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Pia Pfleger. Springinsfeld Italian Greyhounds

Springinsfeld Italian Greyhounds. 

Founder of the modern Italian greyhound.  


The importance of the Springinsfeld kennel in the history of Italian greyhounds breeding can not be overestimated. There is no exaggeration to say that in the pedigree of almost every greyhound in the world we can find Springinsfeld dogs.  Watching these pedigrees, one gets the impression that infinite numbers of puppies have been born in Ms. Pia Pfleger's kennel for years. This impression, however, is completely erroneous, because we only know 355 Italian Greyhounds that were born in Springinsfeld kennel. On average about eight puppies were born in the kennel annually for over forty years. This number seems even unbelievable in comparison with the number of Springinsfelds, whose names we find in the pedigrees of today's Italian Greyhounds.

In the pedigrees of the last Springinsfeld litter, you can constantly find the nickname of the kennel for up to twelve generations, up to the names of the greyhounds from the first Springinsfeld litter born in June 1931 (unbelievable for that times litter of 7 puppies).  Until then, only four dogs of this breed had been registered in the Austrian breeding book, and the first Springinsfeld puppy was entered under the number OHZB Wsp 5. 

In the early 20th century, the Italian Greyhound was paying the highest price for fashion from the last century. Years of striving to get incredibly delicate and tiny dogs, so popular in 19th-century salons, gave desperate results.  Breeders and lovers of this breed in England contributed significantly to this.

Anette Oliver remembering greyhounds from the late 19th century says that among the best-known English champions were dogs weighing only 1.5 kg, and some breeders prided themselves that their dogs did not exceed 2.5 kg.

The final result was the reduction of viability and fertility, elimination, clear degeneration features, bulging eyes, round heads, delicate jaws with very poor teeth.  Microscopic dogs were too delicate and trembled for no reason. Eventually, the breed was brought to complete degeneration and decline.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, when fashion demanded English aristocracy to spend winters in Italy, little greyhounds from Italy were often brought to the British Isles.  Italian dogs, however, were much larger - they weighed up to eight kilograms. Italian dogs fared perfectly hunting rabbits, they were healthy, viable and often reached the age of even 20. However, English breeders carried out selection, only the smallest animals were used for breeding, and very close inbreeding was consistently used in matings.  The smallest dogs were bred - because this was what the current fashion demanded.

There were, in England, kennels in which larger Italian Greyhounds were bred, as evidenced by the Kennel News ads preserved to this day. Such a greyhound weighing almost 6 kg was the famous JACK - a sanctuary of Mrs. H.M.Mackenzie known at the end of the 19th century. His parents came from Italy, his father successfully hunted rabbits - JACK himself lived to be 18 years old.  Unfortunately, Mackenzie did not resist fashion, the famous champion of her kennel Dido, the granddaughter of Jack weighed a little over 2.5 kg, and her parents were siblings.
Earlier, Pia Pfleger grew Italian Greyhounds and by staying in contact with German greyhound breeders she met those who wanted to protect the small greyhound breed against destruction. Later, for many years, greyhounds in the Springinsfeld kennel were accompanied by large greyhounds - Russian Borzoys.

As Pia Pfleger later wrote.
"We actually took greyhounds for fun and maybe a little with the intention of doing something to help this regrettably neglected race.  But very quickly, these wonderful beings have won us over completely."

In 1930, the first HELGE von Der Ostsee came to Spriginsfeld kennel - born in the German kennel that was known at that time.  Three greyhounds from this breeding HELGE, BIA and CLAUS von der Ostsee have become the breeding grounds for Spriginsfeld kennel.

Bia von Der Ostsee (in front)
Bia von Der Ostsee (in front)
Claus von Der Ostsee
Claus von Der Ostsee
And so, in the middle of June 1931, the first litter of Springinsfeld Italian greyhounds was born (7 puppies). This is indeed an exceptional number of puppies for a litter of this breed, but the father of these puppies was the grandson of a whippet, and the mother also had great-sized English greyhounds slightly larger than Italian greyhounds. In the first litter of Springinsfeld, there were two isabella bitches ZIERDE and ZARTE, white with a black patch on the ear - these bitches and their blue-gray brother ZYANO played a huge role in further breeding. Their names can be found in long generations of pedigree puppies from the last Springinsfeld litter, a litter born 42 years later. 

It may be worth noting that these first Sprinsinsfelds were quite large for today's requirements, all within 38-44 cm, and three puppies were spotted.  At that time, it was thought that a greyhound should not have more than 35 cm. Spriginsfeld's first greyhound litter was born before the approval by F.C.I.  in 1935 the breed standard that required disqualification of spotted dogs, allowing only white markings on the chest and limbs of uniformly black, gray or isabella Italian Greyhounds. 

