chaser dog.
The Turkish Tazi is a classic sighthound-greyhound that is generally concentrated in Konya Province in Central Anatolia and in Sanliurfa Province in Southeast Anatolia. There are smaller numbers in Igdir, Kars, Karaman, Ankara and Istanbul Provinces (Yilmaz and Ertugrul, 2011a). It is asserted that the Turkish Tazi is descended from the Kirghiz Taigan and was brought to Anatolia by Turks during the Great Migration (Yilmaz, 2008). It also resembles but is larger than the Saluki. The breed is historically better documented than many other Turkish breeds despite being fewer in number (Yilmaz, 2007a,b). One of Sehzades (Sultan’s son) of Sultan Suleiman (King Solomon) the Magnificent in hunting with greyhounds was illustrated in a miniature dated from the 16th Century (Yilmaz, 2008).
The Turkish Tazi possesses long forequarters and hindquarters, a slim body, a thin tail without hairs, a long and slender skull, a long neck, deep chest and a flexible and curved spine. Coat colour is very variable with black (35.2 per cent), being most common followed by dun (25.4 per cent), brown (12.3 per cent), tan (10.7 per cent), white (8.2 per cent) and pied (8.2 per cent). Body weights are about 18. 4 kilograms and height at shoulder about 62 cm (Yilmaz and Ertugrul, 2011a.). These dogs are reared for their superior skills, mainly in wetlands in Central and South Anatolia, in hunting quail, partridge, rabbits and foxes for detecting and bringing back the prey shot (they hunt prey by running/chasing them down) (Yilmaz, 2007a, Yilmaz and Derbent, 2008, Yilmaz 2008). The Turkish Tazi is extremely fast (speeds of up to 65 km/hr over 1 km) it is not hyperactive (Serpell 1996, Palika 2007, Yilmaz 2008). The Tazi makes a good pet because of its loyal, mild and affectionate character and gets along well with children and other family pets including cats. The thin coat renders the Tazi susceptible to cold weather and, as with greyhounds elsewhere, most owners cover their dogs with a rug in winter (Yilmaz 2007a, Yilmaz 2008).
Tarsus Catalburun (Fork-Nose)
The Catalburun is the only recognized scenthound in Turkey. In English it is known as the Tarsus Fork-nose dog and sometimes known as the Turkish Pointer. The breed is mainly located in Icel Province in the extreme south of Asian Turkey in the Mediterranean Region (Dinçer 2006, Yilmaz, 2007a, Yilmaz, 2007b, Yilmaz, 2008). The Catalburun has a fully split nose, essentially resulting in a double nose, that is quite a rare feature in dog breeds and arises from the nostrils being separated vertically by a band of skin and fur dividing the nose all the way to the upper lips. The hair is short and thee coat is of various colours, brown being the most common (52.7 per cent) followed by brown and white (23.6 per cent), black and white (14.6 per cent and black (9.1 per cent). Live weights average 21.7 kg and height at shoulders 48.5 cm (Yilmaz and Ertugrul, 2012c). In the Catalburun dogs the live weight was 21.7 kg, and height at shoulders was 48.5 cm (Yilmaz and Ertugrul, 2012). The Catalburun has a very acute sense of smell that is arguably heightened by the peculiar nose structure and is therefore particularly good at hunting by scent and indicating the prey as a pointer dog. In addition to traditional hunting the Catalburun is being increasingly used by the police as a sniffer dog for narcotics, explosives and for finding living and dead people. The dog tends to be hunted as a singleton rather than in couples or packs. Catalburun dogs are very friendly and get along well with humans in addition to other dogs but are not suitable as pets in confined spaces as they prefer lots of space (Dinçer 2006, Yilmaz 2007a, 2007b).
Turk Izci Kopegi Zagar (Turkish Chaser Dog of Zagar)
Zagar is also called as Kopay, Kopoy, Tavsanci (Hare hunter), Izsüren (Chaser), Cakir. It is bred by Yoruk people in region of Thrace and provinces of Bursa, Manisa, Izmir, Aydin, Denizli, Mugla and Afyon. This dog is especially used for hare hunting. Coat colour is generally black or brown. It is a smart, loyal and energetic dog breed. It is resistance against bad management and feeding. Height at withers is about 52.2 cm for male and 48.8 cm for female. Live weight is 19.5 kg for male and 17.6 kg for female (Anon, 2012).
Those breeds are generally little known outside the country. The Turkish Dog Federation is, however, providing support to nascent groups of owners who wish to promote local breeds. Three breeds of dogs have been registered with the Turkish Standards Institute but in general there is little Government (at either national or regional level) support for dog breeding although support is provided for other domestic animal species through its “In Vitro Conservation and Preliminary Molecular identification of some Turkish Domestic Animal Genetic Resources (TURKHAYGEN-I)” (Arat, 2011). As household incomes in Turkey are likely to rise in the future and aspirations for a more “modern” lifestyle increase the prognosis for important cultural and genetic resource that is the dog is not too negative.