Borzoi, formerly known as the “Russian Wolfhound,” was initially bred as a sprinter for hunting wolves in Russia. Eventually, it became the symbol of the Russian aristocracy. This hound dog descended from the Arabian Greyhound and a Collie-like Russian sheepdog. These tall, gentle sighthounds are quick on their feet and royal in appearance. However, they can be stubborn in their quiet, catlike way, and training is best achieved with patience, consistency, and good humor.
Devoted family dogs, Borzoi dogs enjoy a lot of roughhousing wholeheartedly. The presence of a cat or squirrel on the run will quickly initiate their chase instinct, and a fenced-in running room is a must. So be ready to welcome these active dogs into your home!
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Designed for speed and endurance, the Borzoi dog is one of the most graceful, athletic, elegant, and beautifully majestic dogs on earth. Even called the supermodels of the dog world, a Borzoi belongs to the sighthound family. They are best described as large greyhounds robed in silky, long coats. With a lean, tall body, and a long narrow head, these hounds can be readily envisioned as royal dogs trotting and lounging in the castles of Russian Czars or jogging in the Russian countryside.
Borzoi Pros and Cons
|Gentle and calm||High shedding|
|Energetic and intelligent||Can be aggressive, fearful, or snappy if not socialized properly|
|Outgoing and friendly personality||Needs regular grooming|
Borzoi Basic Information
- Name: Borzoi
- Origin: Russia
- Group: Hound
- Size: Medium
- Height: 28-33 inches (male); 26-31 inches (female)
- Weight: 75 – 105 pounds (male); 60 – 85 pounds (female)
- Coat: Flat, curly, or wavy coat
- Color: White, brown, black, cream, tan, and other variations
- Energy: High
- Activities: Walking, hiking, playing fetch, agility, companion dogs, conformation, obedience, herding.
- Barking Level: Medium
- Shedding Level: High
- Hypoallergenic: No
- Litter Size: 1-8 puppies
- Other Names: Russian Wolfhound, Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya, Psowaya Barsaya
- Original Pastime: Bird flushing, retrieving
- Life Span: 9 – 14 years
History of Borzoi
Recognized as the Russian Wolfhound until 1936, the Borzoi was bred initially to be strong, fast, and tough enough to pursue some of the most vicious quarries. These hounds originated in 17th-century Russia when Arabian Greyhounds were mated with a thick-coated Russian breed. Appropriately, “Borzoi” is the masculine singular title of an ancient Russian adjective that signifies “swift.”
The Russian idea of hunting trials was developed during the age of the Tzars; these trials were often used to select Borzoi breeding stock so that only the quickest and most intelligent hunting hounds were bred. They hunted in packs, occasionally with more than a hundred dogs, including just as many Foxhounds and people to assist them in their pursuit of the game, which was sometimes hare and small animals. Still, more often than not, Borzoi hunted wolves.
- Borzois can be fussy eaters and are prone to bloat.
- They chase anything that moves due to their sighthound lineage.
- Borzoi can be susceptible to drugs, mainly anesthetics, due to their lack of body fat.
- Borzoi can be anxious around kids and should be introduced to them at a very young age.
- They bark occasionally and do not have strong guarding instincts.
- Borzoi can live happily with cats and other small animals if introduced to them at an early age.
Borzois are recognized for their unique companionship, alluring personalities, and a blend of noble royalty and wild hunters. While not a guard dog, Borzoi may alert owners to suspicious characters’ presence and give good accounts of themselves if necessary. However, their personality as a sighthound must be kept to the course and chase. While these hounds can be raised with cats and other small dogs that they consider ‘family,’ Borzoi will always be predisposed to chase fast-moving furry objects.
Obedience training is essential to meet with a sense of humor, but Borzoi dogs will humor you and do some act of what you ask them. If you make it worthwhile and fun, they can perform reasonably well. But these hounds will always warn you they are doing it only as a favor to you. As a companion, the Borzoi is sensible, quiet, and intelligent. However, their easygoing personality doesn’t necessarily mean they are easy to train. Borzoi is an independent thinker and can be stubborn. Also, they prefer to be supervised for extended periods.
|Affection level||Medium to high|
|Family-friendly||Medium to high|
|Dog-friendly||Medium to high|
|Stranger-friendly||Medium to high|
|Good for apartment living||High|
|Good for new owners||Medium|
|Tolerates being alone||Low|
|Cold tolerance||Medium to high|
Borzoi Physical Features
- Long, narrow, and slightly domed skull
- Long, deep, and powerful jaws
- Even scissors bite strong teeth.