IGs from the very first Springinsfeld litter. From right to left: Zarte Wsp. 10 (white with black ear), Zephir Wsp 6 (silver gray). Zyano Wsp 9 (grey), Zauber Wsp 5 (white with black head)
IGs from the very first Springinsfeld litter. From right to left: Zarte Wsp. 10 (white with black ear), Zephir Wsp 6 (silver gray). Zyano Wsp 9 (grey), Zauber Wsp 5 (white with black head)
IG from the very first Springinsfeld litter. Zierge, Wsp 11.
IG from the very first Springinsfeld litter. Zierge, Wsp 11.
IG from the very first Springinsfeld litter. Zwerg Wsp 8 and Zauber Wsp 5 with some whippet
IG from the very first Springinsfeld litter. Zwerg Wsp 8 and Zauber Wsp 5 with some whippet

From the memories of the Italian Count Emillio Cavallini, who started breeding Italian Greyhounds in the 1920s, we know that this breed was almost completely extinct in Italy.  In 1923-27, Count Cavallini bought 18 Italian Greyhounds from Germany, which became the base of di Solcio breeding - the first Italian breeding of this century. This breeding was continued after the count's death led by his sister. Between Solcio and Springinsfeld was developed an extraordinary relationship. Various specimens from Springinsfeld kennel were sent to Italy (e.g. Liliom Springinsfeld) and from Solcio Lento and then Nello were imported to Austria. Pia Pileger, in a 1965 interview, acknowledged that these profitable Solcio-Springinsfeld exchanges were of great benefit to her kennel.

In 1930, another breeding di Peltrengo of the Countess Montecuccoli Degli Erri was established - also based on two greyhounds imported from Germany. Pia Pfleger cooperated with this breeding, as well as with other Italian kennels that were created only after the war.  

Only 45 greyhounds were registered in the Italian breeding books in 1926-27, only half of them were born in Italy.
According to Marchesa Lotteringhi Della Stufa Incontri, when in del Calcione kennel the first litters were born - Sprinsinsfelds were already known all over the world.  Marchesa Maria Luisa Lotteringhi della Stufa Incontri devoted forty years to greyhound breeding and among Italian Greyhounds lovers she was a highly respected figure. Until the last days she exhibited her Italian Greyhounds and in 1990 at the exhibition in Florence her pair of greyhounds del Calcione was recognized as the best pair of the exhibition.  However, despite the efforts of M.L. Incontri - Italian greyhounds were still few in a country that is recognized as their homeland. In 1930 11 dogs were registered, a year later 13 dogs. 

In France, in the years 1933–39 a total of 50 Italian greyhounds were recorded in breeding books, so only a few pieces per year were registered.

Although the American Kennel Club registered the first Italian Greyhound in 1886, dogs of this breed in the thirties in the United States were practically not bred.

In the 1930s, the most, but only about 40 Italian Greyhounds were registered annually in German breeding books.

Cupido Springinsfeld 2 (DOB 1969)
Cupido Springinsfeld 2 (DOB 1969)
Bambi, Cupido, Bische Springinsfeld
Bambi, Cupido, Bische Springinsfeld
Cupido Springinsfeld 2
Cupido Springinsfeld 2
Cupido Springinsfeld 2 and Idealspring Des Pitchoun Diables
Cupido Springinsfeld 2 and Idealspring Des Pitchoun Diables

Cooperation of Pia Pfleger with French breeders before the war was also very intense. In France, Italian Greyhounds are popular in the participation in races and coursings - of course, those are quite big dogs, but above all healthy and strong. Such Italian Greyhounds were also breed by Pia Pfleger and it is not surprising that French breeders prefer Springinsfeld dogs. After all, the history of French Italian Greyhounds is inseparably connected with Springinsfeld breeding.  In an article by M. Lion about French Italian Greyhounds, you could read that "when someone takes the trouble to look into the three generations of their pedigrees, they almost always find Springinsfeld dogs". However, time passes and today to find them there is a need to be traced to many more generations, but we will certainly find it in every pedigree.

In Paris at the World Dog Show in 1937 the breeding group of Italian Greyhounds Springinsfeld was recognized as the best of those presented at this exhibition. For this forgotten and unknown breed in those years it was a huge success, and Pia Pfleger wrote many years later, that this victory was an incentive for her to continue working on the breed.  Also that year in Paris, the title of World Winner got TYPE Springinsfeld - uniformly gray son of the spotted ZARTE from the first litter.

