The Polish Kingdom in its whole extent before the divisions and the range of the Chart

”Polowanie z chartami bylo jedna z lubionych form zabawy u nas. Jest w nim szczegolny urok i zwiazek z polskim temperamentem (...) tego nie uczylismy sie u nikogo, jest to i w tresci, i w formie rzecz polska, przepojona istota naszej ziemi i duszy.”

Stanislaw Witkiewicz

Polish Greyhound


The breed is likely to originate from the ancient Asian Saluki Greyhound, however, its final appearance is an outcome of many crosses of greyhound types found in the Polish territory. The oldest records on the greyhounds 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 greyhounds. In the Poland of the 14th century, hunting with greyhounds 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 greyhound 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 i Mysliwcze (A Horse Riding, Shooting and Hunting Farm) published in 1690. The first description of a hunt with Polish greyhounds is included in Myslistwo z ogary (Hunting with Ogars) published in 1618 by count Jan Ostroróg. Shorthaired greyhounds 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 Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich, too. In the hunting literature of the 19th century, the name of " the Polish greyhound" or "our greyhound" or " a common greyhound" is frequently mentioned. The dog was supposed to be larger, stronger and with slightly longer hair than the English Greyhound. The Polish greyhound 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 greyhounds on the move. A detailed description of the Polish greyhound including information on its upbringing, training for hunting, hunting methods as well as the dog's picture can be found in a Warsaw magazine Sylwan (1823/2). The writing of the first real monograph on the breed is attributed to Wiktor Kozlowski. A few artists of the 19th century portrayed dogs of the Polish greyhound type in their paintings, including J. Kossak, J Brandt and A. Wierusz - Kowalski; sketches of the dogs by J. Norblin and L. Siemienski are preserved as well.

 Józef Brandt: "Kozak i dziewczyna przy studni", 1875 (detail)

With the impoverishment of the Polish nobility, confining hunting with greyhounds to large game preserves only and levying high taxes on greyhound owners, the number of Polish greyhounds 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 "chortaja borzaja" or "polskaja borzaja". The dogs are mentioned by S. Biezobrazov in a Russian encyclopaedia published in 1891, St. Rewinski in Encyklopedia Rolnica (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 psów. Pochodzenie, wzorce, usytkowosc (Dog Breeds. Their Origin, Standards and Utility) dated 1939. In the Southern region of Poland, Polish greyhounds were used for hunting as long as the outbreak of the Second World War.

Juliusz Kossak: "Polowanie stepowe na wilka", 1883
Hunting in the Rostov region in 1971     

In 1971, Maciej Mroczkowski managed to obtain information about Polish greyhounds 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 Przekrój weekly an article about the greyhounds 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 greyhounds 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 Przekrój readers asking for help to recreate the breed in our country. 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.

Józef Brandt: "Przed polowaniem", 1886  (detail)

Józef Brandt: "Przed polowaniem"  (detail)

The first breeders of Polish greyhounds, 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 greyhound automatically meant admitting to poaching - hunting with greyhounds in Poland is forbidden by law. Polish greyhounds used to have many enemies but also a large group of canine specialists who favoured the breed. Commitment to popularize 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 greyhounds 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.


"Polish Breeds", Warsaw 2000, published by Main Board of the Kennel Club in Poland

Kazimierz Olszanski: Juliusz Kossak, Kraków 1999
Irena Olchowska - Schmidt: Józef Brandt, Kraków 1996
Maciej Maslowski: Juliusz Kossak, Warszawa 1984
Malgorzata & Izabella Szmurlo: Chart Polski, Warszawa 1993

Józef Brandt: "Popisy jezdzieckie"  (detail)


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