- Large black nose.
- Small and delicate ears.
- Eyes are set somewhat obliquely, dark in color but rather soft in expression.
- Slightly arched, powerful, and clean neck
- Sloping shoulders, delicate at the withers and free from coarseness or lumber
- Narrow chest with a great depth of brisket
- Extremely muscular loins, but rather tucked up, owing to the great depth of chest and the relative shortness of back and ribs.
Tail: The tail is long and set high in a graceful curve.
Forequarters: Bones are straight and flattened like blades, with a narrower edge forward. Their elbows have free play and are angled neither in nor out.
Feet: Hare-shaped, well-arched knuckles, well-padded, and close toes.
Hindquarters: Long, muscular, and powerful hindquarters with well-bent stifles, clean hocks, and parallel legs when viewed from the rear.
Coat: Long, silky, flat, wavy, or somewhat curly.
Color: White, brown, black, cream, tan, or a combination of colors is acceptable
Gait: The overall appearance in motion should be that of endurance, speed, agility, effortless power, smoothness, and grace.
Borzois are affectionate and gentle with their human family but can also be stubborn and independent. With strangers, they can be reserved, distant, or territorial. Proper training and early socialization can prepare them to get along with people and other small animals. However, their instinct to safeguard their people and territory is crucial. Being sighthounds, Borzois tend to chase other animals. Therefore, it is best to keep them on a leash or in a safe area outside.
Borzois are intelligent hounds who learn and respond quickly, making training more convenient. However, puppy training classes and proper socialization are recommended. These hounds can be strong-willed at times, so reward-based training is necessary. In general, hounds are not bred to work closely with humans, so they require short, fun workout sessions to keep them interested.
Here are some of the activities that you need to do with your Borzoi:
- Early Socialization
- Crate Training
- Positive Reinforcement
- Teach bite inhibition
- Walk with a harness
- Leash Training
- Obedience training
- Potty training
Here are a few dog interactive toys and products that you can use while training:
|Easy to train||Medium|
|Intelligence||Medium to high|
|Barking and Howling tendencies||Low to medium|
|Wanderlust tendencies||Medium to high|
Borzoi Exercise Needs
Borzois are large, athletic dogs that require at least one hour of daily exercise in the form of hiking or long walks. It’s crucial to have a fenced-in yard and only walk these strong sighthounds on a leash, as the sight of a cat or squirrel on the run is far too alluring for their strong chasing instinct. They also delight in experiencing active outdoor activities with their owners and tend to excel in sports like lure coursing and agility.
You can meet your Borzoi’s daily exercise essentials by:
- Teaching new tricks
- Playing with puzzle toys
- Herding trials
- Agility training
- Dog park
Here are a few puzzles and dog toys to keep your pet engaged:
Exercise Needs Overview
|Energy level||Low to medium|
|Exercise needs||Low to medium|
|Intensity||Low to medium|
Borzoi is a non-hypoallergenic shedder who needs frequent grooming. Due to their long, silky coat, brushing every couple of days with a pin or slicker brush is necessary. In addition, brush their teeth twice or thrice a week and bathe them as needed. This breed also requires frequent eye checkups, ear cleaning, and nail trimming, as with most dogs.
Here are a few products and equipment to meet your Borzoi grooming needs:
|Easy to groom||Medium to high|
|Amount of shedding||High|
Borzoi dogs are generally healthy hounds, but they have been associated with some health problems that can affect their stomachs, joints, and eyes. Thus, to maintain them healthily, it is vital to take them to the vet for routine checkups and ensure they are updated with vaccinations. The following are common conditions to be conscious of:
|General health||Medium to high|
|Weight gain tendencies||Low to medium|
Cataract: A condition seen as cloudy spots on the eye lens that grow gradually. This disorder can develop at any age and often doesn’t affect eyesight; however, rare cases cause vision loss.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A degenerative eye disease that causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eyes. It can be detected earlier. A very later stage is blindness. Canines with this condition can survive for several years since they have other senses to compensate.
Wobbler Syndrome: An inherent disease that causes spinal cord contraction or malformation in the canal.
Heart Disease: This condition may create irregular heart rhythms and heart murmurs. Doctors can diagnose this disease through an ECG or an X-ray.
