Borzoi Breed Magazine - Showsight

wide dogs with thick, curly, and long coats furnished by profuse, wavy, or curly feath- ering. Th e gusto- psovayas had very high-set small ears and beautiful chis- eled narrow heads with excellent vein- ing. Th e rise to their topline began closer to the shoulders in males, whereas the

hounds with the gusto-psovayas. By the 1860-s all Borzoi in Russia had Mountain or Crimean sighthounds in their pedigrees. Th e gusto-ps- ovaya type was lost in its pure form. Th e Borzoi gained more stamina but, unfortunately, many exhibited looser ear sets and ring tails. Another Russian sighthound breed, which had already been in existence then and exists to this day is the Hortaya Sigthhound, or, simply put, the shorthaired Borzoi. Th e Hortaya was the result of crossbreeding the chisto-psovaya back to Chart Polski and the Greyhound again. With the abolition of serfdom in 1861, most landowners in Russia could no longer a ff ord to keep large kennels, some of which housed up to 400 dogs. Th e number of old kennels was stag- gering, as most self-respecting landowners in Russia hunted with sighthounds. Th ere were many distinct lines of Borzoi. After 1861, the breeders could no longer keep di ff erent lines and varieties of sighthounds. Th e result proved rather disastrous for the breeds. Basically, all varieties and/or breeds of sighthounds (Chisto- psovayas, Gusto-psovayas, Mountain, Crimean, and sometimes even hortayas sighthounds) were consolidated and crossbred rather carelessly. Many excellent lines of Borzoi were lost all to- gether. At the first Imperial Hunting Society dog show in 1874, not a single gusto-psovaya, which then was considered the purebred Borzoi of the old type, was present. Th e members of the Im- perial Society agreed that no more drop-eared sighthounds should be mixed with their beloved native breed. Th e fanciers concentrated their ef- forts on making the breed a more uniform and started bringing back the breed’s lost features while holding on to some positive traits ac- quired from the Mountain and Crimean sight- hounds. Th ey put the beginning of the modern psovaya, or as we call it, the Borzoi. By 1888, the first standard for the modern Borzoi was written by Nikolai Petrovich Ermolov, an un- disputed authority on the breed, whose family bred Borzoi for over 200 years. Th e members of the Imperial Society accepted the standard and used it as a guide to bring the breed to a more uniform state. Th e Perchino kennel of the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, the Tsar’s uncle, was in- strumental in the process. Th ey had bred many truly remarkable Borzois in the early 20th century. Th e Grand Duke was able to achieve results because of the enormous resources that were used in his breeding operation. Th e ken- nel manager, Dmitry Valtsev would later write a book Th e Perchino Hunt that has been trans- lated into English and should be required read- ing for all Borzoi enthusiasts. Th e Grand Duke

was able to acquire the best breeding stock of functional Borzoi from the most distinguished Borzoi breeders. He then selected for the cos- metic features that were typical of the original Borzoi before the addition of the Mountain and Crimean Sighthounds, but at the same time kept the positive influence of those breeds. Mr. Valtsev led a very sophisticated breeding pro- gram, at the center of which, he placed the dog’s hunting abilities and breed type. So, in addition to breeding structurally sound animals that had the ability for the brosok (an original Borzoi feature) as well as the bonus ability for long- distance pursuits (inherited from the Mountain Sighthounds), in attempt to bring back the orig- inal Borzoi, the Perchino dogs were also selected for such beautiful cosmetic features as overall el- egance, nice heads with veining, dark eyes, high ear sets, hare feet, good straight tails and proper silky coat texture with profuse feathering. Th e process of bringing the breed back to a uniform state had not been completed by the time the Russian Empire was nearing the begin- ning of its end, first marked by the 1905 revolu- tion, then its involvement in WWI and, finally, the 1917 Bolshevik revolution that devastated the country and nearly destroyed the Borzoi breed in its native land. Approximately 150 Borzoi exported from Russia are behind all the current dogs. Th e variety of type exists to this day and one can see the di ff erent cosmetic fea- tures of the Borzoi’s ancestors in the dogs of to- day. However, presently, few hunt with Borzoi, and it takes a truly experienced and dedicated breeder to understand and ensure the continu- ation of the functional sighthound, which was an absolute priority for all breeders of the old times. Kristina Terra is a professional simultane- ous interpreter and translator. She has been involved in dogs since early childhood. Dogs and history are Kristina’s main hobbies. Kris- tina and her mother Irina Terra are originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, where Irina was a second-generation dog show person herself. Th e Terras have moved to the United States more than 20 years ago and have bred Borzois under the Zabava prefix most of that time. Zabava Borzoi is located on Camano Is- land, on the shores of Puget Sound in the beau- tiful state of Washington. Bibliography: D.P. Valtsev “ Th e Perchino Hunt”, 1913 L.P. Sabaneev, “Hunting and Nature” magazine, 1895-1897 L.P. Sabaneev, “ Th e Hunting Almanach” 1899 P.M. Gubin “ Th e Complete Guide to Hunting with Borzoi”, 1891 P.M. Machevarianov “Notes of a Hunter and Borzoi Enthusiast from the Simbirsk Region”, 1876

Vasili III hunting with Borzoi in the early 1400s, from the Chronicles of 1570

bitches had flatter backs, though their toplines never sagged. Th e typical colors were grey and gold sables, and all shades of gold, and they came in self-colored and spotted varieties. Th e gusto-psovayas had a supreme ability to acceler- ate on short-distance pursuits. By the 1830-s, due to the deforestation of Russia, hunting practices were slowly chang- ing. Th e Russian breeders were beginning to be dissatisfied with the gusto-psovaya’s inability to pursue game on long distances. So, the drop- eared sighthound breeds, which were brought into the country after the Russo-Turkish War of the late 1700s, were to play a central role in the further development of the Borzoi. Th e Mountain sighthounds, or gorskayas, were the ultimate answer to the gusto-psovaya’s short- comings. Th e Mountain sighthounds were both fast and had great stamina. Th ey were beautiful, elegant, graceful, and well-proportioned dogs. Th ey had a slight rise to their topline and were longer in the body. Th ey had gorgeous chiseled heads with a marked seam, prominent eyebrows, and occiput. Th eir beautiful eyes were coal- black. Th e ribs had both good spring and depth of brisket. Th e Mountain Sighthounds were known for their good tuck-ups, sickle-shaped or ringed tails, and short coats with feathering on ears, tail and rear legs. Th e Mountain Sight- hounds are thought to be the ones that brought the black and tan pattern into the Borzoi. Another breed that was brought to Russia around the same time was the Crimean Sight- hounds (krymka). Th ey were much like the Mountain Sighthounds, except coarser. Th e Crimean Sighthounds had amazing stamina and good speed on long distances. However, they lacked the elegance of the Mountain sight- hounds. Th ey had smaller heads, level or sag- ging toplines, ring tails, great spring of rib, but shallower brisket. So, when the drop-eared sighthounds ar- rived in Russia, a sort of frenzy began among the breeders, who started crossbreeding Moun- tain Sighthounds, as well as Crimean sight-

The Gusto-psovaya

The Mountain Sighthound

The Crimean Sighthound

Modern Psovaya (Borzoi), Nagrazhdai owned by V.N. Chebyshev, the only Gold Medal recipient at the Imperial Hunting Society Shows.

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