Graceful and regal, the elegant Borzoi looks more suited to laying on the credenza of a Roaring 20s Hollywood mansion than coursing wolves across the Russian steppe, but that is just what he was born to do. At one time, wolf hunting was the favorite sport of the Russian rulers, particularly the Romanov family, and they preferred to do so using their dedicated and loyal coursers, the Borzoi. In fact, the timeless novel War and Peace immortalizes a scene of a Borzoi led wolf chase.
When the Romanov dynasty was slaughtered, their beloved hounds were almost lost to history. Thanks to Borzoi lovers abroad, the breed was able to go through a resurgence. Though their days of hunting wolves are over, these impressive sighthounds remain a fixture in the canine world.
As one may expect, a dog must be rather large in order to chase and hold wolves. Borzoi males are usually at least 28 inches up to 32 inches tall at the withers, females slightly shorter. They weight anywhere from 75-105 pounds, though they pack this weight onto a sleek frame reminiscent of the more familiar greyhound. With a slender face and long tail, they are a picture of grace. Borzoi have a long coat that can be seen in a wide variety of colors and color combinations. The fur may be silky, wavy, or curly depending on the individual dog. This breed has muscular, long legs that enable them to run 35-40 miles per hour,.
Temperament & Personality
Borzoi are smart, but they are independent as well. They can make excellent family dogs, but they do not tolerate rough treatment, so children should be taught to avoid roughhousing and treat family pets with respect. Their large size can also make these dogs inadvertently dangerous to toddlers or small children (they may accidentally knock them over, for example).
Borzoi are gentle and quiet, not well suited for the position of watchdog, though they can appear menacing.
Small pets such as cats are not a good choice in the Borzoi environment, as they love to give chase due to their sighthound nature. However, they can get along with other dogs if need be.
Caring for the Borzoi
Though unique and in need of some regular attention, Borzoi are relatively fuss-free pets. They do have some demanding needs in terms of exercise and grooming, but are otherwise content to join their owners on the couch- a comfortable dog bed is a must for a Borzoi!
Borzoi eat a relatively small amount of food for their size, though it should be noted that puppies may eat more as they grow (and they grow rapidly!). Puppies should be fed food designed for their age range, updated as they grow. Dry or canned food is acceptable, depending on owner and dog preferences, with any high quality brand fitting the bill. One’s veterinarian can provide additional recommendations for individual pets.
Clean, fresh water should be provided at all times.
Borzoi can be very food motivated, therefore treats can be an excellent tool for training, though they should be awarded in moderation.
Regular exercise is a breed requirement. The AKC recommends that the Borzoi be allowed to roam freely in a securely fenced area for a minimum of a half hour each day. In addition, these dogs may enjoy on-leash walks or runs, playing fetch, or participating in agility, rally, or lure-coursing events.
Borzoi should not be allowed to roam loose or off-leash. Their sight-hunting instincts can result in instant takeoff after prey. At their incredible speeds, it doesn’t take long for a Borzoi to get lost or in trouble off-leash.
Due to their independent and sometimes stubborn nature, positive reinforcement training is highly recommended for the Borzoi. Some experts recommend using the breed’s love of running as a motivator or reward for training. These are very smart dogs, so consistent training will lead to success.
Borzoi show susceptibility to a short list of health issues, including wobbler syndrome, heart disease, thyroid problems, and eye problems. These can be identified and potentially treated through regular vet visits and monitoring, and sometimes even through breeder screening.
Some Borzoi are sensitive to anesthesia. This is usually identified quickly by veterinary surgeons and can be adjusted for at subsequent surgical procedures.
All dogs should visit a veterinarian at least annually for an updated medical exam and regular vaccines to keep their health optimal. Monthly flea and tick treatments can keep the dog’s coat and overall health in tip top shape.
Daily brushing is necessary with Borzoi’s luxuriant coat. The hair between the pads of the paws may also need regular trimming to prevent matting. If the individual is of the silky-coated type, the owner will find that pleasantly, mud and dirt don’t tend to stick, and bathing can be less frequent.
- Azawakh: A West African sighthound, this fine coated breed can come in any color or color combination. Traditionally owned by nomads, they were treated as a member of the family, sleeping and eating with the people they served and loved.
- Scottish Deerhound: Among the tallest of dog breeds, no one is sure about the origins of this swift hunter. Some wonder if they were around before the human hunters of Scotland, who used them to stalk 400 pound red deer.
- Saluki: With their soft, feathered ears, Saluki are one of the most beautiful and regal looking dog breeds. This made them a favorite among pharaohs and other ancient royals. They are one of the oldest types of modern dogs.
- Irish Wolfhound: This breed reigns supreme as the tallest of purebred dogs. They are courageous enough to chase and dispatch a wolf,but they are surprisingly affectionate. A motto once associated with them was “gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked”.
- Greyhound: The fastest sprinters in the canine galaxy, these well known racers originated among the Egyptians centuries ago. Known as the “40 miles per hour couch potatoes”, they are just as content to rest on their favorite cushion as chase rabbits.