In 1887, Grand Duke Nicolai Nicolayevich acquired the Perchino property west of the city of Tula, about 200 km from Moscow. Perchino was at that time a dilapidated manor house that the Grand Duke is committed to restore and beautify, to make it worthy to become the appointment of hunting that suits his rank.
Below : portrait, a little caricature of the Grand Duke Nicolas Nicolaievich. The legend in Russian is:
"His Imperial Highness the Great Prince Nicholas Nicolayevich, on one of his hunting horses at Perchino, during a training session of the young Borzoi at the hunting of wolf, May 1914."
The kennels are built for Sighthounds for hunting, at the same time the property is rehabilitated, and the lands, previously scattered, reclaimed. The Grand Duke transfered his hunt, which he previously had begun to rebuild in the autumn of 1887. Originally consisting of about 60 Borzois, this hunt will later reach 125 to 130 adult Borzois. The Perchino property, in addition to being a luxurious hunting lodge worthy of the social status of its illustrious owner, is a breeding farm. It raises not only dogs, but also horses, cattle, pigs and poultry of different kinds.
Let us return to the goal pursued by the Grand Duke: "In order to form his hunt (which took place towards the end of the 1880s), his Imperial Highness endeavored to search in all the famous kennels of the time for dogs which appeared to him to have the necessary qualities to serve the ’regeneration’ of the old type of Borzoi. It was indeed a regeneration, because for many years the old type of the Borzoi was so completely lost that, to get an exact idea of it, the Grand Duke had to resort to the stories and descriptions made by veterans of hunting with the Borzoi, who, in their youth, had known these dogs and hunted with them ". (The general appearance of the Borzoi - Artem Boldareff, May 1911).
In 1889, the Society for the Improvement of Field Qualities of Hunting Dogs was founded in St. Petersburg under the presidency of the Grand Duke. The company organizes speed and aggression tests for all Sighthounds. The Grand Duke supports this activity and takes part in these events with his Sighthounds. Just as he will participate in hunting dog shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg, or abroad (for example at Crufts - London in 1892, Paris in 1895).
In "Hunting and Fishing" we can read this anecdote : 1912 - organized by the Moscow Hunting Society, 13th international dog show of Moscow, 83 barzoïs including subjects of the breeding of Perchino ... "The barzoïs of the Grand-Duc , placed on special benches, festooned in the colors of his Imperial Highness, with the servants in uniform, formed another "nail" (note: of the show), attracting the crowd of visitors.According to what I learn, Perchino would not have sent his very first subjects whose existence is too precious to expose them to the always existing risks of a dog show ". (Report H. Sodenkamp, December 1912).
In Perchino, the adult Borzoi (not counting kennels dedicated to mothers and puppies) are divided into 9 kennels and dogs are gathered according to their colour. The colours range from dark brindle to white (there were rarely black Borzois at Perchino).
"The dogs composing the leashes of the hunters are divided into eight groups, each housed in a separate kennel.Two hunters and a kennel boy, attendants to the dogs of the group, live in a housing adjoining the kennel, so they have their pupils constantly under the eyes, a precaution that is not superfluous, given the fighting character of certain individuals.All these kennels are in direct communication with a large lawn surrounded by a wire grid, where the different groups are introduced in turn and can take their exercise under the watchful eye of the staff for two hours in a row, this day.
Dogs are classified into groups according to the color of their hair. So there is a group of gray dogs, another one of brown dogs, a third of white dogs with yellow spots, and so on.
At a certain distance from the eight kennels of which I have spoken, is situated the one where the borzois of the particular leash of His Imperial Highness are installed. It is divided into two parts, one for dogs, the other for bitches. The leash is composed of nearly 30 individuals, chosen personally by the Grand Duke from among the best examples of the hunt; so they present, so to speak, the quintessence.
These dogs come from almost all groups, all colours are more or less represented. However, there are still at least three of them having the same colour, which allows his Highness to keep on the leash, at the time of the hunt, dogs of the same color, the supreme elegance of the Borzoi hunter, but to which, alas! very few modern hunters can aspire.
