Dogs of Today - the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi
This article appeared in the Kennel section of the July
1987 Outlook magazine. The author is not noted.
This beautiful breed may be said to combine
the graceful outline of the greyhound with the handsome coat
of the high-bred English Setter. While good specimens are comparatively
little known, people who have seen the noted winners at bench
shows will not soon forget the clean finish and graceful dignity
of the borzoi.
He is an aristocrat of canine circles, and,
in addition to his beauty, he possesses excellent qualities
which, under proper conditions, admirably fit him to be both
pet and pleasant comrade. In general type, he should be something
between the deerhound and the greyhound, for, while lacking
some of the bone and wire-like sinews of the former, he should
possess more substance than the latter.
inch of his shapely form should be elegant, while one of his
chief charms lies in his expressive face. His head is extraordinarily
long, while skull and muzzle show the perfection of fine modeling.
His eyes, and indeed his entire expression, are gentle, confiding,
serene and most winning, for with it all is a certain air of
repose and quiet well-bred self-reliance that is very pleasing.
His neck is long, muscular, and gracefully arched, firmly set
into beautiful sloping shoulders. The chest is narrow, but very
deep, affording plenty of room between the long ribs. The brisket
is prominent, and the flanks well tucked up. The back is shapely
as it well can be, the loin elegantly arched, the tail long
and fringed with silky hair. The legs should show power with
grace, and the feet should be good. The hindquarters carry plenty
of muscle to insure power and speed, yet it is so smoothly laid
on as to appear less than it really is.
The coat is long and of silky fineness, forming
a liberal "feather" upon the legs, chest, belly, and
hindquarters. The color varies; black-and-white, with tan markings,
being as pretty as any.
Here we have a tall, singularly handsome dog,
larger, but keeping all te grace of the greyhound, with the
added attraction of a coat as handsome as the finest ever worn
by a Llewellin or a Laverack. There is a lot of intelligence,
too, in this dog's narrow head; and his heart is in the right
place and big enough to faithfully love those who love him,
and to support him in a flying chase or in battle.
In his native Russia he is used to course the
wolf, which he chases by sight. This fact may appear strange
to those who have noted the gentle elegance of choice show specimens,
yet the records tell that this canine gentleman is both game
and powerful in attack. Of his speed and staying qualities there
is no doubt, for no dog of his build could lack either the ability
to get over the country or to withstand a reasonable amount
of work. In repose he is a loving friend, but when roused, like
the sterner deerhound, or a stout-hearted greyhound, he can
give and take even with the keen-fanged wolf.
The first specimens brought to this country
a few years afo excited much comment when they appeared on the
bench. All sorts of ridiculous yarns were told about the fierceness
of the dogs when hunting, the ease with which one of them could
dispose of the largest wolf, and the phenomenal speed, courage,
and endurance they displayed in the chase.
As frequently occurs in stories relating to
dogs, most of these yarns either were manufactured out of whole
cloth, or else woven of very stretchy material. Later on some
of the new dogs were matched to course wolves against some Western
greyhounds. As I remember the resulting fizzle, neither breed
would take many liberties with the wolves of the West. My own
private opinion is that I have seen timber wolves, any specimen
of which would just enjoy eating one or two borzois, or greyhounds
But few of my readers are interested in the
borzoi's ability where wolves are concerned. They will know
him best as an elegant comrade. The dog is so large and active
that he should never be kept where he cannot be given plenty
of exercise. He is a thing of beauty, and a joy forever about
the country house, and he shows to marked advantage when accompanying
a smartly equipped trap, or, better still, when bounding beside
some well-mounted and fair equestrienne.