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Dog hunting – Greyhounds and hunting with them

At a time when people still did not have weapons that would kill game at a distance (in addition to stones and flying darts nearby), they already used domesticated dogs in collective hunts. The first wolf and jackal-like helpers of a person did not have to be trained in the persecution of the pursued animal, it was only necessary to arrive in time for the prey section.

Over the millennia of such a joint hunt in the open, something has changed, especially in the guise of dogs. True, even in medieval Europe, local breeds, rough and bestial, were very different in appearance from modern greyhounds. The type of such a tall and powerful dog, catching up and crushing the caught animals, still seems to be preserved in the modern Irish wolfhound.

In the XVI-XVII centuries. lighter varieties of greyhounds, intended for hunting small animals, mainly hares, appeared in the European West. Probably, the grace inherent in the type of these dogs was given by the blood of the North African greyhounds, perfected by Arab hunters and gradually imported into Europe. The output of the middle-income citizen in those days was very modest. A foot hunter armed with a pike went out into the hare with two or three small dogs, one of which, the hound, found and lifted the animal along the trail, and the greyhounds (usually a couple), similar to modern Whippets or Italian greyhounds, were caught. Not so looked luxurious trips of the nobility, with a large number of horse and foot participants. In the British Isles, foxes and hares were poisoned by local smooth-haired greyhounds – Greyhounds, and in the wildlands of Eastern Europe – by hard-haired bored greyhounds and Polish harts.

In subsequent times, hunting with greyhounds in Europe gradually became obsolete, giving way to unarmed hunting with hounds, which were assigned responsibilities and greyhounds (this period in the history of hounds is discussed below). Currently, foreign owners of greyhounds amuse mainly sports competitions of their dogs in the races for the electronic hare, which are very popular among amateurs. The English greyhounds were used the longest in the “live” hunt (dogs that are unsurpassed in their agility, which are still bred for the favorite sight in this country – the pursuit of an artificial hare). It should be added that these greyhounds are often imported to Russia, where they again join the real hunt. Otherwise, the greyhound breeds preserved in the European West and America have acquired purely exhibition significance. It is pleasant to note that in most countries, the Russian borzoi brought there has preserved the exterior and type of purebred dogs of its homeland.

In Russia, hunting with greyhounds arose around the 16th century. According to the written testimony of the Ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire to the Grand Duchy of Moscow 3. Herberstein about the hunting trip of the Grand Duke of Moscow Vasily III, the kennel besides heavy Medellan dogs led slender, light dogs with fluffy tails (possibly relatives of the modern Central Asian lop-eared greyhound). For lack of free animals, the kennel released from the bags of hares, which these fast-legged dogs easily caught.

The history of the formation of the breed of the Russian canine borzoi was not easy for several centuries. However, to this day, dog handlers interpret some of its stages ambiguously. The foundation of this domestic breed may have been laid after the conquest of the Kazan and Astrakhan khanates by Ivan IV the Terrible, which caused a massive influx of eastern-type greyhounds. These swift and graceful dogs, apparently, were crossed with Russian tall, long-haired and sharp-witted “cunning dogs.” Such hybrids became more and more common as forests were reduced and fields and pastures appeared. Tough selection did its job, because it is known that already in 1600 Tsar Boris Godunov did not hesitate to include a pair of Russian canine greyhounds in the number of gifts to the Persian Shah Abbas I.

A certain impact on the exterior of the breed was made by the delivery of Polish Harts (smooth-haired greyhounds) and English Greyhounds to False Dmitry I to Moscow. However, the Russian climate required the creation of a well-dressed dog, with a canine, capable of protecting it in open fields to all winds. In any case, the old Russian canine greyhound already possessed all the main features of the breed – growth, “long, hanging in a twist of a dog” and “ears tightened to the neck”. From further rare information about this dog, one can distinguish that in the war of 1700-1721. Field Marshal B.P. Sheremetev poisoned hares and foxes with Russian canine greyhounds in between battles. Beginning with a passionate lover of dog hunting, Peter II, kennels for several hundred borzoi dogs were kept at the royal court. But among them were not only Russian dogs that were distinguished by their beauty, grace and agility, but also busty, strong and ferocious “shreds” (who took the wolf alone), harts, greyhounds and their various crosses.

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