The French Borzoi Standard of 1913


The French Borzoi standard (1913).

General Appearance – Strong, noble and elegant. These last two qualities are especially evident in the shape of the head, in the gloss and silkiness of the coat and in the gait which is at once so energetic and so graceful. The overall expression is that of a very distinguished and aristocratic dog, self-confident, aware of his strength and beauty, unconcerned about what is going on in his immediate vicinity and with a slightly disdainful gaze that is most often directed into the distance. He is not interested in anyone other than his master, and is unfamiliar with dogs of other breeds. At rest, their calm dignity and sphynx-like appearance are characteristic, giving no hint of their very fast pace, fiery ardor when hunting, or their skill and agility.

The general appearance, which is the principal indicator of purity of blood and adherence to the true type, must never be sacrificed to the perfection of other points, however important they may be.

Head – Long and narrow, excessively lean and finely chiselled, the network of veins clearly visible.

The skull is as long and as narrow as possible, ending in a sharp and rather abrupt point. This is very typical. The muzzle is as long as possible, narrow and dry, with a very slight arc before reaching the nose. The jaws are powerful and well muscled. The teeth are strong and healthy, fitting evenly and not undershot or overshot. The nostrils are rather wide, extending beyond the lower jaw. The nose should be black. The muzzle should not be pointed. To make an ideal head, the skull and muzzle should form a very obtuse angle, with a slight fall below the superciliary arches. The arched (not curved) topline is very typical, but this must not be exaggerated, otherwise this primordial quality degenerates into a fault.

The eyes, fairly close together and set at equal distance from the top of the skull and the tip of the muzzle, are oblong (the oblique eye is defective and the round eye is not typical), dark in colour, placed flush the head, neither prominent nor recessed. The eyelids are rimmed with black and the look is both austere and deep.

The ears are as small as possible, thin, very mobile, set high, ending in points, resting back on the neck and almost touching behind the occiput. Their fineness is proof of very pure blood. When the dog’s attention is aroused, the Borzoi sometimes wears them erect, like a horse. The hair on the ears is short and soft as satin.

Neck – Of medium length (a little longer in bitches than in dogs) and absolutely without dewlap. It is more arched and less long than that of the greyhound, because it will have to seize a stronger game and less close to the ground.

Body – The shoulders are flat, lean, well defined and sloping. The shoulder blades meet almost at the withers.

The back is fairly short in the male and arches gradually towards the loins, producing a long, graceful curve and not giving the impression of a hump. This arch makes the back appear higher than it really is. Bitches have less arched backs than dogs. A flat back is not a fault. The breast is rather narrow in the brust, but excessively deep. It goes down to the elbows, sometimes even below. The ribs are flat or very slightly rounded, much less so than in the greyhound. This chest shape is characteristic. It gives a lot of room to the heart and lungs, while giving the dog great speed and agility, and allowing him to slip right up close to the wolf at the moment of capture. The ribs gradually taper towards the belly.

The belly is tucked up and completely invisible behind the flanks. The groin is as small as possible in the dog, perhaps longer in the bitch. The flanks are strong and taut to the touch, more spacious in females than in males.

The loins are fairly long, very muscular, arched and curved towards the croup, so that the arch of the back extends into the loins and croup and ends in the hindquarters. This is a very important element in the fast propulsion of the Borzoi. A short, plunging loins is a great fault, because, as a result of this conformation, the hind legs are completely straight. The croup is long and broad (a man’s hand should be able to fit between the hip bones), more sloping in dogs than in bitches.

Limbs – The front legs are absolutely straight, with an excessively flat and lean bone structure, in no way rounded. Seen from the front they are narrow, and seen in profile they are broad at the shoulder gradually tapering to the feet. The elbows are not turned outwards, but are nevertheless clearly away from the dog’s body. In a word, the dog is neither underneath him, which would be detrimental to the depth of the chest, nor loosed.

The hind-quarters are a little wider than the fore-quarters. This impression is obtained by looking at the dog from behind. At rest, the hind legs are set slightly back (but not much). The thighs are flat with very broad bones and very well developed muscles, flat, long and firm. The hocks are bent, but not excessively so. Legs that are too straight suggest a lack of speed and, by not continuing the curve of the back and hindquarters, destroy the perfect harmony of the Borzoi’s body.

This general line of the body is completed by the dog’s position on its feet. The Borzoi is more upright on its nails than on its heels. The feet are shaped like a “hare’s foot”, with toes of medium length, arched, tight, well closed, with thick soles and small tufts of hair that seem to emerge from between the toes. The lower part of the foot has a shape oblong.

Tail – The tail is one of the breed’s distinguishing features. It is carried low at rest and is shaped like a scythe. Very supple and as long as possible. It should at least reach the spine when, passing it between the thighs, it was brought up the flank. The tail is thin, but fairly strong at the base and gradually tapering to the tip. It is covered with curly hair at the base and then trimmed with a long, wavy fringe. A tail ending in a ring or carried higher than its base is a fault.

Coat – The coat is long (not woolly) with silky highlights, wavy or with large curls. Small curls or frizz is a fault. Short coat is a large fault. Smooth and short on the head, ears and front of the legs, more wavy on the back, curlier on the thighs, shorter on the sides, the coat is very long and curly on the neck, where it forms a muff from which the head seems to emerge. This is the ornament found in the form of increasingly long fringes on the back of the front legs, the chest, the back of the thighs and finally the tail.

Colour – The most popular colours are single-coloured white, white with yellow markings, orange, tan, brindle and grey. There are sometimes single-coloured dogs in these colours. These dogs (unicolours) must never have the same colour all over their body. The head, chest, belly and lower legs should be lighter than the back and body. The coat must be very coloured close to the body and its end lighter. White with black markings is not appreciated. Single-coloured black and black and tan with or without white are not acceptable.

Size – Minimum size: dogs 70 centimetres (15.75 vershoks), bitches 65 centimetres (14.63 vershoks). Average size: dogs 75.5 centimetres (17 vershoks), bitches 71 centimetres (16 vershoks).

Bitches are on average 5 centimetres less than dogs. The largest dogs rarely exceed 80 centimetres. As a general rule, larger size is highly valued as long as it is not acquired at the expense of symmetry, speed and stamina.



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Arvid Andersen