In 1972 the title of World Winner won another Springinsfeld - CUPIDO Springinsfeld, who played huge role in the breed development of future years.
The female Enzo Des Trois Pyramides, who won the title of World Winner 1992 was the great granddaughter of Ch.CUPIDO Springinsfeld (she has him 4 times in the 5th generation of her pedigree).

Paris titles, however, were not the most important for the future of Springinsfeld kennel, but establishing the cooperation with the French kennel De la Coterel of p. Guerlain and the Italian kennel di Solcio of Countess Cavallini, which proved to be more valuable for the next years. Cooperation with German breeders has continued uninterrupted.

Int.Ch.XENIA Springinsfeld, born in the third litter of Pia Pfleger and exportred to the German kennel Wergei, was the first Springinsfeld bitch who obtained the title of International Champion.

Right in the mid-1930s, the first Springinsfeld greyhounds hit the British Isles, they were the isabella ROTBART and the gray SCHARMANTE. The resulting offspring born in England came to Austria - according to Pia Pfleger they were animals with clear dwarf features and they did not play a role in breeding. Also in 1936 from England were imported LITTLE GIRL and LEON Harrington. They were not much used in breeding (only one litter of each was registered).

Further imports proved valuable. The French gray LADOLA and LENTO de la Coretel and the gray Ch. NELLO II di Solcio. Int.Champ OENEUS Springinsfeld went to de la Coretel kennel and LILOM Springinsfeld went to Italy.

The great-looking dog was the English PICCOLA of Khepat, who in exchange for OENONE Springinsfeld managed to reach Austria before the outbreak of war.  In 1938, five litters sired by him were born in the kennel, and in the first half of 1939, three more.

As Pia Pfleger recalled "I was in touch with all major European kennels at that time. Then the war came, all contacts were lost."

Xenia Springinsfeld (DOB 1933)
Xenia Springinsfeld (DOB 1933)
Piccola of Khepat - imported from England
Piccola of Khepat - imported from England
On the right Lento de la Coterel
On the right Lento de la Coterel

The Second World War had a big impact for the breeding of Italian Greyhounds. Most European kennels stopped their breeding, the other - limited it to minimum numbers.

A Pia Pfleger remembered:
"It was necessary to limit the number of dogs, taking care only to preserve the most valuable lines of our greyhounds.  After the war, we had two dogs: PICCOLA of Khepat and our HELIOS, and three bitches: ANMUT and LIBELLE Springinsfeld and LADOLA de la Coterel."

After the war she became again renewing contacts with breeders, looking for Italian Greyhounds that survived the war. However, the kennel Springinsfeld was already so well known that breeders from all over Europe tried to get a greyhound from Aspang, where they were bred by Pia Pfleger. 

In the late 1940s, Ch. JOLLY and Ch. OSSIA Springinsfeld were the first greyhounds to win the French Champion title after the war. The son of this pair, Chichele Assam CARLO, was sold to England, where he played a huge role in breeding. This dog was the father of three of the few English champions at that time.  Only ten years after the war, the first greyhound obtained the title of Champion of England, because according to the requirements of the Kennel Club, when less than 20 dogs of a given breed were registered in a year, in the next year this breed was not awarded certificates for champion. English Greyhound breeders achieved this small number of 20 dogs registered annually only in 1955 and only then it was possible to obtain a championship. 

Two years later, 23 greyhounds were reported for Cruft 1957, half of them were CARLO's children, so the grandchildren of two Springinsfelds. However, the exhibition was won by the famous Int, UK, USA Ch. ULISSE di Peltrengo of Winterlea, who played no less role in breeding than CARLO. Of course, ULISSE was also the son of Springinsfeld - his father Ch.SIMBA Springinsfeld together with the less known KING Springinsfeld were the leading studs in the Italian breeding di Peltrengo in those years.  Int, UK, USA Ch ULISSE di Peltrengo of Winterlea after winning the Cruft exhibition was purchased in the USA, influencing the development of American breeding.

ULISSE di Peltrengo of Winterlea Crafts winner 1957 (son of SIMBA Springinsfeld)
ULISSE di Peltrengo of Winterlea Crafts winner 1957 (son of SIMBA Springinsfeld)
ULISSE di Peltrengo of Winterlea Crafts winner 1957 (son of SIMBA Springinsfeld)
ULISSE di Peltrengo of Winterlea Crafts winner 1957 (son of SIMBA Springinsfeld)
No less important were the other Springinsfelds in American kennels, which in the USA won champion titles: AGLAJA, CANIO, BELLA, CYRUS, TYTUS and Int.Ch. DORIAN Springinsfeld, after which several litters also remain in Sweden. This dog bought to the USA as a well-known champion - played a huge role in American breeding, winning in 1963 the Certificate of Merit.  The name Int.Ch. DORIAN Springinsfeld can still be found on Top Producer Stud Dog lists published by The Italian Greyhound Club of America.

