Dobermanns in the New Russia – Evgeny Rozenberg

Dobermanns in the New Russia
This article was published in the Dutch edition “The World of Dobermanns in 2004 ” by Evgeny Rozenberg

Strict and wise planning:

The ‘curtain’, which for decades separated Russia from the rest of the world, was broken down in the second half of 1980s. This circumstance also affected Russian dogdom, which had existed without any contacts with western breeders. Not only had it been impossible to exchange puppies or to use western stud dogs, it was simply impossible to even see dogs bred abroad.
Working dogs, including Dobermanns, have been bred in Russia since the beginning of 20th century, mainly as police dogs. The development of working breeds by dog fanciers began in the USSR in the early 1920s, and had the form of collective creative activities. In the early years however the breeders made their own combinations. Later on this most important moment of selection was carried out by clubs. Dog owners joined these clubs. Actually every big city had a club of this kind. The members of the clubs elected Committees, and they made the breeding decisions. Wishes of the owners of bitches could be taken into account, or could be ignored. Specialists in breeding were elected from the most experienced members of the clubs. Sometimes selections were made by the ordinary members of the clubs.
Moscow was a real authority in Dobermann breeding for decades. After World War II from time to time a Dobermann from DDR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Finland or some other country came to Russia. Those who imported were inexperienced people and often the quality was less than our main domestic stock. But even so, these new Dobermanns were important: as carriers of fresh blood, and they were used for breeding. If the puppies born from the combination of domestic dogs and imports were at least of medium quality, they were widely used for breeding.
Thus the founders of main lines were bred: John, Jim, GOBI (RKF),  ALMAZ (K-23) and GESS (K-41). The most productive and logically developed was the line of the famous sire GESS (K-41). Besides the best Soviet dogs his pedigree contains two dogs imported from Eastern Germany: AKBAR V CICILIENHOFF (DZB 68401) and DIK DOLF V MUCHLEN (MUTSCHLEN). These two names in the pedigrees of Dobermanns are often an indication for a finer, slightly nervous type, but GESS (K-41) was different.  He had a long, masculine head, strong bone and a very deep brisket. However, his angulation and topline were not so impeccable, compared to the other favorites of that time. GESS (K-41) proved to be an outstanding Russian stud dog. His offspring was dominant in breeding and starred in the ring. These Dobermans formed the background for new producers imported to Russia from Europe during the new epoch.

Controlled breeding:

‘Controlled’ dog breeding in our former circumstances was a recourse for us, because somebody had to take care of a perspective in the conditions of a closed country. Within 3-4 years the breed could find itself in a deadlock of inbred depression, if it were not for strict and wise planning: all the bitches’ owners would have used the same two or three best males for breeding. And there was no hope to get a new stud dog from abroad with a ‘fresh’ pedigree, which would be able to correct all the faults of the existing type. Looking back I can remember many a Russian Doberman that would not be a shame today, though they obviously differ from the modern ring winners.
In 1971 in the frame of the World Game Fair (Budapest. Hungary) the Dog World Show was held. Perhaps the leading western kennels did not participate, but there were a lot of dogs from different countries. Unexpectedly, the USSR government half opened the ‘curtain’ for a moment. Five Dobermans from the USSR, together with their owners, were sent to Hungary. The dog from Poland Idzi (Graf x Dina) and Hungarian dog NIKI (MET DOB 547) (ROGDAJ (K-22) x BARA (NL8751)) were also among the participants. Both of them were born in Moscow. All these Dobermans were placed in the finals, Idzi and India became Champions.

Contact and study:

The situation in our country changed with the beginning of ‘perestroika’. Any number of clubs with their own programs of breeding could be organized in every city of the country from that time. The biggest club, uniting the owners of the best Dobermans, was Zoosfera. Actually it was the only collective kennel for several years. Later, when Russia became a FCI member, the iz Zoosfery; Smart Wood Hills, S’Lichobor; Zolotaya Dinastia, and many others kennels, separated from the club Zoosfera and became independent kennels.
Participating in the World Championship in Brno (Czechoslovakia, 1990) was a critical time for us. We arrived at this particular Show en mass. The first Dobermans we saw in front of the show hall were Baron Bryan v. Harro’s Berg, Graaf Quirinus v. Neerlands Stam, Hillo Royal Bell and Lady Levina v. Roveline. ‘Shock’ is the most appropriate word qualifying our impression. Any one of them staggered the imagination. But seeing all these grand dogs together at a time was an ordeal. Our Dobermans were not bad, they were of harmonic construction, with very nice correct outlines, excellent angulation and solid health – they normally reached the age of 13-14 years. But in comparison with the best European dogs they looked lighter, with somewhat fine bone, weak lower jaws and a light tan.
We needed some time to digest these differences and to start a new era of breeding. Russian Doberman lovers had a good canine background. Our teachers were experienced specialists who had been the students of the German judges V. Klodt, E. Bauman and E. Otto in their days. Unlike many other countries Russia has a tradition of open discussion about breeding techniques and methods of judging, and the results of judging and disputes were published in the canine literature. Sometimes this generated difficulties amongst breeders, but at the same time helps to understand better the processes that take place in dogdom. We immersed ourselves in the books of J. v.d. Zwan. G. Schuller and other literature that had at last became available. With the help of the books and widely cooperating with the best western breeders and judges, we managed to organize a deliberate importing of puppies, and began to mate our bitches to the leading western stud dogs.


