Borzoi History in Holland (1885-1955)


Mimi and Johan de Leeuw with Ch Slobian Bielaja

Sokol, owner Louis Dobbelman

Holland’s first large breeder of Borzoi was Mr. Louis Dobbelmann of Rotterdam, who also was the largest manufacturer of cigars on the continent. He imported his first foundation stock from Russia. Mr Dobbelman’s life formed quite a saga, as he left his ancestral home in Nijmeugen and migrated to the United States before 1860. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in the 49th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and served the duration of the war as a brigade staff officer. He returned to Holland in 1866 and established his business in Rotterdam.

Ataman II

After his marriage he established his Borzoi kennel, Eldee with Ataman II Ozeroff (Ataman II Gleboff-Almazka), a white dog lightly marked with gold, and was considered one of the best Borzoi to leave Russia. He also brought in Sokol, Elenka (Sokol out of Rossalka), Trojanka and Tjocca.
One of his best was the self fawn bitch, Lornja, who was sired by Ch. Ataman II Ozeroff out of Yessa. Mr. Dobbelman was well known on the continent, where he held as dominant a position in Borzoi as he did in his native land.

The next kennel to reach eminence was that of Gelria founded in 1900 and owned by Mr. Henry van Haeren of Nijmeugen, which was a great force for 10 years until it closed down in 1910.

Mr van Haarens Gelria Borzois at a show in Amsterdam 1907

His foundation came mostly from Russian importations and from the kennels of Mr. Cuvelier of France. Some of his best known Borzoi were Ch. Sergei Gelria (Ch. Fasolt ex Lebedka Gelria) and Ch. Otlai Gelria, a white dog with showy black markings. He bred Natacha Gelria and when bred to Lebedka gave him a number of top winners.

In 1917 Mr. J.F. von Essen, long time president of the Dutch Borzoi Club, brought in from Belgium Ivan Incognitus and the bitch Mirza. He used a great deal of French and English blood in his line, which was one of the most splendid on the continent. He produced the famous Phrynee du Ziesenghem, whelped 2/13/03, white with gold markings, whose sire was a son of the English imported Foulon Wolfruna Karle. The dam was Smeika II du Ziesenghem, who is found behind the great bitch, Mara Slava, who gave a great deal of quality to the old American kennel, Valley Farm.

At the closing of World War I, Mr. & Mrs. van der Berkoff became well-known throughout the world in the Borzoi fancy. They used the affix of Bessberk’s which was derived from part of his name and his wife’s maiden name, which was, von Bessell.
Mr. van der Berkoff also had the affix Achotnik and from him came the great Bedin Achotnik, who came into England just after 1921. Bedin was one of a litter of nine: Bronka, Babuschka, Butterfly, Broski, Boga, Berka, Brailia, Blanks; they were sired by Ch. Almadin Nikolskoi ( Ch. Asmody Perchino ex Ch. Ptitschka Perchino) out of Planja Pascholl ( Boris vom Dom ex Butterfly Ural) and were whelped on July 20, 1919. Most of them were white with red markings.

Bedin is to be found in the pedigrees of such well known studs as Gordey of Addlestone and Ch. Podar of Notts.

Ch Bessberk’s Jermoloff, owned by Mrs De Jonge Kaiser, Nasj Sabiaka

Also other Dutch Borzois were exported to England.



Ch Karsarvin

One was  Ch. Karsarvin whelped January 19, 1917, white with black markings and bred in Mr. W.K.D. Hase’s kennels at Rotterdam. He came to Lieut. James Stuart Castle. Karsarvin was by Slobian Bielaja (Chack Bielaja ex Sacha van der Pequiten Nielaya) out of Thais van Gessenberg (Ataman Sumarokova-Korff ex Troyanka Alexandroff). In the early 1920’s, Holland probably exported more Borzoi than any other country, sending out to Belgium, France,England and America.

