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The Polish Greyhound also called the Polish Coursing Dog, Polish Sighthound and Chart Polski in Polish is a sighthound from Poland, bred to hunt. It is a large dog and while it is known as a Greyhound it is not related in any direct way to the English Greyhound. The Polish pronunciation of Chart Polski is Hxart Pole Ski. It is a very old dog for a long time a favorite of the Polish royal family and nobility. It has a life span of 12 to 15 years and stands out from other sighthounds because of its protective instincts.
|The Polish Greyhound at a Glance|
|Other names||Chart polski, Polish Sighthound, Polish Coursing Dog|
|Average weight||60 to 90 pounds|
|Average height||27 to 32 inches|
|Life span||12 to 15 years|
|Coat type||Smooth, double, harsh, short|
|Color||Many colors including black, brown, tan, red, white and brindle.|
|Popularity||Not a registered member of the AKC|
|Tolerance to heat||Average|
|Tolerance to cold||Good|
|Shedding||Moderate – some hair around the home but not a great deal|
|Drooling||Moderate – not especially prone|
|Obesity||Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised|
|Grooming/brushing||Low to moderate – brush once or twice a week|
|Barking||Occasional – some barking but not constant|
|Exercise needs||Quite active – needs active owners|
|Trainability||Difficult, best with experienced owners|
|Friendliness||Good with socialization|
|Good first dog||Low – best with owners who know how to handle dogs like this|
|Good family pet||Good with socialization – better in homes dog and pet free|
|Good with children||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Low to moderate – can be dog aggressive so socialization, training and supervision are needed|
|Good with other pets||Moderate – high prey drive so socialization essential and best in homes without small animals|
|Good with strangers||Low to moderate – socialization is needed can be wary and even nervous, proper introductions and supervision needed|
|Good apartment dog||Low – needs a home with a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Low – prefers not to be left alone for long periods|
|Health issues||Quite healthy but a few issues it can be prone to include allergies, cancer, eye problems and hip dysplasia|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and insurance|
|Food expenses||$260 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$265 a year for license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys|
|Average annual expenses||$1010 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$750|
|Rescue organizations||None breed specific, check local shelters and rescues|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Polish Greyhound’s Beginnings
The Polish Greyhound does not have a clear history, it comes from a time hundreds of years ago when few if any written records were kept on dog breeding. The first mention of it can be found dating to 1690 though in a book written by Gostomski called ‘Riding and Hunting’. There is a detailed outline of the breed there so it known it was around at this time. Some historians suggest though that it is likely it has been around since much earlier than that, possibly as far back as the 1100s.
There are though several theories about its origins, some have wondered if it descends from the British Greyhounds imported to Poland, but that has mostly been disproved. Another suggests that it descended from an ancient sighthound the Roman Vertragus. Again there is little evidence to back this up. The most popular theory today is that it descends from Asiatic sighthounds who were a favored dog of the nomadic tribes that may have brought them to Poland at some point.
For many centuries it was highly valued by Polish nobles and royals and was kept for the most part on their estates and used to hunt with. Common game were wolves, rabbits and deer. There were likely different types and sizes of the Polish Greyhound for hunting different game. Those are no longer around now though, at some point it came to be a single type. The best times for its popularity were the 1800s, it appears in literature, artwork and so on. After World War I though Poland became independent and the Polish nobility started to fall, having to give up lands and power. By the second world war this process had not been complete so the dog still had a good status at first. But this war was devastating to Poland, nobles left their dogs to become strays. The breed was facing extinction.
New Lease on Life
At first the breed was saved by the middle and lower classes who kept some of the dogs they found. A lot of them in fact came to rely on the dog to hunt for food for them in a time when families were fighting hard just to survive themselves. After the war though Poland was led by a communist party that was against dog breeding and influenced strongly by the Soviet Union who had the same view. Therefore those dogs that had been saved by families were given up sometime after the war and by the 1970s it was very rare.
