Until the second part of the 19th century, the concept of standard, as it is conceived today, did not exist in Russia. "The standard was a tradition that was transmitted not by canine societies but by father to son, by connoisseurs and all users" (Prince Serge Kantakouzenos). The first document that is akin to a standard (description of what the Borzoi must be) was written in 1888 by Nikolai Petrovich Ermolov, at the request of the Russian Imperial Society. It was to remain in force in Russia for about thirty years. But other standards was also published during the same period.
The end of the 19th century and especially the beginning of the 20th century saw the acceleration of exports of borzoi from Russia to different countries, particularly Europe and the USA. At the same time breed Clubs are created in some of the country concerned and many Clubs established their own standards. These different standards are more or less well detailed but reveal notable differences. Quickly, the need for international harmonisation appears.
In 1911, the International Cynologique Federation (F.C.I.) was created with the aim of encouraging and protecting cynology and purebred dogs by any means deemed desirable. The founding countries are Germany ("Kartell für das Deutsche Hundewesen et die Delegierten-Commission"), Austria ("Osterreichischer Kynologenverband"), Belgium ("Société Royale Saint-Hubert"), France ("Société Centrale Canine de France") and The Netherlands ("Raad van Beheer op Kynologisch Gebied in Nederland"). The First World War did put an end to this federation.
In 1921, France and Belgium took the initiative to recreate the F.C.I.. As of 1922 the F.C.I. had 18 members.
In 1923, on the initiative of France and Belgium, the international Union of Sighthound Clubs (U.I.C.L.) was founded. Most of the countries in western Europe was gradually associated.
- Conduct :
Before the exhibition in Ghent (Belgium) on November 1923, the U.I.C.L. wrote to the Grand Duke Nicolas Nikolayevich, who at that time was exiled in France, asking him to designate the Russians who would be most capable of judging the Borzoi race at this exhibition. In response, the Grand Duke suggested a college of three judges, in the same way it was done at the demonstrations of the Imperial Society of Moscow ... He designated Mr. Artem Boldareff and the Counts Boris and Dimitri Cheremeteff.
As a result of this exhibition, the lovers of Borzoi were so impressed by the judgement in Ghent, that the U.I.C.L. wrote back to the Grand Duke and asked him to designate a committee to rewrite the standard of the breed for Western Europe. In response, the Grand Duke designates those who had judged in Ghent.
To write this standard, these three specialists decided to base the standard on the one the French sighthound Club had written and published for its own account in 1913 (this document itself supported a description of what was to be the race written in 1896 by Artem Boldareff). Mr. Boldareff and Mr. Cheremeteff, therefore, resumed the 1st French standard by simplifying it and making some additional modifications and clarifications.
This standard was adopted by the General Assembly of the U.I.C.L. which took place in Paris on 20 July 1924 and was made obligatory from 1 January 1925 for all affiliated clubs. It was also approved by the Grand Duke Nicolas.
Note: The F.C.I. had in fact left the U.I.C.L. the burden of establishing the standards for sighthounds up to 1956, when it took over the publications and possible modifications.
- Below is the 1st standard, as proposed in 1924 :
Report of Mr. M. Artem Boldareff, Count Boris Cheremeteff and Count Dimitri Cheremeteff.
Having been instructed by the Assembly of 9 November 1923 in Ghent of the international Union of Sighthound Clubs to express our opinion on the existing BORZOI standards, we have the honour to present the report of our committee. We assumed that it would be practical to rely on the French standard and introduce some modifications. We find that the French standard contained a little too much detail which could have been necessary ten or twelve years ago. We find that the breeders and owners of the Borzoi now have a very clear idea of the race, this seems important to us. These are the changes we have the honour of proposing.
The general appearance is expressed by the very distinguished and noble appearance of the dog as well as by the harmony of its shapes and movements. The general appearance which is the main indicator of the purity of blood should never be sacrificed to perfection of other points, whatever their importance.
