Story in the Hunting Journal by NN Chelichtsev


Melanie Richards posted the Russian text a while back, and I’ve completed the translation of that chapter and my wife Catherine Shilov finished the editing, Dmitri Shilov!


The content or part of the content in the article has been questioned but it can’t be denied that Nikolai Chelichtsev had seen some of the dogs he describes!

Some notes: The full Russian word for ‘Borzoi’ is “Русская псовая борзая”. Transliterated, this reads as “Russkaya psovaya borzaya” which translates to “Russian furred sighthound.” The distinction made about furred (псовая ‘psovaya’) and thick-furred (густопсовоя ‘gustopsovaya’) will become apparent in the article, as well as how the breed eventually came to be known simply as the Russian furred sighthound.


Some of the sentences tend to “run” as we erred on the side of staying truer to the original text. Certain edits were made where the phrasing was unclear.

A translation from “Hunter’s Library: Russian Borzoi – The Rearing of and Hunting with” by N. N. Chelischev – Part 1, Chapter 2: ‘Main Types of the Russian Furred Sighthound’

Until the sixties of the last century, there were, in fact, two breeds of Russian sighthound: one of them was called the “thick-furred”, and the other “furred”. (In Russian, borzoi as a word just means sighthound, the defining word for the breed is “псовой”, originating from the distinct and wavy coat of the Borzoi.) The difference between them was not only in the density of the fur, but in the whole exterior and even somewhat in the behavioural qualities.

Thick-furred borzoi, in addition to the thickness and length of the fur, possessed enormous size – up to 85 cm at the shoulders, a wide mid-arch, bony legs, strongly developed muscles on the shoulders, back and, especially, hind legs and in general gave an impression of a massive and somewhat heavy dog; accordingly, the dog had a wider head, with the same wide, compact, straight and long muzzle, i.e. part of the head from the eyes to the nose. The eyes of these dogs were always agate-black, large, on the roll out (bulging), and the ears were small, angular and almost constantly kept the erect and forward-facing in an excited state, but in the relaxed state they were laid on the back of the head. The type of such a dog is superbly conveyed by Vysheslavtsev in the drawing of the famous thick-furred borzoi of his hunt – “Удал”, once placed on the pages of “Nature and the Hunt.”

As for the second type, i.e. furred dogs, they possess a less dense and shorter fur compared to thick-furred Borzoi. They also differed from them in the following: smaller height, lighter bones and legs, as well as their bones, respectively, were less rich in musculature. The heads of furred dogs were narrow and long, even tending to sharpness (excessive thinness at the end of the muzzle); eyes black or dark hazel, ears small, located on the back of the head. The ears, however, even when the dog was excited, were rarely completely upright . The ears usually only became somewhat raised, with the ends of them wrapped or forward to the head or to the side. We must also add that both breeds also differed in the neck. While the thick-furred’s neck was short and the head on it was completely horizontal, in a furred dog the neck was bent in the form of a sloping arc and the head on it was correspondingly with a sloping downwards muzzle. In addition to these differences, thick-furred and furred dogs differed from each other in color. The thick-furred dogs have always been of different colors, ranging from pure white to black. (No further clarification is made about this statement in the text)

These are the external qualities of the two breeds of the Russian borzoi in which they differed.

As for their inner qualities, it can be said that there was no particularly serious difference between them, but there was only one difference in the use of force. While the thick-furred hound was frisky and quick at a short distance, or, as they say, “short-circuited”, the furred hound endured longer distances and could chase the prey for a longer time. Again, this is due to the peculiarities of the area where each of these breeds was used.

The thick-furred hound was common in more northern wooded areas, so it had to catch in shorter fields and even clearings (narrow open space between forest edges) and glades where lightning fast speed and lunging are needed, as the beast quickly disappeared from sight, jumping over short open space. The furred hound was common in more Southern areas, where a longer chase was needed to catch prey. The prey could have been in sight and followed for a longer time.

Adapting to the locality in its desire to catch the beast, the thick-furred hound obviously had to immediately give all its strength, but the furred hound, on the contrary, could save it.

Thus, it must be said that both breeds did not have a big difference in strength and only spent it with different intensity, and therefore would last for more or less time. It is impossible, however, to say that the thick-furred dog could not catch in the fields, and the furred hound – on the glade or clearing, and therefore both of these breeds had their admirers both among northern hunters and among more southern ones.

