Introduction to the breed
The Polish Hunting Spaniel is a new breed of Polish ancestral origin. The first mentions in Polish literature on hunting spaniels date back to the 19th century when different breeds of spaniels (springer, cocker, Sussex and field) were imported to the territories of former Poland by owners of large estates and bred interchangeably.
The most significant influence was princess Izabella Radziwiłłowa who purposefully bred these types of spaniels until the outbreak of the war in 1939 when spaniels across Poland were taken to Russia and blended into local dog populations.
In the 1980s, Dr Andrzej Krzywiński (a scientist, naturalist, hunter and judge of hunting dog work) reestablished the breeding programme for the Polish Hunting Spaniel based on pictures from historical books and started the first official kennel, ‘z Szerokiego Boru’. In essence, the PSM is a recreation of the original ‘springing spaniel’ that existed before it was divided into springers, cockers and Sussex spaniels in the 1800s.
The breed is currently recognized by Kennel Clubs in
Bosnia and Herzegovina
There are approximately 600 individual dogs registered worldwide.
In addition to Poland, there are dogs currently in The Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Austria and Germany. The numbers outside Poland are small – approximately 40 dogs.
The Polish Hunting Spaniel is the youngest Polish native breed , not yet recognized by the FCI. Upon FCI approval it would be the 10th breed of flushing dogs, which together with retrievers and water dogs form FCI's Group 8.
The modern history of the Polish Hunting Spaniel is quite short, although the breed didn't just come out of nowhere. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the owners of estates in the borderland region of Polesie and Wołyń were breeding medium-sized flushing dogs, most often brown roan with patches, selecting mainly for hunting abilities. The dogs had their admirers, including the princess Isabella Radziwitt. The builders of the railway, members of the Koziett - Poklewski family, took them along even to Siberia.
The foundation stock probably consisted of single spaniels imported from France, as well as the British Springer, Cocker, Field, and Sussex Spaniels which were were crossed with each other to produce a dog of a particular type, whose main task was to find and flush birds without pointing (by crouching and then crawling) but who would also be a talented tracker and small game retriever. August Sztolcman (1842-1907) wrote these significant words in an article published in the magazine Łowiec Polski (The Polish Hunter): "All these breeds serve one purpose and without great harm could merge into one intermediate breed."
Polish Hunting Spaniels would have gone into oblivion were it not for the efforts of the restorer of the breed: experienced dog breeder, conservation scientist and hunter, Dr. Andrzej Krzywiński. About 30 years ago, while exploring the former Eastern Borderlands, he came across excellent hunting spaniels, representing the old Polish type as depicted in old photographs and drawings. Soon chocolate roan Pestka appeared in his kennel "z Szerokiego Boru" in Park Kadzidłowo (a nature reserve) and she became the dam of the first modern litter in 1993.
During his 50-year career as a biologist and conservation scientist, Dr. Krzywiński is known for developing the "born to be free" program for re-introducing several species in Poland (e.g. the lynx and the capercaillie) and wolf-dog hybrid studies. This expertise and deep understanding of genetics was the foundation of rebuilding of the Polish Hunting Spaniel breed, and continues in the work of the breeding committee consisting of people with decades of experience in breeding, show judging and veterinary science with support from researchers at Warsaw University of Life Sciences.
The consistent selection of successive breeding pairs produced and is still producing a numerous and already uniform population. Most of the puppies go to hunters, many of whom then become breeders. In 2016 a preliminary breed standard was drawn up, and breeding documentation is carefully being maintained by members of the Commission for the Polish Hunting Spaniel.
The main breeding goal today is still the same as that of the breeders and hunters from over a hundred years ago: a temperament and passion for hunting.
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