Until the second half of the 19th century, the notion of standard, as we understand it today, did not exist in Russia. “The standard was a tradition that was transmitted not by canine societies but from father to son by knowledgeable breeders and all users” (Prince Serge Cantacuzène). The first document that resembles a standard (description of what the Borzoi should be) was written in 1888 by Nicolaï Petrovich Ermolov, at the request of the Russian Imperial Society. It will remain in force in Russia for about thirty years. But other standards will also be published during this same period.
The end of the 19th century and especially the beginning of the 20th century saw the acceleration of Borzoi exports from Russia to various countries, particularly Europe and the USA. At the same time Breed Clubs are created in each country concerned and each Club establishes its standard for its own account. These different standards are more or less well detailed and reveal notable differences. Quickly, the need for supra-national harmonization appeared.
In 1911, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (F.C.I.) was created with the aim of encouraging and protecting cynology and purebred dogs by all 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“). But the First World War put an end to this federation.
In 1921, France and Belgium took the initiative to recreate the F.C.I.. From 1922 the FCI had 18 members.
In 1923, again on the initiative of France and Belgium, the International Union of Greyhound Clubs (U.I.C.L.) was founded. Most Western European countries will gradually join it.
Before the exhibition in Ghent (Belgium) in November 1923, the U.I.C.L. wrote to the Grand Duke Nicolas Nicolaïevich who was at that time exiled in France, to ask him to designate the Russians who would be the most capable of judging the Borzoi breed at this exhibition. In response, the Grand Duke suggests a college of three judges, in the same way as was done at the events of the Imperial Society of Moscow… He appoints Mr. Artem Boldareff and Counts Boris and Dimitri Cheremeteff.
Following this exhibition, Borzois enthusiasts were so impressed by the Ghent judgment that the U.I.C.L. wrote again to the Grand Duke asking him to appoint a committee to rewrite the breed standard for Western Europe. In response, the Grand Duke designates those who had judged in Ghent.
To write this standard, these three specialists will base themselves on the standard that the Club du Lévrier Français had drawn up and published for its own account in 1913 (this document itself being based on a description of what the breed should be written in 1896 by Artem Boldareff). MM. Boldareff and Cheremeteff, therefore take up the 1st French standard by simplifying it and bring some modifications and additional clarifications.
This standard is adopted by the general assembly of the U.I.C.L. which is held in Paris on July 20, 1924 and is made compulsory from January 1, 1925 for all affiliated clubs. It is also approved by the Grand Duke Nicolas.
Note: the F.C.I. actually left the U.I.C.L. responsible for establishing standards for greyhounds until 1956, when it took over their publications and any modifications.
Here is the 1st standard, as it was proposed in 1924:
Report by Mr. M. Artem Boldareff, Count Boris Cheremeteff and Count Dimitri Cheremeteff.
“Having been instructed by the Assembly of the International Union of Greyhound Clubs in Ghent on 9 November 1923 to express our opinion on the existing borzoi standards, we have the honor to present the report of our commission. We assume that it would be practical to base ourselves on the French standard while introducing some modifications. We find that this standard contains a little too much detail which could have been essential ten or twelve years ago, but at a time when Borzoi enthusiasts have a very clear idea of the breed, these details seem superfluous. Here are the modifications that we have the honor to propose”.
The general appearance is expressed by the very distinguished and noble appearance of the dog as well as by the harmony of its forms and movements. General appearance which is the main indicator of blood purity should never be sacrificed for the perfection of other points, no matter how important.
Long and narrow, excessively dry and finely chiselled. The skull is as long and narrow as possible, in proportion to the rest of the body. It ends with a sharp point. The muzzle is long, narrow and lean with a very slight arch before reaching the nose. The teeth adapt regularly without undershot or overshot. The nostrils extend beyond the lower jaw. The nose should be black. The muzzle should not be pointed. To make an ideal head the skull and the muzzle must form a very obtuse angle. The eyes fairly close together and placed equidistant from the top of the skull and the tip of the muzzle are oblong in shape; dark in color, set flush with the head, neither prominent nor recessed. The eyelids should be edged in black. The ears, very mobile, set high, ending in points, should rest back on the neck. Their finesse is proof of very pure blood. When the dog’s attention is aroused, the Borzoi sometimes carries them straight, like a horse or even better when training them, he lowers the points slightly forward.
Of medium length and without baleen.
The shoulders are flat, well drawn and cannot be too oblique. The shoulder blades almost meet at the withers.
The back is quite short in the male and gradually arching towards the loins to produce a long, graceful curve and not giving the impression of a hump. The female dog has a less arched back than the dog. A flat back with her is not a defect. The chest is rather narrow in the chest but excessively deep. It sometimes goes down to the elbows. The ribs are flat or very slightly rounded. This shape of the chest is characteristic of the borzoi.
The belly is turned up and quite invisible behind the flanks. The groin is as small as possible in the dog, it can be longer in the female dog, the flanks are strong and taut 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, continues in the loin and the croup to end in the hindquarters. The croup is long and wide: the four fingers of a man’s hand must be able to find space between the hip bones.
The front legs are absolutely straight with a flat, dry bone structure, not rounded. Seen from the front they are narrow and seen from the side they are broad at the shoulder, gradually tapering to the feet, the elbows not turned outwards but nevertheless clearly separated from the body. The hindquarters are wider than the forehand. The thighs are flat with very wide bones and provided with very developed muscles, flat, long and firm, the hocks form a more or less pronounced angle. The thighs cannot be too long and too wide. Barrels should be short. The hind legs should not be too straight. Feet are long, tight-toed, reminiscent of hare’s feet. The dog is more upright on the nails than on the heels.
The tail is one of the characteristic points of the breed. It is carried low when at rest and has the shape of a sickle or a scimitar. It is very flexible and as long as possible. A tail curled or carried higher than its base is a fault. A crooked tail should be considered a beauty defect.
The hair is long. Not woolly, silky, wavy or wide curls. Short hair is a great fault; small curls or crimps are a beauty defect. Smooth and short on the head, ears and front of the legs, longer and wavy on the back, curlier on the thighs, shorter on the sides, the coat is very long and curly at the neck where it forms like a muff where the head seems to come from. It is the finery that we find in the form of increasingly long fringes on the back part of the front legs, on the chest, on the back of the thighs and on the tail.
The most popular colors are: plain white, white marked with yellow, orange, red, brindle or grey. There are often unicolors in these colors. If the dog is colored, its color tends to lighten towards the extremities. The color spots should not stand out too clearly against the white background. The white marked with black and the black unicolor are little appreciated. Black and tan with or without white is a major fault.
Average size: dogs 75.5 centimeters (17 verchox); female dogs 71 centimeters (16 verchox). The largest dogs rarely exceed 82 centimeters. As a general rule, the largest size is highly valued as long as it is not acquired at the expense of the symmetry of the individual.
Signed, January 15, 1924:
Artem BOLDAREFF, Count Boris CHEREMETEFF, Count Dimitri CHEREMETEFF.