It was so until the sixties (1860) of the last century, when Borzoi hunting in most cases ceased. Borzoi dogs survived here and there almost single instances, and it was impossible to even think about breeding this breed in its pure form. Since that time, the mixing of both above-mentioned breeds begins. When the “Society for the Reproduction of Hunting and Commercial Animals and Proper Hunting” established in Moscow in 1873 organized its first exhibition, the hunters who came to it had to admit a complete mixture of both breeds, not to mention intermixing with English and Southern breeds. In the press and at the assemblies between the hunters, the controversy about the exterior of the thick-furred and furred borzoi was raised, and all this resulted in the development of a single common standard for the exterior of the furred borzoi, and the name thick-furred was rejected.

Since the foundation of the above society, the intensive activity of hunters to restore the breed of sighthound dogs begins, and from that time, calling them only furred borzoi (“псовой борзой”), hunters from the remnants of the breed dogs begin to create their types, similar to the common features of the breed exterior, but differing in details. These details were determined by the taste of each individual dog owner, but in general, the discrepancy was expressed by the proximity of one type of dog to the thick-furred, and the other to the furred.

It is necessary to give full credit to many hunters in that they spared no effort and showed a lot of energy in this direction, and their persistent aspirations ended in complete success. The Russian hunting sighthound (Borzoi) has again reached extraordinary beauty with beautiful field presence.

In central Russia by the time of 1917, seven basic types of hound dogs thus arose:

1. Pershinskie
2. Ozerovskie
3. Boldyrevskie
4. Chelischevsky
5. Sumarokovskie
6. Geyerovskie and
7. Bibikovskie.

The distinctive features of these types are as follows:

1) **Pershinskie dogs ** represented in themselves the best blood of old borzoi and were divided into two groups: dark-coloured and light-colored.


The first ones had a narrow, sunken head, with a small crook toward the end of the muzzle, dark, bulging eyes, ears high and correctly placed on the back of the head. Height – from 70 to 80 cm. Fur was quite thick, soft and wavy, but not in curls. The tail was thin, and sickle shaped. In appearance, they were light dogs, did not have excess bone mass and generally more closely approached the type of the antique furred breed. In the field they were predominantly frisky, but they possessed mediocre malice (Translator note: “malice” or “злобa” in Russian when used with regards to the Borzoi is a very special term referring to the breeds innate desire to attack wolves).

As for the second group, i.e. dogs of light color, they differed from the first mainly by the head, which was also long and sunken, but the muzzle was almost always straight. Height was the same. Fur mostly curled. The tail was the same. In appearance, these dogs were initially more bony and larger, so that they were closer to the dense-furred type. However, in the subsequent pursuit of exceptional agility, Perchino hunting house (the place where these dogs were bred) greatly reduced the size of these dogs. At the end of their existence Pershinskie dogs acquired a very lightweight form bordering on thinness. Both the light-colored and dark-colored dogs were used in the hunting field in similar capacity.

Those who wish to compose a more accurate concept of *Pershinskie* we recommend the book by D.P. Valtsova about Pershinskaya hunting.

2) ** Ozerovskie dogs ** – quite tall, although they rarely reached 75 cm in males and 70 cm in bitches.


Color was pure white, or white with fawn and gray spotting. The fur was very thick, but not particularly long, forming curls, but was not wavy. A particularly characteristic feature of this breed was a Roman nose and the sloping of the forehead towards the back, so that the head seemed to be arched from both sides, i.e. to the nose and to the nape. The eyes of these dogs are black, bulging, very open, with visible blood vessels in the whites, or, as they say, “on the blood.” The ears are thin and small and, although slightly lower set, but tightly drawn to the head and mobile. The tail for the most part was sickle-shaped, thin, with a long, wavy fur. These dogs were very rich in bone and wide in the rear and back. In the field they were frisky, strong and with malice, but without the tendency to lunge.
The blood of Ozerovskie dogs, when bred into other bloodlines, especially ennobled the appearance of the dog.

3) ** Boldyrev dogs ** – medium height: males – 72-75 cm, females – 70-72 cm.


The color is predominantly white, with fawn and red spots. Fur – medium density, long, in a large curl. The eyes are the same as those of the Ozerskys, but the head is straight and only sometimes with a small bump towards the nose. The ears are thin and small, quite mobile, but not always rising all the way up, and for the most part, when the dog is excited, bends to the sides with their ends. The tail is proper. The bones of these dogs were thinner than the Ozerovskie, and they had a light appearance. In the field they were frisky and with a tendency to lunge, but they did not stand out in their malice.

