Greyhound: From Past to Present
I am trying to find out how past winners from long ago would fit in at today's shows, and to that end I sent an old photo of a famous dog to a few AKC judges and breed specialists, asking whether they thought that dog could still win today.
Of course, it's not easy to imagine what the dog looked like in real life: I try to pick good photos, but we can't REALLY know what they looked like from a photo. The Greyhound in the attached photograph, Eng. & Am. Ch. Southball Moonstone, was BIS at Crufts in 1934 and, after being brought to the U.S. by Percy Roberts — and having her new owners' kennel name “of Halcyon” added — she also won the Hound Group at Westminster in 1935. She won at least a half-dozen BIS at AKC shows as well.
How I got this photo is a little story in itself. It comes from the late Mrs. Emilie H. Farrell of Foxden fame and has her notes written on it: Moonstone was owned in the U.S. by Mr. & Mrs. Edward T. Clark of Goshen, New York. Their main breed was apparently Welsh Terriers. The photo is by Rudolph Tauskey, and, since he was known to retouch many of the photos he took, it is nice to read Mrs. Farrell's comment: “Even Tauskey did little or nothing to this picture.”
I didn't say who she was, but some of the respondents recognized Moonstone anyway, although she did her winning almost 90 years ago.
Would or could she still win today? Does she have something to offer today? If not, what specifically would hold her back? Has the breed lost something important?
Over to the respondents, whom I also asked for their backgrounds and experience in the breed. Since this is a very international breed, several foreign breed specialists who have all judged in the U.S. were included, as well as the AKC and the English/FCI breed standards.
Breeder of 224 champion Greyhounds in 60-plus countries since 1975 and 10 consecutive generations of BIS-winning international champion bitches. The Jet Greyhounds have won BOB at more than 40 national specialties. Owner-handler-breeder of three Greyhounds that won Top Dog all breeds in Norway (2001, 2003, 2013) and breeder-handler of Top Dog all breeds 2016. Judge of Sighthounds since 1987, all breeds in 2011. Espen has judged in 98 countries around the world, including Greyhounds at Crufts, Westminster, the FCI World Show and three times for Greyhound Club of America. In 2024 he will judge the Hound Group at Crufts.
As judged by this photo only, in my opinion this bitch could be shown today and would qualify for her champion title without difficulties. However, she would not be the sensation that she was in her day, and she would not win BIS at Crufts or the group at Westminster now. So, yes, she could still win, but not at the level that she did in the 1930s.
She scores in overall Arabian horse-like quality and smoothness of outline with gentle but unexaggerated S-curves in top- and underline, which are of great importance in the breed. She is definitely feminine and elegant. She has a beautiful, long and crested neck, a very typical head and lovely ears, all of this strongly contributing to her look of quality.
On the downside, I do not see her as quite as generous in her proportions as ideal and I would like her to cover more ground. She has just enough substance. Her cat feet are not in accordance with the AKC standard, nor my ideal for the breed.
Has the breed lost something important? Well, the breed is rather inconsistent today, making it at best difficult to generalize. But quite a lot of Greyhounds of today have lost the overall beauty and quality that this bitch displays; they are just rather common dogs of little consequence. Some have also lost the length of leg and the smooth, unexaggerated S-curves. But happily there are also quite a few Greyhounds of excellent type and quality still out there.
Sylvia Hammarstrom is world famous as a breeder of the Skansen Giant Schnauzers, more than 1,500 of which have won AKC championships, but she also bred Greyhounds early on and is listed by AKC as a “breeder-judge” for Greyhounds. In her email accompanying her answer to Dog News' question, Sylvia says: “I just retired from judging this week, being 84: I just do not like to travel anymore. Still very busy breeding and am very happy with the quality and characters of my Schnauzers. Best of all — their health profile: They live a long life, 12-13 years, and most of mine have never seen a vet.”
I looked at the photo of the Greyhound and find her lovely. For me she is perfect in balance, topline, shoulder, neck and headpiece. I do not see many that live up to her quality today.
I did judge the Greyhound Club of America national specialty a few years ago and bred the Greyhounds under the Skansen prefix, but it was many years ago now.
