J.B. Thomas Says American Borzoi Lead the World

by Micheline de Zutter
April 1, 1934, American Kennel Gazette

[continued]

"After the advent of Krilutt and the exhibition of a few specimens in the mixed classes for foreign dogs, the popularity of this breed soon spread so that as many as 40 individuals were exhibited, the principal breeders and exhibitors being the Duchess of Newcastle, Col. the Hon. Charles Wellesley, Mrs. Alfred Morrison, Mr. W.H. Huntington, Mr. Kenneth Muir, and, Mr. Freeman Lloyd. The Duchess of Newcastle became the largest imported, going as far as St. Petersburg on one occasion herself, and sending agents.

"In 1891, the agent of her Grace, Mr. Musgrave, sent out, I believe, from St. Petersburg a shipment of no less than nine at one time. Of all the shipments made, there appears to have been not one really good 'ancient type' hound, and in few cases did the importers have the slightest idea of what the pedigrees of their hounds meant - that is, they had no knowledge of the type of the progenitors of their purchases. However, it is from an old picture of Mr. Musgrave's that I first obtained an idea that the 'ancient type' ever had existed. Mr. Musgrave had found this picture in Russia, although I do not suppose that he, or any other foreign fancier, ever saw a hound to approach the dog depicted until I visited the grand kennels at Perchina, many years afterward.

"Several of the early imported hounds came from the Imperial Kennels at Gatchina, near St. Petersburg, which were full of greyhound blood and showed it in short tails, distinct stops to the skull, and short coats in some instances, while others came from sources no less free from the greyhound cross. No less an authority than Mr. Artem Balderoff, who knows almost by heart the breeding of every dog in Russia, is the source of information which verifies thoroughly the distinction between ancient type (Gustopsovoy Borzoi) and the modern type (Christopsovoy Borzoi).

"I think I have shown you that when, 15 to 30 years ago (written in 1912), Borzoi were being sent out from Russia, although there were then very few specimens of the ancient type in existence, there was a distinct idea in the mind of the Russian as to what that type had been; for not only was this idea depicted by drawings, but written standards were made which called, in most exact terms, for the salient characteristics of the ancient type. For example, L.P. Sabaneyef, of Moscow, writing in 1892, although reconizing that breed had changed somewhat, calls for a standard requiring length of coat, length of tail, and shape of head, such as were not to be found in the animals that had left Russia. Although some of the exportations were fairly good specimens individually, on account of their mixed blood it was quite impossible to find them breeding true. In England and America the lack of dogs approaching this ideal standard had caused much controversy as to what type to breed.

"After having bred such Borzoi as I could obtain in America for a number of years, and having read everything I could find on the subject, I came to the conclusion that, in America, there were no hounds that fulfilled the requirements of the Russian standard, nor even the requirements of the English standard, which, as a matter of fact, was practically a copy of the Russian.

"I was, moreover, decidedly nonplussed by the repeated failure of the breed to reproduce itself with any kind of regularity. Of course, at this time I was unaware of the crossings which had been perpetrated.

"Finally, I became so much perplexed in regard to this matter that, in July, 1903, I went to England to inspect the several kennels there, of which I had heard so much. After weeks spent in visiting every prominent breeder in England, I was convinced that England was little, if any, better off than the United States.

"The, then, principal kennel was most notable for the size and coarseness of its dogs, which characteristic, together with the fact that many of them were very unsound, made them anything but coursing types. Coarse heads, with prominent stops to the skull, were here very much in evidence. Hardly any two dogs looked alike. In the minor kennels there were a great many weeds. There was no definite type to be seen, and, as a whole, the English representation lacked character. There was no definite cachet to the breed. There were positively no hounds that had real quality and substance combined.

"Early August saw me in St. Petersburg, and here I nearly gave up the search for the ideal, of which I had seen pictures, as I have told you. On visiting the Imperial Kennels, at Gatchina, near the capital, I saw only two out of 80 grown dogs that I should have liked to possess; but what was more discouraging than this was the fact that no distinct type was visible.

"Some were well-coated, others the contrary; some had fairly good heads, while others were absolutely poor types - not borzoi, but greyhound.

"The reason for the lack of type in England and America here became immediately patent, as more specimens had gone to those countries from the Imperial Kennels than from any other. Fortunately, in spite of further disappointments, I did not relinquish my quest until I had visited the kennels of Grand Duke Nicolai Nicolaiovitch, and that of Mr. and Mrs. Artem Balderoff.

"My visits to these kennels came almost by accident, for Russia is a country of great distances; and accurate information on any subject, especially sporting subjects, is most difficult to obtain. The Russian sportsman is even more apt to underestimate or overestimate than is his American confrere, and there are fewer sources of information.

"From St. Petersburg I had gone to Moscow, and visited kennels there with no success in finding what I was looking for, but what I did find was more pictures, and this encouraged me to continue my search. With great difficulty I obtained the address of the editor of a little sporting paper, and gleaned from him, after using parts of several languages, that Mr. Artem Balderoff had an excellent kennel, and he thought, moreoever, that H.I.H. the Grand Duke Nicholas also had 'some hounds.'

"Little did I realize, at that time, what my fortune was to be, for had I not seen either of these kennels, I should have been little wiser for my trip. I sent off a telegraphic request to be allowed to visit them, and, fortunately, the wires brought favorable replies; in the one case from Mr. Balderoff, himself, in the other, from M. Dimtry Walzoff, who is 'chef du comptoir' to the Grand Duke.

"My trip from Moscow brought me early, on the following morning, to Tula, a town some hundreds of versts from the ancient capital. After some difficulty, I obtained a troika. With a crack of the driver's knout and the tinkle of a string of bells hung at the horses' throats, as was formerly done in all posting conveyances all over Europe, the heavy carraige, similar to our victoria, rolled over the cobblestones of the town street and out along the dusty trail towards the estate of the Seigneur.

continued >>>

Coursing and Racing Dogs
(Freeman Lloyd)

(not exclusively Borzoi)

Coursing Excerpt from The Beasts of the Prairies

Dog of All the Russias
(W. Haynes)

Dogs of Today - the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi

Dogs That Hunt Bears and Wolves (Excerpt)
Freeman Lloyd

Excerpt from Hutchinson's Encyclopedia

Excerpt from the Kennel Encyclopaedia

Freeman Lloyd on Borzoi

Hound of the Czars
(Walter Dyer)

Hunting Dogs: Sighthounds and Scenthounds
(L. P. Sabaneev, 1899)

Hunting Large Game Excerpt

J.B. Thomas Says American Borzoi Lead the World
(Micheline de Zutter)

An Outline of the History of the Borzoi
Baron G.D. Rozen, 1891

Ruby de Bolshoy
(Melanie Richards)

Russian Wolfhounds of Yesterday and Today
(Freeman Lloyd)

RWCA's History (1930)

the Borzoi
(H. W. Huntington)

the Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound
(Major Borman)

the Hare and Many Foes

the Russian Borzoi (excerpt from "Dogs From All Angles")

the Russian Wolfhound
(James Watson)

the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi
(W. Johnston)

Twentieth Century Dog - Borzoi Section

Watson on Borzoi

 

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