Thoughts about division of breeds. Past and present
Discussions that special breeding of show-quality dogs leads to degeneration of breeds, has been taking place as long as dog-shows are held. Some specialists insist upon concentrating on working qualities in the breeding programs. Others divide breeds into show and working groups; if you would like a working dog, then you should buy a puppy from the working line, if you prefer a show quality – you should find a suitable breeder that breeds dogs for shows.
Several years ago a Greyhound male coming from racing bloodlines was shown at the largest Russian Dog Show. We could not understand what this dog of racing origin was doing in the show ring. The owners of this male were really surprised that he has got only a "very good". They were sure if they imported a greyhound from the UK, from a very famous racing kennel and out of famous racing dogs, it will be a guarantee of success in the ring. They were not informed beforehand by their local advisors that the kennel was famous for their racing achievements and that show quality dogs are different in their conformation, appearance and temperament from their racing relatives.
I have to say that by that time several excellent show quality greyhounds from the famous kennels had been already imported to Moscow. The quality and soundness of the above mentioned were so much better than of the greyhounds bred in Russia.
The owners of the locally bred greyhounds understood that the quality of their dogs were very different from the imported ones and also the registration costs for shows increased after the default, so from now on if the owners of Russian-bred greyhounds attended the shows they attended them as spectators without showing their dogs. In England it goes without saying that a future buyer is well aware of the division of the Greyhound Breed representatives into coursing, racing and show lines and he understands pretty well what kind of dog he is looking for.
In Russia most of Greyhound-owners and Greyhound-breeders are also aware about these differences (at least in theory), but a newcomer in the breed in most cases is unaware of this aspect and the breeders do not usually inform him.
We know that first Dog shows took place in England 150 years ago. At the beginning only the passionate hunters were taking part in these shows with their Setters, Pointers, Greyhounds from the best working lines. But the situation has changed long time ago. Priority in the estimation of dogs was removed to adding more elegance, style and switching to soundness of dogs and general balance in proportions. Naturally, the owners of field favorites were often disappointed by the fact that their dogs lost to their rivals while they easily won in the coursing fields and even to those who never participated in the coursing events.
Besides that at the end of XIX, most of hunting breeds in England became pure sporting, not hunting a wild game. But as it is known that every kind of sport is a fancy. And sporting rules, subjective of sporting judges and sporting squabbles don’t suit everybody. No wonder that when dog-owners and breeders got the chance of a new way of spending their free time (new hobby), they preferred that one. On the other hand, the show judges are also subjective.
The set up of Greyhound racing events also added to further division of our breed. Then people who wished to earn some money on racing became Greyhound-owners. They were not overwhelmed by the Beauty of the breed, it’s history and characteristics. Money was their primary concern.
I think that isolation of the breed from its cultural context leads to more deplorable results than disregard of it’s hunting abilities and functions. After all, dogs at the current dog-shows are judged by the standard that had been written with regard to the above mentioned functions.
The case is somewhat different in Germany and some other European countries. Dogs of many breeds must be examined for the working qualities to be allowed in the breeding programs. For many breeds examinations of hips and elbows are also obligatory. So breeding in German as well as in some middle European countries is breeding for beauty, health and performance.
But every medal has another side. It must be noted that additional criteria of selection such as working examinations were introduced not only for preservation of the working qualities. Second, but may be the main reason is to limit quantity of litters in the breeds going through boom.
In this case people in the leaderships of these breeds seek for keeping of overproduction and commerce of dog-breeding. (We know that many German breeds such as German Shepard, Rottweiler, Doberman, Dachshund are the most popular all over the world). I think that these steps have been undertaken to prove their value because fashion often leads to degradation of a breed.
But what is good for popular and numerous breeds, is not so good for non-commercial breeds. Additional criteria of selection lead to narrowing the limited breeding population and gene pool. Mating of dogs which have outstanding working qualities but mediocre conformation with beautiful sound bitches which have mediocre working qualities lead to sad results.
Acting this way you often get dogs which are mediocre from both sides. It is clear that it’s difficult but possible to get dogs with excellent conformation and performance at the same in popular breeds, but in non-commercial breeds such as greyhound this idea is an utopia.
Besides I would like to note that now not everything is well in Germany regarding their own numerous breeds. Now you rarely see Dobermans, Boxers and Schnauzers bred in Germany among winners at large competitive shows.
History of Russian dog breeding is first of all the history of Russian Borzoi. Approaches to dogs and their breeding were different. Practical method of approach was favoured – a dog MUST chase and kill a wild game and if it doesn’t do this work well, it must be killed.
On the other hand, there were many really enthusiastic breeders. They were not only concentrating on working qualities but were concerned about soundness as well. At the end of XIX dog shows and public working examinations were started. Also public discussions in dog’s and hunter’s magazines were started. It is difficult to say now to what results these discussions could lead. After reading German philosophers such as Karl Marx, Russia chose it’s own way.