Beside the borzoïs, the Grand Duke possesses some examples of English greyhounds, which he likes to compete in hare races. He also takes them to the hunt, who likes to compare the speed of his borzois with theirs. For the rest, we do not raise at Perchino, His Highness being satisfied to bring it to the need of England." (Historical overview of the hunting of borzoïs - Artem Boldareff, April 1912)
Every year in autumn during his stay in Perchino, the Grand Duke establishes the list of projections to be made by always using breeders that has produced stock having proven themselves in the hunt.
Dogs are carefully maintained and kept in condition according to the time of year. They also went out hunting alternately. The Grand Duke wants to own a personal hunt consisting of beautiful, fast and aggressive borzoïs.
Naturally, topics that are not satisfying enough or no longer useful are available for sale. Perchino borzois can be obtained from various qualities (everything is a question of price) and a booklet on breeding is provided on request.
"Perchino receives every year a considerable stream of lovers of borzoïs who come to attend the public sales (note = auction) of the month of May-June and the public preliminaries of Russian sighthounds.We are therefore far from sales exclusively for reasons of courtesy or special favor It is only natural that an important breeding like that of Perchino sells what it does not want to keep.This is done in all farms, even when they belong to the heads. crowned as the late Queen Victoria, King Edward VII or HIS Grand Duke Nicholas ". (H. Sodemkamp, January 1904).
Example of proposal ...
Mail to the heading of: "Department of Land Management and Perchino Hunts of His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Nicolas Nicolaevich" addressed to a Mr. Cassius (France).
Mail typed in Russian and written in French.
In response to your letter I have the honor to inform you that if you wish to have pictures of dogs (borzoy) these will cost you 1000/1000 francs. As you have a serious intention to buy a dog, it will be much better for you to arrive personally to choose one to your liking. Such a dog that you want to buy will cost you from 5,000 to 10,000 francs.
Accept Sir the assurance of my devotion.
The manager of the property.
The well-deserved reputation of Perchino's breeding is due to the knowledge and science of the breeding of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolayevich, recognized and respected by all. He has this indispensable "intuition" that allows him to guess a good breeding in a dog that any other could judge mediocre. He also knows how to surround himself with competent men, like his kennel manager, General Dimitri Waltzoff, a breeder himself and appreciated judge of Borzoïs. Note that, unlike other breeders, the Grand Duke did not seek to create his own family (type) there was no real type "Perchino". He was more of a collector, and thanks to wise choices, he was able to gather the best dogs of the best lines.
"The Borzois de Perchino, descendants of ancestors of different types, naturally presented not a single type, but several, inheriting their appearance sometimes an ancestral lineage, sometimes another, and this was not to displease to As opposed to the majority of Russian hunters who wanted to form a team of Borzois created on the same mold, Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolayevich liked all the good exemplars and kept them in his own hands. breeding, and improving them ". (The topic of the Sighthound - Artem Boldareff, February 1923).
Perchino's fame is rapidly surpassing Russia's borders. Some breeders or celebrities of the time want to see Perchino. Thus, the brothers Thomas ("O'Valley Farm") make the displacement of the USA in 1903 then 1904 and 1911, the Dr. Arthur Wegener ("Ural"), of Germany, in 1906 then 1913, MG Van Muylem ("of Ziezeghem ") of Belgium in 1907, and M. Alexandre Pellisson of France, twice in 1913.
All return excited about what they have seen, and will make stories that will be published in the Gazettes or in book form (except Mr. Van Muylem).
By the end of the 1800s, "Perchino" borzois or Perchino kennels were imported into many countries.
But we can also note, mentioning only subjects produced in Perchino :
- in Germany : Iran Perchino (import 1913) by Dr. Wegener.
- in Austria : Udaletz Perchino and Tscharodeika Perchino.
- in Belgium : Poulka Perchino; Ugar Perchino (imp.1907) by Mr. Van Muylem.
