Jean Clare with Diaghilev and Igor


1. Please briefly summarize your Borzoi involvement. When did you start judging? In which countries have you watched/judged significant Borzoi entries? Which other breeds/groups are you approved to judge?

 My introduction to the breed came in 1965 while I was still at school, and I acquired my first dog in 1971. My best-known male is Ch. Jolanda Ivanhoe of Ryazan,  and Ch. Ryazan Heather and Ch. Ryazan Natasha are my best-known bitches.

 I first awarded CCs in 1986 and I judge only Borzois. I have judged in Russia, America, Australia, Germany, Sweden and Slovenia, and next year will officiate in Finland, also at Crufts!

 2. Please mention the 4-5 Borzoi you have personally seen that you admired most (not your own), and what their best features were. Any that you have only seen in photos? Which one of your own was the best?

 Among the dogs that I have greatly admired are Ch. Livny Black Eagle, Ch. Stonebar Sebastian and Am. Ch. Teine Windmaster of Foxwood. They were all correctly constructed, functional and very masculine dogs who nevertheless retained the essential elegance of the breed. My all time favourite has to be Ch. Sholwood Striking Rubies, such an exquisite elegant bitch with flowing lines and excellent movement. From photos alone Ch Winjones Razluka and Ch. Winjones Lebediska have always appealed. My choice among my own dogs is Ch. Ryazan Heather.

Ch Sholwood Striking Rubies, pictured owner handled by Richard Duckworth winning the Hound group at Crufts in 1995

 3. Which one or two important characteristics do you feel are most often overlooked in Borzoi judging? Are there any “fads” that judges should be aware of?

 Correct angulation of shoulder and particularly return of upper arm, together with slope of pastern are often overlooked.

 There are always fads eg for over refined heads, which would compromise the dog’s ability to hold his prey, excessive coat, which masks the dog’s outline in the show ring and would hinder him when hunting and over angulated hindquarters, often with a steep croup, which can compromise the dog’s movement. It is very important that any exaggerations are penalised by judges, otherwise they will gradually become the norm for the breed, to its detriment.

 4. What virtues do you think are most difficult to maintain in the breed and why? Which faults are the most difficult to eradicate?

 I have found correctly constructed fronts to be the hardest virtue to maintain and faults here the most difficult to eradicate, although it is difficult to know why this should be so. Heads for example can be improved in one generation, but it is essential to prioritise selection for sound front construction with every litter bred.

 5. What part of the AKC standard do you think is most misunderstood? Is there any part of the standard that you would change if you could? How does it compare with the FCI Borzoi standard?

 The American standard gives a brief description of the breed but is very short on detail, although the General Appearance clause is excellent. There is no clause describing temperament, the description of the back is poor as it does not identify the position of the highest point of the curve and there is no mention of the desired front angulation other than that the shoulders should be sloping. The English standard is written on the same lines and contains rather more detail. The FCI standard is the most detailed of all, and the Important Proportions clause at the beginning is excellent, but it can be rather difficult to read and places an unnecessary emphasis on faults. A well written standard should concentrate on the desired attributes of the breed and so make the listing of faults unnecessary.

 I consider the International standard to be the best of all, which is hardly surprising as a number of enthusiasts have done a great deal of work on it. They have attempted to incorporate much of the detail of the FCI standard into the more easily assimilated format of the American and English standards.

Sighthound Review October 2010