The 57th Hound Show in Moscow


The 57th Hound Show in Moscow [21st-22nd June 1986]

Written by Ursula-Vera Trueb, de Norois Borzoi, Switzerland, translated by Jean Vandongen.

Submitted by Sue E.A. Vasick via James Sillers


The show grounds in the green belt surrounding Moscow was an ideal place.  The pine and birchwood surrounds large clearings, the sandy ground of which is covered with rough grass.  The latter had not been cut, but due to the treading of many feet and paws, it was reduced to a comfortable carpet.  Overall, a most beautiful midsummer sunshine. The rings were of impressive size, and defined by ropes on which danced little red flags.  In the middle was the judges table, chairs, and here and there a sunshade.

All this is similar enough to what we are used to – except for the size of the rings.  What’s different is, for instance, the catalog, which is a 393 pages thick book [price 3 rubles] in which are listed all the hounds registered and living in the area of Moscow on the 1st January of the year, including names of sire and dam, name and address of the owner, and also the qualification [conformation and hunting trial result] already obtained, everything complete in alphabetical order and numbered.  But these numbers are neither attached to the exhibitor or the exhibit; both are in the ring without a particular identifying mark.  The entries have to be made about 3 months prior to the date of the show, and the application form has to be accompanied by the original pedigree.  Fee for entering: 3 rubles.

The dogs are divided into the classes [males and females]: up to 1-1/2 years, from 1-1/2 to 3 years, and over 3 years.  The results rank from ‘excellent’ [30 points], ‘very good’ [25 points], ‘good’ [20 points], and ‘satisfying’ [15 points]. Males and females are judged separately. There are no benches or cages, but the possibilities to secure the dog are practically unlimited, as the place is immense and there are enough strong trees giving shade and shelter.  The show opens its doors at 8 a.m., and all dogs have to go through a veterinary inspection.  Judging started at 10 a.m. and lasted up to 8 p.m.

Russian show

How is the judging done? The dogs are presented by their owner – or any suitable person – on a lead. They are walked at a brisk pace on and on, all around the ring. Depending on the number of dogs in one class, this ‘walk’ can last up to two hours! In the center of the ring, the judge, his pupils [i.e. the judges to be] and the secretary watch the dogs as they pass in front of them. The soundness and the condition soon show up; the well trained, fit dog will be able to keep a floating pace and an attentive bearing during the whole time, while others soon start to slump along with heads low, looking bored and exhausted, some even stopping all of a sudden, refusing to move any further.

I watched with admiration a young black/white bitch which during an hour never once tripped over her feet, and kept up an effortless, light gait, attentive and proud bearing. Her owner leading her deserved some appreciation, too, as she kept walking quietly, never looking to the right or left, fully concentrated on her exhibit.

standing to be judged

Once the judge had made up his mind regarding the class, every dog has to stand on a board lying on the ground at a suitable distance from the judge. It is led there and left to stand ‘as nature made it’, with loose lead; there’s no positioning or stacking or other help given to it to make it look ‘more beautiful’.  The judge then dictates his comments to the secretary. Subsequently, the sheet is handed over to the exhibitor together with the pedigree on which the dog’s qualification has been inscribed.  Should the owner refuse this inscription for some reason of his own, he cannot show the dog for a period of two years. Complaints appear to be rather seldom, and angry shoutings of frustrated exhibitors are rather a rarity.  Obviously the dogs – that is, maintaining the breed’s integrity and the elimination of whatever faults might have crept in – are the dominant concern of the judges as well as the dog owners/breeders.

I watched with interest the coming of the exhibitors; some led their dogs in by beautifully braided leashes, others were attached to a string or a leather lead.  But an amazing number were running loose! It was an astonishing sight to see the quiet, instinctively right attitude and behavior of these dogs; they greeted each other, took a sniff here and there, wagged tails, did a bit of playing, and then hastened to rejoin their owner. Only on the Terrier and Laiki [plural of Laika] side the picture was less peaceful! They were obviously fighting offstage, with a barking and snarling competition!

All in all, there were 21 breeds: Borzoi, Russian-European Laika, Finnish Carelian Laika, Russian Foxhound, English-Russian Foxhound, Estonian Hound, wire and short haired Fox terriers, long and short-haired Dachshunds, Welsh terriers, German Hunting terriers, Pointers, English, Irish and Gordon Setters, German Shorthair Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Russian Hunting spaniel, and English Cocker spaniel. All together, there were exactly 1,776 hounds present. Most interesting as guests were a few original Tazy and Taigan from the region of Samarkand; both of these breeds are on the verge of extinction.

Although the Borzoi is my specialty, I dare say that the overall quality of the exhibits left a most positive impression.  Never before had I seen so many animals in such good condition with such good temperaments and a natural readiness to obey.  A pleasing sight, indeed! A word also should be said of the exhibitors, all without exception hunters for the love of the sport.  Aside from the Borzoi, I liked particularly the Setters, the huge Foxhounds and, best of all, the Laiki of Western Asia.  As a group, the Laiki were represented by several breeders, several hundred dogs altogether.  They were most impressive and certainly knew what they were on earth for.  It was also obvious that they were cherished and highly appreciated by their owners.


I was particularly fascinated by the Laiki of Western Siberia. These were a smaller edition of a wolf, carrying the tail on the back, with a rather broad but elegant head with slanting eyes, powerful jaws, pricked ears, a very strong neck and forequarters, while the rear end appeared to be slightly higher and less strong in comparison.  The whole picture gives the impression of enormous strength and stamina.  The furry coat, too, is mostly wolf colored which is a mixture of grey, brown and black, lightening up towards the extremities.  Some of the ‘wolves’ were snow white with black eyes and nails, others more or less spotted.  That they were nearer to the feral canine state than domestic was obvious, and no stranger would have dared to pet them.  Yet towards their master and family they behaved extremely well, guarded their belongings complete with babies in diapers, and obeyed remarkably well.

The show ended on Sunday afternoon with the distribution of prizes: gold and silver medals as well as prizes of honor, and special prizes.  Then there was a great parade of the best hounds, that is all those who received the qualifications ‘excellent’ and ‘very good’.  Behind the green banner of the Hunters and Fishers Association of Moscow, the different breeds followed in groups, the first being the Borzois. An impressive crowd of people had gathered on both sides of the wide alley to watch and applaud.

As for me, it was a most pleasing experience to see at the head of the Borzoi group the fourth Champion daughter of the bitch Barynia de Norois, who I had sent to Moscow eleven years ago.  She was followed by a young male of little more than 2 years of age, bred by the same family, at the collar of which glittered his first gold medal.

No doubt, this show was worth the journey and, as far as I am concerned, this was the most interesting, instructive and beautiful experience for me related to a dog show in the last 25 years!


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Sue Vasick