Coursing and Racing Dogs

by Freeman Lloyd
published in the American Kennel Gazette, April 1931

[continued]

And so it remains that the dogs of the greyhound kinds are as much in use as coursing dogs in our own days, as they were hundreds and hundreds of years ago. While the modern pastime of greyhound racing has opened up a new era that has brought forward the breeding of a greater number of greyhounds.

It has before been written that the greyhound is well distributed all over the world where the climatic conditions are favorable to the existence and enjoyment of dogs with short coats and somewhat delicate or, shall I say, lightness of frame and limbs. But coat length and closeness of the hair or fur under the main overcoat, would appear to change to heaviness or scarecenss according to the latitude in which the long, or any other, dog has its being.

Thus we have the almost hairless Rampur greyhound of hot India, and the shaggy-haired, greyhound-like dog of the mountainous and cold region of Afghanistan. There is the heavily and curly-coated borzoi, wolf-hound or greyhound of Russia, and the flat and somewhat sparse-coated greyhounds of Persia and Arabia and, it is believed, the almost hairless greyhound-llike dogs of Northern Africa - as described by John G. Millais in his Far Away Up the Nile (1924).

The dogs at Shambe were of distinct greyhound type. Incidentally, it can be mentioned that Mr. Millais' brother, the late John everett Milais, son of the painter and president of the Royal Academy, was one of the earlier patrons of the Russian wolfhound in Britain, and a member of the Committee of the Borzoi Club founded in London in or about the year 1895.

Somehow or another it has often seemed to me that the greyhound or greyhound-like animal has possessed very exceptional appeal to those strange peoples we are wont to classify as semi-civilized or practically "savage" human beings. For we forget that it was the barbarian who was among the earlier breeders of dogs, and bred them for the purposes of the chase.

Moreover, so far as I have observed, while in some of the wilder parts of the world, the African and Australian natives were given to size up the proportions of pure-bred dogs, and actually classify the white man's dogs for some kind of particular work on the black man's game, the overtaking of some mentioned kind of four-legged animal.

While greyhounds probably have been in Africa for thousands of years, I am sure that the whippet had not been seen in South Africa previous to 1895-6. And by South Africa it is meant the country south of Pretoria. When the natives working in the Johannesburg mines, first saw whippets, they showed their great appreciation of the lines on which the little dogs were built, the negroes actually compared the dogs with certain of the smaller antelopes of their countries - for these natives had been brought to the Rand from widely distributed districts or divisions in the sub-continent.

Through an interpreter it was learned that those sable sons of Ham would like to see two or more whippets course one of those beautiful little antelopes known as blue bucks, exquisite works of nature, with legs not much stouter than the stem of an old churchwarden tobacco pipe.

The blaubuck of the Dutch would be just the animal for the little racing dogs to course. Such an antelope would be the only one of the family that the whippet would be able to overtake and pull down. That was the opinion of the blacks.

When these and other remarks were passed along by the interpreter, a good deal of the self-concious superiority of the white men, who thought they knew al about comparatively modern dogs, suffered a severe rebuff. In other words, the unsophisticated Africans had informed the freshly arrived Europeans just what their whippets would be good for in the way of coursing. Whippet racing was entirely new to the Ethiopians.

When, years after, we came across a practically nude quartette of aboriginies in the Australian bush, among their companions were a pure-bred greyhound and a smooth-haired fox terrier. These appeared like pedigreed dogs. Although the spears were of pointed and barbed wood, the natives' dogs were of the white man's breeding.

The black fellow and his three gins or wives gave us to understand that they liked the terrier for hunting, and the greyhound for catching game. What a spear or boomerang missed, the long dog might overhaul.

Here again was an example of the savage picking and choosing a certain breed of dog for a particular sort of work - the actual prototype of the civilized gentleman who now takes his place in the judging ring at a bench show, and decides for himself and you which of all the entries he believes to be the most typical or serviceable dog to carry out the coursing or hunting work for which your dog might be called upon not only to do, but do well.

Above all things, the greyhound must be a well and truly made dog, and calculated to run fast and stand the racket of a gruelling course whether it be on hare, buck, wolf, fox, kangaroo, or any other animal that the long dog might be called upon to run down, often in parts of the world where "refinement" of the chase is not considered, and animals are hunted for the value of their skins, furs, or flesh, rather than for the pleasures of riding to hounds.

"Kill him and eat him" is the hunting cry of the hungry man who goes a hunting.

Counte de George Louis Leclerc Buffon (1707-1788), the French naturalist, was born at Montbard, and his Natural History has become the handbook consulted by generations of boys, grown-ups, and students of all nationalities. In the preparation of the voluminous work, Buffon associated himself with L. J. M. Daubanton, to whom the descriptive and anatomical portions of the treatises were entrusted. The first three volumes made their appearance in 1749. It was only at the recent show in New York City - that of the Westminster Kennel Club, in Madison Square Garden, in February - I was asked a question regarding the carraige of the greyhound's ears, or rather the "leather" of the ear flaps that, at times, may or may not cover up or protect the orifice of the organ of hearing.

It was at once remarked that the ear flap was a movable one, and, often, while the dog is highly excited and on the watch for some moving, live object, or listening for some sound that might call forth his powers of speed, the greyhound holds the mostly folded ears in an upright position.

The same command over the carraige of the ears may be noted in the case of Russian wolfhounds which as often as not become quite prick-eared when gazing about in the hunting field.

Among other things Buffon says: "The common greyhound (Canis Grajus L.) is familiar to everyone, and is very remarkable for its elongated jaws and compressed head, as well as for its speed, which excels that of all other dogs. When we compare the greyhound with other varieties, in reference to form and proportion of the head, we perceive that it terminates the series of those whose forehead is flat, and muzzle elongated.

"This flatness of the forehead is produced by the obliteration of the frontal sinuses. These cavities, which are formed at the base of the nose, and which, being immediately connected with the nasal cavities, and covered with the same membrane as they are, increase the scent of smell.

"This is ordinarily accompanied by an extraordinary slenderness and length of the leg, as well as a great contraction of the abdomen; phenomena, which, although not explained, are without exception. This obliteration of frontal sinuses, in weakening the powers of smell of the greyhound, contribute, probably, to the development of their other senses, by the necessity induced of exercising them more exclusively.

"The sight and hearing of this variety are excellent, as although they are as domestic as any of the race, the conque of their ears is semi-pendent, notwithstanding which, they have the faculty of elevating or moving them with as much facility as the unreclaimed races. They are destitute of the fifth toe found in other varieties.

"The greyhound is but little susceptible of education. His intelligence is limited, and he seems to conceive with slowness and difficulty, while other varieties do so with facility.

"His sentiments, however, are very strong, and he is more than any other, alive to caresses; indeed, his emotions, on being noticed, are so strong, if we may judge, at least, by the violent and irregular movements of the heart, that it seems difficult to believe how they can be borne. This want of intelligence, joined to high sensibility, however, seem to divest the greyhound of any exclusive affection. He has no personal attachment, but is alike delighted with all who notice 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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