Of the many foreign varieties of the dog that have been introduced into this country within recent years, there is not one among the larger breeds that has made greater headway in the public favour than the Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound. Nor is this to be wondered at. The most graceful and elegant of all breeds, combining symmetry with strength, the wearer of a lovely silky coat that a toy dog might envy, the length of head, possessed by no other breed—all go to make the Borzoi the favourite he has become.

He is essentially what our American cousins would call a “spectacular” dog. Given, for example, the best team of terriers and a fifth-rate team of Borzois, which attracts the more attention and admiration from the man in the street? Which does he turn again to look at? Not the terriers! Add to this that the Borzoi makes a capital house dog, is, as a rule, affectionate and a good companion, it is not to be wondered at that he has attained the dignified position in the canine world which he now holds.

In his native country the Borzoi is employed, as his English name implies, in hunting the wolf and also smaller game, including foxes and hares.

Several methods of hunting the larger game are adopted, one form being as follows. Wolves being reported to be present in the neighbourhood, the hunters set out on horseback, each holding in his left hand a leash of three Borzois, as nearly matched as possible in size, speed, and colour. Arrived at the scene of action, the chief huntsman stations the hunters at separate points every hundred yards or so round the wood. A pack of hounds is sent in to draw the quarry, and on the wolves breaking cover the nearest hunter slips his dogs. These endeavour to seize their prey by the neck, where they hold him until the hunter arrives, throws himself from his horse, and with his knife puts an end to the fray.

Another method is to advance across the open country at intervals of about two hundred yards, slipping the dogs at any game they may put up.

Trials are also held in Russia. These take place in a large railed enclosure, the wolves being brought in carts similar to our deer carts. In this case a brace of dogs is loosed on the wolf. The whole merit of the course is when the hounds can overtake the wolf and pin him to the ground, so that the keepers can secure him alive. It follows, therefore, that in this case also the hounds must be of equal speed, so that they reach the wolf simultaneously; one dog would, of course, be unable to hold him.

Naturally, the dogs have to be trained to the work, for which purpose the best wolves are taken alive and sent to the kennels, where the young dogs are taught to pin him in such a manner that he cannot turn and use his teeth. There seems to be no reason why the Borzoi should not be used for coursing in this country.

One of the first examples of the breed exhibited in England was owned by Messrs. Hill and Ashton, of Sheffield, about 1880, at which time good specimens were imported by the Rev. J. C. Macdona and Lady Emily Peel, whose Sandringham and Czar excited general admiration. It was then known as the Siberian Wolfhound. Some years later the Duchess of Newcastle obtained several fine dogs, and from this stock Her Grace founded the kennel which has since become so famous. Later still, Queen Alexandra received from the Czar a gift of a leash of these stately hounds, one of them being Alex, who quickly achieved honours as a champion.

The breed has become as fashionable in the United States as in Great Britain, and some excellent specimens are to be seen at the annual shows at Madison Square Gardens.

To take the points of the breed in detail, the description of the perfect Borzoi is as follows:—

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HEAD—This should be long, lean, and well balanced, and the length, from the tip of the nose to the eyes, must be the same as from the eyes to the occiput. A dog may have a long head, but the length may be all in front of the eyes. The heads of this breed have greatly improved the last few years; fewer “apple-headed” specimens, and more of the desired triangular heads being seen. The skull should be flat and narrow, the stop not perceptible, the muzzle long and tapering. Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of the head being well filled up before the eyes. The head, from forehead to nose, should be so fine that the direction of the bones and principal veins can be seen clearly, and in profile should appear rather Roman nosed. Bitches should be even narrower in head than dogs. THE EYES should be dark, expressive, almond shaped, and not too far apart. THE EARS like those of a Greyhound, small, thin, and placed well back on the head, with the tips, when thrown back, almost touching behind the occiput. It is not a fault if the dog can raise his ears erect when excited or looking after game, although some English judges dislike this frequent characteristic. The head should be carried somewhat low, with the neck continuing the line of the back. SHOULDERS—Clean and sloping well back, i.e., the shoulder blades should almost touch one another. CHEST—Deep and somewhat narrow. It must be capacious, but the capacity must be got from depth, and not from “barrel” ribs—a bad fault in a running hound. BACK—Rather bony, and free from any cavity in the spinal column, the arch in the back being more marked in the dog than in the bitch. LOINS—Broad and very powerful, showing plenty of muscular development. THIGHS—Long and well developed, with good second thigh. The muscle in the Borzoi is longer than in the Greyhound. RIBS—Slightly sprung, very deep, reaching to the elbow. FORE-LEGS—Lean and straight. Seen from the front they should be narrow and from the side broad at the shoulder and narrowing gradually down to the foot, the bone appearing flat and not round as in the Foxhound. HIND-LEGS—The least thing under the body when standing still, not straight, and the stifle slightly bent. They should, of course, be straight as regards each other, and not “cow-hocked,” but straight hind-legs imply a want of speed. FEET—Like those of the Deerhound, rather long. The toes close together and well arched. COAT—Long, silky, not woolly; either flat, wavy, or curly. On the head, ears and front-legs it should be short and smooth; on the neck the frill should be profuse and rather curly; on the chest and the rest of the body, the tail and hind-quarters, it should be long; the fore-legs being well feathered. TAIL—Long, well feathered, and not gaily carried. It should be carried well down, almost touching the ground. HEIGHT—Dogs from 29 inches upwards at shoulder, bitches from 27 inches upwards. (Originally 27 inches and 26 inches. Altered at a general meeting of the Borzoi Club, held February, 1906.) FAULTS—Head short and thick; too much stop; parti-coloured nose; eyes too wide apart; heavy ears; heavy shoulders; wide chest; “barrel” ribbed; dew-claws; elbows turned out; wide behind. Also light eyes and over or undershot jaws. COLOUR—The Club standard makes no mention of colour. White, of course, should predominate; fawn, lemon, orange, brindle, blue, slate and black markings are met with. Too much of the latter, or black and tan markings, are disliked. Whole coloured dogs are also seen.

