Mongolian Lifestyle

Mongolian Herding Dogs

herding dog

Dogs are part of the family rather than pets for nomads.

Mongolians have long avoided beating or killing their dogs, and have always considered them to be part of the family. Usually, nomadic families have Mongolian Banhar dogs. People give his dog name – being as strong as a tiger, as majestic as a lion, as fast as a wolf, and as fierce as a dragon.

Mongolians have adopted dogs since they were puppies through special ceremonies. For example, it was common for the owner to hold a khadag (a traditional ceremonial scarf). After choose the puppy, cook millet and feed his/her dam until she is full, and leave a mark on the puppy. Good dog features are that feet are big, thick and strong with a lot of courage.

In nomadic life, parents often have to leave their children in their Ger temporarily to herd livestock. When there is no one to look after their children, their dogs stays with them. There are many stories of dogs that find lost kids in steppe and rescue the children. Therefore, dogs are part of the family rather than pets for nomads.

Another role of the dog is to protect the livestock. When wild animals, often wolves, attack livestock, they protect and fight wolves. The Mongol Bankhar dog is known for its size and strength. In some cases, there are even fights with bears. Sometimes owners leave their animals alone with their dogs and the dogs herd them safely and bring them back to their homes.

There are some customs associated with dogs. In Mongolia, for example, a dog is a tooth fairy. The child wraps his fallen teeth in fat or flesh and says, “Take my bad tooth and give me good tooth.” It symbolizes strong, sharp teeth like a dog.

Mongolians do not leave their dogs when they die. It is customary to draw the corpse around, remove the corpse from there, turn the head to the west, place it in a windless place, cut off the tail and put it under its head, put butter in the mouth and say, “Be born a human being in the next life.”

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