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About Kifka Borzoi

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Kifka Borzoi is tended by Ken and Patti Burton. We will attempt to tell you about our philosophies and background in order for you to get to know us better.

Our breeding program is largely based on one foundation stud "Freckles" ( Ch. Zelimir Nakoa von Berghof ), and three foundation bitches, litter sisters Ch. Alexa Mara von Berghof ( our first borzoi ), Ch. Natasha Feodora von Berghof, and Shanna Contessa von Berghof.

We bought our first borzoi in May 1978, when Alexa was 7 months old. She became our first champion, owner handled. We prefer Natasha's and Shanna's head shape, overall conformation and flawless movement over Alexa's. We love Alexa's beautiful elegant expressions, nice temperament and excellent substance. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and Alexa had wonderfully "soulful" eyes! Oh, how she talked with her eyes! She also successfully passed along her elegant expressions, substance and gentle loving temperament to her offsprings. Alexa lived to be 10.

We acquired Natasha when she was 18 months. She gave us 3 tiny litters, our A, B and C. Natasha lived to be 14.

It took over 4 years of negotiations with the Bonsacks before they finally allowed us to acquire Shanna at age 7. It took another year of conditioning to get her in shape for the one litter we bred from her, our E litter. We lost Shanna at 14 1/2.

We co-owned Freckles, our foundation stud, with the Bonsacks. He was the pick of the litter out of the 4th and final litter, an outcross, sired by the Bonsacks' Ch. Tamburas George von Berghof. He was our first male, and was owner handled to 3 California majors and a Group 4. Freckles was an extremely people oriented dog who probably believed that he was a person as well. He lived to be 12.

We dislike bitchy dogs and doggy bitches. We dislike coarseness, but we can tolerate a somewhat less than refined head. We feel the borzoi's elegance comes from more than a properly shaped head and eye set. The borzoi's expressions ( eyes and ears ) are also integral parts of elegance. We strongly dislike slab sides, but we also do not care for barrel chests, nor overly bulky, heavy round boned borzoi. We like nice solid bodies with slightly sprung ribs. We feel that the borzoi is a powerful, sleek hound that should not look like a moose ( or a Mastiff ). A sound, substantial borzoi does not have to be coarse! We like to see the blade shaped bones in the front legs, as called for in our standard. We like to see nice coats, although it is not a critical element in our breeding decisions. Coat is a desirable trait according to our standard, and was given a fairly high weight in our old standard. However, we find that an excessively profuse coat tends to detract from the graceful lines of the borzoi.

The curves and angles are the basic makeup of the borzoi. We like to see well-angulated fronts and rears. We think that many borzoi have well-angulated rears, but we feel that very few have properly angulated fronts, especially the upper arm layback. We think that it is very difficult to accurately assess upper arm laybacks from pictures, particularly when the borzoi has profuse feathering on both the upper arms and the front legs. The profuse coat obscures the view of the angle of the upper arm and sometimes creates an illusion of a laid back upper arm, making accurate evaluations difficult. We also think some borzoi are over angulated in the rear, and some shoulder laybacks are too sloped ( as opposed to too steep ). Of course, we think there are a lot more under angulated fronts and rears than there are over angulated ones. We have noticed that dogs with poor front and rear angulations seem to have a better "Terrier trot" on the down and back, although they have restricted extensions ( mincing gait ) on the side.

As far as the topline, we like to see the back ( withers to last rib ), the loin ( last rib to hips ), and the croup ( hips to tail ) to be roughly of equal lengths. We like to see the rise starting from close to the last rib, and peaking shortly behind the last rib, with a gradual fall-off into the croup and down towards the tail. We do not like to see too much arch, nor do we like a flat topline. We abhor sway backs! We like to see low set tails, and most of our borzoi have nice low tail carriage. However, we are not particularly concerned about the tail carriage, although we do think that a high tail carriage does tend to detract from the smooth outline of the borzoi in motion.

