Racing & Coursing Greyhounds in the Show Ring
by P. Gail Burnham
Racing Greyhounds are judged by a stop watch. The fastest dog is the best dog. Coursing Greyhounds were judged on a point system determined by the rules of coursing. But Show Greyhounds are judged against a written description of the ideal Greyhound that is called a breed standard. The first dog show was held at Newcastle, England, in June of 1859. It had no class for Greyhounds but in short order Greyhounds started to appear in the show ring.
At the earliest dog shows coursing men acted as judges and the winning dogs were coursing dogs. The red dog Judge, winner of the Waterloo Cup in 1855 won a second prize at a show at the age of ten. The white dog Canaradso, winner of the Waterloo Cup in 1861, won a first as the Islington Show. Lady Sarah, mother of Master M’Grath (who won the Waterloo Cup in 1868,1869 and 1971, was successfully shown at the Dublin show in 1872. And Fleetfoot, a son of Master M’Grath, won at the Dublin Show and the Crystal Palace in 1873.
By the late eighteen nineties the coursing judges had been replaced by all around judges and Greyhounds were being kept and conditioned just for shows. These were still coursing bred dogs. Real Jam, born in 1891 and a granddaughter of Misterton, won eighteen first prizes and her Championship at shows. Gradually the show bred dogs began to diverge from their original coursing stock and be bred just for success in the show ring.
Meanwhile the first Greyhounds shown in America were also coursing bred dogs. Champions, Memnon, Balkis and Mother Demdike were show winners in the 1880’s. All three were British imports. By the 1920’s show bred Greyhounds from England were imported to the USA and were mainly shown in the New York area. But while the Greyhound competition in the New York area was dominated by English show bred imports, other areas of the country still had entries of American bred coursing dogs.
In 1925 a Greyhound named John O’Groats won Best in Show at the Stockton Kennel Club in California. There was a sizable Greyhound entry that day with names like Sadie O’Groats, Champaign, Martlow Punch and Scotch Rickie. John O’Groats was owned by Dr. Fred P. Clark of Stockton. Ch. John O’ Groats, Imp. (Husky Whisper x Janella) was the only Greyhound to win both the California Cup and an all breed Best In Show and he did it in the same year. He also won the 1925 California Cup (The biggest coursing event of the year) with one of his puppies, Kid O’Groats, winning runner up to him.
In an ad for the dog Dr. Clark wrote, ” John O’Groats is considered by all who have seen him to be the fastest dog in America, both in the park and on the plains. He won the St. Francis Champion Stake and also the Christmas Champion Stake at San Pablo, Cal; the Washington’s Birthday Champion stake “Open Plains Meet” at Fresno, Cal. In 1925; the California Champion Cub Stake “Open Plains Meet” at Marysville, Cal, Nov 1925; and other important stakes. He is fast, clever and stick. He is Champion of the Bench, and on two occasions won the cup for the best dog of all classes in the Show. His pups are exceptionally fast and clever-one of them, Kid O’Groats, was runner-up to him in the California Cup Event.”
Fortunately there are three photos of John O’ Groats that show him to be an Irish-marked red dog with tall white socks and VERY long white tip to his tail. And it is nice that the photos include Dr. Fred P Clark, his son Asa M. Clark and the organizer of the hospitality at the California Cup and owner of the runner up, Mr. Manuel Gomez.
In 1926 Miss N.C.A.G.A. won the Sporting Group in South Florida. (NCA were the initials of the National Coursing Association.) And Mon Ami won the Sporting Group in New Orleans. In 1936 Kathryn won the group in Oakland, CA to finish her championship.
While New York exhibitors were showing dogs with names like Lansdowne Butcher Boy and Gamecock Duke of Wales, the rest of the country was showing Greyhounds whose show names were Lankey, Wistful, Queen, Flash, Grey, Pedro, Little Worth Lepus, Dusty, Trixie, Willow Wild, Kum Bak, Happy, Dan, Speed, Ruby, Nosey, Ama Leader, Fawnella, Fire Fly, Christo Pinnocchio, and King Dodo. After the stock market crash of 1929 we also get Greyhounds named Depression and Prohibition. The Stock market crash caused a dip in show entries and shows became smaller.