Elbow dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia occurs due to the malalignment of the elbow joint, which leads to chronic rubbing. This leads to abnormal pressure at the joint, resulting in severe osteoarthritis.
- Mild to moderate pain
- Lameness in the forelimbs
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): OCD is caused by improper growth of cartilage in the joints, it typically happens in the elbows, but it has been seen in the shoulders. This causes a painful joint stiffening to the point that the puppy cannot bend his elbow. Overfeeding “growth formula” puppy foods or high-protein eats may contribute to its development.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: A life-threatening disorder affecting deep-chested dogs, mainly if they have an overfed meal, drink excessive amounts of water, eat rapidly, or exercise vigorously after eating. GDV leads to bloating in the stomach. Canines cannot vomit to get rid of excess air in their belly, and blood flow to the heart is prevented. As a result, blood pressure lowers, and the puppy suffers from a shock. Suspect bloat if your puppy is drooling excessively and is not throwing up.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Degeneration of the heart muscle is known as cardiomyopathy. The muscle, mainly the thick muscular membrane of the left ventricle, becomes delicate. These membranes expand because of the blood pressure inside the heart, which directs to a much bigger heart.
Hip dysplasia: A hereditary disorder in which the thigh bone fails to fit correctly into the hip joint. One or both legs of your Borzoi may become ache or lame. It is not advisable to breed dogs with hip dysplasia.
- Wrong exercises
- Excessive weight gain
- Reluctance to rise, jump, run or climb
- Enlarging shoulders
- Reduced activity and movements
- Reducing thigh muscle mass
- Grating in the joint during movement
- Lameness in the hind limbs
Epilepsy is the most prevalent neurological condition in dogs, affecting about 0.75 percent of the population. This disorder is a broad name for diseases indicated by repeated, uncontrollable seizures generated by a brain defect.
Hypothyroidism: A dog’s metabolism is slowed due to insufficient thyroid hormone production. Signs are:
- Gaining weight
- Reluctance to work out
- Hair Loss
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): In between the vertebral column’s bones, IVD allows vertebral movements, which usually work like shock absorbers. They are formed with two layers, the inner soft jelly-like layer, and the external fibrous layer. This condition happens when the inner jelly-like layer forces the spinal cord, resulting in spinal cord compression; signs include paralysis, neck and backache, and loss of bladder sensation and bowel control.
Recommended Tests for Borzois
- Thyroid Evaluation
- Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test
- Cardiac Exam
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
Borzoi Diet and Nutrition
Surprisingly, Borzois eat less than other canines of their size, and pups tend to consume more than adults due to their rapid growth. Therefore, pet owners should be aware of overfeeding or offering too many treats, as these hounds can potentially become overweight and subject to obesity-related problems. Depending on their size, build, age, activity level, and metabolism, a Borzoi will consume 4 to 8 cups of high-quality dry food daily, divided into two meals. In addition, clean, fresh water should be available at all times for this active breed.
Borzoi Living condition
- Borzois are well suited to apartment life as long as they are provided with everyday walks and regular play sessions.
- Borzois have a strong chase intuition, so they must be leash-walked, and a very tall fenced yard is necessary.
- If you can keep your Borzoi physically active, mentally stimulated, well-trained, and socialized, these hounds will happily thrive as house dogs.
Did you know?
- Until 1936, these hounds were called the “Russian wolfhound” in the English-speaking world when they were renamed the Borzoi, after the Russian word for “swift.”
- Captain E J Smith of the RMS Titanic had a Borzoi dog called Ben, who was famously snapped with him on a desk before the ill-fated ship set sail.
- Borzois were officially recognized in the U.S. in 1891.
- For the movie Pink Floyd, a Borzoi named Nobs provided lead vocals alongside Roger Waters on guitar and Dave Gilmour on harmonica. The music was ‘Seamus’ named after Dave Gilmour’s dog, who initially howled in the studio recording but was re-titled ‘Mademoiselle Nobs’ in the movie.
- Borzois featured in the Disney films Lady and the Tramp and 102 Dalmatians.
Borzoi Club Recognition
Adding a Borzoi to Your Family
Things to remember before buying a Borzoi puppy
Getting a Borzoi puppy from a reputable breeder is best to prevent inevitable circumstances like health diseases and provide you with vaccination certificates. In addition, it is best to check with the puppy’s parents to ensure their health and happiness.