As a running hound, we feel that the side gait is much more important than the coming and going, although many people and judges cannot see side movement, and frequently mistake speed for effortless ground covering gait. Viewed from the side, we like to see smooth, low lifting, ground covering extensions. A lot of judges, especially in the group, seem to like to see the stylish, flying, high stepping ( hackneyed ) gait so commonly seen in the Afghans. It is a pretty, but highly inefficient gait, and is certainly considered improper for the large sighthounds. We feel that the hackneyed gait comes from a straight upper arm coupled with good shoulder layback. We like to see very low lifting ( energy efficient ) legs, with the feet kept as close to the ground as possible. The extension comes from properly angulated fronts and rears. In motion, the borzoi topline should appear smooth flowing along a horizontal plane. It should not bounce up and down ( lumbering ). Being a coursing hound, we feel that the borzoi's ability to efficiently cover a lot of ground, i.e., ground coverage with each front and rear extension ( side gait ), is critically important for the breed.

Most of our dogs have full dentitions and scissors bites. Some have even bites.

Size-wise, we prefer 32" to 33" males and 29" bitches. We'd rather have a 31 1/2" male than a 33 1/2" one. We do not breed for color, although we tend to get a fair number of white/tan sables and mostly whites. Patti prefers white/red sables and Ken is somewhat partial to the whites. We find that a borzoi in good health and condition can be beautiful in any color. We do feel that black ones are at a disadvantage at shows in Southern California because almost all our shows are outdoors and black ones tend to attract and retain more heat.

As far as hunting instinct, we personally don't believe in killing for the "sport" of it. However, as breeders of hunting dogs, we try to preserve the strong hunting instinct in our dogs. We do try to strongly discourage them from hunting. Some of our dogs are "gamier" than others. We tried lure coursing some years ago when Lone Ranger ( Ch. Kifka Alexander ) was about 13 months old. He did very well and had accumulated fifty some points and both first placements in the few trials we took him. Several unfortunate events caused us to curtail this activity. We look forward to resuming coursing because our dogs enjoy it so much.

We do insist on loving, gentle temperaments. Several of our dogs have been used in TV movies, commercials, as well as in ballets. We also make periodic trips to schools to discuss dog ownership responsibilities and have the opportunity to show the kids and the teachers that big dogs can be gentle and loving. Some teachers we encountered while socializing our dogs have also requested the use of our borzoi for other "career days" at various kindergarten and elementary school classes.

We try to achieve overall balance in our dogs through objective evaluation and selection for our breeding program. We prefer moderation in all aspects to the extremes we've seen in some breeding programs. We suspect that some breeders have adopted very narrowly focused selection criteria ( e.g. coat, color, head shape ). Consequently, the rest of their dogs' qualities seem to have suffered. We recognize that every breeding program will have variation in the quality of the animals simply due to the inherent randomness of the pairing of the genetic codes. We believe that the selection criteria should be as broad as possible so that improvement in one aspect does not come at the expense of the rest of the dog.

We have a philosophy about breeders. Regardless of the source of your foundation stock, all your breedings reflect your choices, not the choices of the breeders of your foundation stock. That's why it always amazes us that some people like to claim to have "old line" or "ancient type" this and that. Reminiscing on our early borzoi days, some breeders favored promoting their borzoi as "old line Malora", or "old line Sunbarr", in spite of their borzoi being several generations removed from Eileen Worthington's ( Malora ) or James Barr's ( Sunbarr ) breedings. We started with von Berghof Borzoi ( Karl & Elly Bonsack ), and have inbred and line bred from them. We are very thankful to the Bonsacks for being able to acquire from them such quailty borzoi. However, our breedings are Kifka and not von Berghof because they reflect our selections. Two breeders can start with the same breeding stock, and after several generations, their borzoi may look totally different from each other's because the breeders have selected for different traits. Selection is a critical aspect of any breeding program. Not surprisingly, our breedings ( like many other lines ) include Malora and Sunbarr as well many other well known kennel names behind them.

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