Sky Hi Hounds
Breeder of GChB. Sky Hi Hunt Song of Fire & Ice (multiple BIS, twice National Specialty winner, twice Westminster BOB), Ch. Sky Hi Girls Run the World (national-specialty winner), GChB. Sky Hi Hunt The Night King (Westminster BOB 2019, National BOS to his mother and BOS to his sister Central Specialty 2019) and Ch. Sky Hi’s Diamond’s and Rust, who graces some pedigrees around the world, to include the young Australian BIS winner Ch. Kanati Storm Magic.
Would this bitch win today? Judging only from this photo, I would respond that it is possible. She could win under some judges in the U.S., and the rest would depend on how she was campaigned. I doubt she could win at Crufts today. She doesn’t fit the current fashion.
The more valuable question as a breeder is: “Does she have something to offer today?” This is where I may take a little different approach. This one photo was not enough information to answer whether I would consider her an asset to my breeding program. Just as I would do normally, I sought out photos of her and dogs that would have been her contemporaries. This helped me to see and judge her against the AKC standard.
At first glance I thought she was short-coupled and was a little put off by her topline. After studying a few more photos, she grew on me. After re-reading the AKC standard (adopted in 1929, with only one minor change in 1935), I had an “aha moment.” I was getting caught up on her length, yet the word “long,” which appears four times in the standard, is only used to describe the head, neck, hindquarters and tail. I had been taught that the Greyhound is slightly longer than tall, yet our standard does not state that at all. When looking at photos of her contemporaries, they all were similar in style and size. So why did she look so different at first glance?
The answer is probably the evolution of the standards used around the world (English and FCI). The FCI standard (2011) has the word “long” in it six times, one of which describes the back: “rather long.” The English standard (2009) uses the word “long” to describe the head, neck, forelegs and tail, and although it doesn’t mention length of back, it stands to reason that English dogs and those in Europe would start to look more alike. They look different than the original AKC standard, to include the size.
With the ease of importing semen and foreign dogs to the U.S., I feel the lines have become blurred between the different set of standards. Judges are seeing more dogs of European style in the U.S. Often it is difficult to pick a dog that is very different from dogs in the same ring even if they more closely match the AKC standard. When GCA specialties are judged by foreign judges I am sure it is difficult for them to separate what they are used to seeing and judging against what is written in the AKC standard. All these factors have created a modern Greyhound that looks different than this bitch.
I found a photo of this bitch in an article from 1935 where she looks a little more mature and has an outline that I found more pleasing. Her topline seems more settled and she appears more balanced. She looks like a standard-size bitch with a beautiful head, good length of neck, with nice underline. There is nothing overdone about her. Her basic conformation doesn’t seem to indicate anything like sickle hocks, etc. After being able to research her a little more, I would consider her an asset to a breeding program today. Sometimes we must look to the past to create a new future.
Bahama, North Carolina
Maureen Lucas has had the Lochinvar Greyhounds for nearly 50 years. Her first Greyhound in 1973 was sired by Ch. Big Bombax. She says, “I hope to go out on a litter by frozen semen from Ann Gustafsson's final dog, Ch. Gulds Only O'Brian. I was lucky enough to get frozen semen from him when I met her in Sweden. We went from making the deal with Ann to going to visit Göran Bodegård at his apartment later the same day. By the next year, both humans and the dog were gone. I'll never forget that day.”
Does this Greyhound have something to offer? Yes — classic type! She is cohesive, with each part of her body being logical in relation to what comes before or after. She has the nice long legs that a galloping dog must have, with good balance between her front and rear angles. Her feet do not comply with the standard's call for "rather more hare than cat," and yet her pasterns are not bolt upright. While she is a bit plain-headed, especially for a bitch, she has good planes to her head and good underjaw. Her muzzle doesn't look like a bird-beak, and her backskull isn't a spare part left over from a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Her rise is over her loin, short that it may be. Her ribcage looks to carry well back on her body, so what length she has is in the right place and in proportion. Particularly of note is her underline — she has one!
The Swedish judge and Greyhound expert Göran Bodegård often spoke of "S-curves" as a key element of breed type. Too many Greyhounds have the underline of a Rottweiler. This girl has topline, underline, curve and long legs — all crucial to classic type. Greyhounds should not have the silhouette of a crocodile: flat on top, flat underneath and short on leg.
