The Russian Hound has been a well-loved and celebrated working breed in its homeland, where it has existed in a variety of types since ancient times, when it was developed by crossing common hunting dogs with various Laikas and indigenous ovcharkas. It wasn't until the Middle Ages that the present incarnation of the breed began to appear, being a result of introducing imported European hunting dogs into its bloodline. However, with the popularity of foreign breeds also came the decline in numbers of true Russian hunting dogs and by the 19th century, the original Russkaya Gontchaya was on the verge of being declared extinct, but was fortunately revived in the late 1800's by the committed hunting enthusiasts and breeders. The first breed Standard was created in 1896, but regional preferences were still very common in the early 20th century and the Russian Hound could be found in a few local variants, before it was decided in 1925 that the ideal type was associated with the Kostroma variety of the breed named Tatarskaya Gontchaya and that all breeders should conform to its physical and working characteristics. The Russkaya Gontchaya has enjoyed substantial popularity ever since in all parts of Russia, thanks to its legendary resilience and adaptability to all terrains, being an equally effective hunter in mountains and steppe regions, as well as working very well in all climates. Used for hunting foxes, hares and other small game, the Russian Hound is also a successful hunter of deer, boars and wolves. This is a remarkable hound, both as a single hunter and when employed in small, as well as large packs, which have traditionally been comprised of 20 or 30 and sometimes even 40 or 50 dogs at once.
Smart, obedient and loyal, the Russian Hound makes a good rural companion and can be regularly seen at Dog Shows in its country, but this is a breed that requires a fair amount of excercise and is the happiest when working, making a poor choice for an urban pet. The body is muscular, well-boned and strong, with sturdy legs and a powerful head.
The flat coat is short, but very dense and usually fuller during the winter months, especially on the neck. The Russian Hound can most commonly be seen in fawn, red and yellow shades, usually with a black saddle on the back and white markings on the feet, but other colourings exist among the working examples. A wide range of sizes was common in the past, but the average height for the modern incarnation is around 26 inches.