In the 1980s fanciers of the breed started the process of reviving it and a Dr Mroczowski wrote an article about it in a magazine that was popular there. It appealed to people that the Polish Greyhound was a national heritage to be saved. Other breeders read this and were spurred into action too. A brother and sister breeding partnership the Szmurlos were two such breeders and they along with others searched the Polish countryside for dogs to use. In 1981 a studbook was opened and by the end of the 1980s it was recognized by the FCI. It also has recognition from the Polish Kennel Club, the UKC and is in the process with the CKC. It is not yet recognized by the AKC but a breed club was formed in the US, the CPAA (Chart Polski Association of America).
The Dog You See Today
The Polish Greyhound is a large breed weighing 60 to 90 pounds and standing 27 to 32 inches tall. It looks a lot like other sighthounds, and especially the Hortaya Borsaya, Saluki and the English Greyhound but it is different. While it is large it is certainly not heavy or bulky, it has the same slim shape, sometimes with ribs visible making some people not familiar with these dogs think it is being starved. It has a muscular but long and slender neck and a long tail with a curved or even ringed shape at the end. At rest the tail hangs down but when it is alert and moving it is held level to the body. The coat is double with a smooth, short and harsh outer coat and a thick undercoat that is thicker in the winter and sheds in the Spring. It can be any color including black, tan, red, brown, white and brindle.
Its head is carried high, and is long and narrow with a muzzle that is as long as its skull or even longer. There is some tapering and the nose is dark and large. It has ears that are medium sized, at eye level and are narrow and can be erect, folded back, rose or tipped. The eyes are preferred to be dark almond shaped and are large and slanting. Colors can range though from a lighter amber color down to darker browns depending on its coat color.
The Inner Polish Greyhound
The Polish Greyhound is not the same as most sighthounds in terms of temperament. It is more affectionate but less mild mannered, and has high protective instincts and is very territorial. It is not a dog for new owners and can be dog aggressive. It needs firm, confident and experienced leadership, excellent socialization and at least basic level obedience training. In the right hands it does form close bonds with its owners and its family and becomes very close to them. With strangers though it is wary and some can even be nervous, proper introductions and supervision are important.
It is a great watchdog though, and a good guard dog. It will bark to let you know of an intruder and act to defend you and its home. It may be lean but it is still powerful. It prefers not to be left alone for long periods and will need an active lifestyle in order to behave better in the home. Otherwise it will become destructive, hard to live with and hyperactive.
Living with a Polish Greyhound
What will training look like?
As the Polish Greyhound was bred to run down prey and hunt it learns how to do these activities quickly and easily. However learning basic obedience and socialization even started early will require patience, consistency and confidence as even being a smart dog, it can be hard to train. This is part of why it is best with experienced owners. A lot of socialization is essential with this dog as it really does not like strangers, has a high prey drive so does not get on well with other animals, and has high tendencies to be dog aggressive also! Introduce it to different places, people, situations, animals and sounds for example and keep at it to teach it proper and acceptable responses. Training sessions should be kept interesting, short, frequent and positive. It is stubborn and has a mind of its own so more effort is required than for some other breeds.
How active is the Polish Greyhound?
This dog is an active one, it needs to get out and just two walks a day is not enough. As well as two good length walks, it needs to have safe time off leash where it can run free. But keep in mind it tends to not like other dogs being around it, so you may have to fine somewhere other than a dog park. If it gets to burn off its energy each day it can be relaxed in doors happy to laze somewhere comfy. It is not an apartment dog though, it needs a yard. Be sure to see it gets some mental activity also in the form of training of some kind, or certain types of toys. Always keep it leashed when out jogging or walking with it, it will try to chase what it sees as prey and these dogs do not come back when called being completely focused on catching its prey.
Caring for the Polish Greyhound
These dogs are not high maintenance in terms of care and grooming and should not need professional grooming, though you can opt to use one to save you doing it if you prefer. It does shed a moderate amount so expect some hair around the home and to brush it once or twice a week. Compared to other sighthounds the Polish Greyhound does have a slightly heavier coat to keep it warmer in the Polish winter. The undercoat is thicker in winter but then some of it sheds in seasonal heavy clumps in the Spring. Only give it a bath using proper canine shampoo and when it actually needs one, not to a set schedule.