4) ** Chelischevsky dogs ** – the tallest of all types of borzoi: males – up to 80 cm, and females – up to 75. Color – fawn in silver, red-fawn, and white with fawn in silver and red spotting, rarely black-spotted on gray. The silver speckling on the fawn, and sometimes red-fawn fur was due to the fact that these colors of the fur turned almost white at the ends. For the density and length of the fur, these dogs had no equal. The head was long, straight, with a dense and wide muzzle, sometimes with a small bump towards the nose. The eyes are the same as those of the Ozersky dogs.


A special distinguishing feature of this type of dog was the ears – small, thin, completely sharp and located above the level of the eyes. When the dog was in an excited state, they rose up and forward, squeezing together so tightly that it was like a triangle, while in a calm state the dog’s ears lay on the back of the head, crossing between themselves in the form of scissors. The neck of these dogs was short, dressed with dog fur like a hand warmer or muff. The tail is proper, sickle-shaped, with long, wavy fur below and curls above starting from the base of the tail and to approximately half-way down the length, then changing into a wavy fur. The bone and the whole body are voluminous, giving the impression, at first glance, of massiveness and heaviness. However, in the field these dogs were very frisky, with a huge lunge, completely impassable and malicious. This breed is the oldest.

5) ** Sumarokovsky dogs ** – also very tall, from very old breeds – Kareevskih, and have kept the qualities of these dogs and are almost their last representatives. Males reach 80 cm in height, and females up to 75. Color – white, with fawn and red-fawn spots. The fur, although inferior in density to Chelishchevsky, is still very thick, in large curls. The head is long, straight, with a dense and wide muzzle and with a hump at the nose.


An excellent quality of this type of dogs were somewhat luminous eyes, a certain pinkiness of the eyelids, pinkish lips and nose. The ears are thin, small and tightly drawn to the head, but never raised up and forward, but only raised up, and the ends of the ears were turned to the side. The tail is proper, but not sickle-shaped, but in the form of a saber, i.e. shallow-curved. The bone and the body can be called strong, but sometimes there is a superiority in the development of the front, and the rear was somewhat narrower. I didn’t see these dogs in the field, but, according to many hunters who traveled with them, they were frisky and especially malicious.

6) ** Geyerovskie dogs ** were descendants from the dogs of the old and famous hunter – P.A. Bereznikov. They were small in stature: males – up to 72 cm, females – up to 65. Color – black with red tan and dark red, sometimes with gray hair. In the dark-red dogs, the muzzle, starting from the eyes, was black. The density of fur on these dogs did not stand out, and the fur was rough to the touch. The head is straight, but not particularly long, with a hump towards the nose, and the nose itself has a certain tendency toward sharpness.

A distinctive feature of this type were yellow eyes, which made an unpleasant impression on the background of black color. Ears – rather low, although tightly drawn to the head. In an excited state, these dogs somehow would lift the entire skin on the nape together with the ears and formed a kind of hood over their heads. When proper, the tails of these dogs also did not stand out, but the tails were sometimes tilted to one side. They have recently become impoverished in bone and body due to the fact that this breed has been bred exclusively to itself, and for a very long time has not been refreshed with the blood of other breeds. In the field, these dogs were not frisky, but they were malicious. When taking the wolf (and it must be said that they all took by the throat), they froze on it, closed their eyes and pressed their front legs under themselves. It was very difficult to tear them away from the wolf. In malice, not a single breed could compare with these dogs.

7) ** Bibikov dogs ** were especially common among hunters in the Tula province and were based on the lines of the dogs of the very famous hunter of the Tver province – Nazimov. These dogs were shorter in stature and even small: males – 70 cm, and females – 65 and even smaller. They came in any color except black. The black never came out from these dogs. Fur was also varied, up to being hard, standing like a brush, and in general it was very rough to the touch and not thick. The head did not have a certain type and was for the most part crude. The eyes are small and of different shades, although I did not notice light eyes. The ears were very diverse in the setting and movement. In bone and body these dogs were quite strong. In general, about this breed, we can say that in appearance it was very unattractive, but in its field qualities it was very much appreciated by the hunters of the Tula province, outside of which, it seemed, it was not exported. In the field, these dogs were frisky and especially malicious.

This was a brief description of those types of borzoi that existed as basic ones before 1917.

It can be said that there were many dogs to work with, the achievements of individual hunters were enormous, and at that time the Russian furred sighthound stood at such a peak that it could not be surpassed by any foreign breeds. Currently, there are still some instances of these types. Under appropriate conditions, the restoration of the breed of Russian furred sighthounds is quite possible.

Translated by Dmitri and Cathrine Shilov


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