Dog-breeding in the Soviet Union was centralized. Own opinions of dog’s owner were left out of account. Breeding programs were made by the Dog Club’s leaders.
Working diplomas were an absolut must for a dog to be allowed in the breeding program as well as conformation diplomas. During dog-shows after conformation rings all-round point examinations took place. Champion titles were awarded for those dogs who had got the highest points for their own conformation, working qualities as well as progeny’s qualities. Unfortunately champion titles often gained by dogs of mediocre qualities, because the presence of working diploma was of main concern. On the other hand wins on show-rings and in working competitions were separated. Exams of progeny’s qualities were also very formal. Dog’s stud qualities, prepotent, uniformity of their offspring were also set aside. The changes in Russia during last 15 years had an effect on Russian dog breeding. These changes are major and not all people could accept these changes. Breeder’s choice and freedom in breeding their dogs often stir up irritation and nostalgia.
I think that it isn’t worth making an ideal plan of dog breeding. It is worth breeding excellent dogs.
Show-breeding hardly misrepresents main points of the most breeds, and division of the breeds into different lines doesn’t lead to their degradation. First of all this division reflects difference of human interests. But if you want to breed the dog which is ideal in all respects, why not. There are always admirers if there are great talents present.
GREYHOUNDS IN RUSSIA
During the last four years our greyhound scene has seen a lot of changes. Firstly, all four imported males confirmed their quality and became Russian Champions. Three of them, Cyrano’s Red Ryder, Gaysyde Christmas Spirit and Wilhellmiin
Ei-Erkimpi became Interchampions as well. A bitch imported later from the USA, Hiperion’s High Society, has also got her Russian title. Hopefully, she will be become an excellent dam being at the same time a great show Greyhound. In the end of 2002 another puppy bitch Hyperion Midnight Garden was imported from the same kennel. It is a very elegant
bitch with beautiful lines and movement. This young dog is going to become a high class Greyhound.
Secondly, all four males have already had litters in Russia. First one to become a father was Cyrano’s Red Ryder (Rurik). Three of his puppies were named Champions of Russia; the bitch from the first litter – Artefakt Alana – also became Class Winner at Euro Dog
Show-2000 held in Poznan.
Gaysyde Christmas Spirit (Haig) produced his first litter in the late 1999. Unfortunately, only one puppy out of three
is shown. It is Hepi Hepri Irbis exported to Estonia. However, his success is evident: World Promise 2000 (World Dog Show in Milan), Champion of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and Finland. The second litter was born in June of 2001. From this litter also only one bitch – Tonika - is showed. This year she became Russian and RKF Champion, as well as a lure coursing Champion. Puppies from Haig’s third litter are one year old now. Two of them began their show careers quite successfully; and red bitch - Severny Elf Danaya - already became Russian Young Champion.
The third male to become a father was Wilhellmiinan Ei-Erkimpi. His first and only litter was born in the middle of 2000 out of From Polish Idol Skierdy’s daughter (Elisaveta Golima), one of the best bitches of Russia. By now two of his offsprings - Ludovik Van Blue and Lourience Van Blue - became champions.
Finally, Noblegrey MacGregor (Grisha) produced a litter in 2001. Now the young dogs mature and gather titles. We believe that very elegant and expressive bitches from this litter are going to become promising
Of course, we understand that the work on show Greyhounds in Russia is only in the making. It was already noticed that all produced puppies surpassed their Russian-bred mothers in quality. Nowadays, we are trying to plan our future pedigree breeding. The second generation of dogs produced from imported males is very important. It’s already scheduled to mate one of MacGregor’s daughters (Sanbri Stela Fli Violina) with Gaysyde Christmas Spirit. By this combination we hope to secure such advantages of this young bitch as a long and elegant neck which beautifully passes into well marked withers, and to add a more strong bone to her puppies.
We also plan to get puppies from young imported bitches in the forthcoming years. It’s not unlikely that it will raise the quality of our pedigree in general.
Greyhounds in Russia
As strange as it may seem one of the most ancient dogs bred by man appeared in Russia just 15 years ago. The first Greyhounds were imported from Poland in the late 1980’s. The first three litters came in 1989. It is worthy noting that after the collapse of the Iron Curtain citizens of then the USSR get an opportunity to visit western countries. They brought back a lot of different dogs both traditionally bred in this country and not known before. Unfortunately, a few realized what kind of dogs and breeds are worth the paid money. And nobody was familiar with the structure of new “exotic” breeds and peculiarities of their lines and breeding.