The first imports from Europe considerably influenced the old type of Russian Dobermann. Kastell v. Schloss Grossau (Bronko Drei Birken x Wega v. Schloss Grossau), from Austria, started the type renewal. But the biggest impact on the essential change of the Russian Doberman population was Melwas-Muro v. Birkcnhain (Ibis v. Franckenhorst x Moushka-Mariska v. Franckenhorst), who was imported from Switzerland.
He had everything our Dobermanns lacked at that time: strength, nice masculine head and a beautiful tan. His pedigree was maximally packed with the representatives of the famous V-litter of the Dutch kennel “v. Franckenhorst’. Vivre Vivien v. Franckenhorst was twice presented within three generations, and besides that the pedigree contained Vitesse v. Franckenhorst and Vincent v. Franckenhorst. The distinct type of Melwas-Muro and his concentrated pedigree were very promising. The expectations were answered in full extent. He became the founder of a new line, was very popular as a stud dog and sired more than a thousand puppies of a totally new type. His offspring was among the winners in almost all the classes in the biggest Russian dog shows. Almost all his litters contained champions. Many of them were used for breeding. His daughters produced puppies of very high quality to almost any breeding combination. His daughters from a beautiful Yugoslav bitch, Ami Cobra (Traick of Def Limited x Marta), were of considerable importance. Two of them, Kwin de Gor and Krata de Gor, became a very firm foundation for the Smart Wood Hills and S’Lichobor kennels. We had very successful puppies out of these bitches, making line combinations for Arrow v. Harro’s Berg. Many years later we can well see the positive influence of these combinations. The S’Lichobor kennel produced many high quality Dobermans and gained world fame thanks to the IDC-Winner S’Lichobor Fantom (Alfa Adelante del Citone x S’Lichobor Svesdochka). The steady working Smart Wood Hills kennel represents excellent stock of desired similar style at different dog shows.The dogs of this kennel influence not only Russian, but also national breeding of other countries such as Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Some role in the future foundation of this progressive Melwas-Muro line was played by Mora Mirrah v. Birkenhain, a litter sister of Melwas-Muro. Unfortunately she produced only one litter (line bred to Fela v. Franckenhorst). The very beautiful bitch Yuta Debora Play (Clinics Ezlo x Mora Mirrah) was the star of this litter. Mated to Gamon di Campovalano she gave an excellent litter, which included the wonderful Zolotaja Dinastia Susanna, who did a lot of winning at Russian shows and became a European Champion.

Big boys:

