The Borzoi, of Russian Wolfhound
by Major Borman
This is the section on the Borzoi from The New Book
of the Dog (pub. 1907)
' The lady's hound, restore the hound, Sir Knight.'
'The hound,' said Gawaine, much relieved; 'what hound?'
And then perceived he that the dog he fed,
With grateful steps the kindly guest had found,
And there stood faithful. 'Friend,' Sir Gawain said,
'What's just is just! the dog must have his due,
The dame had hers, to choose between the two.' "
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 head, possessed by no other breed - all go to make the Borzoi
the favourite he has become.
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, I repeat, 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 neighborhood, 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.
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. I know of no reason why they Borzoi
should not be used for coursing in this country. I have owned
several that have been excellent at hares and rabbits.
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 specimiens 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.
- the description of the "perfect Borzoi"