The Sighthound Breed Survey by Showsight Magazine with over 10 interviews with information about influential Sighthounds from the past, judges stories and more.
- Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many as a judge?
- Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from
- Can you talk about your introduction to Sighthounds?
- Have you bred any influential Sighthounds? Have you shown any notable winners?
- Can you speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? Any examples?
- What about breed character? How do you assess this in the Sighthound breeds?
- Sighthounds are certainly elegant hunters. But can a Sighthound be too elegant?
- Can you speak to the value of a performance title on
- In your opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks
- Do you consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds?
- Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport?
- Is there a funny story that you can share about your experiences judging the Sighthound breeds?
I have been involved with purebred dogs most of my life, breeding and competitively showing Afghan Hounds since the 1970s. In addition to handling my own dogs, I’ve have handled dogs of several other breeds for friends. I have also participated in all aspects of purebred dogs, including handling classes, coursing, field work, and obedience. I am involved with Specialty and All-Breed Clubs and I’ve chaired many national and regional events.
Judging since 2002, I’m currently approved by the AKC to judge over 100 breeds across all seven Groups. Learning the history and function of a breed is essential to understanding breed type. Correct breed-specific movement is a fundamental part of breed type. My judging is always based on breed type.
I hold a BS in Biology (State Univeristy of New York at Albany), an MA in Secondary Curriculum and Science Ed, along with doctorial coursework (Michigan State University), and an additional partial MS in Public Communication (Boston University).
I love judging and my pleasure is shared with the exhibitors.
Where do I live? I recently relocated to Melbourne, Florida, from the greater DC area, after 35 years there. This was proceeded by six years in Seattle after I’d acquired my first Afghan Hound while living in New England.
How many years in dogs? I have been in dogs for 43 years. How many as a judge? I’ve been judging for 19 years.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? After my fancy with dogs, it’s plants. I love starting new ones from scraps, cuttings or seed; art, most aspects of design—clothing, color, shape, and function. Cooking is also a passion. I really like to put a meal or party together from start to finish. I am always up for trying something new in any of these areas.
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? My intro
to Sighthounds just happened because they are what they are. One November, many years ago, I was walking a beach at Marblehead, Massachusetts, when I saw these two deep red-colored dogs dancing and chasing on the beach. They were mesmerizing! They were Afghan Hounds, and my fascination began.
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds or shown any notable winners? My breeding of SBIS Ch. Sankhya Chances Are answers both questions. He is behind many dogs here and abroad, including the No. 1 Afghan Hound in 2014, aka “Ryder.”
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? Sighthounds show themselves and really do not need a lot of overhandling; the less the better, once they are trained. Overhandling can also be very deceptive.
What about breed character? Breed characteristics ARE the breed. Without the basic breed-specific characteristics, the given “breed” would be missing. It must always be present, subject to individual interpretation, but nonetheless present.
How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? Without this (breed characteristics) a Sighthound would not be a Sighthound. They define the breed. They bring out the strengths of the breed that set it apart from other breeds.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? Most likely, they can be, but this is very seldom seen. They still must be able to do the job they were bred and kept for. If this is lost, then truly the “breed” is missing in any given animal.
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? The title itself is up to the owners to pursue, but the ability and desire to hunt like a Sighthound is essential to breed type!
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? I think they use sight well enough in their pursuit of game, so I have no issue with their inclusion in the Sighthound grouping. The degree of “sight” hound in each Sighthound varies, too, beyond a very few that are, basically, pure sight hunters.
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? I think the latter two in this group of breeds lead to more raised eyebrows than the first two. My answer for Ibizan and Pharaoh Hounds is the same as for Basenji and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Hard to pinpoint; Shirkhan of Grandeur, “Pepsi,” “Zee”—so many more.
Where do I live? New York, born and raised. And, like all good NY’ers, I have a winter home in Florida. How many years in dogs? My first dog, 1961; first litter, 1966… and most recently, 2017. How many years as a judge? I was approved to judge in 2000; now, close to five full Groups.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Contemporary art, Mid-Century Modern Architecture, New York Theater.
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? I inherited my relationship with Sighthounds from my parents’ attraction to them. It started with the Afghan Hound, but would grow to include Salukis and Whippets in the home. My handling included showing most all of the Sighthounds. I finished the first Ibizan Hound ever, the first male Pharaoh Hound, and I titled many Borzoi and Greyhounds.
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds or shown any notable winners? I have shown over 100 Afghan Hounds to their championship; the combined success with Kandahara Hounds of my parents, Lee and Jim Canalizo, and Grandeur Afghan Hounds, bred and owned by Roger and Evelyn Rechler. I was the breeder/owner-handler of the Top-Winning Hound (male) of all-time, Ch. Triumph of Grandeur with 86 BIS, and his daughter, Ch. Int. Ch. Tryst of Grandeur. Shown by me, “Tryst” is the Top-Winning Hound of All-Time with 161 BIS. I have won Winners at both the Saluki and Greyhound Nationals over the years, and BOB and Group awards at Westminster in Afghan Hounds and Salukis. Although not asked, I have judged (or am scheduled to judge) every Sighthound breed at the Specialty level, both here and abroad.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? Showing a Sighthound is part talent, part artistry, and a larger amount of luck! They inherently write their own rules, and most come by it “naturally.” The smartest Sighthounds will always jump the tape on the floor—if they can see it with the “clear outlook” due to their level planes of the head as opposed to down-faced head planes that impair their line of vision. They will never be willing to run full speed towards a solid wall or run under a flapping tent overhead… they know what could/can/is a potential danger—if they are among those keen hunter types.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? It can’t be stressed enough that Sighthounds benefit most from someone who “understands” and “respects” their God-given abilities. They will retract from a sudden incident/approach, but NOT BECAUSE THEY FEAR IT. It’s because they need to adjust, visually, to any movement, especially when it is close to their field of vision. Care has to be made to know what is aloof and dignified as opposed to shy and fearful. The latter should never be rewarded. Think of Sighthounds like the British Royal family that we admire: No matter how bad a day they might be having, they remain calm, hold a proper posture, and never recoil and/or scream in fear.