After Melwas-Muro and his sister tens of many Dobermans were imported to Russia from different countries. Dogs of very high, and of average, quality amongst them. Some of these Dobermanns became influential dogs, but did not play a role as reformers of the Russian stock. Even the big winners among their best descendants did not surprise in the way the puppies of Melwas-Muro did in his time, because by now the rest of the show dogs were also of good quality and modern type The most popular stud dogs after the famous Melwas-Muro were Irinus de Ferignis (Graaf Quirinus v. Neerlands Stam x Alina v. ‘t Groneland), imported from France, Igor v. Marchengarten (Graaf Quirinus v. Neerlands Stam x Reni v. Norden Stamm) from Germany, Graaf Quinton v. Neerlands Stam (Machico v. Les Deux Peupliers x Gravin Wanda v. Neerlands Stam) from Holland and Tahi-Reme Xaro (Gamon di Campovalano x Tahi-Reme Nina) from Hungary.
Tahi-Reme Xaro was the most widely used stud dog. He was of average size, with very strong bone, excellent upper line and deep brisket. His head was rather heavy and the neck a bit short. He was successful at dog shows and had a lot of admirers among the Russian Dobermann lovers. He created a good impression on the whole and left numerous good progeny. But he did not really produce outstanding quality.
Two sons of Graaf Quirinus. Irinus de Ferignis and Igor v. Marchengarten, arrived in Moscow almost at the same time. The fate of either was different. Thanks to a wide-ranging promotion campaign IRINUS DE FERIGNIS gained worldwide fame and was used as a stud dog not only in Russia but also abroad. I would like to also mention his daughters WELLENBERG JULFIL BLANSH and WELLENBERG JULFIL BAJANA among his Russian offspring, but his grand children and great grandchildren play a much larger part in breeding now than his sons and daughters did in their time.
Igor v. Marchengarten, a compact strong male with a nice outline but not perfect head was used much less for breeding, yet left steady offspring of good quality. His very beautiful daughter Modus Ost Cerceia Ceia was successful in many serious dog shows and his brown grand daughter Rensdorff Amaridge (Naorson v. Brandenburg x Irisbolg Igenia) became an IDC-winner.
Graaf Quinton v. Neerlands Slam was a big, elegant, masculine, perfectly balanced male with dignity of bearing and a great temperament He immediately became a favourite of the main dog shows, twice he was the winner of European championships, became a Champion of eleven countries, and regularly became Best-in-Show in different countries. By the end of his legendary show and breeding career he was officially recognized as the Best Dog of Russia during the last ten years all breeds. Already in the first litter by Graaf Quinton (with Ami Cobra) excellent puppies were born. They were highly appreciated by many fanciers of the breed. But the most serious contribution into Russian Dobermann stock development was made by Legenda, who was not the best of her litter. She actually brought fame to Sant Kreal. the best kennel of St. Petersburg. Out of Legenda (by Jivago v. h. Wantij) was born Sant Kreal Nivago – Junior World Champion, stud dog of extra-class, and father of Nestor iz Zoosfery.
Among the most famous offspring of Graaf Quinton I would like to mention Smart Wood Hills Izadora, Greis iz Zoosfery, Gretchen iz Zoosfery and Smart Wood Hills Inton Archi. He attracted a lot of breeders as a stud dog as he possessed a vivid personality, a traditional quality background, he missed essential faults and produced a rather big group of the same style dogs with distinguished appearance, very strong back, perfect croup and good angulation.

Later imports:

Nine years ago three puppies out of Gravin Nora v. Neerlands Stam and Gamon di Campovalano were imported to Moscow from France: Mauvieres Mufasa de Stang-Zu, Margot de Stang-Zu and Mo de Stang-Zu. All of them had an excellent show career. Margot became a World Champion, Mauvieres Mufasa was reserve at the Worldwinner show and Mo was Champion of six countries. Margot had three litters, the most successful was by Gino Gomez del Citone. Several very good dogs were born in this litter, including IDC- and World-Champion Irinland Zara Zeife. Mauvieres Mufasa was more successful as a showman than as a stud dog. The progeny of Mo is very important for Russian breeding today. It mainly concerns Nestor iz Zoosfery, BMW Bavaria iz Zoosfery, and Sharon iz Zoosfery.
Russian Dobermann lovers also spotted the wonderful bitch Nemesis Figi v. Koepsel, who was used for breeding in the German kennel of v.d. Rauberhohle. Three of her daughters were imported to Russia: Indira. Kaprisskoko and Mirakel. All of them put themselves on the record in Russian breeding.
Indira produced as distinguished dogs as Tigr, Tamerlan, Trefovaja Dama and Taisija iz Slavnoi Stai, Tsarevich and Tsaritsa iz Slavnoi Stai and also Rossijskij Kolorit Arbat Aldo. Offspring of these dogs influence not only our Russian breeding, but also the selection of many other countries.
Kaprisskoko became the founder of the successful Moscow kennel Modus-Ost. This kennel became famous due to their wonderful dogs Vira Virtual and Ezra Erg, and also Modus Ost Aviator Ace (who is not descendant of Kaprisskoko). The handsome sons of Mirakel, Pimm’s Number One and Punsh, were born into the Iz Doma Domeni kennel. Imported from Germany Bombastic v. Hanseaten (Gino Gomez del Citone x Chendra Novalis) became an IDC-winner. Unfortunately he was used as a stud dog for only a short period, but he produced number of excellent offspring in different kennels, such as Modus Ost, iz Zoosfery, de Grande Vinko and Leib Solond.
In recent years the Russian kennel Eria Pro made itself known as well. Here some beautiful Dobermans including an IDC-Winner Eria Pro Kimberly Cristal (Tsarevich iz Slavnoi Stai x Eria Pro Arioso Bohema) were born.

