Dzo (Cow + Wild Yak)
A male hybrid of yak and domestic cattle, a Dzo is more robust than either a cow or a yak, unlike most hybrids, who tend to be weaker. Found in Tibet and Mongolia, Dzos are known for their prolific milk production, but they also have an extra superpower – they can survive at higher altitudes than either of their parents.
Smaller than yaks but larger than cows, they have shaggy coats and horns, inherited from the yak – but their faces usually resemble that of domestic cattle. They carry heavy loads along the mountainous plains of Tibet and Mongolia, and as they have a stronger, larger lungs than cows but are more agile than purebred yaks, they are expert at navigating the arduous mountain terrain. Dzos are pack animals, so they play well together, as well as with other yaks, and they are easy to herd. However, unlike their female counterparts, the dzomo, a female offspring of a yak and a cow, they are sterile and can’t impregnate a female, so breeders don’t value them much.
Herders prize them for their hardiness in high altitudes, due to their low pulmonary artery pressure, a trait Dzos pick up from their yak parent. Researchers are even studying this unique breed, to see if they can reveal any secrets that may help human hypertension. In Mongolia, Dzos are known as Khainags, while the English term for them is Yakow, taken from a combination of their parents, though this term isn’t very common. We think Dzos sound like pretty awesome animals though, and when they are not helping science, or picking their way along rocky mountain trails, we really hope these hardworking hybrids find the time to chill every now and then.