AIREDALE IN RUSSIA
Terriers were the first breed of terriers to appear in Russia. At the
beginning of the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, the Russian embassy in London
approached Lt. Col. Richardson, the recognized authority in the field
of military dog-breeding at the time, with a request to help provide the
Russian army with dogs specially trained to take the wounded away from
the battlefields. Richardson promptly responded, and, in due course, his
terriers were sent to St Petersburg, the Russian capital at the time.
Most of these dogs were Airedales, which were soon accepted by the Russian
army as the best dogs for communication and sanitary services. These Airedales
had been imported from England.
Both the original Airedale Terriers and their masters/breeders perished
in the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917. Airedales were reintroduced
in Russia in the early 1920s when the breed was recognized as useful for
Special Red Army units of service dogs were created in 1923, and Airedales
were also used successfully as demolition dogs, guard dogs, police tracking
dogs and casualty dogs. Russia brought dozens of Airedales through official
channels from Britain and Germany, and began target-breeding of Airedales.
As a result, this breed grew in numbers and popularity.
After World War II, Russia had to restore the breed from two sources:
a handful of Airedales remaining in Moscow and those just brought in from
Germany, some of them captured during the war. Until 1959, Russian breeders
relied too heavily on inbreeding, which brought forth accumulated genetic
defects and resulted in loss of a distinct breed type.
In the 1960s, international contacts first became possible for Russian
dog breeders. Several dogs were brought to Russia from East Germany and
Czechoslovakia. All the new Airedales had close genealogical links with
Europe. They originated from key sires in the breed, such as Warland Protector
of Sheltrock, Brineland Bonnie Boy, Clie Courtier and Warland Ditto, some
of the greatest sires of the 1920s.
By the mid-1980s, the Airedale breed was well established in Russia and
was immensely popular. The Czech Airedales, tracing their origin from
Din First Fire and through the line of his son Bumbarash, constituted
the majority of the Moscow Airedale community.
In fact, the situation with Russia's Airedales was not quite as good as
it seemed. Foreign contact was very limited and Russian Airedales were
effectively sealed off from the rest of the world, getting an occasional
injection of fresh blood from East Germany or Czechoslovakia. These infrequently
imported dogs were certainly not up to a high standard. There was little
or no information about winners of major international shows; few dog
yearbooks or catalogues of dog photographs were available. Yet the Russian
judges were popularly considered competent Airedale experts overseas.
breeders followed a set of homespun standards approved by the Ministry
for Agriculture rather than the internationally accepted FCI (Federation
Cynologique Internationale) standards. The Russian Breed Standard required
a greater height, with subsequent changes in shape and proportions. Lack
of information on Airedales and absence of reliable benchmarks prevented
domestic breeders from identifying and correcting a number of deviations
and defects. Domestic Airedales tended to follow very old standards, long-since
In the early 1980s, five pedigree Airedales recently descended from English
true bloods came from Finland (four) and France (one). They helped update
the Russian breed of Airedale and made them look more like their cousins
overseas. Their names were Teinikedon Ulimus (a prize-winner, later
dubbed 'Tobik', who made an especially great impact on the breed in Russia;
owner S. Smolanitskaya); males Scherzo De Franc Sablon, Big
Lady's All Attention, and bitches Echo-Lotta (owner Ms Larshina),
and Big Lady's Covergirl Elisa. The grandsire of Scherzo De Franc
Sablon and Echo-Lotta was Jokvl Smart Guy, an excellent Airedale. Other
dogs hailed from the leading Finnish kennels with excellent Scandinavian
lineage. Swed. Fin. Nor. Ch. Bengal Mogul was grandsire to Big Lady's
Covergirl Elisa and great-grandsire to Big Lady's All Attention through
his son Royal Tan Roderick, also a Champion of Sweden and Norway. Through
his other son, Boogeyman, he was grandsire of Teinikedon Ulimus. Another
popular Finnish Airedale was in Tobik's pedigree - Malmangen Goldpowder,
tracing his origin to dogs raised in the best known English kennels, Krescent,
Bengal and Siccawei.
bloods soon improved the quality of the breed and the Russian Airedale
became more modern and elegant and more like proper terriers.
Tobik's participation in breeding was particularly valuable. In appearance,
he was materially different from other Russian Airedale Terriers at that
time, even from locally acknowledged best specimens. He had strong genes,
passing his best qualities on to his offspring: a beautiful head, a great
body, a good coat of hair, etc. Teinikedon Ulimus was the first Russian
Airedale Terrier to produce descendants of such quality and uniformity.
The Ulimus children and grandchildren won at dog shows wherever Finnish
blood was added to Airedales. Matings of Tobik with Finnish bitches also
produced some outstanding results, as his blood was mixed with that of
Scherzo De Frank Sablon.
By the 1980s, Moscow and Leningrad were no longer Russia's only centres
breeding Airedales. Large Airedale sections were organised in Saratov,
Rostov, Minsk, Vladimir, Ekaterinburg and Perm.
from Saratov often won top places at major dog shows. Saratov's breeders
widely used Teinikedon Ulimus, in-breeding on him 2-2 (where Tobik was
the grandsire on both mother's and father's sides). Their competent breeding
soon produced good results; Saratov dogs from the Style club led at the
largest shows in the country. Echo-Lotta's offspring from Rostov-on-Don
were an important factor in successful breeding of Airedales in Saratov.
Echo-Lotta produced a large progeny, including bitches Pifaldina Pride
(owner Kostyuk), Duchess Pride (owner Kuropatkina), and Pifaldina's daughters,
Michaela Style (owner Yerokhina) and Minion Style (owner Kvasha). Michaela
and Minion's litter-sisters Marjolene Style (owner Kanniniex, Riga), Marilyn
Style (owner Pryzhukova, Odessa), and Musetta Style (Rostov-on-Don) won
at the dog shows in their respective cities. They had many litters and
gave birth to large families.
