The Silken Windhound is the result of the hard work and vision of breed founder Francie Stull, breeder of more than 200 Champion Borzoi under the kennel name Kristull, to create a medium sized, athletic, family-oriented, coated sighthound. The Silken Windhound today is an ideal sporting companion for those wanting the elegance and athleticism of a sighthound, with the protective addition of a silky coat, and a smaller size than any other long coated sighthound. Typically a long lived breed, Silken Windhounds are active and healthy into their late teens, with the oldest known Silken living to enjoy her 20th birthday. Stull’s decades long breeding program focused on bringing together some of the best aspects of several show and coursing Borzoi lines from some of the top U.S. kennels, small coated sighthounds developed by U.S. breeder Walter Wheeler, and a single Whippet, brought in from Kridoni Kennel in Peru, whose blood brought into the breed some of the most influential Whippet lines in the Americas today.
The History of the Silken Windhound (in the words of Francie Stull):
For years, we had been searching for the perfect second breed for our Kristull Borzoi kennel. We had developed a unique and successful line of hounds that we are very proud of. But like so many dog people know, breeding and showing dogs is a process that can become blind and stagnant if complacency is allowed to set in. So, in 1975, we sat down to choose a second breed. We were going to be wise this time and try to apply all of the lessons that we had learned the hard way with our first breed to prove that we could short-circuit the trials and tribulations every novice must survive to stay "in dogs."
So, with great sincerity, we wrote down our requirements. The breed had to be smaller. Borzoi are magnificent in their size and presence, but the feed bill was outrageous. Small, therefore, and easy to care for. No Lhasa Apsos with their floor-mop coats to drag through the cactus and rocks. Living in the heat of Texas, it should not be short snouted. Pugs and Boston Terriers do routinely suffer in the stifling summer heat.
Temperament? Well, we were spoiled. Sighthounds are unique: independent, yet fawning; aloof, yet tender; exuberant, yet sensitive to both the objects and people around them. Terriers, with their feisty dispositions, were out of the question -- our dogs lived and ran as a group, and arguing was never allowed.
A short coated breed? Well, we had owned a darling Greyhound, and I swear that his skin was made of tissue paper. Admittedly, he healed as easily as he tore, but hunting scars do eventually become unsightly. We don't live an easy life. We often travel with our dogs on horseback, expecting them to keep up and enjoy the outings. They are fenced on five acres of natural cliffs, gullies, trees and creekfront water. The coursing records on our Borzoi prove that those that grow up in this environment are tough and stable, but on the whole, life is not easy.
And last, but surely not least, had to be aesthetics. Webster defines it as: "pertaining to the beautiful and artistic". I find it no surprise at all that there is more artwork available depicting Sighthounds than all other breeds combined. They are both beautiful and artistic, just as our new breed had to be.
So where were we? Small, gentle, beautiful, silky coated, but not dragging on the ground . . . what we wanted was our beloved Borzoi, only smaller!
That sounds easy, but when you think about it, the Afghan Hound is the smallest long-haired sighthound in the AKC registry. Sure there are Ibizans, Pharaohs, Whippets and IGs. But none of them carries a long coat.
It would be nearly a decade before we finally bought our first tiny long haired sighthounds from Windsprite, a delightful breed of whippet-type dogs that Walter dubbed his “Longhaired Whippets”. While a recent study by the University of California at Davis and Washington State University proves this charming breed most likely included a herding breed such as a collie or sheltie to infuse its gene pool with the long-haired trait, all of the questions about where Walter’s dogs originated became irrelevant when we were able to take these proto-type Silkens and combine them with some of the finest Borzoi lines available, and then add an equally fine Whippet line.
The first Borzoi used in the Silken Windhound breeding program was Stillwater Kristull Peacock Fld. Ch. Peacock was almost too special a Borzoi to write about.
In the early 1980's we were publishing The Sighthound Magazine (now The Sighthound Review), when the Tysons sent in advertising photos of their litter out of Stillwater Hoedown sired by her brother, The Tennessean. This had to be one of the most beautiful group of dogs that I had ever seen. It included the famous bitch, Eng. Amer. Ch. Stillwater Virginia Reel, her irish marked tri sister, Ch. Stillwater Virginia Dare, and their brothers: an irish marked brindle, Ch. Stillwater Barndance and the sable and white dog later named Amer. Can. Ch. Kristull Prism of Stillwater.
Chuck and I drove up to see them and see if we could purchase the bitch, Virginia Reel. Chuck and Kathe Tyson managed to hold out, but we did extract the promise that if they ever decided to sell her, we would have first offer and that we could purchase her first daughter.
Virginia Reel was bred to a close relative, Stillwater White Lightning. There were two bitches and back we went to Tennessee to take the Tyson's up on their promise. We brought with us a trio of exotic peacocks and much determination. After three days, we were rewarded with our new blue brindle passion, Stillwater Kristull Peacock.
Peacock was small and heavily marked. We were not disappointed. Peacock had the coat, structure and charisma that we had bought her for. Her Borzoi son went on to become International, Peruvian, Columbian, Ch of the Americas, South American Champion Kristull Xxerxes Kenric Fld. Ch. Her Borzoi daugher was the tall blue brindle, Ch. Kristull Xxquisite Xxss.
When bred to Windsprite Autumnal Xenon, Peacock founded a new breed, the Silken Windhounds.
What has resulted, from the dream I had in 1975, is a magnificent little hound that seems especially designed to fill a surprising gap in the line-up of Sighthound breeds -- a medium sized elegant hound with long hair. The Silken Windhound is the perfect breed to fill that empty spot. They are small, typically 18-24 inches, with devoted, loving and confident personalities. Their easy-care coat comes in all colors, from pure white to pure black, with reds, creams, brindles and silvers in solid and spotted patterns to suit the most discriminating taste.