Remarks on the borzoi awards in Kassel by General Georgi K von Meyer


When, at the request of Dr. A. Wegener, I took over the judging of borzoi (Russian sighthounds) at the exhibition in Kassel, I was most anxious to see how the type and conformation of our Russian borzoi bred in Germany had progressed and how our beautiful breed had developed under the care of German fanciers. Of the 30 Russian borzois exhibited, only 2, “Asmodej” and “Ptitschka”, were born in Russia; all the others were born in Germany. I made the expertise in the way it is usual for us in Russia; I had each dog shown to me individually and made points for the following characteristics: Front feet, hind feet, chest, back, head, ears, eyes, tail and general appearance.Through this kind of expertise, the borzoi owner gets to know exactly the shortcomings and good features of a dog, since the same are evaluated in detail with points by the judge.

If it seems that I was too strict in my expertise, please believe me that I was far from criticizing the Russian borzoi born abroad, as far as I only wanted to point out the features that our Russian borzoi breeder demands from a Russian borzoi in order to further draw their attention to the defects that can spoil their own type of Russian borzoi in the future.I was able to see for myself the high level of breeding in your country, and I was truly touched to see the warm love with which our borzoi is cared for and looked after in Germany.

Strictly speaking, one can find faults in every animal, but I do not want to get lost in details of every single dog, but allow me to express only my opinion about the dogs exhibited and the demands which our experts in Russia make on Borzoi.I must frankly confess that I found some such excellent dogs bred by you, which exceeded my expectations to a great extent, for they were tall in stature, possessed splendid coats, the breed was purely preserved; but I find the bitches less good than the males. Your dogs, by the way, are very good at this size, which is also much appreciated in our country, but only if the build is also beautiful. One should be careful in striving for size, because our breeders have experienced that the large dogs rarely have a beautiful conformation; the hind legs are bad more often than the front legs, the back unattractive, the chest small and the head shapelessly large and heavy.

“Ideal head” drawn by Georgi K von Meyer

The head must be lean, regular, long and not broad at the forehead.The eye should be large, expressive and dark.We pay special attention to the ears. The ears should be small and nicely set, as in Nos. 1 and 1a, and are very much appreciated by us when they “stand up” in affect as in the horse, as in No. 2, since they then characterize the dog as fiery and irritable.

Broad-set ears, like No. 3, show impure breed, and low-set ones, like No. 4, the sluggish character of a dog.


The tail not only adorns the dog, but serves as a steer to it when galloping, and is regular when its length is like No. 5 and when it is sickle-shaped like No. 5.

When the dog is trimming, the tail must not be curled in profile, like No. 6, nor drooping when walking, like No. 7,  otherwise indicating limpness and lack of energy in the dog, when viewed from behind, the tail must be straight and not falling to one side, like No. 8.

Since in our country the Borzoi is mainly used as a hunting dog, we focus our attention on regular construction of the feet, back and chest. If we criticize the head, eyes, and ears as bad, the dog may well be an excellent racer in spite of these faults; but this proves that the breed is then not pure, possesses mixed blood, or is out of its kind.The forefeet must be straight and without bend, like No. 9; seen en face, they are regular standing like No. 10, abnormal like No. 11, and quite bad like No. 12. The shoulders must be like No. 13 and not straight, like No. 13a.More important than the front, are the hind feet, because they must develop the greatest strength and endurance when running.The hind feet must be like No. 14; the nearer they come to the straight line, like No. 15, the worse they are; seen from behind, they must not be like No. 16 or 16a.The back is normal when it begins at the withers as in No. 17; in the male it must be like No. 17; bad and weak it is like No. 18.A straight back, like No. 19, is among the bad in the male, but is permissible in the bitch.The croup is normal in slope the nearer it approaches No. 20; if it approaches No. 21, the worse it is.The rib cage is estimated at the least depth, like No. 22, but even better if it reaches the depth as in No. 23; if it is similar to No. 24, it is counted among the serious faults.

These are the borzoi here, which are criticized and rated worse because of their physique.It goes without saying that there is no such thing as an impeccably built dog, because there is something to criticize in everyone, but those faults which show the mixture with other blood and which he could pass on to his offspring must be avoided. Those faults which are the result of unsuccessful crossbreeding must be eliminated by good choice of male to female and female to male.


The feet are improved by exercise of the dog, by movement; everything else by selection of suitable males and females. It is said that the young dog inherits the front half from the father and the back half from the mother, but this is absolutely not always true. In general it is probably a freak of nature, but I have noticed that thoroughbreds inherit most emphatically.

My opinion is that if you want to preserve the breed and form of the Borzoi, you must have better bitches. For your males, you must have less large females, but with more beautiful head and feet and with better inclination of the croup like No. 20. Then I will be able to say with justification: If our national Russian borzois should disappear in Russia, we can find them again in you.

Kieff, February 12, 1914, General Georgi de Meyer

“Ideal Borzoi” drawn by Georgi K von Meyer



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