In the 1930s San Francisco’s Golden Gate Kennel Club invited the racing kennels at Belmont race track to enter some Greyhounds. The racing owners put 100 Greyhounds into the show. Western Kennel World’s account reads: “The Greyhound men brought 100 to the show, not with the idea of winning anything, but just out of their desire to cooperate. One of the 100 was Mrs. Edythe Miles’ Damon, a big good looking fellow with a battleship grey coat and a white vest. Damon came out of the show with eleven ribbons pinned on his collar. The judges looked at him a long while before they decided he wasn’t the best dog in the show. Two weeks later, Damon repeated this win and took the Variety Group in Oakland under a different set of judges. Later Damon became one of the outstanding stars of the Belmont spring meeting.”
In the same article he tells about another racing Greyhound, Gwendolyn. “An idea of what a Greyhound can do for exhibition purposes was furnished at the San Mateo Dog Fancier’s Association’s recent show at Beresford. One of the most talked about dogs in a show of 500 was Mrs. B.F. Stairley’s Gwendolyn, an imported bitch, whelped in Australia in October, 1931. Now, Gwendolyn came here for the Belmont races and like most lady athletes claimed to be speedy, not beautiful. Entered in the San Mateo show, Gwendolyn was judged Best of Breed, an award that carried victory over a dog which had recently carried off the topmost honor” (Best In Show). Gwendolyn’s litter brother, Gay Ted, was Best Opposite Sex to his sister. Gwendolyn’s sire was Gay Foot and his sire was British Foot. The article says that both sire and grandsire were Waterloo Cup winners.
The cover photo accompanying the article shows Gwendolyn to be a white and black bitch.
After their wins, Damon and Gwendolyn went back to racing but in 1936 Ch. Mutual Friend (Fast Friend x Leading Donna) was Best In Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mutual Friend was owned by Mrs. H.D. Simms and bred by F.W. Jones. He was two years old when he won Best In Show and was shown quite extensively in the Midwest.
In 1937 Ivy Dolan showed one dog to its Championship and his Companion Dog title. He was the first Greyhound Companion Dog, Ch. On-Da-Way Skipper CD. (Ch. Trerice Bango of Windholme x Hot Haste.) Hot Haste sounded rather as if she might be a racing dog so I traced her back. She was sired by CH. Killearn Final Word x Riva. Ch. Killearn Final Word was an English import (Butcher’s Spring x Butcher’s Bonita) that had been Winner’s Dog at the 1923 GCA specialty. (He was also sire of a large part of the entry). The owner of Killearn Kennels was Mr. Alfred B. Maclay, a breeder of hackney horses and president of the National Horse Show.
Riva, however, is considerably more interesting. Riva was an English import. She was sired by the 1922 Waterloo cup Winner Latto. Her dam was Binomial. Latto not only won the 1922 Waterloo Cup but he was the sire or grandsire of the majority of the Waterloo Cup winners in the following decade. Riva was a coursing bitch in the days just before the advent of Greyhound racing took over the coursing bloodlines of the National Coursing Association. That makes Skipper, the first CD Greyhound, ¾ AKC bred and ¼ NCA bred
Prior to the 1940s it was common to show coursing bred (NCA) dogs in all the parts of the country except the New York to Philadelphia region. In that area the Greyhounds shown from 1905 to 1940 were from English import show lines. Gradually the English import show lines spread across the country, first to the West coast and then to points in between. The showing of NCA and later NGA bred dogs became rare.
Until the late 1940s you could take a Greyhound to a show judge to have him certified as looking purebred, register him with the AKC and show him. A number of AKC Champions have parents listed as unknown x unknown. This practice was replaced with the Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP) number in the late 1960’s. With the ILP number you could compete in performance events only. But with the earlier system you could also show and breed the dog. (And that dog could be a racing bred dog or a dog of unknown ancestry.)
In mid 1935, the race track owners required that National Coursing Association (NCA) Greyhounds be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in order to race on the tracks in six states. This was an attempt on the part of the race track owners to break the NCA registry. In 1935 AKC Greyhound registrations jumped from one or two a month to hundreds each month. In December of 1934, one Greyhound was registered with the AKC. In December of the following year, four hundred and thirty three Greyhounds were registered with the AKC. And that registration rate goes on into the late 1940s. When it became apparent that the NCA was not going to go away as the registering body for racing Greyhounds, the dictate to register racing Greyhounds with the AKC was lifted. At that point the NCA offered to provide NCA papers in exchange for AKC papers. In order to keep owners from delaying turning in their AKC papers, the NCA set a deadline of 1 October 1949 after which they would no longer provide NCA papers in exchange for AKC papers.
