In 2007 the first litter of Russian Whites and Russian Blacks was born in the U.K. since the 1980’s. Love them or hate them they have been the subject of much discussion and, contrary to all expectations by some, they are proving to be very popular.
There are a number of Russian Blue breeders who are now developing these colours.
Our aims are:
To breed Russian Blacks and Russian Whites that conform to the GCCF interpretation of the SOP
To achieve Championship status for Russian Blacks and Russian Whites within their own breed class.
Although they gained recognition many years ago as variant colours of the Russian breed they are still considered “new” colours of an existing breed and are therefore at assessment level which means they cannot compete for Challenge Certificates. We have no desire to see them compete with Russian Blues in their breed class and would fiercely resist any move in that direction. (We have no objection to beating the Russian Blues in other classes though!)
However, much as we want to see them reach championship status, being at this level was seen as an advantage as we could be proactive from the very start in developing a breeding programme that would encourage matings that would help to ensure that any undesirable aspects could be improved upon as, right from the start, it has been as previously stated the aim of U.K breeders to breed cats that conform to the GCCF Standard Of Points.
Although the Russian Blacks and Russian Whites were first bred in the UK in the sixties they have not been bred here for many years. The original Russian White used in the recent revival dating from 2007 is a European import that meets the FIFE interpretation of the SOP.
The first litter showed many traits that did not conform to the GCCF SOP – finer muzzles, flatter coats and lower set ears. The aim, therefore, was to mate these Russian Whites and Russian Blacks to U.K bred Russian Blues that have the required qualities to improve type and coat e.g. short, broad wedges, very good ear set and short, dense coats, thereby ensuring future generations will get closer and closer to meeting the GCCF SOP.
This approach is already proving to be successful and the quality of the Russian Whites and Russian Blacks is improving with every generation with these cats displaying the type and coat that meet the GCCF SOP – they are now even starting to beat Russian Blues in side classes!
Breeding Russian Whites and Russian Blacks that conform to the GCCF SOP is only one of the challenges involved in promoting these colours. We also want to get them to the point where they can compete for challenge certificates and to do this we have to meet some very stringent criteria as set by the GCCF for the development of “new” breeds and colours.
When introducing a new breed or colour there are three stages of recognition that the breed needs to go through;
a) Preliminary - at this stage the breeders have to convince the GCCF that the new breed/hair length/colour is viable and significantly different to any other already recognised breed/hair length/colour. When the breed has been granted this status they are able to be shown in assessment classes where they are judged against the standard of points agreed for the breed. (Due to a new initiative and rule change as of from the 1st June 2011 cats in the assessment class will also be placed in order of merit and a best of breed awarded. This means that assessment breeds will also be considered for the higher awards of best of variety etc.)
b) Provisional – at this stage the new breed /hair length/colour will be judged against each other as if in a breed class at championship status and will compete for an intermediate certificate and Best of Breed. Adult classes, as with championship classes, will be separate for male and females and only one certificate per class will be awarded if the winning exhibit merits it.
As with the preliminary stage, there are set criteria to be met before an application for promotion to championship status can take place. These are more stringent than those required in the preliminary stage and, for the moment, we need not consider them.
So – where are Russian Whites and Russian Blacks at this moment?
As new colours of an established breed they have been at the preliminary stage since the early sixties (which is a ridiculously long time especially as they are at championship status in every other registering body that recognises them) but it is the criteria set by GCCF for progression from this stage to the provisional stage that hinders their progression and that we need to meet to move them forward.
Altogether there are ten criteria that we need to comply with to enable us to apply for provisional status, in simple terms, they are:
1. To submit all relevant paperwork to the council offices in time to be placed on the October council agenda as only breeds that have been promoted to provisional status by 31 December will be eligible for inclusion in the next show season.
2. The request has to be made to Council by the relevant BAC
(This means that we have to present our case and paperwork for consideration to a July meeting of the RBAC at the latest, to ensure that the request from the BAC for their promotion is received at the council’s office in time to go on to an October GCCF agenda – each time we miss this deadline is another year in waiting!!)
