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The Borzoi Or Russian Wolfhound

Of the many foreign varieties of the dog that have been introduced

into this country within recent years, there is not one among the

larger breeds that has made greater headway in the public favour than

the Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound. Nor is this to be wondered at. The

most graceful and elegant of all breeds, combining symmetry with

strength, the wearer of a lovely silky coat that a toy dog might envy,

the length of
ead, possessed by no other breed--all go to make the

Borzoi the favourite he has become.

He is essentially what our American cousins would call a spectacular

dog. Given, for example, the best team of terriers and a fifth-rate

team of Borzois, which attracts the more attention and admiration

from the man in the street? Which does he turn again to look at? Not

the terriers! Add to this that the Borzoi makes a capital house dog,

is, as a rule, affectionate and a good companion, it is not to be

wondered at that he has attained the dignified position in the canine

world which he now holds.

In his native country the Borzoi is employed, as his English name

implies, in hunting the wolf and also smaller game, including foxes

and hares.

Several methods of hunting the larger game are adopted, one form being

as follows. Wolves being reported to be present in the neighbourhood,

the hunters set out on horseback, each holding in his left hand a

leash of three Borzois, as nearly matched as possible in size, speed,

and colour. Arrived at the scene of action, the chief huntsman

stations the hunters at separate points every hundred yards or so

round the wood. A pack of hounds is sent in to draw the quarry, and

on the wolves breaking cover the nearest hunter slips his dogs. These

endeavour to seize their prey by the neck, where they hold him until

the hunter arrives, throws himself from his horse, and with his knife

puts an end to the fray.

Another method is to advance across the open country at intervals

of about two hundred yards, slipping the dogs at any game they may

put up.

Trials are also held in Russia. These take place in a large railed

enclosure, the wolves being brought in carts similar to our deer

carts. In this case a brace of dogs is loosed on the wolf. The whole

merit of the course is when the hounds can overtake the wolf and pin

him to the ground, so that the keepers can secure him alive. It

follows, therefore, that in this case also the hounds must be of equal

speed, so that they reach the wolf simultaneously; one dog would, of

course, be unable to hold him.

Naturally, the dogs have to be trained to the work, for which purpose

the best wolves are taken alive and sent to the kennels, where the

young dogs are taught to pin him in such a manner that he cannot turn

and use his teeth. There seems to be no reason why the Borzoi should

not be used for coursing in this country.

One of the first examples of the breed exhibited in England was owned

by Messrs. Hill and Ashton, of Sheffield, about 1880, at which time

good specimens were imported by the Rev. J. C. Macdona and Lady Emily

Peel, whose Sandringham and Czar excited general admiration. It was

then known as the Siberian Wolfhound. Some years later the Duchess

of Newcastle obtained several fine dogs, and from this stock Her Grace

founded the kennel which has since become so famous. Later still,

Queen Alexandra received from the Czar a gift of a leash of these

stately hounds, one of them being Alex, who quickly achieved honours

as a champion.

The breed has become as fashionable in the United States as in Great

Britain, and some excellent specimens are to be seen at the annual

shows at Madison Square Gardens.

To take the points of the breed in detail, the description of the

perfect Borzoi is as follows:--

* * * * *

HEAD--This should be long, lean, and well balanced, and the length,

from the tip of the nose to the eyes, must be the same as from the

eyes to the occiput. A dog may have a long head, but the length may

be all in front of the eyes. The heads of this breed have greatly

improved the last few years; fewer apple-headed specimens, and more

of the desired triangular heads being seen. The skull should be flat

and narrow, the stop not perceptible, the muzzle long and tapering.

Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of the head being

well filled up before the eyes. The head, from forehead to nose,

should be so fine that the direction of the bones and principal veins

can be seen clearly, and in profile should appear rather Roman nosed.

