Valley Farm Imports (by Sue E.A. Vasick)


Valley Farm Imports

© by Sue E.A. Vasick


Valley Farm Russian Imports

Valley Farm lineup 1905

Valley Farm Kennels are well known for their special type of Borzoi and to this day the name O’Valley Farm (or OVF) brings thoughts of solid, well coated, sound and strong Borzoi to the mind of breeders and researchers who have been in this breed longer than, say, twenty years. The Romanoff kennel of Louis Murr was founded on the roots of Valley Farm Borzoi and went quite a way to perpetuate the old bloodlines for many years. Several more contemporary kennels took over from there, mostly the Tam-Boer kennels of Leonard and Elizabeth Tamboer, later joined by their daughter Lena Tamboer and sometimes co-owner Jessie Hamersma. Majenkir Kennels based their foundation on the Romanoff lines, thereby continuing on the Valley Farm tradition, as did severalother kennels in the 60s and later the 70s.

Valley Farm Kennel based their success on treasured Russian imports not from the Imperial Kennels where most Borzoi of that time came from, but from the more exclusive Perchino and Woronzova kennels farther in land. Here Joseph B Thomas, Jr. found what he called his “ancient type”of Borzoi, a look he was sure existed but he was having a dickens of a time finding. He hit the mother lode at both Perchina and Woronzova(Artem Boldareff) and the rest is history.

Joseph B Thomas

It’s interesting to note some early writings by Thomas and others of that era in that they describe true working Borzoi as wolf hunters and some physical descriptions mention the height of the dogs, some being as tall as 33″ for the males and 30″ for the females! This certainly shoots down any illusions that the hunting Borzoi of Russia were “small” and that those larger hunting Borzoi who were even Gold and Silver Medal winners couldn’t move efficiently!

Valley Farm Broschure

For those new in the breed, Valley Farm Kennels was “the” Borzoi kennel of its time. Back then, Borzoi were called Russian Wolfhounds and they were not only bench champions at Valley Farm but they proved themselves by hunting as well. The Valley Farm dogs were strong, well-built animals with good bone, nice spring of rib, decent forechest, sound conformation and excellent breed type. Joseph B. Thomas, Jr. was very particular about what Valley Farm Russian Wolfhounds should look like and he bred only the best to the best. A survey of the AKC studbooks through the time of the Valley Farm era shows an incredible numbers of litters being born to the prefix, but one has to remember, back there it was fairly common for certain kennels to bred multitudes and to keep nearly100 dogs on the premises at all times. Because of the lack of vaccinations and the toll that diseases took, many times the dogs would not survive to adulthood.

Valley Farm, advert

At one point, Valley Farm put out a booklet which is in this day quite a collector’s item. It is an historical booklet with many old, old photographs in it and several very old articles. The frontispiece states that Valley Farm Kennels were “the largest breeders and exhibitors of Russian Wolfhounds in the world”, and lists as owners not only Joseph B.Thomas, Jr. but also Ralph H. Thomas, Douglas Dodge, Howard H. Mossman and Chauncey J. Hamlin. They state that they have on the property from 50 to 100 Wolfhounds of different ages and that the price of “mature stud dogs, brood bitches, bitches in whelp, hunting dogs, companions, etc. is a matter of correspondence, ranging from $100 up.” Puppies at three months of age were priced at $50. Quite a difference from this day and age when puppies can easily cost $1,000 or more!


One of the articles in this booklet was written by Mr. Thomas himself, entitled “Advent of the ideal ‘Ancient Type’ to America”. The preface to this article states, “Being dissatisfied with the rather hazy information about the Russian Wolfhound in their native country, Mr. Joseph B. Thomas Jr. of the Valley Farm Kennels has taken two trips to Russia, in 1903 and 1904. His discoveries were placed before American fanciers in the Illustrated Sporting News for December 26, 1904, under the title of “The Ideal Borzoi – Russian Wolfhound.” His article documents the 1903 visit that Mr. Thomas made to Russia and I thought it would be of interest to many of our readers. This article covers time spent in Russia searching for a particular type, including a visit to the elusive Perchino Kennels. Anyone who knows anything of the history of our beloved breed knows that Borzoi from the Perchino kennel were revered.