3. A written argument for promotion of the new colours and why they should be placed in a class of their own
4. Confirmation of the SOP. The SOP is identical to that of the Russian Blue except in the description of the colours.
5. Confirmation of the registration policy and although the current regulations do not ask for it – we will also submit a current breeding policy
6. A list of at least 20 specimens of the new colours.
7. A list of 10 breeders who have held a prefix for at least three years and are working with the new colours
8. A list of merit winners showing that at least 6 cats of the relevant colours have been awarded 4 merit certificates from 4 different judges. Only 2 of the 4 can be from kitten classes.
9. A selection of critiques from the Assessment slips
10. A list of miscellaneous class results with a selection of critiques as evidence of success in competition.
The first seven of these are relatively simple and consist mainly of paperwork activities that will be undertaken by Melva Eecles who is very kindly acting as the “breed recorder” or “co-ordinator of information” for us. However the last three, in bold, need the active participation all of those of us who are working with the new colours to ensure that all possible information is available for Melva to co-ordinate to allow us to apply for Provisional status.
So how can you help?
If you own a Russian Black or Russian White – have you thought about showing it?
We need as many Russian Blacks and Russian Whites on the bench as possible to allow us to gather the information to fulfil the needs of items eight to ten in the list of criteria to be met. We especially need cats to obtain the four merits, two or more must be as an adult or adult neuter, from four different judges. In other words – to qualify and count towards the magic number of six - a cat must have four merit certificates but only two awarded as a kitten are allowed to count towards the four.
Sadly, a lot of Russian Blacks and Russian Whites are shown as kittens but are not shown as adults and so don’t “qualify” by obtaining the required number of merits as an adult. Therefore even if they have four or more merits from their kitten show career they are not “qualified” and do not count towards the required minimum number of six qualifiers.
As we are proposing to keep the two colours together for the moment we are not looking for 6 cats of each colour to qualify, just six in total - be they Russian Black or Russian White. However if we could get the required number of “qualifiers” in both colours there would be a valid argument for proceeding the two colours separately.
Please, if you want to see these colours get to championship status show your cats and “qualify” them so that we can apply and move on.
Here again your help is essential. It is very difficult and time consuming for Melva to trawl through every judges show report from every show in hope of finding a show where a Russian White or Russian Black has been shown and finding critiques which she then has to transcribe. If you could send her a photocopy or scanned copy especially of the pink assessment critique from the open judge via either snail mail¹ or email email@example.com it would be so much more efficient. This applies to both open class and side class critiques.
We also need to know how your cat does in side classes so Melva has generated a form for you to fill in with the results for your cat. If you fill these in and send it with a copy of the assessment critique she can then track down side class critiques more easily. These forms will be available directly from the RBBA website or in Russian Tails.
Are you breeding from your Russian Black or Russian White cat?
There are two important aspects you need to help us with here. We need to show the GCCF that the two colours are viable in their own right so it is essential that all Russian Black and Russian White kittens are registered with GCCF. If you take the option to just “declare” them they will NOT count towards fulfilling the requirements under item six. To just achieve the minimum number is not sufficient - we need to show that they are popular colours.
Please let Melva know the details of all the kittens your breeding programme produces – again there is a form that will be available to download directly from the RBBA website or printed in Russian Tails. It is just as important to us to know how many Russian Blues you bred from your Russian Whites or Russian Blacks so don’t forget to include them too.
We are so close to achieving our first aim – please help us move the Russian Blacks and Russian Whites on by supplying us with this vital information.
Mrs M Eccles, Pandora, 25a Victoria Road, Bideford on Avon, Alcester, Warks, B50 4AS or
Mrs CM Kaye, The Hollies , 172 Birmingham Road, Shenstone Wood End, Lichfield, Staffs.
Mrs CM Kaye