- in France : Stchegol Perchino (born in 1898) by Mr. Charles Cuvelier ; Rasbros Perchino by Mrs. Deluce ; Lihodey Perchino and Bataiy Perchino, imported in 1913 by Mr. Pellisson ; Karai X Perchino (born in 1910) and Yabeda II Perchino (born in 1913), imported in 1914 by Countess Greffulhe ; Tsharounia Perchino by M. Paul Roy ; Zennaia II Perchino by M. Henry Teissonniere.
- in Romania : Matas Perchino (born in 1912) and Astra Perchino (born in 1913) imported in 1914.
- in Serbia : Hvat Perchino (born in 1910), Vichr Perchino (born in 1911), Razluka Perchino (born in 1913), imported in 1914.
- in the USA: Nenagladny Perchino, Nayada Perchino and Schalost Perchino (imp.1904), Zyclon Perchino and Yarki Perchino (imp.1911), still by the Thomas brothers.
But in 1913, this page in the history of the Borzoi is, after 26 years, about to close ... 1914, the beginning of the First World War ... The Grand Duke is appointed Chief Commander of Armed Forces within land and sea of Russia, August 2, 1914 ... Record of his duties August 24, 1915, he took the leadership of the Caucasian army ... Then he takes refuge with his relatives in his property in Crimea in March 1917 (in Tchaer in the vicinity of Yalta) and finally the final departure for exile in March 1919 ... There is no documentation found on this period, but we can assume that the Grand Duke, in this crucial period of Russian history, had little time to continue to indulge in his passion for hunting and barzoïs, and to oversee the management of Perchino. However, it is certain that Perchino continued to exist until 1917.
Let's listen to Andrus Koslov: "Perchino's hunt lasted until the end of 1917. The Perchino archives specify, on March 13, 1917: 175 greyhounds (95 adult Borzois, 80 puppies and 5 Greyhounds) to which the current dogs (harriers, with puppies) add up to a total of 282 dogs, but in 1917 the ability to feed the dogs became difficult, and they could no longer be used on the hunt and were rarely driven.
In the course of the year 1917, all dogs were sold or donated. On October 26, the Perchino hunt was officially declared liquidated by the "On the land" decree. By December 5th the hunt counted only one Borzoi. In the 1920s, the Perchino property hosted the state stables.
However, the palace, with hunting trophies, as well as furniture, dishes, paintings illustrating hunting scenes have been preserved. In 1919, the palace became the "Museum of hunting and hunting life".
In 1926, the museum was closed, the objects it contained were transferred to the Museum of Art and History of the city of Tula. Then the building was gradually abandoned. Subsequently, the authorities ordered to dismount it to recover the bricks, and pieces of irrecoverable walls were thrown into the river. Today, only the foundations of Perchino remain ... "
Perchino, the name of Grand Duke Nicolas Nicolayevich Romanoff, has remained linked to the history of the Borzoi, to its prestigious aura ... And the Perchino Borzois are still present in most distant ancestors of a large part of the Borzois current.
Annex I - composition of the Perchino pack at its peak :
- 100 current dogs
- 130 borzoïs in hunting condition
- 15 greyhounds
- 20 more Borzois in condition to hunt
- 100 puppies a year (60 puppies Borzois and 40 puppies, to keep the flock permanently)
In all, 365 dogs.
To which must be added: 87 horses (saddle and carriage); 78 employees (to operate the whole to varying degrees).
Annex II - Small clarification :
At Perchino, many dogs bore the same name. Thus, with regard to major imports (see above), Zyclon Perchino was actually Zyclon II Perchino, Iran was Iran III, Asmodey was Asmodey II. And Ptischka, Ptitschka I.
Author: Danielle Laurent-Faure
French English translation : Dan Persson
All translations to Russian: Elena Gerasimova
- reviews "Hunting and Fishing"
- "Perchino's Hunt" (1887-1912) by Dimitri Waltzoff
- Notes and remarks Andrus Koslov
- Brochure on the Tula City Archives (Polozov and Nemov, 2010). Andrus Koslov Communication