Mr & Mrs van der Berkoff’s Bessberk’s Annuschka was the dam of Kolpitz du Zwaenhoek who in turn was the dam of Zohra du Zwaenhoek, a self red bitch imported to America and became one of the most renowned as a foundation bitch for Valley Farm, Vladimir and Romanoff kennels. The Bessberk kennels started with German dogs, having from Mr. Richard Kallmeyer the self black Ajax vom Sachenswald.

Ajax van Sachenswald

They also secured top Borzoi from Dr. Wegener’s Ural kennels, Richard Dix’s Bielaja kennels, and from the Pascholl kennels of Mrs. Else Mann they secured the renowned borzoi, Ch. Sergai Frisia Pascholl.

Ch Sergai Frisia Pascholl

Arsinoe Nikolskoi

Dr. Wegener had done a great deal of importing from Russia having Ch. Asmodey Perchino (Armavir Perchino ex Yalta Perchino), Iran Perchino and Ch. Ptitschka Perchino (Naskok Perchino ex Porkhuschka II Perchino). They also purchased from Mrs. von Vessel, Arsinoe Nikolskoi and Aliaska Nikolskoi, both of which were by Ch. Asmondey Perchino out of Ch. Ptitschka Perchino.

Aliaska Nikolskoi

Some years later the Valley Farm kennels in America imported Aliaska to America. The Bessberk kennels used the two Nikolskoi bitches wisely, breeding Arsinoe to Ajax von Sachenwald (Chack Bielaja out of Ch. Isma Beresina) and got Bessberk’s Circe (exp. USA).

Bessberk’s Ajax

Aliaska was also bred to Ajax and produced Bessberk’s Ajax and Bessberk’s Annuschka; the latter is found in the Valley Farm pedigrees, especially those of Ch. Nastia O’Valley Farm and Taskai O’Valley Farm.

There were in Imperial Russia eight well defined strains, the best individuals of which were combined in the Perchino group. During the difficult time between Abdication and Revolution in Russia, numerous Borzoi were brought through and over the borders to Germany and Holland. Among the breeders who went to this endless trouble and danger to get Borzoi out of Russia was Dr. Wegener, a medical man, who went to Russia for some Perchino Borzoi and brought them across the frontier and through the front lines. This adventure in 1917 is highly romantic and true. It was during these few days, if not a matter of hours, that the last Perchino Borzoi came into the Western World.

Ch Trojanka Krasnoje Selo

The oldest Holland kennel today is that of Krasnoje Selo belonging to Mr. J.H.M. van der Molen, who has had Borzoi all his lifetime, all of his stock stemming from the original Perchino stock and also in his line are to be found American, French and Belgium Ch. Appraxin O’Valley Farm and Int. Ch.Asmodey O’Valley Farm who were at the Belgium du Zwaenhoek kennels. He has a great collection of data and portraits of Borzoi and also knew the old Russian breed authorities when they stayed in Paris as waiters, bus drivers or assistant horse breeders after the Revolution, meanwhile judging at the Western shows. Mr. van der Molen lived on the Dutch border next to Germany and during World War II it was a bitter battle to keep breeding stock alive to the day, when peace came. As a rule the Dutch are serious animal breeders and are known the world over for their Friesian cattle. Only this love of pure bred animals gave them the ingenuity to find the necessary food to pull the dogs through during the occupation. The worst time was from 1940 to the winter of 1944 in the southern part of Holland and the spring of 1943 for the remainder of the country. Mr van der Molen breed several influential Borzois, such as Int Ch Polongai Porchai Krasnoje Selo, owned by vom Bergland kennel and Tobolzkoi Krasnoje Selo,exp to US., siring a litter for the Sunbarr Ranch kennel.

