Interview with Reg Bassett of Colhugh Kls.



The Borzoi Quarterly

Talks with


A collection of Colhugh borzoi (link to more photos)

This inteview was conducted in the home of Mr Reg A Bassett on July 25 1984 by O W Roamer-Horn

Reg and borzois

How and when did you get started in dogs?

I didn’t start in dogs, I was born in dogs. I can say that because my parents had a little holding which is a small farm. There were always dogs present, little working Spaniels, Whippets, or some such things. When I was in school, I bought my first, or at least my father bought my first Corgi.

That one was also a winner?

Oh yes, because the competition was always my main interest. I kept it for a year or so, then went into Collies. It was a reasonable success, but I always had a passion for the borzoi. Possibly because of the glamour about them and the way they move like they walk on air, that sort of thing. Anyway, I bought my first Borzoi, which was an elderly dog.

What year was this?

Early 60’s.

What was his name?

Lataband Alexi. He wasn’t shown at all, he was used at stud. The person who used him offered me a puppy, and I said “No, one dog is enough”. I was in business at the time and I didn’t have the time to devote to showing him – it was too time consuming. When the old dog died (Alexi) I went to see the people who had bred the litter. I said, “Do you still have the young dog?” and she said, “Yes are you interested in him?” I said that I was and explained how I had lost Alexi and wanted a puppy from him. I saw this dog and bought him, and then the show bug started again. I showed him with mediocre success. I got his championship on him.

What was his name?

Grand Manner of Colhugh, he is the most important dog in my life. I bought a bitch to go with him from Greenhaven kennels, Annika of Greenhaven. She was a very good brood bitch. The first litter produced from them was a litter of nine and I kept two of them; both became champions, Alexi and Tina of Colhugh. Another puppy I sold, Galina, was also an English champion. Two more litters later there were two more champions, Valla and Mia in one litter and Ch Sarclash and Sadko of Colhugh in another. That was their main claim to fame. I kept Tina and Alexi. I sold Alexi when he was a champion to someone in South Africa. From the progeny of this dog, a few years later I bought Ch Wellthornes Tilosky who was nine months old. He was the top dog in England for two years running; he was a great dog. He produced a lot of winners, not only for me but for other people as well. I sold him to Mrs Roth in California, but he wasn’t used extensively after he made American Champion. His bloodline is combined with my own and he has produced a lot of super dogs. He was mated to Dimland Zerlina of Colhugh and produced Kohoutek for my nephew. I got him back and made him a champion. He wasn’t the most wonderful dog in himself but he produced a lot of winners. He was top stud dog for almost three years. He is the grandsire of the dog that took Best of Breed at Crufts and he is the father of Clangers, who is the breed record holder now. Also, quite a number of champions, both here and abroad, including Clangers’ litter brother, who is a World Champion and Chomsky, who is a dear dog in America, whether he is alive, I don’t know.


Have you sold many dogs aboad?

Yes quite a number!

Where does your kennel name come from?

I was born in Wales, and it’s the name of the seafront area – Colhugh. (Named after the Colhugh river that runs down the valley at Llantwit major in South Wales – G Hill).

You just mentioned some dogs which became important for you. Would you say the first was the most important?

The second one, his son.

He put you on the map?

Yes, Grand Manner, he was my first champion in the breed. He was the important one and he produced a lot of stock for me. He was a personality himself because when I took him over he was quite an aggressive type of dog, but with a lot of love and affection, he became the reverse. He was everybody’s friend and every other dog’s friend.

What year did you have your first litter?

About 1967

Could you say offhand how many litters youve had since then?

Approximately 30.

Tell us a little bit about how you keep your dogs, are they in the house or in the kennel building?

They are outside. They have individual type kennels, although there are four runs out here. Each run has decent kennel accommodations and most of the dogs aren’t separated, they are in communities. The show dogs are kept, dogs and bitches, except the old age pensioners. Three or four males are kept together; I wont stand for aggression and I don’t have it.

How do you raise your litters, do you have special program?

Good food is the most important thing.

What do you feed?

Basically meat. I would say about 70% meat biscuits and a lot of goats milk and egg mix.

You have chickens which produce eggs?

Yes, and goats for the milk. The dogs use a lot of goat’s milk, they get for their entire lives.

Do you do any special socializing?