It was this AKC vs. NCA turf war over the income from registering Greyhounds that led to the AKC’s eleven year long ban on AKC registration of NCA dogs. In retaliation for the NCA calling a halt to NCA registration of AKC Greyhounds, the AKC closed its studbook to NCA registered Greyhounds.
In July of 1960, the Greyhound Club of America proposed to the AKC that they again grant AKC registration to NCA bred dogs. The request had been made to the club by Mrs. Lorraine d’ Essen. Mrs. d’ Essen was the head of Animal Talent Scouts and owned the mascot of the Greyhound Bus Company. “Lady Greyhound” was actually a NCA registered bitch named Steverino. Steverino had been bred to the show Champion Rudel’s Victor, belonging to Dr. Elsie Neustadt, secretary of the GCA. The resulting litter of particolor puppies were both attractive and intelligent. They were also the puppies in the widely published photo of the puppies in socks pinned to a clothesline with their proud mother looking on. Unfortunately the litter could be registered with neither the NCA nor the AKC until the AKC complied with the request of the Greyhound Club of America to reinstate the granting of AKC registration to NCA dogs.
The AKC Gazette Greyhound columnist wrote the following in the July 1960 issue: “The Greyhound Club of America currently has a proposal before the AKC to honor registration certificates of the National Coursing Assn, our field counterpart. In a day when the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unreal-but-true separation of bench and field type in many breeds, the need for this admission of our coursing cousins is strongly brought to my attention by Mrs. Lorraine d”Essen.
Mrs. D’Essen, head of Animal Talent Scouts, owns the nation best-known Greyhound. Steverino was served by the Drs. Neustadt’s Ch. Rudel’s Victor, and Mrs. D’Essen assures me that the puppies are not only attractive but extremely intelligent.
Unfortunately these puppies are eligible to registration in neither the AKC nor the NCA, although both the parents are registered dogs of the same breed. Should the AKC re-open its doors to NCA Greyhounds, as it once did, these and other “cross-registry-bred” Greyhounds could be registered and we could get closer to the dog that should be our ideal: a handsome individual that can do a job.”
AKC registration of racing Greyhounds has been possible for all of AKC’s history except for the eleven years from 1949 to 1960.
The racing bred show champions are listed here:
1932 Ch. Hero’s Trojan (D) (Only Hero x Romp Home)
1932 Ch. Kathryn (B) (King F x Frenchies Favorite)
1934 Ch. Mutual Friend (D (Fast Friend x Leading Donna)
1935 Ch. Range Officer (D) (Galway Ranger x Happy Beauty)
1973 Ch. Chris E Kraft (D) (Cactus Noel x Show Queen)
1979 Ch. Chariot Flash (B) (Race Bandit x BJ White Dream)
1988 Ch. Hot Jazz (B) (Share Profit x Snooty Tooty)
1988 Ch. Morley’s Sue CD F.Ch. LCM2 (B) (TNT Tony x Annie Up)
1988 Ch. Tyline’s Ino Lucky (D) (Speed Ticket x Ino Blondee)
1988 Ch. Bar-Wick’s Speed (D) (Burnt Wood x Diona)
1991 Ch. Royal Harmony (D)(Royal Plum x Mary Bowman)
1993 Ch. Crest of A Knave (D) (Provenzo x Jock’s Yankee)
1996 Ch. Carlyn’s Charm (B) (Rv Sherman x Sail On Amber)
1998 DC Godspeed Qui Tam SC ORC(B) (Bartie x Jumper Sox)
This is hardly a number that is going to overwhelm the genes of the 2600 show Greyhounds that have won their championships since the start of the AKC. While it is still fairly rare for a racing bred Greyhound to be shown to its Championship, there is an area of showing that has seen an enormous increase in participation by ex-racing Greyhounds, and that is the performance events like obedience and agility competition. The vast majority of obedience title holders are racing bred dogs.