No true Sighthound, if put off by an uneven approach, will ever let you repeat an attempt from the wrong way. Sometimes the trick is to have the handler steady their head and come up from the “right side rear” and examine “backwards.” Once you have a hand on them, they will usually “allow” one to continue. This does not mean that they should be rewarded for any degree of shyness, unless there was a verifiable reason for the reaction; a sudden distraction, loud noise, etc. (We would expect that they would recover quickly under these scenarios.) FYI: As a breeder, poor temperament would never be furthered into the breeding progam—no exceptions! And as a judge, if you’re evaluating “breeding stock,” this cannot be over-emphasized—regardless of the breed. Please be aware that with the Azawakh, approach in the show ring has to be kept to a bare minimum because of the breed’s closeness to a primitive hunting/guardian breed. Those who truly understand the breed will know how much leeway is acceptable.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? Let me put it this way… The Sighthounds kept by Royal Families were not pampered, put in glorious coat first, and then, hopefully, able to run down dinner. ONLY those that were keen hunters that did/could run down dinner were the ones prized and kept in that fashion. Every Sighthound had a “job” that included long hours of running on difficult terrain and under harsh conditions. Every superior Hound needs to be in fit condition, with hard muscles, strong feet, and powerful underjaws for those breeds that need to catch and kill their game. Sadly, many of the coated Sighthounds have “GONE HOLLYWOOD” in excesses of coat when the Standards’ directive is for “NO CLIPPING OR TRIMMING,” WHICH IS SO VERY SADLY IGNORED IN NEARLY EVERY REGISTRY IN THE WORLD. The Afghan Hound’s most unique characteristic is its “natural saddle that runs down their back.” Also becoming a major concern is the exaggerated style, with unbalanced angulation being impacted the most. Too many look like the “Hood Ornament of my Grandfather’s ‘58 Buick or the Concord Jet on take-off.” What we really want to see is a dog that “Owns the Ground” without being wrangled into an extreme stack. Research the series of articles by Conni Miller called, Gazehounds: The Search for Truth (c.1988
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? There is no better way to prove a Sighthound’s mettle than by being recognized for what it was bred to do.
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? I was part of the original decision to include both breeds as Sighthounds, and do not regret supporting that decision. Both breeds utilize great speed and sight to perform their
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? Indeed, and without question; just seeing how each of the breeds “works” would make this question redundant.
Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Sighthound breeds? A great all-breed judge gave me BIS with “Tryst” when I was working overtime to keep her from being fixated on the hot air balloons aloft over our heads. The judge wrote on the big Rosette: “Thank God for Hot Air Balloons… I was mesmerized watching her watch them!” This judge obviously rewarded what a Sighthound was bred to do!
Breeding and showing under the Nonsuch prefix, I have been involved in showing Sighthounds and Terriers since 1982. I started with Borzoi and Juniors in 1998, and have acquired the Hound Group and part of the Terrier Group, BIS, and Miscellaneous. When I judge, I want to always be fair, follow the breed standards, and reward the best dogs. Along the way, I always try to give the dogs and handlers a positive ring experience that encourages them to continue showing.
I have judged all-breed and specialty shows of various breeds all across the country. Since I love to travel, my goal is to continue to complete the Terrier Group and, ultimately, judge abroad. Thank you for asking me to do this interview.
Where do I live? I live in Wisconsin during the summer and in Florida during the winter. How many years in dogs? How many as a judge? I started showing purebred dogs in 1982, and was approved to judge in 1998.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Besides dogs, I’m an avid lifelong equestrian. I also golf casually, practice archery and, of course, love to travel!
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? I started in Borzoi, which is one of the three Sighthound breeds that I bred and showed. I also had Whippets and Afghan Hounds. I’ve owned Greyhounds and I did finish one, but never bred them.
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds or shown any notable winners? I’ve bred over 100 champions. Some of the most notable being: Ch. Nonsuch Prince Charming (Borzoi), a multiple Group winner and Specialty BIS winner; Ch. Nonsuch Phoebe (Borzoi), a multiple Group winner; Ch. Nonsuch Whippoorwill (Whippet), a multiple Specialty winner; and many, many others too numerous to mention.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? Regarding the presentation of Sighthounds in the show ring: As natural as possible. A little clean-up for the coated breeds, but NO excessive sculpting! For example, I’ve seen Borzoi shown with ears and tuck-ups that had obviously been clippered.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? As for breed character in the Sighthound breeds: I do not want a shy dog, but I also understand that some of these breeds are naturally aloof and don’t want to “make friends” with you. My best advice when examining these breeds is to approach slowly, but with confidence. Avoid direct eye contact and never reach over the top of the head as you approach. Don’t talk over the top of the dog. Quietly examine without lingering, and walk away.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? The only time a Sighthound can be too elegant would be if they are too refined and light of bone to course/hunt without risking injury. As long as they adhere to their specific breed standards, they should not be penalized for being elegant.
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? I absolutely love seeing performance titles on Sighthounds. Of course, coursing plastic isn’t the same as coursing live game, but it still tests the attitude, speed, and endurance of the animals.
