The great Sighthound legacy

The great Sighthound legacy 

Summary and translation by Valeria Rocco for "Lupavaro" italian greyhound kennel

Given that I am German, I would like to publish below the translation of a text, taken from "Das große Windhunderbe" which contains an article, also in German, published in the "Zuchtbuch des DWZRV 1963/196450 ″, written by Mrs. Pia Pfleger, owner of the "Springinsfeld" kennel Reproduction, publication and distribution, in whole or in part, of this translation are expressly forbidden without written authorization, as the research work and the following translation from the original language is a long and meticulous job.

Piccolo Levriero Italiano
I thank the Roman artist Paola Marinangeli for making some of her works available to illustrate this writing.

The great Sighthound legacy

Charles I in 1624 brought the first specimens from France to England, his intention was to cross them with some terrier breeds to give life to a hunting dog of elegant stature. These attempts were also made in subsequent generations, giving birth to the Whippet breed.

During the English Revolution and the beheading of Charles I, all the dogs were stolen and scattered throughout the territory. In Germany the breed has won great honors thanks to Frederick the Great, who was never without the company of his Italian greyhounds; he must have had between 40 and 80 specimens.

Frederick the Great of Prussia adored his Italian greyhounds. His favorites were called "Biche" († 1752) and "Alcmene"(† 1785). Although in the paintings, which depict "the old Fritz", the dogs at his side seem to be larger in size but this is to be attributed to the fact that the Painters tried to give greater effect to the paintings by increasing the size of the greyhounds depicted.
Here is a statue that depicts him with "Alkmene" and "Hasenfuss"

The great Sighthound legacy
Frederick II. mit Windspielen, Entwurf 1821–1822, Guss von 1906, Bronze; Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. June 2012

In reality, Frederick the Great's greyhounds had to be very small in size, it is said that to save his dog Biche, having to secretly overcome the enemy line, he hid her in his backpack which was certainly not large, we read also that the weight of his beloved Biche was 3,5 Pfund (1 Pfund = 500gr) and this makes all doubts about the question "Were Frederick the Great's dogs PLI or Whippet?" It is also known that when the "old Fritz", (this was the nickname given to him by his people), received the news that his beloved Alkmene was dead, he gave the order to take her back from the tomb and place her on the table under a glass bell , which normally covered a watch, awaiting his arrival. He arrived after 2 days and regardless of the strong smell of decomposition that emanated from the body of the lifeless dog, he hugged her tightly to himself, covering her with kisses and sobbing like a baby. In the Park of Sans-Souci there are still the graves of his dogs visited by many lovers of the breed.

The great Sighthound legacy
Die Tafelrunde in Sanssouci “, Adolph Menzel, 1850.

The recovery of the breed in Europe

Subsequently, too much inbreeding and attempts to further reduce the size meant that the breed almost became extinct. Only a few excellent examples remained and the following must be thanked: A. Pommer Berlin, Frau Oberstleutnant v. Kreckwitz Berlin and the veterinarian Dr. Dietze from Frankfurt. Later joined also Mrs. Therese Lahn of Munich (the author of this article) Mr. W. Essen and wife of Berlin and Mrs. A. Girps of Duesseldorf. In Germany it was they who gave life to the breed again by starting the selection using only valid and genetically valuable dogs for this purpose. TOEven in Italy the breed had almost completely forgotten and it was thus that Count Cavallini Solcio started a noble breeding of this breed and we must thank this Lord if the breed has regained its ancient image. Count Cavallini sent his commission agents to collect all the noble material remaining in Germany and France. I report below what I know about the names and quantities of the specimens he collected:

9 specimens from Mrs. Pommer's "von Westerberg" kennel,
3 specimens from the "Napoli" kennel in Berlin,
2 specimens from the "von Rheinau" kennel in Dusseldorf of Mrs. Girps
2 specimens from the breeding of Mr. Burda's "Windschnur" kennel,
2 specimens from Mr. Wilke's Ossee di Swinemeude kennel

Italy  Count Cavallini

In time, with a huge outlay of money and with a lot of perseverance, despite several failures, Count Cavallini obtained about 50 copies. Count Cavallini's dogs were present in all Italian shows and the numerous awards confirm the high quality of his breeding. The Lulù stallion of the Napoli kennel, with a height of 26 cm at the withers, was the favorite breeder of the Count who gave his preference to small dogs. The aforementioned dogs have finished the Italian championship six times in a row. With his sudden death in July 1929 at the age of 77, Italy lost a great breeder. in his will, he reserved an enormous sum of money for the continuity of his breeding. Like Frederick in Sans-Souci, he had a cemetery built on his estate intended to house the graves of the little greyhounds, with a name and date on each tombstone. The tombstones, scattered around the central body of the villa, and the fountain are of considerable dog lover's interest, in fact there are engraved, in addition to the names of the buried dogs, also that of the parents, some morphological and character characteristics and, often the cause of death. The Count used only the most precious blood that provided him with material for the selection and this enormous wealth has meant that the glorious name of the kennel has extended even beyond his death, thanks to the efforts of his sister Adelaide who began to breed with the affix "di Solcio".

