The Crymka - a cynological hunting paradox

Sergiy Kopylets'

Translated from the original Ukrainian into Russian by Lyudmila Smirnova
and translated from her Russian text into English by

Sir Terence Clark

Imagine that you are tearing along on a fast-legged horse of the steppes.
The wind, full of the scent of wormwood, whistles in your ears. On your arm
is a proud falcon, ready to take off in sudden flight. While ahead, across the
endless expanse of the steppes, the tireless Khort (greyhound) pursues its prey.

It runs as if flying over the ground without touching it with its feet and
not even the timid gazelle nor the hare nor the fox can hide from it.

It is a pity that today this picture has become for the majority of hunters only
a dream. The wonderful hunt with Khorts whose origins go back to the rich
traditions of the Eastern peoples have now almost entirely disappeared from
the Ukraine. There are many reasons for this but the main one is that for the
last decade we have lost practically all our native Khorts, although at least two
breeds of these unique hunting hounds may be counted from long ago as Ukrainian.

The first of these is still the one the Poles call "Chart [Khart] Polski" (Polish
Greyhound) and the Russian for some reason "Russkaya Khortaya Borzaya"
(Russian Greyhound Borzoi). As I see it our neighbours attribute this breed
to themselves, even though it originated in the XIX century in the
Ukraine. Incidentally, of all the different dogs known to the world at
least five are Ukrainian. However for some reason we keep quiet about this.
But that is a subject for a separate conversation. The second breed was
known in the past as "Crymka" (the Crimean).

In Europe a similar looking hound has been developed - the Saluki, which is
called in the East Tazi (or Tazii or Tozi, depending on the pronunciation
of the different peoples). Tazi in Turkic means "clean" in contrast to all
other dogs which according to the tenets of Islam are considered unclean
In the XIX century this breed was distributed from Mongolia in the East to
the Balkans in the West and from Siberia in the North to the Indian Ocean
to the South. That is to say that in the past in the steppe zone of the
Ukraine this breed was the most common and most widespread hunting hound.
Naturally in such a vast territory several local differences developed
which often had a local name. Merely on the territory of the former Russian Empire
P. M. Machevarianov and L. P. Sabaneev (the leading lights
of the hunting hound fraternity of the XIX century) counted not less than
seven different kinds of these Khorts which hunters everywhere called
"Crymka" (Crimean). (Remember that in Gogol's everlasting "Dead Souls"
Nozdrev, the inveterate hunter and dog-lover, had a "Crymka".)

Sadly today there remains in the territory of the former empire a small
number of purebred Crimeans or Tazis only in the south of Kazakhstan,
Turkmenistan and here and there in Uzbekistan, wherever even today the
nomadic way of life has been preserved. In fact for the nomads hunting with
Khorts and birds of prey is not an amusement but daily bread. Before the
October Revolution for the poor inhabitants of the south of Kazakhstan the
basic meat product consisted of gazelles, caught with the help of
Tazis. It happened that one hound fed a whole family of nomads. The author
of these lines is personally acquainted with a native of the Alma-Ata
region of Kazakhstan, whose family in the war years was saved from death
by starvation by such a Tazi.

The origin of this breed goes back with its roots into the depths of the
centuries. In frescoes found in Mesopotamia which date to the second
millennium BC a hound is portrayed which externally answers completely to
the modern Saluki. In even older Egyptian frescoes can be seen a hunting
hound of the Sloughi type. Incidentally both types are represented among
Kazakh Tazis, the first of them is called Kumai Tazi and the second
Dzhorghak Tazi. Both types interbreed in Kazakhstan and are not divided into
separate breeds.. Very close to the Central Asian hounds are the aboriginal
Afghan Khorts, which the Afghans also call Tazis. The hounds of the Afghan
breed have a more strongly developed long undercoat on the sides and the
lower part of the body than those of other northern and western relatives.
As far as the name of the breed is concerned, the Asiatics often extend
"Tazi (clean)" to all breeds of Khorts. It happened to the author to hear in
Kazakhstan how the aboriginals called Russian hunting Khorts "Orus Tazi", which
signifies Russian Tazis.


Crymka Tazis hunt using not only their speed,
stamina in running and wonderful sight but also
their excellent sense of smell. The hounds alone
find their prey in the hunt with their sense of smell
and sight and independently pursue it until they catch it.
When hunting wolves of course they need the help
of the hunter or the Golden Eagle.
These Khorts hold down exhausted wild boar like
Eskimo dogs ("laika" - siberian hasky).
With fleeter prey such as foxes, badgers, jackals,
wild cats and hares the hounds can cope by themselves.
All Eastern breeds of Khorts are inclined to retrieve,
it is very easy to train them to fetch their prey.

Akkus (10 years old)









 Cheetah (6 years old)

It happened to the author in the vicinity of Alma-Ata to hunt pheasants
with Tazis: the hound was no worse at finding the bird than a Spaniel or
Pointer, "fixed" it in a tree and indicated with its voice where it was.
(It is necessary to say that Eastern Khorts hardly ever yap but when driving
game they mostly cry and howl.) Hunting mountain goat - Tau-teke - Tazis
similarly drive these animals to precipices, put them on hold and with the
help of their voice keep them there until the arrival of their master with
a gun. The rest is a matter of accuracy - of a well-aimed shot.