Int Ch Polongai Porchai Krasnoje Selo



Us Ch Tobolzkoi Krasnoje Selo

The Dutch breeders are still considered extremely good at the Continental shows and their stock is used as foundations by many of the great kennels, but unfortunately with the death of Mr. van der Berkhoff the finest of the Dutch kennels closed. Also other wealthy fanciers closed down their activites during the years. This has narrowed the broad breeding base the country formerly enjoyed.  Their dogs still win top honors. At the 1951 important ‘Sieger’ show in Germany the winner was a Holland bred and owned bitch, Int. Ch. and Dutch Ch. Babka Bljetska Krasnoje Selo (Stepnjakov’s Nicolai ex Farlee v Karamassov), a white bitch with grey markings, whelped October 16, 1945, bred by Mr. van der Molen and owned by Mr. A.M. Staffhorst. There is a piquant story back of this grand old lady. As a puppy she was sold but apparantly did not like the new home, for every time it was possible she escaped and the owner had to pay a fee for someone to bring her back. She was eventually sold to a butcher, who admired her and had plenty of meat for her but he soon sold her, and after that she went through several ‘homes’ until at last she was brought to the dog-market at Utrecht to be sold. The youth who would sell her there came past the house of her present owner and saw Borzoi in his garden and went in to ask what price he should ask for Babka. Mr. Staffhorst bought her…and Babka did not reach the dog market and its disgrace. In 1952 at the German ‘Sieger’ show the Holland bred International Ch. Ivanoff van Mitzjoerinsk, bred by Mr. A M Staffhorst, and owned by Elena Vaccino, Italy, was the winner. Ivanoff is a self brindle and is sired by Stepnakov’s Nicholai out of Swinca van Vrenwold, whelped in June of 1947. The best in 1942-1954 at this show was Int. Ch. and Dutch Ch. Anuschka van Lentevreugde, who is Holland bred sired by Ch. Cilly Charley van Vredenwold out of Griscka Grnetta Krasnoje Selo, whelped June 21, 1947, bred by Mr. van Bloemeneael, and owned by Mr. Staffhorst. Anuschka was judged by Mr. Fred Curnow of Woodcourt kennel in England and won her C.A.I.C.B. title and with a bit more ‘joie de vivre’ she could have taken the Hound group. To gain an international title on the Continent a dog must gain four CC’s in three different countries under at least three different judges.

Although Holland did not have many big kennels, it was much better off than Belgium, who had but one breeder of Borzoi at the time.

Ch Sonja van Vredewold

Cilly Charly Van Vredewold

Mr. Boer, who was a butcher, had the Vredewold affix in Holland and started in Borzoi before the war and probably because of his occupation he could afford feeding his dogs, through these hard times. He became very active and produced more litters than any other Dutch breeder from that time onward, using mostly his own stock, excepting two German imports, one of which is Ch. Charley v Baekel (L’Axel de Saratow ex Utretha v Silberhof) in his breeding plans. When he moved to the city he did not have the ground available for many dogs and his breeding activities were curtailed. His two best dogs of the ones he bred are probably  Cilly Charley van Vredewold and the bitch Sonja van Vredewold (Aliaska van Guldenhof-Nedda vom Silberhof).

At the present time Holland breeders are experiencing difficulty in selling their young stock unless they export, as most of the Dutch are still living in two or three rooms as so many of the houses were partially wrecked or completely demolished during the war.

Of all the countries, it was probably Holland that kept in closest contact with the Russian Borzoi activities after the Revolution . The Dutch magazine ‘Der Hunde’ published in their January 25, 1936 issue the following information,which was contributed by Mr. Pachomav:-
” The organization of wolf hunting in Russia is worthy of mention. The hunting, principally in winter, was organized according to the so called ‘Pskov’ method.But, however, this method has been replaced by the Military Association of Hunters, in favor of the ‘Black Track’ method, in which hunting takes place on tracks where there is no snow. This method requires no beaters and allows more initiative to the hunters. About three years ago the Association organized a wolf hunt on a big scale, with three mounted hunters and 15 Borzoi. The chase lasted a month, during which 19 wolves were caught, but the following year the same hunters accounted for 32 wolves.”

Mimi and Johan de Leeuw with puppies out of Slobian Bielaja x Elinka van Wijnberg

The article above was published in Mary Taviners magazine Riders of the Wind in the 1950s. Its a rather personal written article, but very interesting and fun to read. I have taken the liberty to correct faults regarding lineage in some dogs. We know today, for example, that the Ataman II, mentioned, wasn’t from Perchino. Also added links, photos and done some editing to the text.

Dan Persson




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Dan Persson