 Austria: Pia Pfleger 

Zuchtbuch des DWZRV 1963/196450 writes Ms Pfleger, Austrian kennel „Springinsfeld“

50 years ago there were very few PLI and PLI breeders. The strongest impulse, for the rebirth of the breed, came from Germany, which at the time made the PLI pass from the category of toy breeds to that of greyhounds. In 1940 Johannes Rickmeyer wrote the following article in the magazine "Hundesport und Jagd":

"There is a lack of a deep and serious collaboration between breeders of the breed and the necessary collaboration with the body of the herd book. We have not even advanced a step, indeed it would seem to have fallen back into the old errors of breeding and selection of Piccolo Levriero Italiano: to breed small and crippled, trembling dogs, which are the horror of any serious breeder, who tries to breed according to the right natural and above all genetic laws. The popularity of the breed is not due solely to the frailty or small size, but above all to a correct anatomical structure, in the sense that what the amateur wants to buy is not a dog that makes him ridiculous, nor a pitiful looking dog. . Don't even think that we don't protect ILPs enough. After the Toy Breed Club has completely passed this breed over to us, it is normal for us to feel responsible for it. Once again I want to shout to all those who have decided to join us for the conservation of this historical breed, to strictly follow the guidelines of our association and not to seek the salvation of the breed with degenerative breeding techniques, in close consanguinity. , who have already brought this race to the brink of ruin. In short, we do not want small cripples or even miniature Whippets, but fast and healthy Italian greyhounds built correctly, which enchant us with their grace and their flowing lines. "

The great Sighthound legacy
Ch. Cupido Springinsfeld, the great-great-grandfather of our progenitor "Eros des Pitchoun Diables"

It was him, who in 1930 advised us to breed, in addition to Greyhounds, also Italian Greyhounds. In those years there was no PLI breeding in Austria, in Germany there were some excellent ones, especially the “v. Rheinau ”,“ von Westerberg ”,“ von der Ostsee ”,“ von der Windschnur ”and some others, however, according to Rickmeyer, new blood from abroad is missing. At the time, in German shows, some Whippets of below standard size and judged as PLI were sent to the PLI ring. In September 1932, I personally witnessed such a case. In 1930 I bought the bitch "Helge" from the kennel "vd Ostsee" which we mated in '31 with "Rittersporn" v. Westerberg. The puppies reached sizes from 38 to 44 cm (!). A second bitch "Bia vd Ostseee" which on the paternal side carried blood from the "vd Rheinau" kennel (Peterle vd Rheinau x Beatrice v. Schilimaki) gave offspring partly good and partly oversized with whippet types. No, we couldn't go on like this but we were fascinated by the task of breeding PLI who, while keeping the best type of breed, also kept the full standard size.

He imports them from England

We therefore imported Leon and Little Girl Harrington from England, who had been bred focusing mainly on the small size, certainly in contrast the two also had round heads and dwarf type.In return, I sent Rotbart and Scharmante Springinsfeld to England. This was the first attempt to help the breed through these blood exchanges. The “Wergei” kennel took from us the Jugendsieger Zyano and later also the Int CH Xenia Springinsfeld. I was already in correspondence with some overseas catteries and Ms. Grete Geist brought a son of Leon Harrington home. The Dir. W. Mueller who took from us the dog Trilby Springinsfeld and who really encouraged me to continue with my work of selection of the PLI breed advised me to register my dogs in the world championship in Paris in 1937. On that occasion "Typ Springinsfeld" became world champion, "Trutze Springinsfeld" became 'exc 2, Rautendelein Springinsfeld became exc. 3, and the Springinsfeld breeding group won the first prize.
For us this was reason to continue working to improve the breed. Also at this exhibition I met Madame Guerlain (de la Coterel kennel) and Countess Cavallini who was famous for her kennel “Il Solcio”. They both wanted to introduce Springinsfeld blood into their kennels and so they gladly accepted my offer to exchange dogs. Madame Guerlain had with my INT CH Oeneus Springinsfeld a new stallion for her kennel whose progeny were excellent for French breeding. I had the young male Lento di Solcio and Ladola de la Coterel which were very precious for my breeding. In exchange for Liliom Springinsfeld the champion Nello di Solcio came from Italy in my kennel. 

Death of the Count 

Count Cavallini had died in July 1929 at the age of 77. His wife carried on the breeding according to the will of her beloved husband, for me it is important to mention that on this occasion Springinsfeld blood was imported in Italy and Solcio blood in Austria to flood the breeding grounds. Count Cavallini, in 1923, decided to give a new start to the breeding of Piccolo Levriero Italiano in Italy, which in the early 20s was almost completely extinct.

