Yaks & Yak Herders are Important to Us at Chews Happiness®
For centuries, yak herders have lived high in the Himalayan mountaintops, tending to yaks that roam and graze semi-wild. This is the traditional lifestyle and culture that every purchase of a Chews Happiness product helps to support.
Having personally met more than a few yaks in our travels to Bhutan and Mongolia, we can vouch that they’re pretty remarkable creatures. We’d like you to get to know them, too, by checking out these fast facts about marvelous yaks!
- Yaks are naturally friendly animals with very few recorded incidents of aggression towards humans. However, don’t try to milk one without her permission, as these animals are extremely selective regarding whom they allow to do so.
- They are the highest-dwelling mammal in the world, typically living at altitudes of 18,000 feet and quite capable of living up to 23,600 feet above sea level.
- Yaks belong to the same bovine family as the Asian Water Buffalo, the African Buffalo and the American Bison.
- They are herbivores and munch on grass, flowers, moss and tubers, thereby acting as a linchpin for the alpine ecosystem.
- Wild male yaks can reach a height of 6-1/2 feet and weigh as much as 2,200 pounds. Females are about 1/3 the size.
- Herds range from 10 to 100 animals, consisting mainly of females and their young.
- Females usually give birth to a single calf after 9 months of gestation.
- The life expectancy of a wild yak is about 20 years while domesticated yaks live slightly longer.
- They have dense horns that allow them to break through snow and ice to forage for plants underneath.
- Their thick, wooly coats protect them in temperatures lower than -40 degrees Fahrenheit. (Some yaks have even been observed swimming at this temperature!) That’s why our natural fiber makes for such great doggie sweaters.
- The under layer of a yak’s winter coat that the animals naturally shed every year is called down. It is one of the warmest, silkiest, and softest natural fibers. It is as soft as, and much more sustainable than, cashmere, which causes overgrazing.
- Yak down is a sustainable, renewable fiber and is extremely rare.
- Each yak only produces about a kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of fiber annually. That’s about the same amount produced by a tiny German angora rabbit!
- Yak herders not only drink the animals’ milk, but also use it to make delicious butter and cheese, which you can find in our dog treats that promote health.
- The only dog sweaters handmade from the down of these magnificent beasts are our Happiness Hugs. And, don’t forget our matching yak down apparel for dog moms and dog dads.
Learn more about this process by visiting our Crafted with Care Page.