The Perchino kennel was famed as a hunting kennel in Russia, with their dogs not only hunting the fox and hare but the ferocious and powerful Russian wolf, as well, and winning many Gold and Silver Medals with their Borzoi. I find it very interesting, myself, to see that even back in 1903 our breed was being called Borzoi, not just Russian Wolfhound. Here is the article; please note that the punctuation and spelling is exactly as placed in the article:

“There is a standard by which we have tried (most of us) to breed the Borzoi but so widely have this standard and the hounds at our disposal differed that to arrive at the ideal seemed an almost impossible task. This lack of hounds approaching this ideal has caused much ignorance and controversy, both in England and America, as to what type to breed. Much discouragement to the breed has been the outcome of this lamentable state of affairs. Determined to clear up certain facts, concerning which we have in print, never seen anything but controversy and determined to as certain what type should be bred and if the specimen approaching the ideal could be obtained, we sailed for England and Russia in early July1903.

“Three weeks spent in vain effort to find something definite in type convinced us that England was little, if any, better off in borzoi than were the States. The principle kennel is mainly notable for the size and coarse aspects of its dogs, which characteristic, coupled with the bad running gear of many specimens, make them anything but a coursing hound. Coarse heads with prominent stops were here in evidence. Hardly following the standard, this. The minor kennels, too, were notable mainly for the lack of type and “cachet” in many of their representatives.

“Early August saw us at St.Petersburg and here we nearly gave up our search for the ideal, for on visiting the Imperial Kennels, at Gatchina, near the capital, we saw only two out of eighty grown hounds that we should have liked to possess but what was more discouraging than this was the fact that no distinct type was visible. On the contrary, some had fairly good heads, while others were absurdly poor. The reason for the lack of type in England and America was immediately patent, as more specimens have gone to these countries from the Imperial Kennels than from any other kennel. Fortunately, in spite of further disappointments, we did not relinquish our quest until we had visited the kennel of the Grand Duke Nicolai Nicolaivitch and that of Mr. and Mrs. Artem Boldareff.

Perchino Estate

“Leaving Moscow late one evening, the next morning found us at Tula, a town some hundreds of versts south of the ancient capital and three hours in a troika, across a trail of the steppes, finally brought us to Perchina, the Grand Ducal hunting lodge.

Here averitable surprise and reward for all our trouble awaited us for, met by Monsieur DimitryWaltzoff (Chef du Comptoir), a most amiable fancier and judge, we had the pleasure of being conducted through a kennel containing the finest collection of dogs of any one breed we have ever seen.

“Marvellous, is the only adjective that will qualify here. Imagine a hundred grown hounds, all stamped with the hallmark of the “ancient type”, the type that we have all read about but rarely, if ever, seen. Fine long, “dry” heads of straight lines, great bone and muscle, depth of chest, thickness of loin and general appearance of strength, with a coat of extraordinary length; in fact, the theoretical standard, we have all been so confused over, reproduced in practical perfection.

The Hall at Perchino Estate


Ch Sorva of Woronzowa

“Such dogs we found also possessed by Artem Boldareff  at Woronzova, in the Province of Tamboff, from Tula, a fourteen hour trip over the route taken by the Trans-Siberian express. The hounds at Perchina vary in color from white to dark tan, while the Boldareff kennel is especially notable for its white hounds and for their magnificence of coat. One’s first thought is, why have not English and American breeders secured specimens of these dogs and why has not more been heard of them? There are three potent reasons answering this query. Primarily, these wonderful kennels are very remote from the ordinary traveled route; secondarily, owing to the English dog quarantine laws, very few borzoi have in recent years left Russia; and, thirdly, years ago when exportations did take place, this type practically did not exist.“Nearly four score years ago the “ancient type” did exist; then began a mania for “improvement”, which provided nothing more or less than the general spoilation of the race so that from that time up to this recent regeneration brought about by the Grand Duke and Mr. Boldareff,

Russian kennels in general contained hounds similar to those in the Imperial Kennels of today. The short-coated white Polish, his cousin, the English greyhound and the long-eared Crimean hounds supplied the foreign blood. What the effect of this promiscuous crossing had on the “ancient type” is only too evident; prominent stops, poor coats, large ears, short and gaily carried tails were the most prominent legacies of the foreign invasion, not to mention a motley and ill-bred appearance in the packs. Nineteen years ago the Grand Duke Nicholai gathered the progenitors of his now wonderful kennel. Eight years ago he won his first gold medal at Moscow – the first, by the way, which had been awarded for twenty years.

