The Borzoi

This article was written in 1898 by H.W. Huntington

the Borzoi - by H W Huntington

Far-off Russia, where winters are so severe that but for a few months in the entire year are the fields free from snow, is the home of a breed of dogs known there as the Borzoi, or Psovie. The dogs are grand in aspect, with long, flowing coats of silken texture that defy the terrible cold, and they are built on lines that speak volumes for the antiquity of their origin. In this country they are known as Russian wolfhounds.

The first specimen of the breed ever exhibited here was the property of Mrs. Edw. Kelly, who, seeing it in Paris late in the eighties, recognized its great beauty and showed it at the Westminster Kennel Club Show, where it created a decided sensation. Since that time some of our enthusiasts have imported the best specimens to be had in continental Europe, and today our exhibits at the various shows are well worth seeing.

England is the country that has perhaps done most for the breed. Some fifteen years ago the Briton secured the best that Russia had and bred them with the exceeding judgement he displays in such matters. He today possesses beyond question some of the grandest living. Within the past few years, however, Germany has made most wonderful strides in breeding these dogs, and together with the Briton has brought them very rapidly to the fore. It seems to be a breed particularly adapted to the Germans and their climate, which Almamay perhaps in some degree account for the success they are reaping in the breeding. In fact, so much has the breed degenerated in Russia for want of intelligent mating, that one of our greatest German fanciers and judges of the breed claims that the purchasers of good specimens must hereafter look to Germany and Great Britain for what they want, and never think of seeking anything in Russia. The proof of the lack of knowing the essential and correct points of the breed on the part of the Russians was never more forcibly shown than some three years ago, when the Czar of Russia sent over to one of the great English shows a choice draught from his kennels. With the exception of one exhibit these dogs were not in any particular equal to the English-bred ones.

The Czar presented to the Prince of Wales Molodetz and Owdalzka, which were considered the choice of his kennels, but when they reached England they were found to be not nearly so good as some other dogs not born in the purple, as it were.

Lady Emily Peel and the Rev. J. Cumings Macdonna were the first of English enthusiasts to show these dogs in London, and there in the streets it was a common sight to see her ladyship with her two white dogs that created universal admiration wherever they appeared.

Later on the Duchess of Newcastle, Mrs. Col. Wellesley, Messrs. Muir, Blees, Dobbleman, Musgrave, Labouchere, and Prince Demidoff became sponsors for this magnificent breed, and under their fostering care it is hardly to be wondered that the improvement has been do great.

The earliest of the finest specimens belonged to Colonel Wellesley, and with his Krilutt in the stud he probably did more for the advancement of the breed than any one else. Oudar and Korotai also have been very instrumental in producing good stock, so naught remains now but judicious breeding to bring the Borzoi to a state bordering on absolute perfection according to the standard for this breed. Bytschock, owned by Mr. Vallmer, undoubtedly stands today at the head of all the Borzois of continental Europe, and, while standing full thirty-two inches at the shoulder, is most symmetrically made. Gaimane, however, is making a great bid for first honors, and when they meet excitement runs high. Five thousand marks have been offered for the former by Mr. Kraus, one of our American enthusiasts, but the offer was refused. Tartar, another great dog owned in Germany, has gone the way of all dog flesh. He during his lifetime was considered by many to be the equal of England's champions.

There seems to be a fascination about the dog that few can resist, and where once it has gained a warm corner in the heart no other breed can take its place.

The Duchess of Newcastle, who recently entered the judging ring, donning the ermine for the first time and adjudicating upon the merits of the exhibits with great success, is now the most enthusiastic admirer of the Borzoi in England, while Mr. Kalmountzky holds the same position in Russia, he having recently given 25,000 roubles for a young dog. He expended in one year over 42,000 roubles in endeavoring to make his collection the finest in the world.

In the steppes of Russia, where wolves are so numerous, as well as throughout the entire realm, the Borzoi is used for hunting these beasts, which, in severe winters, will encroach upon towns, and even cities, attacking men and children alike, while sheep and cattle seem to be their especial prey.

When driven by hunger, the wolves stop at nothing, attacking and killing horses and cows. In addition to being large and heavy, the wolves are exceedingly cunning, and try not only the patience but the ingenuity of the hunter to catch them. It will, therefore, be seen that only a large and powerful dog endowed with great speed and courage is able to cope with them, and nature seems to have well provided the Borzoi for this purpose.

Nearly all dogs used in hunting wild animals not only attack but endeavor to kill their quarry, but with the Borzoi it is entirely different. At an early age they are put into training with old and experienced dogs, so they soon learn how to properly attack their adversary.

The forests are full of wolves, so when a hunt is instituted the hunters assemble at stated places, each with a pack of hounds varying in number from eight to twenty. Beaters are sent deep into the forest hours before the hunt begins to drive the wolves out into the open. After these beasts are well in view, four Borzois generally are let loose as a team from slips, the same as are used in England in greyhound coursing, and then begins the race for life, for when once overtaken by the dogs the wolves know that death is soon to follow. The wolf and the dog being both of the same genus, one knows all the tricks of the other; hence, it is like the traditional Greek meeting Greek.

As soon as the wolf is sighted and the dogs slipped, the hunters, generally on horseback, follow as close as possible, and watch for the opportune moment in which to attack and kill their prey. When one of the dogs gets nearly side by side with the wolf he makes one bold spurt, and with the foreshoulder strikes the wolf so that he is knocked over. The other dogs coming up, each strikes him in the same manner as he tries to rise, or they pin him to the earth, and so engage him till the hunter arrives, who, with spear or knife, kills him.

continued >>>

Coursing and Racing Dogs
(Freeman Lloyd)

(not exclusively Borzoi)

Coursing Excerpt from The Beasts of the Prairies

Dog of All the Russias
(W. Haynes)

Dogs of Today - the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi

Dogs That Hunt Bears and Wolves (Excerpt)
Freeman Lloyd

Excerpt from Hutchinson's Encyclopedia

Excerpt from the Kennel Encyclopaedia

Freeman Lloyd on Borzoi

Hound of the Czars
(Walter Dyer)

Hunting Dogs: Sighthounds and Scenthounds
(L. P. Sabaneev, 1899)

Hunting Large Game Excerpt

J.B. Thomas Says American Borzoi Lead the World
(Micheline de Zutter)

An Outline of the History of the Borzoi
Baron G.D. Rozen, 1891

Ruby de Bolshoy
(Melanie Richards)

Russian Wolfhounds of Yesterday and Today
(Freeman Lloyd)

RWCA's History (1930)

the Borzoi
(H. W. Huntington)

the Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound
(Major Borman)

the Hare and Many Foes

the Russian Borzoi (excerpt from "Dogs From All Angles")

the Russian Wolfhound
(James Watson)

the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi
(W. Johnston)

Twentieth Century Dog - Borzoi Section

Watson on Borzoi


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