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? Yes. I believe Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are Sighthounds, but they also use scent.
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? I also believe Ibizan Hounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Cirneco dell’Etna, and Podengos to be Sighthounds that also combine hunting with sight and scent.
Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Two Sighthounds that come to mind are Borzoi; Ch. Kishniga’s Dalgarth and Ch. P.O.S.H. Echovesna’s Islaev, who were huge winners and gorgeous examples of the breed.
Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Sighthound breeds? One funny experience I had judging a Sighthound occurred when a terrified young puppy didn’t want me to examine him. I asked the handler for bait (which the puppy accepted and came forward for), but then he obviously wasn’t going to have me touching him. I quietly walked behind the handler and examined the puppy before he even knew I was there. The puppy had a good experience and the handler didn’t have a heart attack in the ring.
I am a breeder of Afghan Hounds, Whippets, and Chinese Cresteds. I currently judge four Groups, plus breeds in all three of the other Groups. I also judge Lure Coursing and Rally.
I am a retired police sergeant for the city of Toledo, Ohio. I continue to compete with her dogs in Conformation, Obedience, Rally, and Scent Work,
Where do I live? I live in Toledo, Ohio. How many years in dogs? How many as a judge? I’ve had purebred dogs since the 1970s, and I’ve been judging since the mid-‘90s.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I am a big movie fan, and used to go to two-to-three movies a week—until the last year!
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? My original breed is Afghan hounds, and I added Whippets a few years later.
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds or shown any notable winners? I rarely specialed any of my dogs, yet I did have a Group-winning Afghan Hound and a multi-Group-placing Whippet. I have always been very performance-oriented and I probably put more Obedience titles on Afghan Hounds than anyone in the country. I had the first Afghan Hound bitch in the country to earn an AKC field championship, and she was also the first Afghan Hound bitch to earn an AKC agility title. I have also put numerous field championships on Afghan Hounds and Whippets.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? Most Sighthounds are hand-stacked by their handlers. I do not find many that are free-baited.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? This is very difficult to assess in the breed ring. Most Sighthounds tend to be aloof and not very interested in strangers.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? Sighthounds are coursing dogs and they should be able to run in the field with speed and endurance. A Sighthound that is too elegant may not have the muscle mass and needed bone to do the job they were bred for.
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? A Coursing title is a good indicator of the dog’s ability to function in the field. Obedience and Rally titles speak to the intelligence of each individual breed. Agility shows off the dog’s flexibility.
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? I have always felt that Basenjis are true Sighthounds. As a Lure Coursing judge, I have judged both of them in the field and both breeds have excellent runners. That being said, there are numerous breeds that will chase a lure in the field—but it does not make them Sighthounds!
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? Definitely the Ibizan Hound, the Pharaoh Hound, and the Cirneco are true Sighthounds. I have yet to see any Podengos run, so I am reserving
Currently, I live in a small town, Bulls Gap, located in the beautiful hills of East Tennessee. Growing up on a small farm, I always had companion dogs and loved attending the local dog shows. I, however, did not begin to show my dogs until the early 1970s. I was approved to judge my initial breeds in 1991.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I enjoy reading, traveling to new places, collecting antiques, and learning how to invest in real estate. I am also an avid tennis fan.
Can I talk about my intro to Sighthounds? When I attended the local dog shows during my youth, I was mesmerized by the regal attitude and the fiercely independent look of the Afghan Hounds. I was determined that, one day, I would own one. By sheer luck, I met and acquired my first Afghan Hound, a Holly Hill Gold Doubloon daughter, when I was in graduate school, working on my doctorate in the early ‘70s. During the next year, I purchased a show quality bitch from the Shikari Kennels and started a lifelong love affair with this wonderful breed. A few years later, Cal Perry (Appraxin) gave me a beautiful Whippet, a litter sister to his Black-Eyed Susan. This bitch, Polly, easily finished her championship. I co-bred her with good friend, Dianne Bleecker (MorShor), a couple of times, with most of the offspring finishing their AKC championships.
Have I bred any influential sighthounds or shown any winners? I have obtained championship titles on well over seventy homebred Afghan Hounds and Whippets, with many of them winning Specialty majors and Groups. One of my Afghan Hounds, Ch. Ripshin’s Truffles, is one of the top-producing bitches in the breed. Although I rarely specialed my dogs, one of my Whippets did win an all-breed Best in Show. My friend, Cody, and I co-owned a gorgeous Meisterhaus Basenji bitch whose awards culminated in winning Best of Breed at the Basenji National Specialty, judged by Michael Work.
Can I speak about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? Most importantly, the handler needs to know the specific breed standard as well as the specific dog. To me, the dog needs to be presented in a way that makes him confident and focused in the ring. Each breed has unique physical characteristics, proper gait/movement, and temperament considerations. Each breed has a correct ear and tail carriage. Each breed should be controlled, but in my opinion, is best shown on a loose lead in order to move smoothly and naturally. I prefer that the handler be as unobtrusive in the ring as possible.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in Sighthound breeds? To me, breed character is most easily assessed in the dog’s attitude and confidence in the ring.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? Sighthounds should appear graceful and elegant. However, they must also be powerful and athletic. They have large lungs and heart as well as deeper chests than most dogs. If they are too slightly built, are missing teeth, do not have enough bone, etc., they cannot function properly.
