sabato 15 dicembre 2018
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This text is based on « Historia naszej kynologii – Rasy Polskie » (History of our Cynology – Polish Breeds), a book which was brought out to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennel Club in Poland. “Polish breeds” is published by the Polish Kennel Club (Warszawa 2000) F. et Ph. Duponcheel-Vandenbussche
The breed is likely to originate from the ancient Asian Saluki Sighthound, however, its final appearance is an outcome of many crosses of sighthound types found in the Polish territory.
The oldest records on the sighthounds living in the territory of Poland date back to Gall Anonim’s Kroniki (Chronicles) of the 12th century, where they are mentioned as a breed kept at the royal court. One cannot be sure, though, if these were the Polish sighthounds. In the Poland of 14th century, hunting with sighthounds was a quite popular activity. In “Ksiegi o gospodarstwie” (Books on Farming) by Piotr Crescentyn published in 1549, a woodcut of a dog resembling a Polish sighthound was included. In the years to follow, the dogs were frequently described but the first full characteristic of the breed was provided by Anzelm Gostomski in his book “Gospodarstwo Jezdeckie, Strzelcze and Mysliwcze” (A Horse Riding, Shooting and Hunting Farm) published in 1690. The first description of a hunt with Polish sighthounds is included in “Myslistwo z ogary” (Hunting with Ogars) published in 1618 by count Jan Ostrorog. Shorthaired sighthounds are also mentioned by Jan Chryzostom Pasek (1636-1701) in his “Pamietniki” (Memoirs). As the documents show, the dogs of this breed were in the possession of tsarevicz Nikolai Nikolaiewicz, too. In the hunting literature of 19th century, the name of “the Polish sighthound” or “our sighthound” or “a common sighthound” is frequently mentioned. The dog was supposed to be larger, stronger and with slightly longer hair than the English Greyhound. The Polish sighthound was used to hunt different game, mainly hare but also foxes, wolves and even deer. When hunting, the old time hunters would often apply the so called “leash” i.e. two or three cooperating sighthounds on the move. A detailed description of the Polish Sighthound including information on its upbringing, training for hunting, hunting methods as well as the dog’s picture can be found in a Warsaw magazine “Sylvan” (1823 – 2). The writing of this first real monograph on the breed is attributed to Wiktor Kozlowski.
A few artists of the 19th century portrayed dogs of the Polish sighthound type in their painting, including J. Kossak, J. Brandt and A. Wierusz-Kowalski ; sketches of the dogs by J. Norblin and I. Siemienski are preserved as well. With the impoverishment of the Polish nobility, confining hunting with sighthounds to large game preserves only and levying high taxes on sighthound owners, the number of Polish sighthounds continually declined. At the end of the 19th century, the dogs could be hardly spotted. They managed to survive in the Eastern part of the country and the Ukraine, where they were bred under the name “chortaia borzoia” or “polskaia borzaia”. The dogs are mentioned by S. Biezobrazow in a Russian encyclopaedia published in 1891, St. Rewinski in Encyklopedia Rolnicza (Encyclopaedia of Agriculture) (1899), in the period between the two World Wars, by M. Trybulski in his book entitled “Psy. Rasy, hodowla, tresura I leczenie” (Dogs, Breeds, Breeding, Training and Treatment) published in 1928 and I. Mann in his book “Rasy psow. Pochodzenie, wzorce, uzytkowosc” (Dog Breeds, Their Origin, Standards and Utility) dated 1939. In the Southern region of Poland, Polish sighthounds were used for hunting as long as the outbreak of the Second World War.
In 1971, Maciej Mroczkowski managed to obtain information about Polish sighthounds living in the territory of the USSR, in the Rostov region. After the October Revolution, the dogs were moved from large private land estates to collective farms where, thanks to their hunting qualities, they were pure bred. In 1972, Maciej Mroczkowski placed in a popular Przekroj weekly an article about the sighthounds from Poland nowadays domiciled in Ukraine and used for hare hunting by the soviet hunters. According to soviet dog fanciers, the dogs numbered from several dozen to several hundred specimens. In view of the game law banning hunting with sighthounds which, at that time, was about to be introduced in the USSR, the dogs faced extermination. Maciej Mroczkowski’s article included an appeal addressed to the Przekroj readers asking for help to recreate the breed in Poland. Luckily, the price for a dog was relatively low – one dog could be purchased by as little as 30-40 rubels. Fifty readers responded, including Stanislaw Czerniakowski from Warsaw who managed to purchase and bring to Poland two bitches named Tajga and Strielka as well a dog called Elbrus. Tajga and Elbrus became parents of the first puppies born in Poland. The first breeders of Polish sighthounds, Malgorzata and Izabella Szmurlo and Helena Jenczyk-Tolloczko, put in their efforts to obtain the dogs who survived in the South of Poland. It was quite a tough task, though, because admitting to owning a sighthound automatically meant admitted to poaching hunting with sighthounds in Poland is forbidden by law. Polish sighthounds used to have many enemies, but also a large group of canine specialists who favoured the breed. Commitment to popularise the breed was made by among others Hanna Lipinska, a group of judges, including
Lubomir Smyczynski, Kazimierz Sciesinski and the re-discoverer of the breed, Maciej Mroczkowski. Owners of the first pedigree Polish sighthounds must be mentioned as well – by presenting their dogs at shows they made it possible for everybody to get familiar with the breed. Based on the relevant literature and iconography, Hanna Lipinska and Malgorzata Szmurlo developed a draft standard of the breed. On opening the Polish Greyhound’s Pre-register Book in 1981, 30 dogs were enrolled. The same number of dogs entered the 1st Polish Greyhound National Specialty Show which was held in Poznan in 1981 and during which three generations of the dogs were exhibited. A year later, the Pre-register Book included as many as 60 dogs. The breed received a preliminary approval of FCI at the Federation General Congress held in Helsinki in 1989. The Polish Greyhound breed standard is listed under the number 333, it is not eligible for CACIB yet. A year later, first dogs of the Polish Greyhound breed were exhibited at the international show in Switzerland. Because of the ban on hunting with sighthounds, the dogs are not used for hunting purposes any longer, nevertheless, they are very popular with track racing and coursing. When running, the Polish sighthound is as speedy as the English Greyhound but even more enduring. The top breeders of the Polish sighthound are Malgorzata and Izabella Szmurlo whose “Celerrimus” Kennel excels in the number of pedigree puppies. The ladies promote the breed inside and outside the country ; they are the authors of many specialist articles on the breed as well as of the monograph “Chart Polski” (The Polish Sighthound) published in 1993. Other outstanding kennels include “Od Charciarza”, “Z Wielgowa”, “Ranbaza”, “Czereda Kusego”, “Ksenas” and others. The Polish Sighthound aroused much interest in the USA, Finland, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, where first litters have already been reported. Individual specimens have been sent to Canada and Sweden. In 1984, the Polish Greyhound Club was set up ; similar clubs operate in France, Belgium and USA. The Chart Polski has been officially recognised on a definitive basis (decision of the FCI Standards and Scientific Commission – Paris – January 2001). From March 1st 2001 the Chart Polski is entitled to get the CACIB in any international FCI dog show.