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out of "Russian Hunters magazine" / 14.05.1997


Galina Wiktorowna Zotova, a well known international expert for Borzoi, told our journalist, Maria Muromzewa in an interview, her views about the breed of Borzoi.

Mrs. Wiktorowna, it is obvious that we have more than 500 clubs for dogs in just Moscow and the division and classification in different breeds are very large. What do you think about the situation for the Russian Borzoi?
The most prominant beeders and owners of Borzoi are members of the Moscow Hunter Club. Additionally, the large number of clubs at St. Petersburg will surely also have an impact. These clubs are working with their own agendas. They are checking the dog in behalf of its behavior and attributes for the hunting purpose in the open field. It is a pity that they do not invite experts from abroad. Reason is surely that they have no tradition to do that. This situation is similar with other breeds.
Club shows are more or less done by internal club experts and they do the evaluation by themselves. By the foundation of our national Russian club, we are forwarding the idea to open these traditional shows to participants of other clubs, independent breeders, and fans of Borzoi dogs. But before reaching this goal, we have to solve some problems.
For example, one problem is our huge country, Russia, with its large distances. We have to overcome large time barriers and expensive costs in organizing the meetings. We plan meetings do our best to be successful but as you see there are some incalculable problems.

What do you think about quality of Barzoi todate?
My evaluation, in respect to the amount of fair ratings given, shows that the quality in general is stable. Dogs with strong defects are rare. So I can summerize the quality of our Barzoi as excellent.

Do you recognize some specific problems?
Problems, we mostly see, are at the joints. I would not like to characterize it as a problem, but that it is sometimes we find it. In connection to that, we have to remark that the clubs are too isolated in breeding. So they get no fresh blood from outside. This is a real danger for the breed. And it is uncommon that owners of Borzoi are consulting the experts advice before breeding.

What is your opinion in respect to the different quality between Borzoi from the West and from Russia?
Borzoi from Western countries are much too large in height and the hair is thick. The western people look at Borzoi more or less as a decorative dog. So it seems that they judge the dog more in respect to exotic appeal than in behalf of the correct anatomy, physically ability and power.

Whenever you compare the Russian standard for Borzoi with the western Borzoi, what are the most negative attributes found in western dogs?
American dogs are distinctly higher in front. A mark of identification which is not Borzoi like. Surely we find in the western area very excellent dogs. There are some breeders which show the right attitude to the Borzoi breed. They are well known by their professional ability to install the right quality. But, when we talk about the whole western area, we often find dogs that are too steep at the hind quarter and too light of eyes. Obviously, another difference to our dogs, is the long hair. Thatís western style and standard. So, some western breeders say the Russian Borzoi has little coat, although it is the original anatomy.

You talk about differences. Are these differences defined in the Russian and / or Western Standard?
The Standard for the West does not specify the coat - only the quality of the coat is valued. There is no information about length of the hair. In contrast, it is exactly defined in our standard. The Borzoi has a very specific characteristic partition of coat: long, curly hair- dorsal, long, thick hair on breast and back. The flanks in contrary have very short hair. Borzoi from western regions often show the same shape and length of hair on breast, back and flanks. Maybe it is good looking but nevertheless it is not like the original Russian Borzoi.

Mrs. Wiktorowna, the breed of Borzoi is designed for speed and hunting. Nevertheless, some breeders are choosing the Western Standard for Borzoi or sometimes the FCI Standard.
I think it happens, because often, western experts come to Russia and evaluate the dogs in accordance with the Western standard. Thereby, they overrate the dogs. So, you mainly will find at these shows dogs breed for prettiness instead of hunting. Surely, these special Borzoi are designed to please the western experts. And so these dogs have mostly a lot of hair.

It seems to be that Borzoi are often evaluated by western experts, independent from the fact that they are originallly a Russian breed. Would you say that Borzoi are often judged by western experts?
Thatís a fact because FCI shows are designed in this way. When a judge is qualified to evaluate all breeds (in the FCI there are more than 350) it includes Borzoi. Sometimes the judge has a special dog at home and it may be that he is more interested in other breeds. My opinion is that what we have here is a big disadvantage for the sighthound because it can happen that an all breed judge cannot identify the specific qualitied and characteristics of Borzoi. Maybe it is of no interest in his eyes.

You are the first expert in our country who is evaluating the Borzoi over a very long period of time and all over the world. You worked as a judge in North America and in many European countries. Are you licensed as an international judge?
No, but it does not depend on me and so I do not evaluate at FCI shows.

Mrs. Wiktorowna, it seems to be that our original hunting dog is nowadays divided into a hunting and a decorative dog.
Yes really. We hope that our national association will bring here a positive influence because we will include all hunting clubs and breed clubs. Now the members of both clubs able to join and are successful in hunting events. The dogs are designed with a genetic, predestined hunting instinct. For a long time we placed the Borzoi on the couch. Nevertheless, it still has its strong hunting instinct.

What events are you planning for the national club?
During autumn, we plan competitions and races. Our experts are interested to evaluate and they will judge free of charge.

Whatís about shows?
We are planning to start the beginning of September. Also, here we have experts as judges free of charge. But we expect that some judges will probably have problems to meet us because the All Russian Fair is also this summer.

Tell me, please, how can we define the characteristics and qualities of Borzois? Are there many Borzois registered with certificates?
Yes, we have a lot of Borzois with certificates. Our characteristic term "working dog" is more or less relative. Not all dogs are "working" in a hunting event. But many dogs do this through participation in field tests.So we have more of certificate Borzois than "decorative" Borzois .