The future:

Russian Dobermann breeders are big supporters of the breed. In order to gain the worldwide renown in today’s breeding, they had to overcome extraordinary obstacles. They patiently study the work of their western colleagues and continue to regularly use the best foreign stud dogs, regardless of how far they live from Russia. Pedigrees of today’s Russian Dobermanns do not differ from those of western dogs, in the sense of the set of famous names. But now our Dobermans often attract interest from our foreign colleagues, as they have some attractive characteristic traits. Our best dogs have long expressive heads, nice toplines with very high withers, solid outline and an even temperament. They are easily trained by experienced handlers and pass through breeding tests easily. Our Gelo Robis Golden (Gino Gomez del Citone x Gelo Robis Amideya) was the reserve at IDC-WM-2005 (Munich).
Our economical situation has not changed radically over the last 15 years, so still not all our breeders have the opportunity to travel abroad and participate in the main European shows. That is why many of our western colleagues do not have a complete insight in the Russian stock of Dobermanns. We Russian Dobermann breeders are optimistic and feel hopeful for the future.

Additional Information:

As all began (DOSAAF, MGOLS)

Getting high on dog training I purchased my first own dog – Dobermann Kim-Chuk. This born in 1961 dog was big, strong and easily trained. Beginning from 1962 we regularly participated in OKD (General training course), ZKS (Protecting-Guard course) and ski-joring competitions. Kim-Chuk often became the winner of serious competitions.
My interest to the breed has been noticed and I was elected a member of the Bureau of Dobermann-lovers department of the Moscow Club of working dogs of DOSAAF (“Public Society of Assistance to the Army and Navy”).
First I was responsible for dog training and then got high on breeding activities. In 1963 I passed through appropriate examinations and traineeships and became a working-dog and show-dog judge. I dealt with training for a long time before, working as an instructor at the training field “Peschanaya”, preparing guide-dogs in the training-school, working with dogs for three years in the Army and then, taking my discharge – as a head of departmental kennel that prepared dogs for guard service. I trained dogs privately for several decades as well. I also continued to be a working-dog judge being the Chief Judge at All-Soviet Union competitions, judging working trials and judging dogs at conformation shows almost in all the Soviet republics.
The notion “breeder” seemed to be forgotten by that time. Mating was planned not by the owners of bitches but by special breeding committees. The starting point of my selection work was the end of 1962 when the breeding committee adopted my mating combination of Dobermanns Almaz and Vesta who later became Champions of Moscow and of the USSR. I consider this date to be the beginning of the kennel’s “Iz Zoosfery” activities though its name appeared many years later, after Russia had entered the FCI.
Vesta whelped her puppies on February 23, 1963. Soon their names – Arthur, Arna and Arma became famous. These Dobermanns were highly appreciated by specialists and were successful in dog shows. Arthur (owned by U. Klimashin) was a powerful male with masculine head and wonderful tan. He was widely used for breeding and produced excellent progeny. His best son was an outstanding male Atos (owned by G. Moroz). His pedigree included the leading soviet Dobermann lines of Jim, Goby and Almaz. Arthur possessed a rear for that time complex of qualities – soundness and elegance. Masculine head, high set of the neck, sloping upper line and nicely cut, well-developed chest made him irresistible. Of course I used him for breeding and he left excellent progeny.
On a par with Atos – my main favorite in the end of 1960s was a brown male Gess (owned by M. Kvasov). In spite of his unideal conformation some of his features could amaze and fill anyone with admiration. Being a descendant of a famous soviet favorite Goby he also had the blood of German Dobermanns Akbar v. Cicilienhof and Dick-Dolf v. Muchlen. That is why he could be easily combined with dams of different blood-lines. He had a very beautiful, long, strong, with good proportions head, strong bones and scarce for that time soundness. Being the Head of the Moscow breeding committee from 1968 I widely used Gess as a sire. Inbred combinations for him were made rather often. We sequentially kept the line of Gess for 15 years and later his line was the basis for the most progressive Russian Dobermann lines. Among his descendants I would like to mention a beauty – Orly and such excellent dams as Yulen-de-Bina, EL ERIS (N14228) and ILMA (RKF). All of them were brown as their father Gess. The leading sires of 1970s – beginning of 1980s were his sons – Or-Opal, Aik and his grandsons – Ralf, Roshfor and Bite.
Somewhat specific and honorary place among Gess’s sons belonged to handsome male Aik. His mother Atriks v. Malhover Zee was imported from DDR. She was not very impressing and my acquaintances took her to Gorkiy city with them. We mated her with Gess expecting to get the puppies with high concentration of foreign German blood. We also supposed that Gess will give the puppies his soundness and nobility. Our hopes were fully answered. I delivered to Moscow the best puppy of the litter – brown male Aik. He was a Dobermann number one in Russia for several years. He was above average height, elegant, with very beautiful head, perfect upper line and excellent legs. He kept wonderful condition for many years and died at the age of 15. His owner Vitaliy Nekhaev dedicated a book “Raise a friend for yourself“ to Aik. It came out in a 100-thousand run length and actively popularized the breed.
Actually the only Aik’s competitor in show rings was very big and masculine brown mail Ralf (RALF (OWN KASHTIAN)?). As my opponents reproached me of being too interested in heavy-boned Dobermanns I was afraid to use this colossus for wide breeding. I regretted it later. Ralf turned out to be a very good producer. Existing in the frames of DOSAAF was very burdensome for dog lovers. We had to follow exactly the strict and not always logical rules invented by staying far from kynology retired military offices. That is why we took without any upset the order of 1972 to withdraw Dobermanns and some other breeds out of DOSAAF. It was not easy to create a new kynological structure in Moscow as the city authorities opposed it. There were a Society of Hunters and a Club of Decorative dogs-lovers. Bureaucrats thought that there were enough societies for dog-lovers. Nevertheless some enthusiasts including myself managed to set up the Moscow City Association of Dog Lovers (MGOLS) that still kept breeding commissions in its structure. The owners of bitches still had no right to breed themselves. There were no kennel prefixes as well. Besides there was no practice to give all the puppies of a litter the names beginning with the same letter. I was permanently elected a responsible person for breeding of Dobermanns in Moscow and remained at this post up to 1987 when we created the Club “Zoosfera” under new political conditions.