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? A few of my dogs coursed and their performance titles were appreciated. To me, a proper Sighthound that adheres to its breed standard is a functional, performance dog. A performance title on a dog that does not adhere to the breed standard would be of little value to me. I want my Hounds to be functional for what they were intended to do. However, they must possess aesthetic breed characteristics: Dignity and aloofness with no trace of plainness or coarseness; balanced skull with foreface; almond-shaped eye, dark in color (not round or yellow); great style and beauty. They must also have the drive, the mindset, and the attitude. Without these qualities, they are just generic running dogs to me. I judged Whippets this past weekend at a local CWA meet. I was so pleased to see all of my placements were elegant, fit, and well-balanced. My second-place winner, a multi-BOB show dog, was the overall high scorer at
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? In my opinion, the Basenji and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are both a Scenthound and a Sighthound. They track their prey through both smell and sight. To me, they are Sighthounds in that they tend to pursue anything they see moving. The Basenji has an intense prey drive and shows an immense dedication to the task at hand. This breed is also adept at climbing the fence and escaping! The Rhodesian Ridgeback has the speed and agility of the Sighthounds. However, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, to me, relies heavily on its sense of smell and is difficult to classify as a Sighthound.
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Cirneco dell’Ettna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? All three breeds are Sighthounds to the extent that they rely on their sight, hearing, and speed while hunting. All three breeds possess independence, intelligence, and endurance, traits seen in all Sighthounds.
Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? I will only mention the ones I personally saw in the ring. In Afghan Hounds, I would have to say Falstaff, Abraxas, and Desert Wind impacted the sport enormously. Later, TR and Tryst of Grandeur, Taco, Windy, and Argus come to mind. The Scottish Deerhound, Hickory, certainly made her mark on the sport. In Whippets, numerous breeding programs were influenced by Appraxin and MorShor Whippets, especially Jai Baba, Majestic Dell, and Majestic Prince. Stoney Meadows, Pennyworth, Bo-Bett, Plumcreek, and Sporting Fields dogs have also influenced my own breeding program. I was fortunate enough to have Ch. MorShors Majestic Ball ‘Fire, “Lisa,” the breed winner at the first AWC National Specialty, and Ch. Sporting Fields Six Pence, “Tweed,” who possessed both brains and beauty, live with me for a number of years. When I judge the breed, their image is always in my head!
Is there a funny story that I can share about my experience judging the Sighthound breeds? Apart from having a couple of exhibitors lose their stockings or their slips, I have had fairly normal experiences in the ring. I do, however, have a funny story. When I purchased my first Afghan Hound, I lived beside a fraternity. The guys quickly learned they could meet girls by walking her on campus. One or two of them were constantly at my door wanting to help me groom and exercise her! I often tweaked their college research papers for them. In return, they washed and waxed my car, kept my lawn mowed, and insisted I come to their cookouts. When I later moved and had several dogs to groom and exercise, I certainly missed those boys!
I received my first Basenji as a gift from my father in 1962 and joined the Basenji Club of America somewhere around 1965. I currently serve the BCOA as Judges Education Chair.
I live in Cupertino, California, the heart of Silicon Valley. I have been “in dogs” for 59 years; 24 of those years as a judge.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I love to read, garden, and take road trips with my husband, Ken. In my professional life, I had a career in biotech and was involved with bringing the nasal flu spray “FluMist” to market.
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? My father had a friend who owned an African-import Basenji in the late 1950s. He was so impressed with the dog that he wanted one just like him, and started searching for a puppy. We brought wrinkle-faced, tricolored “Tiki” home in March of 1962 and my path was set.
I have long been a serious student of all things “dog” and I was very fortunate to be able to attend all three sessions of the Northern California Hound Judging Seminar in the 1970s, the second two as a member of the Seminar Committee. There, I learned from the very best, a veritable Who’s Who of the Hound breeds. In Sighthounds, the presenters included Betty Richards, Connie Miller, Jeraldeen Crandall, Lyle and Phydelma Gillette, Pat Hillyard, Joseph Carson, Pat Ide, Royce Northcott, Mary Major, Leslie Lambson, Diane Jacobsen, Louise Lertora, George and Sally Bell, Frieda Pilat, Cecilia Arnold, and Dr. John Shelton. Many films of dogs in action were shown during the seminars, the most impressive of which was the open field coursing footage showing Irish Wolfhounds flat-out in pursuit of prey. The sheer majesty of those giant Hounds running at breakneck speed stays with me to this day.
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds or shown any notable winners? I’d say that my most infamous win was when I showed Group-winning Ch. Coptokin The Veldt Sir Lantic at the 1970 Basenji Club of America Western Regional Specialty. At that time, it was equivalent to a National Specialty. We had an entry of some 130 dogs, with most of the top specials of the day flying in from all over the country to compete in California. “Charlie’s” owner was campaigning a bitch Special at the time, and asked me to take him in the ring for the Best of Breed competition under Judge Derek Rayne. It was a very hot day and “Charlie” loved the heat. Judge Rayne went through the dog Specials and selected “Charlie” for “best dog” and then went through the bitches. Yes, my friend’s top-ranked bitch came out “best bitch.” We then had a runoff between the two and “Charlie” ended up Best of Breed. My friend took it well, but I don’t think “Charlie” was really supposed to win
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? While it is not possible to evaluate a full-out gallop, heart or prey drive in the show ring, it is possible to demonstrate an easy, well-coordinated gait, which shows that the Hound is in full control of its body and able to transition quickly to its true working gaits.
Many Sighthounds are indifferent to bait and squeaky toys, so it can be a challenge to present them in the ring. This speaks to breed type, and the judge really needs to know the correct temperament of each breed to judge it fairly and accurately.