At the time being testing Barzoi is done with hunting foxes and rabbits. What do you think about wolf hunting?
In our country, wolf hunting was never a matter of great interest. And the story that happened at Lipetzk was long ago. To do this kind of hunting, it is necessary to find a wolf living totally isolated from dogs and it is a must that the odor of the wolf be really free of Men and civilization. In addition it is important to have at hand more than one experienced dog in case the young dogs were not successful. From the past, we know that not every Borzoi was able to catch a wolf. There was a need for special selection and training for these Borzoi and these same Borzoi could not do fox and rabbit hunting. At the time being we do no wolf hunting.

Could it be possible to restore the natural wolf hunting instincts of Borzoi? Is the selection of the dogs done in connection with these parameters of instincts?
I think it could be possible. But it is a must to have experts, which are able to train the dogs in the right way and manner. In addition, it is a must to start education only with young dogs, by reason that older dogs are more fixed in their attitudes and in their individual hunting style,

Do you know about a sighthound which caught a wolf?
Last year, 4 Borzoi from Moscow were successful in hunting a young wolf. It happened at night. Suddenly the dogs ran away. The owner saw that the dogs were fighting. He thought that the Borzois were fighting against another dog. But it was a wolf. One of the dogs held the hind, another tried to bite into the throat. For example, these Borzoi are able to become excellent wolf hunters.

Mrs. Wiktorowna, what is the difference between fox hunting and other hunting?
In hunting the fox, it tries to escape but when the dogs are close to catching him, the fox turns around and tries to bite one of the dogs in the snout. In case the dog becomes angry, the fox will run for his life. We have young Borzoi which are able to kill a fox within one bite.
Some years ago we had no dogs with the ability to catch a fox.
But at the time being, we have no problem in hunting foxes. A Borzoi can be awarded a certificate in "chasing" or "hunting" rabbits, but, he has to "catch" a fox. Whenever the fox escapes, we give no certificate.

Another thing is imitating rabbit hunting on a race track. Can you tell me something about it, please?
I think it is a show, a show for spectators. Borzois who have caught a rabbit are mostly no more interested to run behind such artificial objects.

Do you have rules in Russia on behalf of hunting artificial lures?
No, there are no rules. Nowadays, clubs which do such hunting events are obliged to develop such rules.

Let us talk about international shows. Do you think that the Russian Standard should be considered in international shows (in connection with the agreement of FCI)?
Members of the FCI surely will follow the international FCI standard. Non members, such as Australia, the US and Great Britain have their own standards. We, as the Russian National Club want to present the standard for Borzoi to the RKF (Organization of FCI at Russia) so that they can submit it to the FCI. The old Standard of Jermolov has been altered insignificantly, little changes in details and small supplements. In general, it is an unchanged Standard.

When will this standard become the international standard?
I believe, at the time when we become member of the FCI. Maybe four years after signing the contracts.

What is the attitude of the foreign owner of Borzois concerning your plans?
We think that the Standard for Borzois should come from their origin, from Russia. Our task is that foreign owner of Borzoi should be informed correctly about the qualifications of the Russian Borzoi. E.g. Borzois can have different forms of the head which we accepted in our Standard. But, in the western area we find a form of head which is absolutely different to our Standard. The profile shows a cranium which is too high. In addition we see also differences in legs.
We did a seminar in France and we talked to many Borzoi owners. Most of them would like to have an international standard which derives from the Russian Standard. And many of them were interested to do hunting.

Mrs. Wiktorowna, I know that you are the only expert from Russia who stands up for Borzoi also in foreign countries. What do you think about the development of the Borzoi breed outside of Russia?
Our Borzoi are real hunting dogs. But in many foreign countries the Borzoi will never do hunting. The main reason is that you will find no hunting events with dogs hunting living creatures. The exceptions are Spain, some North American states and some areas in Canada. In addition, Spain has its own breed of sighthound, the Galgo.

I think in the future many foreign Borzoi owners will test their dogs in the hunting fields of Russia. Nowadays the Finn do it. For Finland, Russia is close and the connections between the people are uncomplicated. In the last year the Finnish owners came to St. Petersburg but unfortunately at that time they found only a few deer in the hunting fields.

So the western borzoi compete with the Russian Borzoi?
Of course! There were a lot of Borzois originated from West. These dogs and their descendants obtained good qualification in the field.

Could it be said that all over the world we could have a general type of Borzoi, small differences included?
I think it is possible. When the people are really interested to do that, we could surely overcome a lot of problems.

Do we have the possibility to influence the National Standard of Borzoi?
Of course. We would like to involve as many experts as possible in this project and spread out the Standard regional. We have a cooperation with many regions, including experts from the Ukraine, White Russia and some other Russian regions far away. We have gathered all the data and are working for a Standard.

The Jermolov Standard is written with characteristic terms for the breeder. That means there are a lot of special words. Will you use these terms in the new Standard?
Unfortunately, nowadays many experts do not know these special terms. So it is a matter of fact that we have to write a Standard understandable for everybody.

What do you do to translate special terms in English?
It is impossible to translate all Russian terms. E.g. we can not translate the word "prawilo" . So a lot of experts from abroad have problems and do not know what it means.

What are the problems concerning evaluations in the field?
One problem is that there are many evaluations that are done by one judge, alone. It is very hard for the judge because he cannot be everywhere and watch everything and evaluate the dogs. So, of course, often claims will be done against the results. And vice versa happens, a judge gives higher points because he will motivate the club members to invite him for the next show. But this is a general problem of Russia.


Translated into German: I. und E. Rostov, Lindenfels (Germany)
Translated from German into English: G.-D. Lissy, Hambach, (Germany)
sent in: V. Stettler, Muttenz (Switzerland)