Bistri of Perchina

“To briefly explain the method of regeneration, it is only necessary to state that it was brought about by a violent out-cross; for example, a strain containing Russian and English blood was crossed with another strain containing Russian and Crimean blood. Some of the progeny of such crosses reverted to the “ancient type” and by the most careful selection of these, for years in succession, the above-mentioned results were brought about. In the last seven years the Grand Duke has won, in the single class, seven out of eight gold medals ever offered at Moscow and three out of the five gold medals for wolf teams (two dogs and a bitch). The other two gold medals for teams have been won by hounds of Mr. Boldareff’s breeding. We know very well that some skeptic will ask how it happens that so little has ever been seen or heard of these extraordinary dogs. May we ask the question, how many borzoi authorities have ever visited Russia and — what is more to the point — how many have ever visited the kennels we mention and in recent years? We have already said that ten years ago the type did not exist in large numbers; even today it is held practically in two kennels and from these two kennels no good hounds ever are sold, except as a special favor or mark of courtesy.

Ch Bistri of Perchina

To say the least, we were very much flattered in being able to secure from the kennels of the Grand Duke such a dog as the white and brindle Bistri Perchino, by Almaz Perchino, winner of the Gold Medal in single and team classes, out of Ptachka and with every grand sire and dam a Silver Medal winner.

Sorva of Woronzowa

Letter from J B Thomas

Pedigree of Marksman & Tsaretsa







“From the Boldareff kennels we were fortunate enough to be able to purchase the Great Silver Medal white bitch, Sorva of Woronzowa, by Lioubezny (Bodlareff), the winner of the Great Silver Medal — the prize thrice a Silver Medal winner and pronounced the best all-white dog in Russia. Atamanka is litter sister to the Gold Medal team winner, Korotai Perchino, the best-coated and perhaps most typical dog in all Russia. By this very lack of information regarding the characteristics of most borzoi, American and English fanciers have been “up against an almost insurmountable obstacle to good breeding. In this connection we might mention that we secured the pedigree of Ch. Imp, Marksman and the Duchess of Newcastle’s Ch. Imp Tsaretsa, a fact which should interest a large percentage of English and American borzoi fanciers.”  [end quoting]

Thomas visited Russia again in1904 and acquired another four Borzoi of this ancient type of which he was so enamored; he even wrote that these additional four were equal to if not more superior than the first importations.

Ch NenagladniPerchino

Ch Nenagladni of Perchina, Ch Sorvan O’V Farm & Ch Nayada of Perchina

Here is a description of these four imports: Nenagladni of Perchina, a nearly white male measuring 33″ at the shoulders.

Reputed to be the “best outlined dog” in America so far. He became an American champion.

Nayada of Perchina, also an American champion, a litter sister to the above-mentioned Nenagladni and also nearly pure white. She measured 30″ at the shoulders.

Ch Raskida II Woronzova-born 1898, imported 1904












Schaloste of Perchina was a white with pale tan bitch measuring 27″ at the withers; and Rasskida II of Woronzova, the dam of the famous Ch. Sorva of Woronzova. She was 29″ at the shoulder and pure white in color.

Schaloste of Perchina

Valley Farm 1904, J B Thomas with Bistri & Sorva in middle



Bistri, Atamanka & Sorva


Postrel of Woronzowa

Zyclon of Perchina














Yarki Perchino

The foundation of Valley Farm Kennel was made with these imports. The rest is history and you can easily find descendants of  Valley Farm Borzoi in Borzoi pedigrees today. Sadly, much of that “ancient type” that Thomas was so set on has been lost in many modern day breeders’ efforts to produce their “own” type of Borzoi. But surely this incredibly versatile, correct and elegant type can be bred again with wise selection and a good, keen eye not only on the past but on the future. Those who created not only a beautiful and elegant dog but a strong, well built, correct hunting dog knew what they were about; they kept the breed true to its heritage and many breeders, such as the grand Duke, the Boldareffs, Thomas and some who came afterward, made a great effort to retain the Borzoi as it was originally bred.


Links & some photos added/Dan Persson



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Dan Persson