Who does not remember these charming scenes from Pan Tadeusz? However, these were only innocent humoresques. The history of the Polish greyhound in the second half of the 20th century has more serious accents.
It happens that a pure-bred dog is a showcase of a country, society, and also a synonym of a land, a specific region. That is why these nice quadrupeds are often the subject of various games, political actions, sometimes misrepresentations. because what moves on our land is ours. The problem arises when a territory becomes the property of another country.
Historically, the dogs discussed here were most often found in estates located in the south-eastern borderlands of the Second Polish Republic. Hence, the undoubtedly fastest Polish dogs were accompanied by an extremely turbulent history of the breed restitution. It is not my purpose to go into the meanders of politics, ambitions and especially interpersonal animosities related to dogs. However, the situation was exceptional and, although it sounds like a fairy tale about an iron wolf, in the post-war history of rescuing the Polish greyhound there were indeed some bizarre difficulties.
Not without significance was the shift of borders. In the early 1990’s Soviet cynologists recognised the Polish greyhound as a variety of Russian dogs, which for the cynology of satellite states was sufficient „prikaz”. One thing is certain; glory to all those who did not bow to the pressure of opponents and fought for their beloved breed in spite of the negating recommendations (1974).) of the Polish Kennel Club authorities. Fortunately, this is history.
A great authority, an expert on dogs, lawyer Lubomir Smyczynski, in a letter to a group of enthusiasts saving the Polish greyhound – Mrs. Małgorzata Szmurło wrote: „Dear Madam, Polish greyhounds survived the partitions, the Insurrection, the November Uprising, the January Uprising, the First World War, the Revolutions, the Second World War. So there is hope that the Circular of the Main Board (it is about Z. Head. Kennel Club) will also survive”.
„Thaw” It began in 1972 with the publication of prof. by Maciej Mroczkowski in „Cross section” that Polish greyhounds are not extinct! This appeal was a driving force for fanatics of the breed. A number of initiatives were taken, searching for greyhound-like specimens, meeting the expectations of breed experts. Mr. Stanislaw Czerniakowski, who while driving a car somewhere in the provinces of the then USSR, bought two bitches – Strie³ka and Tajga, as well as a dog named Elbrus. For dollars of course…
The search for greyhounds was also conducted in southern Poland. This was the beginning of organized breeding. However, reviews, shows, various types of demonstrations of Polish greyhounds took place under the conditions of conspiracy dictated by the position of the supreme authorities of the Polish state. The greater merit of judges and cynologists who supported the efforts of people rescuing this old Polish breed.
In the book „Kniga Sobakowoda” (Moscow 1990) M.G. Psalmow informs that the breed was bred in Poland, from where it spread in Russia. Nothing to add, nothing to take away. Mr Tomasz Borkowski reports that a French magazine „La Nature” from 1825, in a report on a visit to France of Grand Duke Constantine, among curiosities associated with this figure, mentions a pack of short-haired greyhounds, hence we learn that at the beginning of the sixteenth century they were brought from Poland to Russia by Dmitry Samozwaniec.
A well-known document confirming the existence of the Polish greyhound is a painting of genre hunting scenes in the works of Kossaks, Alfred Wierusz – by Kowalski, Józef Brandt and more. The first detailed description of the Polish greyhound can be found in the book by A. Gostomski „The Jezdeckie farm” (1600 year). There are more historical sources, both Russian and Polish, indicating unequivocally that the discussed breed is of Polish origin.
So all the political turmoil was not able to undermine the historical truth. In Poland „war for charta" lasted 9 years. In 1981 the so called “greyhound hunt” was opened. The Preliminary Book, in which 30 dogs were entered. In 1989 the international kynological organization FCI accepted the breed standard (no. 333) and established 10 – summer commission granting Polish Greyhounds the right to obtain export pedigrees and to participate in dog shows organized under the auspices of the FCI, but without the right to the title of International Beauty Champion. However, the very participation in dog shows was a significant step in promoting the greyhound.
The geography of the Polish Greyhound’s presence in the world is expanding dynamically. Currently this dog is found in: United States, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Lithuania. Since March 1, 2001 Polish Greyhound is a full-fledged breed i.e. can apply for the title of International Beauty Champion (CACIB).
It is difficult to say when this old Polish breed was created. Certainly long ago. Gall Anonim in his chronicles notes the expenses of the royal court for the maintenance of greyhounds. Hunting with greyhounds was a popular pastime of Polish nobility already in the Middle Ages. A wide range of usability of the greyhound – The ability of this dog to hunt hares, foxes, wolves, roe deer and droppings was due to its excellent predispositions – Strength, stamina, courage, speed, agility and extraordinary perseverance.
Polish Greyhounds’ owners confirm the opinion about their (greyhounds’) outstanding intelligence, easy manners, attachment to the family and not troublesome keeping. The great versatility of these dogs, especially their speed, makes them equal to English Greyhounds and perfect for both track and coursing races.
These features, especially in the post-war period, were connected with the extermination of greyhounds. Used to trot, not at all by aristocrats, they were viciously exterminated by hunters, forest guards and militia. What’s worse, they were seen as synonymous with the Polish nobility and thus outlawed. A certain rarity in representatives of this breed is, in addition to the typical „greyhound’s tail" traits, considerable obedience and vigilance well suited to protect the property.
Training of the Polish Greyhound at the level of „companion dog” is possible and perhaps intentional. These animals, properly managed, become very attached to their keeper, they become a wonderful companion and the proverbial „one gentleman’s dog".
What our friend looks like? He is undoubtedly a robust, muscular, strong, compact dog with strong bones. These features of anatomy allowed the Polish Greyhound to function perfectly in the harsh conditions of our climate.
Height: dog 72 – 80cm, bitch 66 – 75cm.
Coat: short, hard hair (ok. 2.5 cm), on the underside of the tail (brush) and the buttocks (breeches) longer but very rough.
Coat color: all colors are acceptable.
Tail: long, low set, carried low when at rest, the tip is sickle shaped.
Head: strong, dry, long, with very strong jaws, foot moderately marked, slight hump.
Eyes: dark, expressive, almond shaped, slightly slanting, nighthawked. A penetrating, alert expression of the eyes is characteristic.
Ears: Medium size, quite narrow.
Body: back straight, strong, loins gently arched, broad, muscular, well marked withers, very roomy, deep chest, lower back, long, sloping, muscular rump..
Forelegs: long, dry, strongly muscled, quite narrowly spaced.
Hind legs: widely spaced, long, dry. Very muscular.
Movement: smooth and springy, in the chase the Polish Greyhound is very fast and strong.