Kuman (3 years old)

In contrast to the "European sprinters" - Greyhounds, Russian Greyhounds, the "Asians"
are very agile and fast in quite dense thickets. This allows them, without risking collision
with the trees to pursue and catch at high speed wild animals in the forest and places overgrown with bushes.
Tazis are often used like scent hounds, let loose in dense thickets, reeds or small woods, from where the dogs,
completely silently drive out and sometimes hunt the wild animals which hide there.
Hunting with Tazis is very effective (taking into account the valuable bag).
In the words of the academician A A Sludski, in the season 1937-38 about 53,000
fox pelts were prepared by "Kazzagotpushnina", of which 29,400 were obtained by Tazis.

In Kazakhstan in some places rich in foxes every Khort
catches in the season on average 16 foxes and several tens of hares.
Sometimes a dog catches in a season 30-50 foxes or more. They say that the
famous Tazi - Rich Bay (kazakh noble) - of Turebekov Aitmuhammed caught in a season up
to 300 foxes and retrieved them alone to its master. According to the
results of research made by A. A. Sludsky, most of these dogs caught the fox
by the neck behind the ears (in 68% of cases), by the ear (10% of cases)
and by the muzzle (6% of cases). If the fox is caught in this way the pelt
is not spoilt. Only in 16% of cases did the Tazis catch the wild animal by
the back or other parts of the body.

The most successful method of hunting is with Tazis and birds of prey,
above all with the Golden Eagle. In this method the Khort finds the game and
makes it get up and if it cannot catch the wild animal by itself, the bird,
which the hunter releases, does it. It is necessary to record that hunting
with Khorts is by its very nature "ecological".

The hunter with the gun seeks above all to shoot the best example, thus
reducing the population of the most valuable representatives. The Khort does
of course take the weakest. Therefore hunting with Khorts is analogous to
the influence on the population of hunted animals of natural beasts of
prey, which stimulates the improvement of the condition and structure of
the population.

Naizi (2 years old) and Cheetah (mother)

In size the Tazi is smaller than the Greyhound and Russian Greyhound. The
height of the Kazakh dogs at the withers is on average 60-70 cm, the
Turkmen is 60 cm and below. The dogs are lean and the shoulder blades and
ribs stick out noticeably. The index of its length is 103. Its colours are
dark brown, red, clayey, white, grey and others. Only light grey and
whitish mixtures are allowed in the colours and only on the feet and
underside. The coat of the Kumai Tazi is short, soft and straight. On the
ears the hair is luxuriant and hangs down below the ends of the ears by
5-10 cm, forming so-called "burki" (fringes) or in Kazakh - Chashak. Below
the tail hangs fine feathering. On the rear sides of the forelegs and
thighs is a little feathering. The Dzhorghak Tazi is covered with flat,
short hair like the Greyhounds. The fringes on the ears and the
feathering on the tail and legs are missing. The head is dry, wedge-shaped
and long with a moderately broad skull. The stop is straight and slightly
pronounced. The neck is quite long, carried high. The chest is not wide
(looking at the dog from the front the body should lie between the rear
legs), deep, with the ribs extending down to the elbows (the bend of the
front extremities). The back is straight or slightly raised up, muscular. A
concave shape is often encountered. The loin is short and roundish. The
croup is broad, set low, often very low. The stomach is strongly "tucked
up". The front extremities are straight and parallel. The rear are wide
apart, the stifle a little turned out. The tail is fine, not long, at rest
let down in the shape of a sabre, on the end a ring or a short bend in the
shape of a hook is desirable. In movement it is raised no higher than the
back. Its movement is broad, sweeping, beautiful. The muscles are dry,

These dogs are highly valued in the East. The inhabitants of the Islamic
countries in general do not consider Khorts as dogs, from the point of view
of the Muslim they are quite different animals, like so to say horses and
donkeys. The Arabs call Khorts "Al-Hurr" - noble. They are general
favourites and are not only allowed in the house, where the ordinary dog is
nowhere near allowed to approach, but are also permitted to lie on the
cushions in the women's quarters. In the Qur'an are specific verses which
permit Muslims to use the meat of animals caught by Khorts.

Now in the Ukraine there is a small number of Tazis owned by enthusiasts of
this breed in Kiev, Kovel', Zaporizhzhia and Odessa. These Khorts are connected
basically with the various areas of Kazakhstan. It is thought that if the
enthusiasts of this breed wished, we could regenerate our fast-legged
Crymka on the basis of these dogs which we already have and with the import
of new ones. Perhaps interested people might be found among the Crimean
Tatars to whom the initiative for the revival of the breed properly

1. Machevarianov P. M. - Notes from a hunter with dogs of the Simbirskaya Governorate, Minsk,1991.
2. Sabaneev L. P. - Hunting Dogs…, Minsk, 1993.
3. Sludsky A. A. - The Asiatic Borzoi Tazy and hunting with it, Alma-Ata1938.

Visit Sergiy Kopylets' web site
to see other pictures of these hounds.