It is difficult to decide which of the names of champions bred by Pia Pfleger should be recalled - their number is too large to mention all. And yet you can not forget about Springinsfeld's most distinguished for breeding. Each country where greyhounds were bred had its legendary Springinsfelds and in the memory of breeders the fame of the most magnificent continues to this day.

Of course it worth mentioning Int.Ch. ODIN Sprininsfeld - the most famous Italian greyhound in England, whose photos are still published today in English books as an example of a model representative of the breed. This dog won Craft in 1967, he is the father of the most titled Italian Greyhound in England Ch.Fleeting FLAVIUS - a dog that won Cruft three times. For several years, ODIN's children played the largest English exhibitions, until the time of the victory of his grandchildren came.

Odin Springinsfeld - Crafts winner (DOB 1964)
Odin Springinsfeld - Crafts winner (DOB 1964)
Odin Springinsfeld with his children Fleeting Flavius, Fleeting Fenella of Follysend, Fleeting Fine Fancy
Odin Springinsfeld with his children Fleeting Flavius, Fleeting Fenella of Follysend, Fleeting Fine Fancy
Fleeting Flavius - 3 times Crafts winner (son of Odin Springinsfeld)
Fleeting Flavius - 3 times Crafts winner (son of Odin Springinsfeld)
US CH Fleeting Floribunda (daughter of Odin Springinsfeld), exported to USA
US CH Fleeting Floribunda (daughter of Odin Springinsfeld), exported to USA
Dutch breeders remember Pia Pfleger dogs to this day. Even before the war HOLDE, IRIS and JUWEL Springinsfeld came to Bluedon's kennel.  It was after them that the first litters were born, and it is interesting to note that the last litter after JUWWEL was born in 1951, when the dog was 13 years old. Later, NIMROD Sprinsfeld was known - a dog distinguished for breeding both in the Netherlands and Belgium. NIMROD's children born at the turn of the seventies from mating with two bitches imported from the USA and from the best of his sons, who was often joined with their own daughters - decided about the type of greyhound bred in today's Netherlands.

Springinsfeld continued in the eighties imported from the well-known French kennel du Manoir des Ombreuses. Of course, also among greyhounds imported from Germany, the majority had many Springinsfeld dogs in their pedigrees - valued by German breeders. Greyhounds that were often born in Germany had both parents with the Springinsfeld kennel at that time.

In those years in Austria, greyhounds were basically bred only by Pia Pfleger, so the Austrian part of the activities in this German-Austrian kennel - it's all her merit. In the post-war years, as a result of the fifth cooperation of Pia Pfleger with the German kennels v. Bayerischen Meer, el Shikari, Molodjez, many great greyhounds were born, whose names are still mentioned by breeders and are seen in the pedigrees of the best dogs.

In the post-war German kennels three dogs of Springinsfeld played the greatest importance - international champions JUNKER, LOSTOS and ZEPHYR.  In the German breeding books, the names of Springinsfeld used for breeding by Pia Pfleger also often appeared: Int.Ch.OTHELLO (litter brother of the English ODINA), Int.Ch.VITUS and Ch.YANCI Springinsfeld.

Among the bitches, of course, only the best-known ones that played a significant role in breeding this breed, at least the names should be mentioned: ANMUT, AFRA, ELFLEIN, FEE, FLEUR GRISE, HUMMEL, ISIS, KORA, KALYPSO, LYDIA, NOANI, ORLA, PETRA, SORMA, URACCA, VANESSA, WANDA, YBBSA, YVONNE, YOLANDE Sprinsinsfeld. Most of them, apart from being great mothers, such as BERENICE known from Italian pedigrees - won champion titles even in such distant countries as Brazil, where the championship was done by FEIEN Springinsfeld.

In the Scandinavian countries, the first greyhounds in the post-war times appeared in the fifties and a bit later their breeding came to life thanks to further imports.  Of course, among those that played the biggest role in breeding were dogs with the affix Springinsfeld, mentioned earlier Int.Ch.DORIAN, Ch.BAMBINO, Ch. GOLDIE and Int.Ch.TITANIA Springinsfeld and many greyhounds imported from Germany, derived from Pia Pfler dogs.

