from Hutchinson's Popular and Illustrated Dog Encyclopedia,
published Great Britain in weekly excerpts in 1934.
It is an in interesting fact that, although
the breed was well known in France and illustrated in books
of the eighteenth century, British books of that period give
no mention of such a breed, nor any suggestion that such a breed
might be discovered. This is strange, for these books deal with
the rarest of dogs in every corner of the world, and the authors
exhibit a marked anxiety to include them all - indeed, to create
a few extra breeds to fill the pages!
But in 1812 two Englishmen visited Russia and
wrote a book describing, amongst much else, the Russian huntsmen,
in their original and attractive clithing, going out wolf-hunting
with Greyhounds of great beauty. They described the dogs as
not unlike Italian Greyhounds, except that they were much larger
and had long silky coats. They called them Fantailed Greyhounds,
and went on to say that whilst the Court spent much money on
these dogs, they seldom went hunting. Two years later another
visitor to Russia mentions dogs known as Siberian Greyhounds.
was thirty years or so later that great interest was aroused
in England by the arrival in London of two of the Russian Fantailed
Greyhounds, presented to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Their beauty
was noted, and the "dog expert" of those days hurried
along with a tape-measure to report later that they were three
feet tall to the top of their heads!
They were described as being very much a kind
of Scottish Deerhound, but the authority adds, possibly to show
his loyalty to native breeds, that they did not compare with
the Scottish breed in courage, for he asserts that these Russian
dogs would often run along by the side of the wolf for a hundred
yards or more before either of them could make up its mind to
grapple with him!
This gift to Her Majesty was the start of the
breed in England. It became a Society breed. It was never generally
kept, for it hardly suited the average person. It became a dog
of the fashionable hom. The public were, however, greatly interested,
and it was only necessary to advertise that a Borzoi was to
be seen to collect a crowd. The Czar presented further examples
of the breed to the British Royal Family and to some of the
nobility. In 1863 the first Borzoi was exhibited at a show held
in Birmingham, and immediately became the great attraction.
A large number of people visited Birmingham
that day with the sole object of seeing "Katae", the
Duchess of Manchester's pure-bred Borzoi that had been presented
to her from the Czar's Imperial kennels. In 1876 Lady Emily
Peel exhibited a dog by the name of "Czar", a son
of the Duke of Hamilton's "Moscow", out of "Sandringham",
the last-named being the property of that interesting dog enthusiast,
the Rev. J. C. Macdona.
Among other Borzois that arrived in England
from the Imperial kennels were two sent to the Prince of Wales
(later King Edward VII), "Molodetz" and "Owdalzka",
the former being exhibited by His Royal Highness at Laycock's
Yard, Islington, London.
Princess (later to be Queen Alexandra) made her Borzoi her constant
personal companion, and many pictures are to be seen of her
with this very beautiful example of the breed, showing Her Royal
Highness standing with "Alex" by her side. "Alex"
was much exhibited and became a champion.
In 1885 Lady Innes Ker started her Borzoi kennel,
and in 1888 Colonel Wellesley showed "Krilutt", which
became the first Borzoi champion in England. He also exhibited
a dog named "Damon", noted for the beauty of its head,
and it is very possible that this head set the ball rolling
that in time nearly brought the Borzoi breed to an end in England.
For "Damon's" head roused breeders to attempt to get
similar heads and, further, to improve them, and when a thing
like that starts it is difficult to stop it.