Tobik's lineage was further developed in Moscow-based clubs - MGOLS (Russian
abbreviation for Moscow City Society of Dog Enthusiasts; Chairperson for
Airedale Division N. Kirsanova) and Elite (Head Breeder S. Smolanitskaya).
Dogs raised and trained in these clubs won at many dog shows. The winners
include Hunter Pride (owner Ms Rubina), Negoro Ergunt (owner Mr Terentiev),
Lisbeth Pride (owner N. Kirsanova), Tornado Twist (owner Ms Budnik), Trassy
Twist (owner M. Khokhlova), and many more.
Perestroika of the late 1980s brought a crisis upon Russian dog-breeding
which soon began to take its toll on Airedale Terriers. Before then, most
Airedales had been concentrated in official DOSAAF dog clubs, of which
the DOSAAF club in Moscow was the largest and best-equipped. Moscow held
two city shows every year, plus two regional shows, which attracted many
participants, with some of the finest specimens of the breed in Russia.
This made the title of a Moscow show winner very prestigious. The dogs
exhibited at Moscow shows reflected the actual state of affairs in the
breed; those shows registered successes and failures of breeding. Between
50 and 60 dogs in each age group took part in the shows from 1985 to 88.
Between 1987 and 1989, dog associations and clubs sprouted everywhere
across Russia; the breed became split into sub-breeds. People involved
in Airedale breeding were not always competent, and changes and divisions
in the breed were not always for the better. Moreover, the names of Teinikedon
Ulimus, Scherzo and Echo-Lotta were becoming ever more distant in the
family trees, and the effect of English blood was waning.
Recent political change meant that Russian breeders could now cross borders
at will and see European Airedales. Foreign literature about the breed
became more available, as well as providing more reliable comparisons.
It became clear that our 'Finns' did not possess some of the very important
features of a modern Airedale's appearance.
From the late 1980s to date, more than 40 Airedale dogs and 20 bitches
were brought to the USSR (and later NIS) from 12 countries around the
world. Few other breeds in Russia can boast of such extensive imports.
The first imported dogs opened a new page in history of the breed in Russia;
it was not merely a transition to new dogs with different lineage, to
a new vision of the Airedale breed, to new organisation of breeding, to
stricter criteria for selection and breeding. Thus Russia joined the civilised
private and co-operative kennels replaced the centralised authoritarian
dog clubs where often-misguided staff 'zootechnicians' would arbitrarily
impose a set of breed criteria. The new private kennels specialise exclusively
in Airedales, gathering dogs with the most interesting exterior, which
represent valuable breed material. Stiff competition has propelled several
Airedale kennels into eminence: Style (Saratov, head breeders Alla Yerokhina,
Galina Kuropatkina,) Bright Nose (Moscow, breeder Elena Lapina), Catherina's
(Tallinn, breeder Ekaterina Kantievskaya), Stunning (Ekaterinburg, breeder
Natalya Stafeyeva), Cornels (Moscow, Elena and Sergey Nikulina), Basidale
(Saratov, breeder Vasili Turin), Modern Type (Moscow, breeder Natalya
Kirsanova), Excellent (Moscow, breeder Nina Chichkova), Quick Fly (Moscow,
breeders Elizaveta and Irina Elizarova), Gypsy (Moscow, breeder Inna Danilova).
Local clubs, private kennels and breeders unite into National Airedale
The winners display careful trimming and training. Presentation of dogs
at shows is becoming increasingly important. It is often hard to say (even
for a casually observing expert) how much in the winner comes from nature,
and how much from hard training, trimming and handling by the ambitious
master. Even foreign experts note that the beauty of Russian Airedales
is now on a par with the best Airedales overseas.
Though modern Russian Airedales have totally different origins, the current
success is not totally isolated from previous achievements. 'Old' Airedales
made the breed well known and much loved in Russia. Dedicated Airedale
enthusiasts have accumulated a wealth of experience over the years: Natalya
Kirsanova, Emily Nogachevskaya, Sergei and Elena Nikulina, Elisaveta and
Irina Elizarova, Julia Lakatosh, Ekaterina Senashenko, Anna Stouit (Moscow),
Galina Kuropatkina and Alla Yerokhina (Saratov), Marina Bezukladova (St
Petersburg), and Natalia Stafeyeva (Ekaterinburg), among others, have
devoted more than fifteen years of their lives to Airedales.
breed material now includes some of the best modern blood in the breed.
Airedales have become serious competition to other breeds in Best in Group
and Best in Show inter-breed contests. Nobody is really surprised any
longer that our Airedales win such contests. Strongfort Xterminator, Basidale
Sea Rover Of Constanta, Kornels Great Beauty, Kron Berry, It's My Life
Kornels, Spicaway Brutus have all won in the Terrier class; others are
poised to win in the near future.
Some Russian dogs have participated in foreign shows, and won top places
and awards. Soft-Air Vichy, Britham Pendragon Wrath-Amon, Epoch International
Time, are all .Finnish Champions.
Eight Russian male Airedales and ten bitches took part in the 1998 World
Show in Helsinki, and were described as excellent by the jury. Five dogs
and six bitches won prizes: Quick Fly Temptation (Rollingstones To Russia
With Love x Rotbi Darfly Bright), owned by Lisa Elisarova, won Res. CACIB.
All this gives us hope that Airedales, this favourite breed, has a great
future, and that new, more numerous Airedale generations will be capable
of winning at the world's most prestigious shows.