Long and narrow, excessively dry and finely chiseled. The skull is as long and as narrow as possible, in proportion to the rest of the body. It ends up with a sharply charged tip. The muzzle is long, narrow and dry with a very light bow before reaching the nose. The teeth adapt regularly without a lower or upper prognathism. The nostrils are above the lower jaw. The nose must be black. The muzzle must not be sharp. To make an ideal head the skull and muzzle must form a very obtuse angle. The eyes close enough and placed at equal distance from the top of the skull and the tip of the muzzle are oblong in shape; dark in color, neither prominent nor sunken. The eyelids must be lined with black. The ears, very mobile, placed high up, pointed, must rest back on the neck. Their finesse is a sign of very pure blood. When the dog's attention is awakened, the Borzoi sometimes raises them, like a horse or even better by erecting it bend the tips slightly forward.
Medium length and without lose skin.
The shoulders are flat, well laid back and cannot be too oblique. The shoulder blades meet almost at the withers.
The back is quite short in the male and gradually arching to the loin to produce a long and graceful curve and not to give the impression of a bump. The bitch's back is less arched than the dog´s. A flat back on a bitch is not a defect. The chest is rather narrow but excessively deep. It sometimes reaches down to the elbows. The ribs are flat or very slightly rounded. This shape of the chest is characteristic to the Borzoi.
The belly is tucked up and completely invisible behind the flanks. The groin is as small as possible in dogs, it can be longer in the bitch, the flanks are strong and stretched to the touch, more spacious in the female than in the male. The loin is quite long, very muscular, arched and passing in a curved line towards the croup, so that the arch of the back, extends into the loin and croup to finish in the back-hand. The croup is long and wide: The four fingers of a man's hand must be able to find place between the bones of the hips.
The front legs are absolutely straight with a flat and dry frame, in no way rounded. Seen from the front they are narrow and in profile they are wide to the shoulder, gradually diminishing to the feet, the elbows are not turned outward but are nevertheless clearly separated from the body. The back is wider than the front hand. The thighs are flat with very wide bones and with very developed, flat, long and firm muscles, the hocks form a more or less accused angle. The thighs cannot be too long and too wide. The hocks must be short. The hind legs must not be too straight. The feet are long, with clenched fingers recalling the feet of the hare. The dog is more plumb on the nails than on the heels.
The tail is one of the characteristic points of the breed. It is worn low at rest and has the shape of a sickle or a sable. It is very flexible and as long as possible. A tail curled or worn higher than it's tailset is a defect. A deflected tail should be considered a beauty defect.
The coat is long. Not woolly, but wavy or large curles with silky reflections. Short hair is a great defect; Small loops or frizz are a beauty defect. Smooth and short on the head, ears and front of the legs, longer and wavy on the back, more curly on the thighs, shorter on the sides, the hair is very long and buckled to the neck where it forms as a sleeve from where the head seems to come out. It is the adornment that is found in the form of increasingly long fringes at the posterior part of the front legs, in the chest, in the back of the thighs and in the tail.
The most popular colors are: white, white with yellow markings, orange, red, brindle or grey. There are often monocolors in these colors. If the dog is colored, its color tends to lighten towards the ends. Color stains should not cut too much on the white background. The white marked with black and black are not appreciated. Black and tan with or without white is a great defect.
Average size: Dogs 75.5 centimeters (17 Verchox); Bitches 71 centimeters (16 Verchox). The largest dogs rarely exceed 82 cetimeters. As a general rule, the greatest height is very appreciated, as long as it doesnt affect the symetry and soundness of the dog.
Signé, the 15 of January 1924 :
Artem BOLDAREFF, Comte Boris CHEREMETEFF, Comte Dimitri CHEREMETEFF.
Photo of Artem Boldareff in hunting uniform holding a svora of white and cream from his old lines
(source : The Perchino Hunt Dimitri Waltzolff - 1913)