Yes, for about seven or eight months we have been living here on the main road. I take them down the walk and down the drive. That plus the gallop on the paddock next door is all the puppies get. They run and play together. I never bring just one puppy up here, it’s always two, so they can play together. When they are about eight months, I start them in training classes, which is what we call them in this country. One or two nights a week there are training classes for show training. When I first take them they just sit down to get the atmosphere, and then after they have been there a few times and you find that they are ok, they take note of what is going on, I take them out and go through the motions, but never make them do anything. I just encourage them, if they don’t want to move, I don’t push them. Invariably they will want to get up after a few times, which is satisfying because if you try to make a borzoi do something, they just become a zombie. They are just like a dead dog. It usually works, but there are dogs where it doesn’t work at all.

As I look around here, I see some wonderful ribbons and certificates, statues and photos. How many champions have you bred?

I have bred 19

All your kennel name?

Yes, all Colhugh

You exported abroad from these dogs?

A lot, I couldn’t count how many champions there are elsewhere. There are a few in America, on the continent, New Zealand and one in Australia.

How many adults do you usually have at one time?

Maybe ten or a dozen, not including puppies. I try not to have a lot of puppies, maybe one litter a year. You have to accept the responsibilities of the puppies that you bring into the world.

You have to find good homes for them?


How do you feel about culling? Say, maybe you have a big litter of about 10 or 12, would you evaluate?

No, I don’t think you can evaluate a puppy in the first day or so. I have been sadly mistaken many times about a puppy that I thought would be just pet quality. If I had been culling, I would have put it down. Sarclash is a prime example, she was a very small puppy and that would have been one that I would have inclined. I thought I would keep her as a pet, but she turned out to be a champion, and bred me a champion also.


So it is better to be the opposite. At least you didn’t think she was show quality and turned out to be a pet.

Yes, because she was a pet

She wasnt a big bitch, but she was a very sound bitch and she had personality plus.

At what age do you evaluate your pick of the litter?

When they are about a year old. I usually don’t keep just one puppy, as I said, I keep three or four. Then when they are about a year old I decide. Sometimes you keep a puppy just because he has the personality and then it turns out to be quite decent. It is sheer luck.

What would you do if someone came in with a mediocre bitch and wanted to breed from her to your chamion dog?

She could be a mediocre bitch, but she might have a good pedigree. I might if she had some good dogs behind her,

Do you believe in linebreeding?

Oh yes.

Do you ever do outcrossing?

Yes, but not as a common practice. You can inbreed too much or linebreed too much. About every seven years you need new blood. l brought in Tilosky first, then I brought in a Zomahli dog, who was linebred. Zomahli was the top kennel. Lilli Pearson and Keith Prior were in partnership, they produced the Zomahli dogs. Then Lilly died and Keith Prior went to Australia. I bought a puppy from him because I knew he linebred, although it was a completely different line than mine. I went and saw the puppies and bought one; he was nine weeks old. He was the top winning dog in this country last year and so far this year. He was shown on Saturday in Blackpool and got Best of Breed.

Have you ever refused to service a bich?


For what reason?

There were a lot of reasons, There are some people who come that just want to produce a litter of puppies and then want to cash in on using a top stud dog, whether the bitch is suitable or not, or whether they are people suited to the breed. You see so many litters produced for financial gain, and to me the borzoi is not that way at all.

Are you breeding for quality?

Quality is most essential. There is always room for improvement.

When we talk about quality, we must also have to talk about faults. When you have a dog with a serious fault, would you breed it if you thought there was anything outstanding in the dog?

Not if it is a serious fault. There are so many degrees of fault. If it were something very serious I would definitelöy not. I would probably have her spayed and find a suitable home for her.

What would be a serious fault?

That’s difficult to put into words. Something like a bad mouth

Lot of missing teeth; or only overshot or undershot?

I wouldn’t consider a few missing teeth, not lots, but a few as a serious fault because there are so many other things that are so much worse, such as narrow fronts, wry mouths, big bold eyes, thick heads and bad movers.

The dog still has to be functional?

Yes, 100% and I don’t think one or two missing teeth will stop the function of a borzoi, but a bad mouth certainly will.

Do you have different prices for show puppies and pet puppies? What do you usually charge?

If it is a really good puppy, I would say about 150£ to 200£. Less than half of that for a pet quality.

What would you say is a fair price for a stud fee?

I charge what I wouldn’t mind paying myself. For Clangers, who is the record holder now, his stud fee is 125£. He is still used for stud, even though he is an old dog. His latest litter had only three but they were three nice puppies. There is one that I hope to get back.

Could you mention some dogs that really impressed you over the years, either your own dogs or dogs that you saw somewhere else?

Obviously the previous record holder, Ch Zomahli Chernila.

You were really keen on him?

He was a nice dog, yes. Then Mrs McNeil, who is long since dead, she had Barnaigh Vorenoff Bielko. He was a very nice dog. Mrs Jackie Bennet-Heard had some very nice dogs from the Keepers kennel that also is no more. The dog that I particularly like is The Baron. Miss Murray had a very nice bitch, Ch Zest of Fortrouge.