As to my own breed, Basenjis are usually very curious about judges, and quickly make up their minds as to the character of the person heading toward them. Judges are encouraged to make eye contact as long as it is accompanied by a friendly smile. A calm, confident demeanor is your best bet when approaching this breed.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? I think Sighthounds are, on the whole, rather reserved and cautious. They are problem-solvers and independent thinkers. That being said, each Sighthound breed has its own distinctive character. Generally, they seem to prefer a gentle touch and a quick, impersonal, businesslike examination, with minimal “baby talk” and interaction. I don’t expect any of the Sighthounds to be effusive or wildly affectionate in the ring, but they should stand their ground and allow a decent exam. I am tolerant of puppies and young dogs that may not have been out much, but I would be very surprised if a Special did not allow a respectful approach.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? Elegance can be defined in two ways; either “pleasingly graceful and stylish in appearance or manner” or, in a scientific context, “pleasingly ingenious and simple.” A Sighthound should be a strong, able hunter, capable of pursuing its ancestral game and either bringing it down or leaving it to the hunter to dispatch. Elegance is in the eye of the beholder, and a true working Hound of any Sighthound breed would certainly fit either definition of the word.
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? I don’t think anybody really believes that Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are Sighthounds in the classic sense, but we do know that they love to run. Being classified as Sighthounds enables both breeds to compete in lure coursing and racing competitions, and a great many of our dogs enjoy this.
Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? The Basenji Ch. Reveille Re-Up, the Borzoi Ch. Vigow of Romanoff, the Saluki Ch. Jen Araby Mumtaz Mahal, the Greyhound Ch. Aroi Talk Of The Blues, the Afghan Hound Ch. Shangrila Pharahna Phaedra, and the Whippet Ch. Courtenay Fleetfoot of Pennyworth all come readily to mind, but I know there are many others.
Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Sighthound breeds? I think the funniest thing happened to me while I was exhibiting Basenjis. We were on the old Oregon Circuit (“The Death March”), and Kay Finch was judging. This was before we were officially a table breed, and Judge Finch had the superintendent bring in a huge table, probably taken from a lunch room somewhere. She had us stack our Basenji bitches four at a time on the table, head to tail. I got stuck in the middle, handling a bitch that did not enjoy the company of other bitches and, to this day, I am thankful that the judging went off without incident.
Russell L. McFadden
My involvement with purebred dogs dates back 50 years at this point in time. I got my first Afghan Hound in 1971 and my first Whippet in 1973. I had a very small breeding program that produced a number of Whippet champions under my Timbrel prefix. I’ve also had Salukis and Ibizan Hounds over the years. For a number of reasons, Whippets are the breed I chose to actively breed. (My Ibizan Hound had a litter of one, but I never bred my Afghans or Salukis.) I currently have two Whippets, with a third to arrive soon.
I’ve been a member of the American Whippet Club (AWC) since 1983. I’ve served as President, Vice-President, Secretary, and as a Board of Directors member. I am the local Chair for the 2021 National Specialty that will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have also been a member of the Saluki Club of America since 2014. I serve as the current Chair of the Specialty Advisory Committee for this club. I have been a member of, and served in several different positions on, the Board of a couple different local all-breed clubs, and an obedience club in the past. I am a lifetime member of the Los Alamos Dog Obedience Club, in which my membership started in 1974.
I was first approved by the American Kennel Club to judge Whippets and Afghan Hounds in 1988, followed by Salukis and Italian Greyhounds in 1989, and the rest of the Sighthounds in 1992. I am now currently approved to judge the Hound Group, Italian Greyhounds, Best in Show, and all-breed
I live in Espanola, New Mexico. I’ve been working with Sighthounds since 1971, when I got my first Afghan Hound. I’ve been judging since 1988—33 years.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Photography and making jewelry.
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? I went to my first dog show in 1966 when I was 14, and the first ring of dogs I saw going into the building was the Afghan Hound ring. I was mesmerized. I told my mother and sister right then that I was going to have one of those dogs someday. Then, a few years later, in 1971, I worked as a summer student with a lady named Polly Lee who bred Salukis under her Pajarito prefix. She and a friend of hers, Norma Noble, who bred Afghan Hounds, were both going through divorces and both had dogs that needed homes. I got my first Afghan Hound from Norma, and my sister got her first Saluki from Polly. Being completely sold on Sighthounds, but also being in college and learning the tremendous amount of coat care an Afghan requires, made me start looking for another Sighthound breed that required less coat care. So, I got my first Whippet in 1973. I had Afghans continuously from 1971 to 2002 when my last one died from old age. I’ve had Whippets continuously since 1973 and still have two (soon to be three when a puppy arrives here in the near future). Over the years, I’ve also had an Ibizan Hound and four Salukis of my own.
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds or shown any notable winners? Influential only to me and my breeding program when I actively bred my Whippets. Again, notable only to me. Except for an infrequent jaunt in the specials ring, my dogs are retired after they finish their championships.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? My only comment here is to Afghan handlers; stop stretching their rears so far back so as to give them a sloping topline. From the AKC standard: “The back line appearing practically level from the shoulders to the loin.” From the FCI standard: “Back: Level.”
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? I assess this by looking for that which each standard describes as the character of that particular breed. This is not necessarily easy to do in the 2.4 minutes one is given to judge each exhibit. But, hopefully, one can at least get a glimpse of the character described in the standard.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? Yes and no. Yes, if the structure of the dog is incorrect enough to make it incapable of adequately preforming the purpose for which the breed was developed. No, because to keep the appropriate look of the individual breed it is important to have dogs with tremendous style. Given two dogs in the ring, where one is structurally sound but its breed is indeterminate by looking at it, and the other exudes breed style but is structurally unsound, I would choose the stylistic dog over the other—even though (to me) neither is really a correct example of the breed because the best example would be a combination of the two; a sound dog with breed style.