She seems as if she'd have a sensible trot as a consequence of her construction. Since she is not angulated behind like a GSD, it seems unlikely she'd trot like a German Shepherd, or have elbows that seem disconnected from the rest of her anatomy. Happily, she lived before the new trend of keels and prows in front, so she doesn't have the torso of a Doberman.
Her absence of extremes results in classic appeal — the words "exotic" and "extreme" do not appear in the Greyhound standard, which is always reminding us to find beauty without extremity.
Would she win Best in Show today? Who is holding her lead?
Hounds of Wynsyr
James is an AKC judge approved for 25 breeds, including all the Sighthounds, and has judged specialties (including Greyhounds) throughout the United States and Australia, and will judge the Hungarian Sighthound Club show later this year. He is a lifelong Sighthound fancier, known for Afghan Hounds, Greyhounds and Salukis. He piloted his most notable Greyhound, MBIS MBISS GCHS Sky Hi Hunt Song of Fire and Ice, to 26 Bests in Show in all-breed competition and more than 80 Group 1s, making her the top-winning Greyhound to have been shown by an owner-handler. She is also the winner of three Greyhound Club of America specialties and twice won BOB at Westminster.
Thank you for opening a dialogue about this Greyhound from yesteryear. I am quite often drawn to the classic Greyhounds of the past, and the bitch in the photo is no exception. While she is not perfect, I am immediately drawn to her curvaceous outline and overall balance. The length of leg under her is of notable importance, and her well-developed musculature is evident, particularly over her loin. She is not as long in body or extreme in angulation as many people are used to seeing today, but I see this as a virtue.
I do believe that she could win today, under certain judges who remember what Greyhounds used to look like, or those who have truly studied the history and function of the breed. This girl has elegance and grace, yet appears to have enough strength and substance to allow her to run down and dispatch her quarry. We still have Greyhounds of this type today, particularly in the U.S. and the U.K. They are what I consider a more “classic” type, as compared to the more modern type of, dare I say, generic show dogs that are so often successful at the higher levels of competition.
When judging the breed, I am often disappointed and find that the shape I want is simply not there. Too often I see overly long, tubular bodies (where have the curves gone?) that are short on leg. These dogs often have more extreme angulation and can fly around the ring in a manner more representative of a German Shepherd Dog, but I don’t believe that is what the Greyhound should be about.
We can’t see the bitch in this photo move, but I would imagine that she would be balanced and sound, which is what I want. I’d predict her side gait to be adequate but not something that would catch the eye of many all-rounders. Extreme side gait may be flashy, but we must remember that the Greyhound works at a gallop, not a trot, which, I believe, is why there is no mention of movement in the standard. Therefore, when judging a Greyhound, I put more emphasis on make and shape combined with basic soundness than I do to the amount of reach and drive viewed from the side.
I can think of a few kennels today that could benefit from incorporating a bitch like this in their program to help bring back curves, leg and balance. She is certainly one that I would be happy to have in my kennel.
I have owned Greyhounds since 1992, purchasing my first one from the Solstrand Kennel of Dagmar Kenis. Greyhounds have owned me since then! My grandfather, Mr. A. G. Boggia, known as Bill, had a kennel in the 1930s/1940s of Greyhounds and Smooth Fox Terriers. (He showed the Greyhound Eng. & Am. Ch. Boughton Blue Lad of Little Andely's with great success in England; when exported to the U.S., Lad became a multiple BIS winner and important sire.) I only breed when I want a new puppy to show, and have owned or bred 27 U.K. champions. I have been lucky enough to judge Greyhound specialties in Finland, Norway, Sweden, France and the U.S.
I can only answer this from the U.K. show scene perspective, which in itself tells a story: This sadly means that the “type” of Greyhound in the ring varies between countries and continents. Fashion has always dictated to a degree what wins in the ring; for example, in the book “The Greyhound” by George Matheson, published in the 1930s, the author talks about colors of the Greyhound, stating that “apart from the unfortunate blue, color does not count for very much in the greyhound” — a fashion at the time, resulting in only a handful of blues ever made into champions in the U.K. The author, whose pseudonym was Stonehenge in his book “The Greyhound,” published in 1853, writes, “it is fashionable to select flat and straight backs” — so demonstrating that fashions have been with us for time immemorial! However now, very regrettably in my opinion, social media dictates fashion, and exaggeration is being rewarded at the highest levels — certainly not what a working hound needs.
