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CHAPTER XII. THE BORZOI OR RUSSIAN WOLF HOUND,

THERE is no dog of modern times that has so rapidly attained a certain degree of popularity as that which is named at the head of this chapter. Three years ago it was comparatively unknown in England; now all well-regulated and comprehensive dog shows give a class or classes for him, which are usually well filled, and cause quite as much interest as those of our own varieties. Indeed, the Borzoi is a noble hound, powerful and muscular in appearance, still possessing a pleasant and sweet expression, that tells how kindly his nature is. He is one of the aristocratic varieties of the canine race, and the British public is to be congratulated on its discernment in annexing him from the Russian kennels, where, too, his reputation is of the highest. In the early days of our dog shows Borzois, then known as Siberian and Russian wolfhounds, and by other names, too, occasionally appeared on the benches. Most of them were exactly similar in type to those we see now, and no doubt have a common origin with the ordinary Eastern or Circassian greyhound, occasionally met with in this country. But the latter were usually smaller and less powerful than their Russian relative. According to the “Kennel Club Stud Book '' a class for “Russian deerhounds" was provided at the National dog show held at the Crystal Palace in 1871. This was not the case, but a foreign variety class was composed almost entirely of Russian hounds, and one of them, Mr. S. G. Holland's Tom won the first prize. Lady Emily Peel and Mr. Macdona were exhibitors at the same show. It will be more than twenty-five years since the Czar of Russia presented the Prince of Wales with a couple of his favourite hounds, Molodetz and Owdalzka. These his Royal Highness exhibited on more than one occasion, and bred from them likewise. Mr. Cumming Macdona had one of the puppies, his Czar being a particularly handsome specimen. Then Mr. Taprell Holland, in 1872, showed an excellent hound in the variety class at Birmingham, for which he obtained a prize. Even before this, specimens of the Borzoi (then called Siberian Wolfhounds) were met with on the benches at Curzon Hall. In 1867, Mr. J. Wright, of Derby, had one called Nijni; and three years later the same exhibitor benched an excellent example of the race in Cossack, a grandson of Molodetz, already mentioned as having belonged to the Prince of Wales, and being from the Imperial kennels. Perhaps the earliest appearance of all on the bench was in 1863, when the then Duchess of Manchester showed a very big dog of the variety at Islington, and bred by Prince William of Prussia. I have the authority of Captain G. A. Graham for stating that this hound was 31 inches at the shoulders, quite equal in size, as he was in power, to some of the best specimens now on our shores. Thus, after all, this fine race of dog is not quite such a modern institution in our country as would be imagined, though the earlier strains, I fancy, must have been lost, possibly on account of the inter-breeding consequent on an inability to obtain a change of blood. Communication between the eastern and western divisions of Europe is much more rapid and easier of accomplishment than in the early days of dog shows. Advancing a few years, Lady Charles Kerr occasionally sent some of these Russian hounds to the exhibitions, but most of them were small and somewhat light and weedy—far from such powerful animals as the best that are with us to-day, and [Vol. I.] P

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