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? I will say this about any title: It doesn’t change the dog. I think it’s great when people take an interest in working with their dogs in any arena; performance, companion dog, and/or conformation. I do like to see/feel good muscle tone on any Sighthound, but this can be achieved without a title.
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? Both breeds are recognized as using both senses, sight and scent, to hunt game. The Basenji standard even states that they hunt by sight and scent. AKC recognizes both breeds as eligible for Lure Coursing. Who am I to question the parent clubs and AKC? (How’s that for being evasive?)
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? Yes. I also consider Italian Greyhounds to be Sighthounds, miscast (for lack of a better word) in the Toy Group.
Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Influence how? Many of the big-winning Sighthounds from the past have made people notice the breeds that they may not have been aware of before. But I don’t know if they influenced the sport directly. However, some of my favorites are: Afghan Hounds Ch. Khayam’s Apollo and Ch. Kabik’s The Challenger; Greyhound Ch. Aroi Talk Of The Blues; Ibizan Hound Ch. Hemato’s J-Mark Star Maiden (first of the breed to win two BIS awards), Italian Greyhound Ch. Donmar’s Scarlet Ribbons, Whippet Ch. Runner’s He’s The Continental, and although I’ve otherwise avoided on this list dogs that are still living, I have to mention Ch. Sporting Fields Bahama Sands whom I awarded Best of Breed at the 2010 American Whippet Club National Specialty.
Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Sighthound breeds? Halfway around the ring on the go-around, a lady showing her Borzoi started to lose her slip. She stopped and pulled it the rest of the way down, stepped out of it, walked over and handed it to me, and then took her dog around the ring to the end of the line. She then walked back over to me, took her slip, said, “Thanks,” tossed it out of the ring, and went back to her place in line as if nothing ever happened.
Dr. James Sillers
I’ve lived almost my entire life in Michigan. I purchased my first show Borzoi in 1976, and started my judging career in 1992.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? I have many hobbies and interests outside of purebred dogs. I am a master gardener and, now that I am retired, I
volunteer at different community gardens. When I moved into my home, 50 years ago, there was only one tree on the lot. Over the years, I’ve planted several different conifers and many unusual trees and plants.
I am also an active Rotarian. Many ask, “What is a Rotarian?” Rotary International has the largest foundation in the world and does much for humanitarian efforts (second only to the World Health Organization). Rotary initiated the drive to eradicate polio from the face of the earth. When the program was started, there were 1,000 new cases of polio each day. Today, so far in 2021, only two cases have been reported; one in Pakistan and one in Afghanistan. During the last five years, I’ve spent a lot of my time in other countries helping with international rotary projects.
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? A few years after I’d purchased my first show Borzoi, I read an article about choosing the best breed to fit one’s personality and living conditions. Looking back, the fact that I have Borzoi is just dumb luck. I like a dog that, when you walk it, you don’t even realize there is a dog attached to the other end of the leash. I like a dog that doesn’t drool, is elegant (but doesn’t require a lot of grooming), moves lightly on its feet as I walk fast, and is satisfied having its head resting on your thighs, instead of always being in your face. The Borzoi fits my list of requirements.
I started my veterinary practice in June 1970. In July, I performed my first Caesarian on a Borzoi bitch that ended up with a litter of 16. Eventually, my first Borzoi was one of the 16 pups. So, again, it was just dumb luck that I started with Borzoi. In 1976, I purchased my first potential show quality Borzoi pup. I entered her as a puppy at a local show and she took her first major win. I was hooked!
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds or shown any notable winners? I will only list a few notable Borzoi wins. My first Best in Show Borzoi also took BOB at the BCOA national as a veteran. I co-bred a male that is the only AKC Borzoi that has won an all-breed Best in Show, plus has his AKC and ASFA Field Championships. I bred Seabury’s Lauralie and finished her AKC title with, I believe, all Group placements. She whelped a linebred litter where three siblings, in the same year, were the number one-ranked Borzoi in three countries; the US, Japan, and Sweden. I bred another Borzoi bitch that is one of only three Borzoi to have gone to England and earned an English championship.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? The Borzoi, like many Sighthounds, does not ask for the win while in the show ring. They just stand there. They should never be shown strung up, as it interferes with their effortless movement. Some judges view the Borzoi as an Art Deco breed because its features have been exaggerated in that art form. One exaggerated feature is the Borzoi topline. A functional Borzoi must have a flexible topline. Adults carry heavy coat over their withers and croup, which gives a Borzoi with a correct rise over the loin the appearance of having a flat topline.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? The correct Borzoi character is aloof, but stable. There is no way to check for correct temperament of the Borzoi in the show ring, unless he shies upon examination.
Can a Borzoi be too elegant? The Borzoi standard uses the phrase of “unmistakable elegance.” A Borzoi, in my opinion, can’t be too elegant—but he can be too refined.
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? I believe all dogs should be able perform what their breed was originated to do. It must be a functional animal and, therefore, its structure cannot interfere with its ability to perform such function.
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? I believe they are not true Sighthounds.
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? Yes, I do consider them to be true Sighthounds.
Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? There have been too many to list here.
Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Sighthound breeds? On a very hot day, I was observing obedience at a Borzoi specialty. During the long down, one Borzoi got up and walked over to lay down in the shade under the judges table. Her expression said, “I am no dummy, and you can’t do a thing about.” It was laughable.