However, back to this lovely bitch. You have to ask yourself, “Does she tick the breed standard points?” — and overall, I would have to say, yes, she does. I love the fact that she is not exaggerated in any way and although there are things I would prefer to change on her, why should she not win? The reason she would not win is fashion.
She is clearly shorter in length in the back than we see today and as a result of this her underline appears to have a more dramatic sweep. I like her unexaggerated rear and really strong, straight hocks. Would she be able to work in the field all day? I’ll leave that question to those who course regularly. To me, though, her feet are rather over-knuckled, but in my experience, this goes hand in hand with a more upright front, and she looks like she could have a tad more depth and width of chest — clearly very difficult to assess from a photograph. One thing I would say is that you have to bear in mind it was very fashionable for photographs to be enhanced (yes, long before Photoshop, etc!), with very upright fronts and tight feet seen as desirable.
Only an incidental thing. but I feel in head she is rather “cheeky,” although she has lovely dark pigment. Interesting that her lovely half-sister, Ch. Jasmine of Harrowins, had a similar head.
So would she win today? I would say, in the U.K. overall, no, as she would stand out as looking different, being rather square in overall outline — there may be some, dare I say, old-school judges, who may well reward her well. However, to me this bitch illustrates a key feature of what we have lost: moderation.
Bitte Ahrens Primavera
Sobers Greyhounds, Whippets, Italian Greyhounds and Bracchi Italiani
Sobers has been a big name in Greyhounds since 1957; Bitte's grandmother lived in Sweden and bred many champions, including several in the U.S. Bitte has been involved in the dogs since childhood. An FCI judge since 1992, she has judged eight times in the U.S. since 2011, including the GCA National Specialty in 2018. With the Greyhounds, Bitte has bred multiple all-breed BIS and SBIS winners in Europe and the U.S., won nine Crufts BOB, Westminster BOB, multiple World Winners and dual champions. Most recently Bitte was RBIS from more than 7,400 dogs entered with her homebred Ch. Sobers Geraldine at Birmingham City championship show in England in September 2023.
I would normally not give an opinion about a dog that I can only see in a photo and am not able to see on the move.
“Do you think that this bitch from the 1930s would be competitive today?” My answer to this would be NO. So, let me explain why…
Our FCI breed standard so nicely describes under General Appearance the Greyhound to be: "Strongly built, upstanding, of generous proportions, muscular power, and symmetrical formation, with a long head and neck, clean well laid shoulders, deep chest, capacious body, slightly arched loin, powerful quarters, sound legs and feet, and a suppleness of limb, which emphasize in a marked degree its distinctive type and quality. "
To me, this is a pretty bitch who indeed has some positive details, but she seems to be missing some of the breed attributes, which are of the utmost importance. Although upstanding with good length of legs, I would like to see a stronger and more generous dog, showing more muscular power.
This bitch appears to be (in this photo) too short-coupled and reminds me more of an Italian Greyhound or an old-fashioned Whippet in its body proportions than of a Greyhound. She does not give the impression of being strong. I doubt her upright front angulation would have given the desired front movement. The somehow shorter, curved underline and shorter loin also reminds me more of an Italian Greyhound. The rear seems sound but is — again — lacking the strength we would like to see.
Greyhounds of Aroi
Georgiana Mueller has been breeding Greyhound champions since the 1960s (“I have no idea at all of how many,” she says — but definitely more than 60 AKC champions), including the top Greyhound of all time, Ch. Aroi Talk of the Blues, “Punky,” winner of 66 BIS, #1 All Breeds in 1976. The Internet's Greyhound Breed Archive has 32 litters bred by Georgiana from 1962 to 2015.
I believe that is Southball Moonstone. A very nice vintage bitch for her day and certainly could/should win in our present day. Very feminine but not weedy. One could go down her "body parts" one by one and everything properly fits together. Pretty head, long nicely curved neck, neck set-on, nice shoulder layback and set-under. Very nice topline and rear angulation. I myself would like a little (and I mean a little) more length of body.