Can you describe your ideal dog?

No, I can’t because if I see something and it’s balanced, that is the most important thing to me. When you see it, and it moves, it floats over the ground.

It must catch your eye.


So, you are not a detail lover?

No, it wouldn’t  be just the detail, You have to see the dog overall, especially our breed.

How do you feel about temperament in the borzoi?

It’s essential. The borzoi is too big a breed to have aggressive temperament. I don’t like a shy dog, but most borzoi can be very aloof.

Aggressiveness would be a serious fault?

The worst fault. They can do so much damage, particularly to a child. It is all right if they are sociable to you, but if you are taking them to a show you have to have temperament. I don’t mind a dog that is slightly reserved, but as far as to the other extreme, when it is aggressive and will pounce on another dog or human being I wouldn’t entertain that at all.

Do you think the standard is a good one, or would you like to have it changed in some way?

The present standard is under revision and the Borzoi Club committee has spent a lot of hours discussing it. It will be quite a good one.

You have been in the breed since the 60s, so you can look back twenty years at it. Has it improved, or do today’s Borzoi lack something.

The breed always lacks something because you always try to improve it, at least I feel I am, Whether I achieve it or not is another thing. On the whole, we have better dogs than we had twenty years asgo, but there is still a lot to be desired.

How do you see the future of the borzoi?


Do you judge abroad? What can you say about the borzoi in other countries?

I have judged in South Africa and in America. The Nothern Borzoi Speciality in California had quite a number of dogs under me. I would say that the presentation in America is far better than in England. I like to present my dogs and I think I could learn a lot from America, which I did try.

What did you like so much about American presentation?

The coats particularly. I wouldn’t say the dogs, themselves, are in the condition of the English dogs, in respect to the fact that they maybe it is hotter and they don’t get so much exercise as ours do. Their condition isn’t quite as hard, but the coats are superb.

What about the handling?

They are overhandled in America. That sounds witchy, I know, but I don’t like to see a dog strung up. I find that most handlers have the dogs leading one hand and the doggy is strung up. To me the dog should be shown on a slack lead and you can see more of the dogs natural outline, and especially on the move, some dogs front feet are not allowed to touch the ground, they just tiptoe along, whereas I would like to see them move on a loose lead and you could see the faults when they are loose in front or whatever else they might be doing. I like to see what it will do naturally; you see that over here.

Do you feel they are presented too fast?

Sometimes, but I ask people to walk slowly or whatever they want to, on a loose lead. I didn’t always get it. I suppose it is what you are used to doing. America is much more professional with their dogs than we are.

Do you think the judging is fair?

Usually yes.

Do you advertise your own dogs in magazines?

Very rarely, even in the annuals I don’t advertise much,

Do you think advertising will help a dog become a champion quicker?

No, the dogs speak for themselves. I don’t believe in campaigning a dog in photographs.

A dog can look totally different in his natural state as opposed to a photo.

A photo can be flattering, can’t it.

Or can be pleasing.

Yes that’s one word for it.

Tell us a little about yourself. You live here, you have a lot of pets around you, you have a little Yorkshire which you rescued, so animals play a great part in your life?

The animals are my life, without a doubt. Without animals I wouldn’t be mobile. I have physical disabilities. The dogs keep me going, without them I would probably pack. I also have cats, and quite a number of goats.

Do you show them too?

I show cats, but not too much.

When you look back over the years that you are in dogs and in pets, would you like to do it over again, do you think it is worth it?

Without a doubt, yes. Because of the friends you meet and the social aspect of showing. It is worth it. You can’t buy that sort of thing. You meet a lot of friends and they are your friends for life.

What would you say to one just starting out?

Study the breed first.

Go to shows and talk to people?

Yes, study the dogs themselves to get an idea of their temperament, because a borzoi is different from any other dog. You can’t push them into anything, you have to lead them and coach them. You have to convince them they are doing the right thing your way. I don’t think everybody is suited to the borzoi. If you have a strong personality, you want something like a German Shepherd or a Doberman, who need a strong handling, but not a borzoi. They respond a lot better to love and affection than to strong commands.

Is there anything that youd like to add, anything youd like to say to the borzoi world here and abroad?


It was great talking to you. I thank you very much for giving us your opinion.

It was my opinion, not a lot of people would agree.

This article was supplied by Lorraine Harvey.

Copyright, the Borzoi Quarterly, Don Hoflin,  deceased. Referance: Lyn Snyder Hoflin.

A tribute to Reg Bassett by Pam Wild



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