I have been an AKC judge since 2006. I judge the complete Hound and Non-Sporting Groups and also judge dogs in the Herding and Toy Groups in the US. I have judged throughout the United States, and in Japan and Australia. I’ve judged specialties for Borzoi, Afghan Hounds, Saluki, Bloodhounds, Norwegian Elkhounds, Schipperke, and was voted by my peers to judge the American Borzoi National Specialty in 2011—with an entry of 289 Borzoi.
I own and show Borzoi and Shiba Inu. I breed under the “Kyrov” prefix and have shown and bred Borzoi for over 40 years. The love of Sighthounds is a family affair, as my sister, Julie Roche of Qamari Afghans, is a prominent Afghan Hound breeder in the US. I have bred many top-ranked Borzoi, including two Number One Borzoi (Breed System) in the US, in 2001 and 2002, and the National Specialty Winners Dog and Best of Winners Borzoi in April of 2019. I have bred eighty-six American Champion Borzoi in my lifetime. I’ve been presented with the prestigious Borzoi Club of America’s Top Breeder of the Year award twice. I have bred Best in Show and Specialty Best in Show Borzoi, and National Specialty Best of Breed, Best of Winners, and Best in Sweepstakes winners. My Borzoi have also competed and held titles in coursing and obedience. My home-bred SBIS Ch. Kyrov’s Crescendo is one of the top-producing sires in Borzoi history. Kyrov lines can be found behind many of the successful Borzoi kennels in America, Japan, China, Europe, and Australia.
I live in Colorado with my husband and two children. I work as a Veterinary Technician and I’m part of the management team at the esteemed VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital. I was part of the veterinary team featured on Animal Planet’s popular Emergency Vets television show.
I have owned and shown Borzoi for 42 years. I earned my judging license a bit over 15 years ago.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Not really. Dogs consume most of my waking hours, since I work in the veterinary field as well.
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? My sister, who is three years older, showed and bred Afghan Hounds. She introduced me to the world of Sighthounds, and actually found my first Borzoi through a friend who had both Afghans and Borzoi. I bought that dog with my college book money, and moved into a basement apartment under an old house so that I could have him with me while I was going to college. My parents were not at
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds or shown any notable winners? SBIS Ch. Kyrov’s Crescendo ROMX-C (Producer of Merit Excellent – Conformation) was from the first litter I bred. He was a Specialty BOB winner, Multiple Group winner, ranked in the Top 5 for several years, and won BOB at Westminster. I was so lucky to have him land in my whelping box so early in my breeding career. He went on to be a great producer and became a significant influence in Borzoi. I have also bred two No. 1 Borzoi (Breed System) in 2000 and 2001, and a Best in Show and National Specialty Best of Breed winner. Kyrov Borzoi have received many regional specialty wins and national rankings. I showed my own dogs for many years, but now my bad knees do not allow me to get around the ring fast enough to do them justice.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? Breed presentation is important in almost any breed. It is important that the exhibitor knows what is correct for the breed they show. For instance, a Borzoi should not be over-groomed. (We are seeing way too much of this lately.) It is fine to trim and clean them up a bit, but they should never be completely sculpted. It is also important to move a Sighthound at the correct speed for each breed. I don’t like to see Saluki, for example, racing around the ring at breakneck speeds.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? Breed character is what makes Sighthounds so wonderful. Each Sighthound breed has its own individual silhouette, head, eyes, ears, and movement, which are all part of type. No two Sighthound breeds move alike. Each has its own unique movement. There is nothing more satisfying than watching the Afghan’s suspended trot, the Whippet’s smooth, daisy cutting gait, the Irish Wolfhound’s powerful, ground-covering stride, and the Saluki’s light on its feet, easy movement. Also, most, but not all, standards state a rise over the loin in some similar language, but each with a little different verbiage for the breed. For example: Borzoi – Rising a little at the loins in a graceful curve; Afghan Hound – Loin slightly arched; Irish Wolfhound – Loins arched; Saluki – Muscles slightly arched over loin; and Greyhound – Loin, good depth of muscle, well arched. All of these Sighthounds have completely different toplines when compared to each other. These differences are why, I believe, Sighthounds can be a challenge for many to judge.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? No, I do not believe that a Sighthound can be too elegant. However, a Sighthound can be too refined or weedy, which is completely different than being too elegant. An Irish Wolfhound needs to be large and strong, with good bone and substance. To me, not enough bone or body would be a fault; not, necessarily, would be being too elegant.
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? I think performance titles are important for people; to participate in all events that give them enjoyment, whether it’s Obedience, Lure Coursing or Dock Diving. It is great to see a Sighthound that can go from the field to the show ring seamlessly. It is important to me when I judge that a breed has the structure to do the job for which it was bred. As far as whether a dog is titled in other areas, it does not make much difference to me in the Conformation ring.
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? I have seen both Basenjis and Rhodesians run with great speed on the Lure Coursing field. I love to judge both breeds. What they are classified as should be decided by the breeders and by the people dedicated to each breed.
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? I know that these breeds actually hunt by both sight and scent. To me, their body shape, in general, is more like a Sighthound than a Scenthound. However, I would again defer to the breeders and breed specialists to classify their breed as they see fit.
Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Great contributors that come to mind are Vigow O’Valley Farm and Sirhan Porachi in Borzoi, and Coastwind Abraxis and Mecca’s Falstaff in Afghans.
Just like most dogs, the key is to make them think that showing is their idea—not yours.
Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Sighthound breeds? I can’t think of any funny stories, but my most memorable moments in judging are: When I was chosen by my peers to judge my breed’s National Specialty in 2011—with 289 entries; when I judged the Hound show in Australia where the fabulous Borzoi, “Murphy,” was brought out of retirement at nine years of age, specifically to show to me; and when I was asked to judge at the prestigious Skokloster Sighthound show in Stockholm, Sweden. Unfortunately, COVID postponed Skokloster, but hopefully, things will be “a go” in 2022.