From 1923 to 1927 he took 18 specimens in Germany:
9 specimens from Mrs. Pommer's "von Westerberg" kennel,
3 specimens from the "Napoli" kennel in Berlin,
2 specimens from the "von Rheinau" kennel in Dusseldorf of Mrs. Girps
2 specimens from the breeding of Mr. Burda's "Windschnur" kennel,
2 specimens from Mr. Wilke's Ossee di Swinemeude kennel

These specimens were the founders of the “di Solcio” kennel, to which the Springinsfeld dogs were later added. Around the same time, Countess Montecuccoli started her "di Peltrengo" kennel, with 2 dogs imported from Germany and so in the years 1926 - 1927 45 Pli were registered in the Italian herd book PLI, of which 17 imported dogs and 28 born in Italy (see Deutsches Windhundzuchtbuch Bd VI / 1932, page 504 and page 70 of the book of the Marchesa Incontri “Il piccolo levriero Italiano”)

It is very sad that the Marchesa in her book considered Count Cavallini, this great pioneer of the rebirth of the breed, only with a single sentence without highlighting the merit he had in the reconstruction of the PLI kennel in Italy. )

Lutin des Pitchoun diables. Grandfather of our progenitor "Eros des Pitchoun Diables"

The great legacy of the greyhounds: the revenge of the breed

It had therefore finally become possible to breed without any consanguinity. In 1937 v Heinbrand kennel bought the future Reichssieger Springinsfeld Troll from us. This dog is present in almost all Pli pedigrees bred in those years. In that period many PLI farms were born:
Breeding vd Bitterburg that started the alliance with Bitz Wergei, a son of CH INT Xenia Springinsfeld and Herzlieb Springinsfeld.
Bojaria breeding with hebe and Graziosa Springinsfeld.

Dr. Lampe raised with Varus and Schonchen Springinsfeld.
Mrs. Wagner bought the bitch Schita Springinsfeld.
The von der Wilstermarsch kennel began to suffer, collecting many triumphs, finishing in a very short time the German and international championships.

Here are also the historic PLI breeders still alive:
1) Mrs Elisabeth Henning kennel vom Albansberg.
2) Ms. Anni Girps, vom Rheinau kennel who has been very involved in the rebirth of the “new” PLI.

During the exhibition "Reichssieger" Köln 1938 I met Georg Haack who started his kennel with Grazielle Springinsfeld and Dr Muller who bought my Schalk, Holde and Iris Springinsfeld (descendants of CH IT Nello di Solcio) and Juwel Springinsfeld. to Dutch breeding
"Bluedon" I continued to send many dogs to France, as well as to Madame Malarme, kennel de la casetta which with the stallion Caprice Springinsfeld greatly influenced the French line. Already at the time I was in correspondence with Dr. Jungklaus who had set out to breed PLI for hunting. He bought from me 2 bitches and a dog from three different litters. Primus, Quintus and Nora Springinsfeld were fortified by making them live in the hunting lodges of the farm after which they were trained for hunting and gave much satisfaction to their owner so that many articles were published about the unsuitability of the PLI to hunt. Shortly before the start of the war he managed to have our Oenone covered in my kennel and sent to England, receiving in exchange the male Picola of Khepat to further blood my line. Over time it has turned out that the English PLI have given us excellent characters and temperament.

The great legacy of the greyhounds: war and reconstruction

In 1939 I had contacts with almost all the European breeders but then the war came which interrupted for a long time all the contacts that I had laboriously established. I was very keen to keep the different bloodlines that I was able to obtain. We received the terrible news that the “de la Coterel” kennels in France and “Di Solcio” in Italy had lost all their dogs and requests for help were gradually received from other countries to rebuild the breeding of the PLI. Already in '49 we again sent dogs to Madame Guerlaine and to the "di Peltrengo" kennel. In 1950 also the PLI breeding started in Switzerland. Since PLI were present from the “el Shikari”, “di Calcione” and “di San Siro” farms, the breeding of the Italian greyhound in Switzerland seemed to be ensured. Also in Sweden 22 Pli have been imported from Austria, England, Germany and Italy in the last 5 years giving a healthy basis for the breeding of the breed. Even today the many successes of the Springinsfeld dogs in Sweden can be noted. In Austria, Mr. Windischbauer has stopped his breeding activity for years. Two new farms were born: “Nilufar” and “vd Todtenwart”. I believe that the ambitious Mr. Ganslmayer will ensure the continuity of the PLI breeding in Austria when I will no longer be able to breed.I would like to give all Pli breeders the advice to work together with other breeders for the conservation and improvement of the breed which is certainly one of the most elegant and lovable there is. " Pia Pfleger

Author: Valeria Lupavaro

Certified dog trainer ENCI dog trainer See all articles by Valeria Lupavaro

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