The Hound of the Czars

Article by Walter Dyer, originally published in the October 1916 issue of Country Life in America magazine.


Mr. Bull owned one once that never did become civilized. "She was extremely beautiful," he told me, "extremely strong-willed. There was always a contest whenever I wanted her to do something she did not care to do. She was fairly intelligent and could learn the meaning of almost anything, but she would obey only when she felt like it. She was very playful and loved a good romp. She was quick as a flash and sensitive to a harsh word.

"She was about a year old when we got her and had never been handled at all. She had been brought up in a big kennel, the runt of the family, and had to fight for whatever she got to eat. And the first time she was handled the kennel man tried to give her a bath and let her escape by backing out of her collar. It was her first bath, first collar, and first handling, and was a bad start, especially as the man lost his temper and whipper her for what she did not know.

"I have faith," he added, "that is I could get a little puppy and bring him up by hand, I might have a different story to tell."

Mr. Bull's dog never did learn the true meaning of human comradeship. She had been spoiled at the outset. No collar, harness, or chain chould hold her, and at last she had to be disposed of.

I tell this story not to depreciate the breed, but to discourage any one from buying a Borzoi whose good training in early youth cannot be vouched for. The breed is sensitive and the character may be easily ruined, and it is far too fine a breed to be spoiled by careless handling or inexperienced training.

click to enlargeI believe it all comes down to that, and that most of the arguments that can be mustered against the breed are due to lack of human wisdom rather than canine depravity. There are enough instances of Borzois who have turned out well to prove that this is so, and I believe that a Borzoi puppy, taken young, may be made into as trustworthy a companion as a St. Bernard or Great Dane, as well as the most striking ornament the owner can add to his estate.

Most of these tendencies to wrong doing, indeed, may be traced directly to the fact that bred deep in the blood and bone of the Borzoi is the instinct of the wolf hunter of the broad steppes, and that is a noble calling. In Russia the Borzoi has for centuries been used for this purpose. He can not only run down the fleetest wolf, but kill his quarry as well. This seems almost impossible when you look at the slender jaws, but the powerful neck and shoulders have to be reckoned with. The wolf runs a straightaway course, with no doubling, but he is no match in speed for the Borzoi. The dog's method is to come upon him from behind, seize him back of the ears, and with a lightning-like twist, break the wolf's neck.

In Russia, however, the Borzoi is usually trained to capture, not kill the quarry. When a wolf is started, a pair of Borzois are unleashed. Side by side they race after their prey, overtaking him one on each side. Suddenly, often simultaneously, they pin him back of the ears, and hold him unti the huntsman comes up to deliver the coup de grace, or to muzzle the beast and take him alive. Can you blame a dog, with the spirit of such a chase in his blood, for being a bit restless at the end of a chain, or imprisoned in a suburban back yard?

The Borzoi runs by sight only, not by scent. He is nimble enough to catch a jack rabbit or a fox, and powerful enough to kill the big gray timber wolf. In the West, Borzois have for some time been used with great success for hunting and killing coyotes, and there are indications that they are to be employed even more extensively for this purpose in the near future.

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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