Bitches should be even narrower in head than dogs. THE EYES should

be dark, expressive, almond shaped, and not too far apart. THE EARS

like those of a Greyhound, small, thin, and placed well back on the

head, with the tips, when thrown back, almost touching behind the

occiput. It is not a fault if the dog can raise his ears erect when

excited or looking after game, although some English judges dislike

this frequent characteristic. The head should be carried somewhat

low, with the neck continuing the line of the back. SHOULDERS--Clean

and sloping well back, i.e., the shoulder blades should almost touch

one another. CHEST--Deep and somewhat narrow. It must be capacious,

but the capacity must be got from depth, and not from barrel ribs--a

bad fault in a running hound. BACK--Rather bony, and free from any

cavity in the spinal column, the arch in the back being more marked

in the dog than in the bitch. LOINS--Broad and very powerful, showing

plenty of muscular development. THIGHS--Long and well developed, with

good second thigh. The muscle in the Borzoi is longer than in the

Greyhound. RIBS--Slightly sprung, very deep, reaching to the elbow.

FORE-LEGS--Lean and straight. Seen from the front they should be

narrow and from the side broad at the shoulder and narrowing gradually

down to the foot, the bone appearing flat and not round as in the

Foxhound. HIND-LEGS--The least thing under the body when standing

still, not straight, and the stifle slightly bent. They should, of

course, be straight as regards each other, and not cow-hocked, but

straight hind-legs imply a want of speed. FEET--Like those of the

Deerhound, rather long. The toes close together and well arched.

COAT--Long, silky, not woolly; either flat, wavy, or curly. On the

head, ears and front-legs it should be short and smooth; on the neck

the frill should be profuse and rather curly; on the chest and the

rest of the body, the tail and hind-quarters, it should be long; the

fore-legs being well feathered. TAIL--Long, well feathered, and not

gaily carried. It should be carried well down, almost touching the

ground. HEIGHT--Dogs from 29 inches upwards at shoulder, bitches from

27 inches upwards. (Originally 27 inches and 26 inches. Altered at

a general meeting of the Borzoi Club, held February, 1906.)

FAULTS--Head short and thick; too much stop; parti-coloured nose;

eyes too wide apart; heavy ears; heavy shoulders; wide chest; barrel

ribbed; dew-claws; elbows turned out; wide behind. Also light eyes

and over or undershot jaws. COLOUR--The Club standard makes no mention

of colour. White, of course, should predominate; fawn, lemon, orange,

brindle, blue, slate and black markings are met with. Too much of

the latter, or black and tan markings, are disliked. Whole coloured

dogs are also seen.

* * * * *

The foregoing description embodies the standard of points as laid

down and adopted by the Borzoi Club, interpolated with some remarks

for the further guidance of the novice.

The Borzoi Club was founded in 1892, and now consists of about fifty

members, with the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle as joint-presidents.

It does much good work for the breed, guaranteeing classes at shows,

where otherwise few or none would be given, encouraging the breeding

of high-class Borzois by offering its valuable challenge cups and

other special prizes, and generally looking after the interests of

the breed.

Although the Club standard of height has been raised from 27 and 26

inches to 29 and 27 inches for dogs and bitches respectively, it must

be borne in mind that the best dogs of to-day far exceed these

measurements, and, unless exceptionally good in other points, a

dog of 29 inches at shoulder would stand little or no chance in the

showing under the majority of English judges; indeed, bitches of 29

to 30 inches are by no means uncommon.

Not many of us can afford to start at the top of the tree, and, except

for the favoured few to whom money is no object, and who can buy

ready-made champions, there is no better way of starting a kennel

than to purchase a really good bitch, one, say, capable of winning

at all but the more important shows. She must be of good pedigree,

strong, and healthy; such an one ought to be obtained for P15 upwards.

