Coursing and Racing Dogs

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


The old wood cut representing or illustrating a coursing and hawking scene, was purchased in a "rag and bone" shop in the not very aristocratic neighborhood of Somers Town in northwest London, at the price of four pence (eight cents). The picture was the one article in the marine store dealer's window, all of the other stock being on the floor of the dingy and evil-smelling room.

I was unable to identify the country and the costumes of the hunters, so I asked the Hon. Miss Florence Amherst, herself an Egyptologist and excavator, if she would kindly examine the print, which she did. It was Persian. The print, an old one, was graciously accepted by Miss Amherst who, it will be remembered, was principally responsible for introducing into England the Saluki, or slougui greyhound.

These Saluki greyhound dogs are fast becoming popular and fashionable in America. Of the coursing dog of Arabia, there is a good deal of interesting matter recorded in the works of adventurers, explorers, and hunters.

Who, when looking upon a single Saluki greyhound exhibited at a bench show, would think there is so much "behind" that elegant dog and its history! No author, says George R. Jesse in his Researches into the History of the British Dog (1866), has done more grateful justice to the character of the Saluki dog than Burchell in his Travels in Africa, who states the people of the Sahara (of Northern Africa) have great love for the slougui or greyhound. There, as in all Arab countries, the dog is looked upon as a servant in disgrace, troublesome and cast off, no matter how useful he may be i guarding the douar or in looking after the flocks.

The greyhound alone enjoys the esteem, the consideration, the tender attention of his Arab master. The rich as well as the poor regard him as a companion of their chivalrous pastimes, while for the latter, he is also the purveyor that supplies him with food. They do not grudge him, therefore, the most assiduous care. The breedings are as scrupulously superintended as those of their horses.

A Saharene will go twenty or thirty leagues to couple or mate a handome greyhound bitch with a dog of established reputation, for one that is really famous will run down a gazelle.

"When the dog perceives a gazelle cropping a blade of grass, he overtakes her before she has time to swallow what she already holds in her mouth." This, says Burchell, is a hyperbolical expression, no doubt, but still based on a certain degree of truth.

This same Burchell - after whom the now well-knwon variety of zebra is named - relates many interesting stories regarding the slougui or greyhound of the Sahara. According to this traveller, hunter, and writer, when the bitch has whelped, the litter is never lost sight of for an instant. The women will sometimes give their own milk to them. Visitors arrive in troops, the more numerous and eager according to the reputation of the mother.

They surround the owner, offering him dates, kouskoussou and other gifts. There is no sort of flattery they will not lavish upon him in the hope of obtaining a puppy. "I am thy friend. Prithee, give me what I ask of thee. I will attend thee in thy hunts." "To all these solicitations," says Burchell, "the owner usually replies that he will not decide on which puppies he means to keep for himself until after seven days."

This reservation has its motive in the observation, or fancy, of the Arabs. In every litter one of the puppies gets upon the backs of the others. Is it a sign of greater vigor? Or mere chance? To ascertain this point, the Arabs remove it from its habitual position, and "if it returns to it for seven consecutive days, the owner builds upon it such extravagant expectations that he would not accept a negress in exchange," declares the author.

A prejudice causes the Arabs to attach the greatest value to the first, third, and fifth puppies. Slougui whelps are weaned at the end of forty days, but are still fed with goat's or camel's milk, thickened with dates or kouskoussou. In the Sahara, the flocks are so numerous and milk so abundant, that it is not at all surprising that wealthy Arabs, after having weaned their greyhound puppies, should set aside so many she-goats for their nourishment.

When the puppies are three or four months old, their education commences. The boys drive out of their holes the jerboz rats, and set the puppies at them. The puppies, by degrees, get excited, dash after the rats at full speed, bark furiously at their holes, and only give up the pursuit to begin another.

At the age of five or six months, they are assigned a prey more difficult to catch - the hare. This would seem an early period to set such a difficult task before a loose-jointed and altogether awkward and undeveloped young dog - especially of the long-dog kind.

However, Burchell says that the Arab men lead the slougui close to the form where the hare is couched. Then, by a slight exclamation, they set on the young dog, which rushed at the hare, and soon acquires the habit of coursing with speed and intelligence. From the hare, they pass on to young gazelles.

When a year old, the slougui has very nearly reached his full strength. His scent is developed, and he follows the gazelle by its slot. Nevertheless, he is kept under some restraint, and not until fifteen to eighteen months is he regularly allowed to hunt.

Each and every country appears to have its own stories about the speed and aggressiveness of their dogs of the greyhound varieties, be they long, curly, or short-haired.


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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