At the turn of the sixties, six Springinsfeld dogs were imported to Benares kennel, five more to Drottingberget's kennel until today operating in the Canary Islands and the famous Ch.GOLDIE Springinsfeld to one of the most famous Scandinavian breeding - Sobers.

Bettina Springinsfeld (DOB: 1969)
Bettina Springinsfeld (DOB: 1969)
Petra Springinsfeld (DOB: 1951) and Orla Springsinsfeld (DOB: 1950)
Petra Springinsfeld (DOB: 1951) and Orla Springsinsfeld (DOB: 1950)
Uschi Springinsfeld (DOB: 1958)
Uschi Springinsfeld (DOB: 1958)
Eros Springinsfeld (DOB: 1946)
Eros Springinsfeld (DOB: 1946)
But Springinsfeld greyhounds in French breeding played the most important role. Even before the war, CAPRICE Springinsfeld came the kennel du Parc de la Casetta p. Malarme, he left many offspring, which became a breeding base after the war. Later, Malarme brought his daughter BERYLA Springinsfeld, who, together with her son CAPRICE, gave excellent offspring.  The Italian leader EOLO del Calcione, who had many Springinsfelds in his pedigree and later FAVORIT Springinsfeld completely filled French pedigrees with the nickname Pia Pfleger. The son of FAVORİT Springinsfeld - one of the most famous French Greyhounds Ch.PIPPO du Parc de la Casetta was for many years considered an ideal breed representative.

By the end of the sixties France already had many excellent greyhounds born in French kennels but, as M. Lion wrote, French breeders could not forget Springinsfeld dogs. In the years 1969-1971 even two greyhounds from subsequent litters from Pia Pfler's were brought to France, ZERLINE, BAMBI came in succession. Than BICHE, CUPIDO, CIBELLE, ECHO, ELIS, FORTUNA, HILLA Springinsfeld. Later, only three - the last three Springinsfeld greyhound litters were born at Pia Pfleger.

Among the last imports, the most important role was played by Ch.CUPIDO Springinsfeld, who as the father of several champions and became the legend of French breeding.  CUPIDO was World Winner 1972 and gave many wonderful puppies in the largest French kennels, and above all in the well-known kennel des Pitchoun Diabels L. Lelias, where he was often combined with Springinsfeld bitches. The last litters after this dog were born when he was 12 years old. And in 1982, when he was 13 years old, he was the pride of a special exhibition of Italian Greyhounds organized by French Italian Greyhounds Club.
He had such a strange fate that it was in Paris, where the first Springinsfelds began conquering the exhibition rings - almost half a century later, one of the last Springinsfeld greyhounds ended his great exhibition career.

PIPPO du Parc de la Casetta (son of Favorite Springinsfeld) was for many years considered an ideal breed representative.
PIPPO du Parc de la Casetta (son of Favorite Springinsfeld) was for many years considered an ideal breed representative.
Zerline Springinsfeld (DOB: 1968)
Zerline Springinsfeld (DOB: 1968)
Fiordiligi Springinsfeld (DOB: 1961)
Fiordiligi Springinsfeld (DOB: 1961)
PIPPO du Parc de la Casetta (son of Favorite Springinsfeld) was for many years considered an ideal breed representative.
PIPPO du Parc de la Casetta (son of Favorite Springinsfeld) was for many years considered an ideal breed representative.
Bettina Springinsfeld (DOB: 1969)
Bettina Springinsfeld (DOB: 1969)
Helios Springinsfeld (DOB: 1938)
Helios Springinsfeld (DOB: 1938)
Mrs Pfleger was characterized by a great ability to cooperate with other breeders. She was never limited to dogs bred by herself and for years litters of both Springinsfeld parents were born more often all over Europe than in her kennel. She was able to value dogs bred by others no less than the world valued her wonderful Springinsfelds.  It is a truism to say that Pia Pfleger was an outstanding breeder - a master of effective and consistent selection. Her actions were subordinated to one vision - breeding a greyhound without any degenerative features, healthy and strong - such as the little greyhounds were before fashion led them to ruin.

Mrs. Pia Pfleger was often asked, why she breeds greyhounds, she eagerly answered this question, and finally wrote one day:
"I still get letters from people who lost their Italian greyhound and most of them can be summarized in one sentence: I can't live without an Italian Greyhound." - it was for these people Pia Pfleger bred Italian Greyhounds.

Sources:
Book „Studien und Quellen zur Geschichte des Windspieles in Österreich", 2010
Article “Charciki wloskie. Wielkie hodowle swiata” published in polish magazine “Pies” №4/234, 1992
Italian Greyhounds breed archieve - https://italiangreyhound.breedarchive.com/