Probably her hardest challenge would be size, as present-day Greyhounds have gotten a lot larger.
Bruce Clark and Steve Fisher
Shylo Afghans and Greyhounds
Steve and Bruce have been breeding Shylo Afghans for more than 50 years and Greyhounds for almost 40. They have had the thrill of breeding a couple of national-specialty winners, and Steve is one of less than a half-dozen AKC Greyhound breeder-judges in the U.S.
Bruce writes: “In 1997, our first Greyhound litter (co-bred with Scott Thomson) was sired by BIS/SBIS Ch. Shazam’s The Journey Begins out of Ch. Heirloom Lovin' Life. From that litter of six came two BIS winners, two Best of Breed winners at Westminster, the #1 Greyhound in the country for 2001, and a total of six champions. We also owned Ch. Brasspur My Blue Heaven, who won the Breed at Westminster as well. Another of our well-known dogs was Ch. Eclat’s Party of One, who sired numerous champions for us.
“Through the years we have held fast to our vision of what a correct Greyhound should be — athletic, graceful and able to hold its unique outline when moving with open ‘off the ground’ sidegait. A beautiful head and eye complete the picture. To that end, we are continually striving to better the breed.”
She looks very feminine, and has a nice outline, although it looks to me from the picture that she could use more fill between her front legs and better set-under in the front. Her head is OK, but not what I prefer — looks like she has nice ears. I like her neck-to-shoulder-to-topline flow and she looks fairly well angulated in the rear. She looks very small from the picture and sort of “Whippety” to me. I would like her to be more up on leg and have more length of loin.
Since it is a still picture, no one would be able to tell how she moves, and that is such an important thing to me as a breeder. Sidegait is lacking in a lot of the Greyhounds being shown today, and I would bet, with how short her loin is in the picture, that she wouldn’t have enough reach and drive for me. I’m also guessing that she might not be very balanced, front and rear, from the way she is built in the front and her loin length.
All in all, she is an attractive bitch, and I’m sure would be able to win in the ring today. There are all different types of Greyhounds being shown today, and depending on who is pointing the finger almost every type can find some judge who likes their type of Greyhound. Wish we had a moving picture of her … — Bruce Clark
The bitch has all the requisite shape requirements that could still win today. Side picture both standing and moving is hugely important. She’s not extreme in any way, which is just fine in the show ring, though should be concerning for a breeder. Our experience has been that breeding programs will drift toward mediocrity unless the occasional dose of “extremeness” occurs. She looks lovely in the photo, but, of course, the proof is in the pudding. What does she look like on the move? Although I’m not a big proponent of TRAD (“Tremendous Reach and Drive”), I do believe that nothing speaks more to deep, real quality than an easy, open sidegait. A mincey and restricted sidegait that requires effort is an offense to a Sighthound. — Steve Fisher
President and Judges Education Committee, Greyhound Club of America.
I am sorry to may have missed the chance to discuss this bitch. The Greyhound Club had a lot going on the last few weeks and I have been traveling a lot.
I love her headpiece and her front assembly looks good, but would have liked to see it from the front. Her underline is just slightly sharp and I would prefer a softer transition from the brisket into the loin, giving her a little more length of body, but not much. While she has a good rise over the loin, she appears to fall off behind, although it may be the angle of the picture. I also see a patch of color that may be a little deceiving regarding the croup. Her pasterns and feet are also very nice.
So, I think this is an overall smooth-bodied bitch with the curves we are sometimes missing now, who could win on any given day. She appears to be in good, hard condition. I am curious about her size and weight compared to today's bitches and would like to see her go. Alas, that is not to be, but I give her a thumbs up based on what I see.
Poem To a Crufts Winner
I don’t know if this is of interest, Bo: The following verse appeared in Our Dogs shortly after Crufts 1934, where Southball Moonstone won … It is unclear who actually wrote the verse. — CLARE BOGGIA
Charles Cruft was the man who started Cruft's Dog Show in 1886. The Kennel Club bought the rights to the name from Cruft's widow, eventually deleted the apostrophe and continues to hold Crufts to this day. — BB.