I would like to thank Showsight for including me in this exciting first Sighthound edition.
Jon Titus Steele
For over 30 years, I, along with my wife, Jenni, have bred Borzoi under the Auroral prefix. With over 30 Champions, including several owner-handled BIS show Borzoi and Top Ten Borzoi, dogs carrying the Auroral prefix have won Groups, Bests in Specialty, National and Westminster KC winners. Nominated for “Owner Handler of the Year” by Dogs in Review magazine, I have also been awarded the Service and Breeder awards from the Midwest Borzoi Club, where I’ve served as a local officer. For the last decade, I’ve served as an officer of the Borzoi Club of America and I’ve been the club’s AKC Gazette Columnist. I am approved to judge the Hound Group, Toy Group, Bull Terriers, Manchester Terriers, Juniors, and Best in Show. Some of the highlights of my time judging are the Borzoi Club of America National, the Otterhound Club of America National, and the Afghan Club of America Top Twenty. My judging assignments have taken me to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Sweden.
My wife, Jenni, and I divide our time between Northern Michigan and Saint Augustine, Florida. Growing up in the company of dogs, my first time in the ring was in 1986. My first judging assignment was in 2006, in my initial breeds of Borzoi and Papillons.
Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Sailing, snow skiing, and kayaking, to name just a couple.
Can I talk about my introduction to Sighthounds? My first Sighthounds were two Borzoi bitches from the same litter; both were Specialty winners, with one winning a Group One and a Best in Specialty.
Have I bred any influential Sighthounds? Have I shown any notable winners? There have been several in Borzoi: BISS Am. Can. Ch. Auroral’s Courvoisier and MBISS Am. Can. Ch. Auroral’s Artemus ROMC. A dog that was out of my breeding, but I did not breed, was BIS MBISS Am. Can. Ch. Auroral’s Across Time Sirius, a Top 5 Borzoi who won multiple Groups and eight Specialty Bests. “Ace” was a producer of specialty winners and is behind all of my dogs today.
Can I speak a bit about breed-specific presentation in Sighthounds? Speaking in generalizations, there is a definite method with Sighthounds where you have to be aware that they see the world a little differently. Since they hunt by sight, their attention may be somewhere off in the distance, reacting to live prey verses a trailing scent, which is quite different. When presenting a Sighthound, you have to be aware not to approach them from behind or be heavy-handed. Remember, for most Sighthound breeds, it is sight first and scent second. Often referred to as being “aloof,” they concentrate on the distance, not necessarily on what is right at hand. You cannot stare them down or be heavy-handed. Just like most dogs, the key is to make them think that showing is their idea—not yours.
What about breed character? How do I assess this in the Sighthound breeds? A show ring is a far cry from the steppes of Russia or the sands of the Middle East. Soundness is for function, foot timing for endurance, bone and structure for the ability to accomplish their individual style of hunting, and coat for the conditions where the breed originates. All of these are proxies for breed character.
Can a Sighthound be too elegant? I would love to say that they can never be too elegant, but in reality, that is a myth. Heart, lungs, bone, and muscle are all essential in a working Hound. Form and function are intrinsically tied together as are speed and endurance. As my mother once commented on a Borzoi that was rather tall, fine-boned, and overly long-headed, “It looks ‘ethereal’ and not in a good way.”
Can I speak to the value of a performance title on a Sighthound? This is a loaded question. The debate between field and conformation has been a point of contention over the years, which today seems ever more divisive. I’ll leave this for others to debate, except to say that any title should be weighed as to the merit of the dog on its own abilities.
In my opinion, are Basenjis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks true Sighthounds? Not sure what a “true Sighthound” really is, but a dog that hunts by sight can also hunt by scent, and neither is exclusive. The founding members of the Ontario Sighthound Club or the Donaueschinggen Windhound show have put more time into the classification than I ever will. Until the parent clubs have a definitive statement, I’ll leave it up to others. Personally, I would rather be inclusive than exclusive when it comes to Sighhounds.
Do I consider the Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna, and the Podengos to be Sighthounds? Yes, as they can hunt by sight and scent. If you study these breeds, it is evident in their hunting style exactly how they function in the field; and all three have characteristic sight abilities.
Which Sighthounds from the past have had the greatest influence on the sport? Afghans, Triumph of Grandeur, Elmo’s Tutankhamen; Borzoi, Kishnigs’s Dalgarth and brother Kishnigs’s Desert Song; Whippet, Sporting Field’s Clansman; Saluki, Clarinda Sunna Saream Bashir; Ibizan, Luxor’s Playmate of the Year; Deerhound Thistleglen Margo; Rhodesian Ridgeback, Diablo Black Alley Brawler; Greyhound, Aroi Talk of the Blues; and Basenji, Zadika‘a Johnny Come Greatly.
Is there a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Sighthound breeds? At my first Sweeps judging assignment in Afghan Hounds, the very first afghan, in the male puppy class, was a dog that obviously was having anxiety issues. I remember Wally Pede telling me not to look them in the eye, be subtle, and just get your hands on them and be done. The day was hot, almost 100-degrees, and the Sweeps started a 1pm. I didn’t want to do anything wrong, as the Afghan folks would never let me judge again. So, after trying several things to just touch the dog, I finally got my hands on him just enough so that I wouldn’t have to excuse him. As I looked down, the poor beast had urinated all over the handler’s white pant legs… and I thought I was having a bad day!