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Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography
The Chart Polski is a muscular yet slender dog who loves to run. Unlike most sighthounds, he’s highly protective and territorial. His short coat — which comes in a bevy of colors — is fairly easy to groom, but it tends to get bushy in the colder months.
The Chart Polski, or Polish Greyhound, was used as a hunting dog as early as the 1600s. The breed faced near extinction during the 19th and 20th centuries, until lovers of the dog began to repopulate Chart Polskis in Poland in the 1980s.
The lean and fast Chart Polski is a sighthound — a member of the Greyhound family — with a bit more edge than his cousins. As a sighthound, he enjoys running, but he’s also very protective of his family and territory — an uncommon trait for a sighthound.
Not only is the Chart Polski a bigger and heavier sighthound, but he also has a different temperament from the Greyhound. While Greyhounds tend to be gentle, tractable dogs who are well suited for novice owners, the Chart Polski may be too much dog for most people. His combination of speed, size, and strength — along with a hefty dose of determination and more than a little territorialism — means he’s best paired with someone who can give him firm training and guidance from an early age. He also has a tendency to be aggressive toward other dogs.
This hound loves to sprint, plus he has an intense desire to chase things — an impulse that’s likely to over-ride any training he’s received as a youngster. To keep him safe, restrict off-leash playtime to an area with a secure fence.
The Chart Polski’s ancestors were originally used to hunt hare, fox, deer, and wolves. The breed acquired the name Chart Polski, meaning Polish sighthound, sometime in the early 19th century, but the first known written reference to the dogs dates to 1600.
Poland’s turbulent history in the 19th and 20th centuries nearly decimated the breed, but a few dogs managed to survive. By the early 1980s, Polish dog lovers began to revive the breed, and wrote a breed standard based on depictions of the dog by such 19th-century Polish artists as Juliusz Kossak, Jozef Brandt, and Alfreda Wierusz-Kowalski.
The Polish Kennel Club, the Federation Cynologique Internationale, and the United Kennel Club have all recognized the breed, but it’s rare to find these dogs outside of Poland. American breeders Kaz and Betty Augustowski imported the first Chart Polskis into the United States; the couple was honored by the Polish Kennel Club for helping to promote the breed.
The supremely elegant Chart Polski behaves unlike most sighthounds in the show ring — he loves the attention, eagerly displaying his enthusiasm by wagging his tail. At home, he’s a true sighthound: loving, affectionate, quiet, and well mannered. Sighthounds tend to step carefully around toddlers, so Chart Polskis can do well in homes with young children. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to supervise play with kids, since these dogs are attracted to motion.
When a rabbit or other prey crosses his path, he’s a skillful and persistent hunter. Cats, squirrels, and other small critters are not safe from him, although a puppy may learn to get along with indoor cats. The breed standard says Chart Polskis react “quickly and brutally” when hunting, so warn neighbors not to let their pets stray into your yard, and install a sturdy fence.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
The Chart Polski is far more protective than other sighthound breeds, so invite people over to your home often to show him that visitors do not pose a threat. Extensive early socialization is an important part of teaching a Chart Polski how to behave appropriately toward humans and animals.
The Chart Polski is typically a healthy dog, but he is at risk for some problems, including certain forms of cancer and cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. It’s important that you take your dog to a veterinarian for annual heart exams. Additionally, a Chart Polski should not be bred until a board-certified veterinary cardiologist performs a comprehensive heart evaluation.
The deep-chested Chart Polski is also susceptible to bloat, a condition in which the stomach expands with air. If the stomach then twists, cutting off blood flow, it becomes the more serious condition, gastric torsion. Gastric torsion or gastric dilatation volvulus, strikes suddenly — a dog who is fine one minute can die within a few hours. Watch for the following symptoms: restlessness and pacing, drooling, pale gums, lip licking, dry vomiting, and signs of pain. The condition requires immediate surgery, and most dogs will bloat again. It’s wise to opt for a procedure known as “stomach tacking,” which prevents the stomach from twisting in the future. It can also be performed as a preventive measure.
Careful breeders screen their dogs for genetic disease, and only breed the best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy can develop a genetic condition. In most cases, he can still live a good life, thanks to advances in veterinary medicine. And remember that you have the power to protect your Chart Polski from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping him at an appropriate weight is a simple way to extend your Chart Polski’s life.
The Chart Polski’s short, smooth coat is easy to maintain with weekly brushing. He sheds, so frequent brushing will ensure that his hair doesn’t end up on your floor, furniture, and clothing. Bathe him as needed, which shouldn’t be too often.
The rest is routine care: Brush his teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath, and trim his nails every week or two. Sighthounds are sensitive about having their feet manhandled, so be careful not to cut into the quick. If you do, your Chart Polski won’t forget, making future nail trimmings more difficult.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Selecting a respected breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. Reputable breeders will welcome questions about temperament and health clearances, as well as explain the history of the breed and what kind of puppy makes for a good pet. Don’t be shy about describing exactly what you’re looking for in a dog — breeders interact with their puppies daily and can make accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality.
Lots of breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags to look out for: multiple litters on the premises, puppies always being available, having your choice of any puppy, and being offered the option to pay online with a credit card. Breeders who sell puppies at a lower price “without papers” are unethical.
You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
To start your search, check out the website of the Chart Polski Association of America. The breed is extremely uncommon in this country, so you may find yourself visiting Poland, Finland, or another European country to find a puppy. Select a breeder who doesn’t place puppies prior to 12 weeks of age or sell them through pet stores — not that you’ll find a Chart Polski in a pet shop. The breeder should also provide documentation proving that she’s had her dogs checked for common health conditions.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Chart Polski puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, the sex of the puppy, the titles that the puppy’s parents have, and whether the puppy is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life. If you put as much effort into researching your puppy as you would when buying a new car, it will save you money in the long run.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Chart Polski may better suit your lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a good deal of time and effort before they grow up to be the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training, and he’ll probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com can have you searching for a Chart Polski in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Chart Polskis available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Chart Polski. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Chart Polskis love all Chart Polskis. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Chart Polski Association of America’s network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Chart Polski rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Chart Polski home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Chart Polski, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Chart Polski to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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