This is the show
That Cruft built;
These are the dogs
Who wanted a prize,
So went to the Show
That Cruft built.
These are the maids
Who groomed the dogs
Who wanted a prize,
So went to the Show
That Cruft built.
This is the cock
That crowed in the morn
To wake the maidens, all forlorn,
To take the dogs —
Some hairy, some shorn —
Who wanted a prize
For their style and size
To be shown in the Show
That Cruft built.
These are the judges,
Some tall of form,
Who had to get up
In the early dawn,
To watch the maidens, all forlorn,
Bring in their dogs —
Some hairy, some shorn;
Dogs that got brushed,
From daylight to dusk
To win in the Show
That Cruft built.
This is the Greyhound,
Champion of all,
Who won the cup,
Over large and small,
And went so happily
Back to his stall,
The best in the Show
That Cruft built.
The Greyhound Standards
American Kennel Club
Official Standard of the Greyhound
Head: Long and narrow, fairly wide between the ears, scarcely perceptible stop, little or no development of nasal sinuses, good length of muzzle, which should be powerful without coarseness. Teeth very strong and even in front.
Ears: Small and fine in texture, thrown back and folded, except when excited, when they are semi-pricked.
Eyes: Dark, bright, intelligent, indicating spirit.
Neck: Long, muscular, without throatiness, slightly arched, and widening gradually into the shoulder.
Shoulders: Placed as obliquely as possible, muscular without being loaded.
Forelegs: Perfectly straight, set well into the shoulders, neither turned in nor out, pasterns strong.
Chest: Deep, and as wide as consistent with speed, fairly well-sprung ribs.
Back: Muscular and broad.
Loins: Good depth of muscle, well arched, well cut up in the flanks.
Hindquarters: Long, very muscular and powerful, wide and well let down, well-bent stifles. Hocks well bent and rather close to ground, wide but straight fore and aft.
Feet: Hard and close, rather more hare than catfeet, well knuckled up with good strong claws.
Tail: Long, fine and tapering with a slight upward curve.
Coat: Short, smooth and firm in texture.
Weight: Dogs, 65 to 70 pounds; bitches 60 to 65 pounds.
Scale of Points
General symmetry and quality 10
Head and neck 20
Chest and shoulders 20
Legs and feet 20
Royal Kennel Club (United Kingdom)
Strongly built, upstanding, of generous proportions, muscular power and symmetrical formation, with long head and neck, clean, well-laid shoulders, deep chest, capacious body, slightly arched loin, powerful quarters, sound legs and feet, and a suppleness of limb, which emphasise in a marked degree its distinctive type and quality.
Possessing remarkable stamina and endurance.
Intelligent, gentle, affectionate and even-tempered.
Head and skull
Long, moderate width, flat skull, slight stop. Jaws powerful and well chiselled.
Bright, intelligent, oval and obliquely set. Preferably dark.
Small, rose-shape, of fine texture.
Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Long and muscular, elegantly arched, well let into shoulders.
Shoulders oblique, well set back, muscular without being loaded, narrow and cleanly defined at top. Forelegs, long and straight, bone of good substance and quality. Elbows free and well set under shoulders. Pasterns of moderate length, slightly sprung. Elbows, pasterns and toes inclining neither in nor out.
Chest deep and capacious, providing adequate heart room. Ribs deep, well sprung and carried well back. Flanks well cut up. Back rather long, broad and square. Loins powerful, slightly arched.
Thighs and second thighs wide and muscular, showing great propelling power. Stifles well bent. Hocks well let down, inclining neither in nor out. Body and hindquarters, features of ample proportions and well coupled, enabling adequate ground to be covered when standing.
Moderate length, with compact, well-knuckled toes and strong pads.
Long, set on rather low, strong at root, tapering to point, carried low, slightly curved.
Straight, low reaching, free stride enabling the ground to be covered at great speed. Hindlegs coming well under body giving great propulsion.
Fine and close.
Black, white, red, blue, fawn, fallow, brindle or any of these colours broken with white.
Ideal height: dogs: 71-76 cms (28-30 ins); bitches: 69-71 cms (27-28 ins).
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.