With an alert and penetrating gaze, the Polish sighthound is an enigma. This powerful greyhound with a great hunting instinct has not yet crossed the border of Poland, his native country, where it has conquered hundreds of homes after its recovery and popularization at the end of the 19th century as a national symbol.
Its standard has remained practically unchanged since the 19th century and, despite sinking its legs in hundreds of years of shared history with its country, was not provisionally recognized as a breed by the International Cynological Federation until 1989, earning its definitive recognition in 2001.
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE POLISH LEBREL
Enigmatic by itself, the Polish greyhound is compounded by the lack of reliable history about its origins and development as a breed. There are several theories that try to explain its roots, all of them having the following statement in common: It is an ancient breed that developed mainly in present-day Poland.
The most accepted theory points to arabian type sighthounds saluki like its origins. This branch of greyhounds enjoyed great popularity in the Middle East and Central Asia, thanks to the work of the Arab merchants whom they accompanied during their travels. Even so, the consensus among experts to indicate how it was his arrival in Poland is less, pointing to two routes as the most likely.
The first refers us to the Magyars, an ethnic group from Eastern Europe that corresponds to today's Hungarians. The Magyars came to the West in the 7th century, taking with him his dogs, among which was the Magyar Hagar or Hungarian hound, with which it shares certain physical similarities. With the historical exchanges between Poles and Magyars, it would have resulted in the Polish sighthound.
The second theory indicates a less direct introduction, based on the history between Poland and the Russian Empire.. The saluki it would have come to ancient Russia thanks to exchanges with Arab merchants, who traveled the Silk Road. To favor its adaptation to the Russian climate, it would have crossed with native breeds and, through this route, it would have reached Poland.
Be that as it may, the greyhound earned the protection of the Polish nobility, being very useful for the hunting hares, deer and wolves, being widely known in their native country by the seventeenth century, as evidenced by their first historical reference in the book «Riding and hunting» by the Polish writer Gostomski. Some records indicate the variety of the breed at that time, with great differences between specimens depending on the hunt to which it was dedicated.
The greyhound reached its peak in popularity in the 19th century, appearing in literature, portraits, and sports magazines. By the end of the First World War the breed had already been unified and was known by its current name, Chart Polski or Polish greyhound, maintaining its practically unchanged standard until today, but it is in this historical period where its decline would begin.
World War II started a devastating period in Polish history with millions of deaths, rupture of the economy and loss of national sovereignty. The Polish nobility were forced to abandon their sighthounds, but they did not face extinction thanks to their rescue by middle- and lower-class Poles, for whom they became a survival tool due to their hunting skills.
Its recovery and new popularity arrived at the end of the 20th century, being seen as a national symbol and of important historical value, as well as for its recognition on a provisional basis in 1989 by the International Cynological Federation.
Currently, hunting with greyhounds is prohibited in Poland, but the sighthound has become popular in racing. Despite this, nNumerous families prefer to enjoy the greyhound sharing their family sofas, as the excellent napping companion that he is. The breed is only recognized by the International Cynological Federation and for the United Kennel Club, with very few specimens outside their country of origin.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE POLISH LEBREL
The official standard for the Polish Greyhound was established by the International Cynological Federation in 1999. Classified in group 10 section 3 as short-haired sighthounds, their physical characteristics are:
- Life expectancy: between 10 and 12 years.
- Size: big.
- Height: between 68 and 80 cm.
- Weight: between 27 and 31 kg.
- Complexion: strong and powerful.
- Extremities: long and muscular.
- Eyes: almond-shaped and expressive, preferably dark in color, although depending on their coat they vary from dark brown to amber.
- Ears: medium in size, narrow and fleshy. Admitted folded back, roof-shaped, and fully erect when excited.
- Snout: it narrows as it approaches the truffle, but giving the impression of being flat for a greyhound. The nose is large and black or dark in color.
- Jaws: strong with scissor or pincer bite.
- Neck: long and muscular, with an oval profile.
- Line: long and thick at the base, with feather. The tip of the tail is shaped like an upward curved sickle or a complete ring.
- Hair: hard, but elastic to the touch. Of variable length, being longer at the withers, buttocks and under the tail.
- Coat colors: All colors are allowed. The edge of the eyelids and the nose must be black or dark, except in light coat colors where the nose can be blue or beige.
The Polish Greyhound it is a dog with a strong and compact constitution, as a result of its genetic selection for hunting the wolf in the difficult conditions of the Polish climate. It works very well in packs, reacts quickly to the stimulus of the hunt and displays its full power from the beginning.
CHARACTER OF THE POLISH LEBREL
The Polish Greyhound is a very affectionate dog and close that enjoy the company of his family and long naps on the couch. Even so, their socialization at the puppy stage is vital for the breed, which, for reasons of genetic inheritance, can generate problems of coexistence with other animals or humans.
Like a good greyhound, can be shy and suspicious of strangers, a question that can be worked on from a puppy, presenting human interaction in different situations. Also, pmay develop a strong protective instinct of your home, so you have to avoid circumstances that accentuate this defense.
It is a dog with very marked hunting instinct, so it must be taken into account to anticipate future problems. If the dog is going to live with other animals, even smaller dogs, it is important that they are introduced to him from puppies so that he learns to interact with them. For this very reason, it is important not to drop it in open spaces because, if you start the chase, it is almost impossible for you to answer the call until you hunt down your prey.
Finally, we must unearth the idea that they are stubborn and unintelligent dogs. Like the rest of the sighthounds, they are intelligent and sensitive dogs. The problem is the use of traditional educational models that use fear as an educational tool, as opposed to the kinder ones that promote the bond with humans through respect.
POLISH LEBREL DISEASES
The Polish sighthound can be affected by a series of pathologies more frequent in their racial group:
- Gastric dilation.
- Stomach twisting.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy.
- Hip dysplasia.
- Laryngeal paralysis
- Rupture of the knee ligament.
- Hypersensitivity to chemical compounds.
CARE OF THE POLISH LEBREL
The Polish Greyhound is a dog that requires little care to be splendid, having only to take a little more care of his oral hygiene, his ears and joints.
His short hair is very easy to maintain. You just have to pay special attention to shedding periods, to help you renew the coat by removing dead hair and thus have healthy hair. With regard to the bathrooms, they are convenient, but it is not recommended that they be very often.
We must get him used to the Oral hygiene, in order to avoid the accumulation of tartar and the diseases derived from this condition, such as coronary, liver and joint diseases. And it does not hurt to do it with nail care, so that you get used to this manipulation and do not generate stress when adult maintenance is necessary.
Our greatest attention and care should be focused on his big ears.. Because of his genetic tendency to suffer from allergies, due to the growth of hair in the ear canal, accumulation of wax or water, they can develop inflammations or even atrial infections. To avoid this, we must keep their ears clean, grooming them once a week and avoiding the entry of water into the ear canal during baths.
Likewise, we must maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding exercises that strain the ligaments of the knee, in order to avoid serious joint problems such as knee ligament tear.
As with other dogs, you should periodically go to the vet for vaccination, deworming and health checks. A stable routine of daily walks and feeding should also be maintained, appropriate to their size.
YOU AND YOUR POLISH LEBREL
Are you one of the lucky ones who shares your couch with a Polish Greyhound? Well, don't wait any longer to share your experience with us. Go ahead and leave us a comment telling us your story. We can't wait to meet her!