Mate her to the best dog whose blood nicks suitably with hers, but

do not waste time and money breeding from fourth-rate stud dogs, for

if you do it is certain you will only meet with disappointment. On

the other hand, if you have had little or no experience of dogs, you

may possibly prefer to start with a puppy. If so, place yourself in

the hands of a breeder with a reputation at stake (unless you have

a friend who understands the breed). It is a fact that even a cast

off from a good strain that has been bred for certain points for

years is more likely to turn out a better dog than a pup whose dam

has been mated haphazard to some dog who may or may not have been

a good one. Big kennels also generally possess the best bitches and

breed from them, and the bitch is quite as important a factor as the

sire. If, however, you prefer to rely on your own judgment, and wish

to choose a puppy yourself from a litter, select the one with the

longest head, biggest bone, smallest ears, and longest tail, or as

many of these qualities as you can find combined in one individual.

Coat is a secondary matter in quite a young pup; here one should be

guided by the coat of the sire and dam. Still, choose a pup with a

heavy coat, if possible, although when this puppy coat is cast, the

dog may not grow so good as one as some of the litter who in early

life were smoother.

As regards size, a Borzoi pup of three months should measure about

19 inches at the shoulder, at six months about 25 inches, and at nine

months from 27 to 29 inches. After ten or twelve months, growth is

very slow, although some continue adding to their height until they

are a year and a half old. They will, of course, increase in girth

of chest and develop muscle until two years old; a Borzoi may be

considered in its prime at from three to four years of age. As regards

price, from P5 to P10 is not too much to pay for a really good pup

of about eight to ten weeks old; if you pay less you will probably

get only a second-rate one. Having purchased your puppy, there are

three principal items to be considered if you intend to rear him well;

firstly, his diet must be varied; secondly, the pup must have

unlimited exercise, and never be kept on the chain; thirdly, internal

parasites must be kept in check. For young puppies Ruby Worm Cure

is most efficacious, and does not distress the patient.

Food should be given at regular intervals--not less frequently than

five times a day to newly weaned puppies--and may consist of porridge,

bread and milk, raw meat minced fine, and any table scraps, with

plenty of new milk. Well-boiled paunch is also greatly appreciated,

and, being easily digested, may be given freely.

One important part of the puppy's education that must by no means

be neglected is to accustom him to go on the collar and lead. Borzoi

pups are, as a rule extremely nervous, and it requires great patience

in some cases to train them to the lead. Short lessons should be given

when about four months old. If you can induce the puppy to think it

is a new game, well and good--he will take to it naturally; but once

he looks upon it as something to be dreaded, it means hours of patient

work to break him in.

If you decide on commencing with a brood bitch, see that she is dosed

for worms before visiting the dog; that she is in good hard

condition--not fat, however; and, if possible, accompany her yourself

and see her mated. For the first week rather less than her usual

quantity of food should be given; afterwards feed as her appetite

dictates, but do not let her get too fat, or she may have a bad time

when whelping. For two days before the puppies are due give sloppy

but nourishing diet, and this should be continued, given slightly

warm, for four or five days after the pups are born. Borzois as a

rule make excellent mothers, but to rear them well they should not

be allowed to suckle more than five--or, if a strong, big bitch,

six--pups. If the litter is larger, it is better to destroy the

remainder, or use a foster mother.


Whatever they may be in their native land--and the first imported

specimens were perhaps rather uncertain in temper--the Borzoi, as

we know him in this country, is affectionate, devoted to his owner,

friendly with his kennel companions and makes a capital house dog.

As a lady's companion he is hard to beat; indeed, a glance at any

show catalogue will prove that the majority of Borzois are owned by

the gentle sex. No one need be deterred from keeping a Borzoi by a

remark the writer has heard hundreds of times at shows: Those dogs

are so delicate. This is not the case. Once over distemper

troubles--and the breed certainly does suffer badly if it contracts

the disease--the Borzoi is as hardy as most breeds, if not hardier.

Given a good dry kennel and plenty of straw, no weather is too cold

for them. Damp, of course, must be avoided, but this applies equally

to other breeds.

The adult hound, like the puppy, should never be kept on chain; a

kennel with a railed-in run should be provided, or a loose box makes

a capital place for those kept out of doors, otherwise no different

treatment is required from that of other large breeds.