That is why along with a brilliant representative of the English show type From Polish Idol Skierdy (Ch. Ballalyn’s Thunder Cloudbey x Ch. Exhurst Mary Rose), that became a World Winner’90 later, two bitches of typical Central European breeding, daughters of Blue Joy v. Sonnenhugel out of mothers of Poland-Chez bloods, Delta z Alabastrowego Ogrodu and Abigail Czarna Malina and granddaughter of his littermate Joker, Imperia Complement, were imported. Though these bitches had a good conformation, they were still not good enough to be called show dogs. Be it as it may, these four dogs determined the following breeding of the Greyhounds in Russia.
In the mid 80’s, the first races for a mechanical lure were staged in Moscow and other large cities of the former USSR. The main aim was to create an alternative to obligatory hunting trials for the Borzoi. Furthermore, imported earlier Afghans also took active participation in those races. No wonder that a lot of people fond of races were very enthusiastic about the Greyhounds. The only thing that was known about these dogs was that they were the fastest breed. People started importing dogs from the Chez Republic, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. Occasionally, those Greyhounds had really good working qualities. But most often they could be related to the running lines only because of their poor conformation. We have to note that although a lot of attempts were made to commercialize the races, first of all they have always been, and still are, an amusement for the sighthounds owners. The running Greyhound cannot become a popular breed if there is no a dog races industry in the country. That is why the first races did not exert any influence on the breed’s popularity. However, they definitely had an impact on the Greyhound breeding in Russia. Idol’s daughters and bitches from his father Ballalyn’s Thunder Cloudsbey and Delta were mated to imported dogs of the working lines. This Russian experience did not justify hopes of breeders. Those dogs lost the harmony of constitution and did not gained any good running qualities.
The mid 90’s enjoyed an increasing popularity of the Greyhounds among hunters. The hunting with the Borzoi is allowed in Russia. In some regions of the country it is very popular. Field contests are frequently arranged where diplomas of three degrees are awarded. The value of a field diploma is a lot higher than of a racing one. Contrary to beliefs of many hunters, Borzoi-fanciers, the Greyhounds managed to prove that they are an outstanding breed not only “for chasing a lure”, but also on the field. It is worth noting that the best hunting results are shown by dogs of the show bloods. They usually win over their racing opponents who belong to the coursing lines. Besides field contests, hunters stage their own exhibitions (shows?) where usually working dogs are presented. In addition to conformation evaluations, so-called complex evaluations are made, which include show grades, field diplomas, and quantity of offsprings who have already received conformation grades and working diplomas. Unfortunately, judges-hunters while evaluating dogs often forget that good constitution means not only the lack of defects of various points but also, and first of all, the harmony of the whole body. Any good Greyhound must be well balanced, elegant and noble; it must posses a so-called “breed air“.
It was not until the mid 90’s that Russian breeders suddenly recollected and made the first attempts to divide the Greyhounds by lines. Attempts were made to develop the Idol line. Some of them enjoyed success; but some failed. Unfortunately, Ch. Namestnik Skierdy (Ch. Ballalyn Thunder Cloudbey x Ch. Baldrey Ring of Roses) brought to Vyatka in 1990 was not sufficiently used and had almost no influence on the foundation stock of the Greyhounds in Russia.
At the same time it became clear that it was impossible to go on without inflow of fresh bloods. It took almost ten years after Idol to import 10 months old red Cyrano’s Red Ryder (Ch. Mokan’s Drakkar of Saurel x Ch. Cyrano’s Gilded Amorini) in the late 1997. Several months later followed an addition – red puppy Noblegrey MacGregor (Ch. Noblegrey Scarlet Paddington x Ch. Noblegrey April Love), white and red puppy Gaysyde Christmas Spirit (Ch. Repeat Performance x Qattara Edie), and 2 years old Wilhellmiinan Ei-Erkimpi (Ch. Jet’s Big Boy Don’t Cry x Ch. Piderag’s Dream Drive In). All of them confirmed their quality when they became Champions of Russia. Three of them became International Champions. Never Say Never Ypsylon brought from Poland in 1999 also was named the Russian Champion. All these males have sires out of Russian bred bitches. Despite the fact that puppies excel their mothers in conformation, it is clear that it is difficult to achieve any success without quality dams. In 2000 puppy bitch Hyperions High Society was brought to Moscow from the USA. Hopefully, she will be become an excellent dam being at the same time a great show Greyhound. We also hope that more bitches will follow her.
The keeping and breeding of the Greyhounds have some peculiarities in Russia. First of all, the foundation stock can be found in large cities especially Moscow. In this 10 million city the most prestigious shows are held, and the best litters are whelped. Secondly, regardless of the quality and reasons for keeping a dog almost all Greyhounds live under one roof with their owners being family companions. Russia is a country of small kennels with only one or two bitches (dams). On them alone the condition of the breed in the present days and in the future depends.
We have already drawn conclusions from our not too successful experience of the show Greyhounds breeding. Now we are encouraged to follow guidelines of the world’s best kennels to rear a quality Greyhound stock, which is no doubt necessary for the future show and stud development.