This section is from the book "A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland. (Sporting Division)", by Rawdon Briggs Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: Sporting Division.
I have written of the Borzoi as we know him here, and as he will in the future be known, taking no account of the various strains said to be in the Czar's dominions, and the following description of him, translated from the Russian by M. A. Boldareff, a member of the Imperial Hunt, Moscow, and which appeared in the Stock Keeper in July, 1896, will be found interesting :
"The general appearance of the Borzoi is noble and elegant. This is shown in the shape of the head, the silkiness and brilliancy of the hair, and even in the gait, which should be full of energy and grace. The different points of the dog, taken separately, have no value in the general appearance; the dog may have defects in head properties, in the body, in the legs, the coat may be too short, but nevertheless its air of nobility and elegance, its blue-blood aspect, will indicate purity of breeding. Only pure blood and careful breeding for several generations will impart this look, which excites the admiration of connoisseurs of Borzois and all other lovers of dogs.
"It is a pity that nowadays many of our sportsmen surrender general appearance for perfection in other points, so that the Borzoi of high and noble quality is becoming rare.
"The pure race of the Borzoi is principally characterised by the shape of the head, the ear, and by the tail. Many breeders concentrate their attention upon the head, and disdain the tail.
"We find, on the contrary, that the tail is one of the most characteristic points of race, because its thinness, its elasticity, and its shape, which resembles a reaping hook (a), among all the Russian breeds (we consider the Crimean and Caucasian varieties as Russian) belong exclusively to the Borzoi (b).
"Muzzle slightly arched and forehead prominent are typical of the Borzoi, but when the arch is too pronounced or the forehead too prominent, they are faults.
"The skull must be long, oval to the sides, and have a small slip to the back part of the head, finishing by a prominency sharp enough and well pronounced. Every other form is not typical.
"The muzzle is long, thin, and clean, the nostrils rather large and slightly projecting over the lower jaw. The nose must be black (a).
(a) A comparison very popular among Eussian hunters.
(b) The writer forgets the greyhounds of Poland, whose tails are exactly of the same shape as the Borzoi, only covered with very short hair.
"The eye must be full, and of oblong shape (an oblique eye is a defect, and a round one is not typical); it must be of a dark colour in a dark lining (b). Its expression is austere, but certainly not when indoors or when the dog is caressed, but at liberty or while hunting.
"The ear is small, thin (its thinness is a proof of high blood), having the form of a wedge. It must be very mobile, and is sometimes carried erect like a horse's ear (c).
"This last quality is one of the best proofs of high birth. The hair that covers the ear must be very short, soft as satin, and must not grow in bunches. The dog should carry its neck like an English greyhound, but the Borzoi's neck is shorter, and is not so straight. The shoulders should be flat and well seen; the elbows must not be turned outwards, but should be clear of the sides of the dog.
"The arch of the back of a dog must be quite regular and make no impression of a hump. The arch seems higher than it really is, because the hind part of the dog is higher than the fore part. The bitch has the back less arched, but even a high arch must not be considered as a great defect.
(a) A nose not sufficiently black, even when it has the colour of flesh, must not be considered as a proof of bad race. It is simply a symptom of poorness of blood.
(b) A light eye and the absence of a dark lining represent the same defect as a light nose.
(c) A favourite comparison with Russian amateurs.
"The ribs of the Borzoi must descend as low as the elbow They can be either flat or round, their form depending upon the breadth of the back; but they must never be too round (a). The ribs must gradually get smaller to the stomach. The stomach is drawn in and quite hidden behind' the groin. The groin of a dog must be small; the less the better. A bitch must have it longer.
"The hind quarters are long and broad. The dog is more sloping than the bitch. A short and drooping loin is a great defect, because it forces the hind legs to be quite straight (b).
"The fore legs are quite straight. The bone must be flat from the side, and not round. The foot resembles that of a hare (c), with toes of medium length. On each toe grows a bunch of hair, long and thin (a). The under part of the paw is of an oblong form.
(a) Not so round as the sides of an English greyhound.
(b) Many huntsmen begin to prefer a sloping loin. The reason is that this form was common to the majority of coursing winners in Russia.
(V) Comparison generally used by Russian amateurs. We consider a cat foot a fault for Borzois.
"The hind legs are parallel one to another, slightly set back (not too much).
"The thighs are flat, with very broad bones. The muscles are flat, long, and firm.
"The tail is thin, but strong in its beginning, growing gradually thinner and thinner to the end; it must be elastic, have the form of a sickle, and be of medium length. Its upper part is covered with curly hair, but the hair on the lower part is long and slightly undulated.
"The hair of the dog is curly on the neck, slightly wavy on the back of the dog - as far as the loins - and again more wavy on the thighs, much shorter on the sides, but falls long and satin-like from the chest.
"Personally, we admit as typical colour of the hair only white, grey, yellow, and white spotted with grey and yellow (b)."
In Russia, although judging dogs by points is in vogue, the procedure connected therewith is arranged on different lines to that followed in this country.
(a) Not for dogs in field condition.
(b) All our amateurs were quite astonished when we heard that a black dog (1 think its name was Argos) was proclaimed champion in England; This colour is one of the first proofs of a great deal of Crimean or Caucasian blood.
For instance, forty-five is taken as the complement indicating perfection, and each point of the dog is given five, no particular one having a greater number allowed than another. However, to modify this the various points are placed in order of precedence, according to the Russian standard, they being as follows: Hind legs, fore legs, ribs, back, general symmetry, muzzle, eyes, ears, tail.