Society of animal lovers “Zoosfera”

I always wished to set up a true club free of bureaucratism, the club were Doberman lovers could feel at home, meet with their friends, handle important dog matters, share news, discuss the results of dog shows and trials and get an advice on upbringing and training of a puppy. We got a chance only when Mikhail S. Gorbachev came into power. Perestroika brought us new opportunities. It has cancelled meaningful constrains that prevented to establish new clubs.
Society of animal lovers “Zoosfera” Together with Remira I. Pushkarskaya we have registered the Society of Animal Lovers “Zoosfera”. The club of dog fanciers was part of different dog breeds worked as part of this Society. “Zoosfera” was proposed to be a little “in” society. But soon it became very popular and grew into one of the largest dog-lovers’ clubs in the country including more than 8 thousand members.
I was elected a person responsible for breeding at the meeting of Doberman lovers again. Together with my pupils and assistants we actually created a collective kennel, began to visit dog shows abroad and examined the unknown western Doberman stock. We arranged our own mono-breed dog shows annually. They had about 420 entries at that time. This popularity could be to some extent explained by participating in the shows of serious western breed specialists, such as M. Valker, G. Menke, G. v.d. Zwan, R. Boinekensen, K. Alen and others whom we invited to judge Dobermans. All the above helped us to define new problems. First of all we had to make drastic change of our Doberman type. This type had been formed in the latest decades and was conditioned by the full isolation of Soviet selection and its artificial seclusion from the world. It was necessary to add our dogs general soundness as well as to develop the dogs with well developed lower jaws, correct croups and better color. It was necessary to involve foreign dogs with appropriate characteristics in our breeding. Our own experience, advises of the best western breeders and judges and becoming available by that time books written by European kynologists, primarily by Johan v.d. Zwan helped us to orientate ourselves properly.
Unlike most of other collective kennels of that time we purchased puppies abroad very carefully. We used for our breeding the dogs and puppies that flooded spontaneously into Russia from different countries even more discretely. The imported at that time dogs not only failed to excel our own Dobermans, but stood even behind them. We ignored the import of this kind. At the end of 1980s – beginning of 1990s we managed to change the shape of a Doberman radically when some high quality dogs were bought in Switzerland, Holland, Austria, Germany and other countries. At the same time we began to send good bitches of “Zoosfera” for mating in Europe. Our first informed choice was the imported from Austria male Kastell v. Schloss Grossau, a grandson of a great Holland Doberman Don Dayan v. Franckenhorst and a great grandson of Moscow-born male Gobi. Kastell was not big, well boned, tight-skinned male with strong independent character. He was moderately used as a sire but produced several bitches of very high quality.