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The foregoing description embodies the standard of points as laid down and adopted by the Borzoi Club, interpolated with some remarks for the further guidance of the novice.

The Borzoi Club was founded in 1892, and now consists of about fifty members, with the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle as joint-presidents. It does much good work for the breed, guaranteeing classes at shows, where otherwise few or none would be given, encouraging the breeding of high-class Borzois by offering its valuable challenge cups and other special prizes, and generally looking after the interests of the breed.

Although the Club standard of height has been raised from 27 and 26 inches to 29 and 27 inches for dogs and bitches respectively, it must be borne in mind that the best dogs of to-day far exceed these measurements, and, unless exceptionally good in other points, a dog of 29 inches at shoulder would stand little or no chance in the showing under the majority of English judges; indeed, bitches of 29 to 30 inches are by no means uncommon.

Not many of us can afford to start at the top of the tree, and, except for the favoured few to whom money is no object, and who can buy ready-made champions, there is no better way of starting a kennel than to purchase a really good bitch, one, say, capable of winning at all but the more important shows. She must be of good pedigree, strong, and healthy; such an one ought to be obtained for P15 upwards. Mate her to the best dog whose blood “nicks” suitably with hers, but do not waste time and money breeding from fourth-rate stud dogs, for if you do it is certain you will only meet with disappointment. On the other hand, if you have had little or no experience of dogs, you may possibly prefer to start with a puppy. If so, place yourself in the hands of a breeder with a reputation at stake (unless you have a friend who understands the breed). It is a fact that even a “cast off” from a good strain that has been bred for certain points for years is more likely to turn out a better dog than a pup whose dam has been mated “haphazard” to some dog who may or may not have been a good one. Big kennels also generally possess the best bitches and breed from them, and the bitch is quite as important a factor as the sire. If, however, you prefer to rely on your own judgment, and wish to choose a puppy yourself from a litter, select the one with the longest head, biggest bone, smallest ears, and longest tail, or as many of these qualities as you can find combined in one individual. Coat is a secondary matter in quite a young pup; here one should be guided by the coat of the sire and dam. Still, choose a pup with a heavy coat, if possible, although when this puppy coat is cast, the dog may not grow so good as one as some of the litter who in early life were smoother.

As regards size, a Borzoi pup of three months should measure about 19 inches at the shoulder, at six months about 25 inches, and at nine months from 27 to 29 inches. After ten or twelve months, growth is very slow, although some continue adding to their height until they are a year and a half old. They will, of course, increase in girth of chest and develop muscle until two years old; a Borzoi may be considered in its prime at from three to four years of age. As regards price, from P5 to P10 is not too much to pay for a really good pup of about eight to ten weeks old; if you pay less you will probably get only a second-rate one. Having purchased your puppy, there are three principal items to be considered if you intend to rear him well; firstly, his diet must be varied; secondly, the pup must have unlimited exercise, and never be kept on the chain; thirdly, internal parasites must be kept in check. For young puppies “Ruby” Worm Cure is most efficacious, and does not distress the patient.

Food should be given at regular intervals—not less frequently than five times a day to newly weaned puppies—and may consist of porridge, bread and milk, raw meat minced fine, and any table scraps, with plenty of new milk. Well-boiled paunch is also greatly appreciated, and, being easily digested, may be given freely.

One important part of the puppy's education that must by no means be neglected is to accustom him to go on the collar and lead. Borzoi pups are, as a rule extremely nervous, and it requires great patience in some cases to train them to the lead. Short lessons should be given when about four months old. If you can induce the puppy to think it is a new game, well and good—he will take to it naturally; but once he looks upon it as something to be dreaded, it means hours of patient work to break him in.

If you decide on commencing with a brood bitch, see that she is dosed for worms before visiting the dog; that she is in good hard condition—not fat, however; and, if possible, accompany her yourself and see her mated. For the first week rather less than her usual quantity of food should be given; afterwards feed as her appetite dictates, but do not let her get too fat, or she may have a bad time when whelping. For two days before the puppies are due give sloppy but nourishing diet, and this should be continued, given slightly warm, for four or five days after the pups are born. Borzois as a rule make excellent mothers, but to rear them well they should not be allowed to suckle more than five—or, if a strong, big bitch, six—pups. If the litter is larger, it is better to destroy the remainder, or use a foster mother.

Whatever they may be in their native land—and the first imported specimens were perhaps rather uncertain in temper—the Borzoi, as we know him in this country, is affectionate, devoted to his owner, friendly with his kennel companions and makes a capital house dog. As a lady's companion he is hard to beat; indeed, a glance at any show catalogue will prove that the majority of Borzois are owned by the gentle sex. No one need be deterred from keeping a Borzoi by a remark the writer has heard hundreds of times at shows: “Those dogs are so delicate.” This is not the case. Once over distemper troubles—and the breed certainly does suffer badly if it contracts the disease—the Borzoi is as hardy as most breeds, if not hardier. Given a good dry kennel and plenty of straw, no weather is too cold for them. Damp, of course, must be avoided, but this applies equally to other breeds.

The adult hound, like the puppy, should never be kept on chain; a kennel with a railed-in run should be provided, or a loose box makes a capital place for those kept out of doors, otherwise no different treatment is required from that of other large breeds.