Other care is basically good maintenance all dogs need. The ears need checking routinely for infection, see if there is discharge, redness, irritation or wax build up. Do not push into the ear though just wipe the areas you can reach using a dog ear cleanser. The nails have to be clipped when they are too long. If you do this yourself understand their nails are not like peoples. Use correct dog nail clippers or scissors and avoid the quick of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves. It will cause pain and bleeding if you nick there. Then there are its teeth and gums. Brush at least two to three times a week using a dog toothpaste and toothbrush.
Feed the Polish Greyhound between 3 to 5 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, but split that into at least two meals. This avoids issues with Bloat. A nice idea since it is a tall dog is to give it feeding dishes that are raised. How much it eats exactly can depend on various things like its metabolism, level of activity, health, size, age and build. Make sure it has water at all times and try to change it when possible to keep it fresh.
How is the Polish Greyhound with children and other animals?
The Polish Greyhound does not get along well with several types of people and animals! It is not good with strangers, it is not good with other dogs and it is not good with other pets either. It has been known to attack other dogs and even with socialization and training, which are essential, there may still be issues so always supervise and keep it leashed if needed. With other pets it just sees them as prey. It can get along with children though with socialization. Usually it is tolerant, gentle and affectionate towards them and protective of them. Make sure the children are taught how to touch and play in an appropriate manner.
What Might Go Wrong?
This dog has a life span that averages at between 12 to 15 years and is quite healthy with a good sized gene pool. Possible issues that could come up for this breed though include heart problems, cancer, allergies, joint dysplasia, patellar luxation and eye problems.
In reports of North American dogs attacking people and causing bodily harm over the last 35 years, there is no mention of the Polish Greyhound. However it is rare in that part of the world so the chances of it coming up in such statistics are slim. This is a dog that have a problem with strange people, other dogs and a high prey drive. It is a dog that will run off to deal with whatever it wants and will not return to your calls. Keep your Polish Greyhound leashed when you are out unless you are somewhere free of others and safe. While you cannot completely eliminate these instincts the training, socialization, good exercise and stimulation and the right amount of attention will help keep it more stable.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
Puppy prices for pet quality Polish Greyhounds are about $750 from a respected and well referenced breeder. That price is likely to go up when you start buying from top awarded breeders though. You will likely be placed on a waiting list especially if you are buying from the few breeders in the US. Never think about getting a dog from a puppy mill, pet store and backyard breeder. Rescues and shelters are another option though finding this dog there is unlikely. Rescues and shelters dogs can cost between $50 to $400.
For initial items like a crate, bowls, bedding, leash and collar you will need to spend about $200. Initial health and medical needs like an exam by a vet, being micro chipped, spayed or neutered, blood tests, dewormed, shots and such you can expect to pay around $290.
There are also annual costs to being a dog owner. It needs to be fed a good or better quality dry dog food and dog treats and that will cost about $260 a year. For basic health care like flea and tick prevention, check ups, shots, pet insurance, you can expect to pay about $485 a year. Then there are basis training, miscellaneous items, toys and license costs. These miscellaneous needs are an estimated $265 annual cost. This gives a starting figure of $1010 a year.
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The Polish Greyhound is best suited for active owners where they are the only dog and there are also no other non-canine pets in the home. Owners also need to have some experience as this is a stubborn and independent dog and will need rules set and confident owners to make sure they are followed. It is more known in Poland than elsewhere and can be hard to find if you do not live there. It is fast, attractive, large and very devoted to its owners and family.
Featured Image Credit: Ewelina Lesik. Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Polish Greyhound’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Polish Greyhound
- Living with a Polish Greyhound
- Caring for the Polish Greyhound
- How is the Polish Greyhound with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag