THE DOMESDAY BOOK OF DOGS
STRATHDOON DINGO KILLER
Strathdoon Fox and Dingo Killer
The Strathdoon Dingo Killers could be either Deerhounds, Borzois (Russian Wolfhounds) or a hybrid between the two: from the evidence available it seems they were probably mainly Deerhound genetically but with a strong admixture of Borzoi. They were originally developed by Mr. M. Cecil Davies in 1900 from his kennel of fox and dingo-killing Deerhounds and a brace of Borzois that he imported into Australia in 1899. Deerhounds were initially brought to Australia in the 1860s to tackle the 'kangaroo pest' but unfortunately (or fortunately) Deerhounds learn very quickly the dangers of tackling a kangaroo from the front and instead bring the animal down from the rear; and although Deerhounds took to dingo-killing with gusto attacking them in this way instead of getting a fix on the head made them vulnerable to the dingo's teeth. Mr. Davies reasoned that the Borzoi, which fastens on to the wolf by the throat or head area would be less open to injury from the teeth. The decision to hybridise the two breeds may have been forced on Mr. Davies to some extent as the imported male Borzoi arrived seriously ill, and no replacement could be found.
In correspondence to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald (via Trove), Saturday 10th July 1897 Mr Davies gives has preferred size for his dingo killing Deerhounds (30" or slightly less). He explains his reasons for his views on the ideal type of fox and dingo-killing Deerhound that could also be successful in the show ring by quoting the opinions of messrs Lochiel and Ross as featured in Hugh Dalziel's The British Dog: "A very large dog is never a good dog, he gets beat going uphill".
Below can be found an account from the very early days of the 'Strathdoon Dingo Killer' and how Mr. Davies argued in favour of the Russo-Scottish cross. Plus a description of the Borzoi's working style in Russia.
|ABOVE. The reason for the name of 'Strathdoon Dingo-Killer' from 'The Kennel' The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 2nd February, 1901 via Trove.|
Very early in the twentieth century Mr Davies of the Strathdoon kennels appeared to have considered giving up dogs altogether and, in 1901, Percy J Palmer of Linthorpe, Newtown, New South Wales took on the task of breeding Deerhound/Borzoi hybrids buying most of his best stock from Davies. His first recorded litter was out of a Deerhound dam (a bitch of Blythewood Cheviot/Blythewood Spirit breeding) X the Borzoi sire Khischany. During the first decade of the twentieth century the Deerhound/Borzoi hybrid became known simply as 'dingo-killer', something of a misnomer as there were other dingo killing breeds in Australia at this time such as the Airedale Terrier and the Greyhound.
As with this this advert from The West Australian, Perth 12th, Nov 1902 there are numerous adverts on Trove selling Dingo Killers from about 1901 onwards. The vast majority of the dogs are described as Deerhound or, occasionally, Deerhound cross. It should be noted from 'The Kennel' article above that it was not unusual at that time for people to attempt to pass Deerhound/Borzoi hybrids off as purebred Deerhounds; even in the show ring.
It could be that Mr. Davis had a change of heart however for in 1903 the following advert appeared in "The Sydney Stock and Station Journal, Friday 5 June 1903". (via Trove.)
STRATHDOON DEERHOUNDS."There has been so great a demand for Strathdoon deerhounds as dingo-killers that every now and again the supply runs short. Those who have been waiting to secure representatives of this now famous breed will be glad 'to notice that Mr. M. C. Davies, of Strathdoon, Kew, Victoria, now advertises that he has some young dogs for sale. Photos and full particulars may be had on application."
The Deerhound/Borzoi hybrid was still appreciated as late as 1913 as the following excerpt (via Trove) from the Saturday 15th November edition of The Mail (Adelaide) demonstrates:
"Mr. Kenny, who is situated 250 miles east of Broken Hill, has purchased, through Mr. B. Turner, a Bull Terrier and two crossbred Deerhound Borzois. These dogs are intended for fox killing. It will be interesting to learn how the Bull Terrier shapes as a fox killer. I am afraid He will be found wanting for pace."
On 17th January, 1914, THE KENNEL answers correspondent L.H. from Kinypanial, Victoria with the following observation in the Leader (Melbourne). "Killing Foxes: - Deerhounds or Borzois, if you want a pure breed; but the crosses of the two breeds named are good." (via Trove)
|Chronicle (Adelaide), Saturday 16th January 1915|
As late as 1929 the Northern Times, WA, featured an article entitled 'Dogs for Dingo Catching' in which there is a reference to MR. R. B. Sanders who obtained the male Borzoi The Idol Of Romanoff and the "extremely powerfully built, very speedy" Deerhound bitch Lady Hamilton with the intention of producing dingo-killing hybrids.
See American Staghound