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Borzoi: The Graceful Hunting Breed

Borzoi: The Graceful Hunting Breed

The borzoi (pronounced BOR-zoy) is a royal dog in both look and origin. He was developed as a sprinter for hunting wolves in Russia and later became a symbol of Russian royalty. Borzois are tall, calm, kind dogs who thrive when given lots of room to run. Their long, graceful lines and silky coat are instantly identifiable, and they were especially popular with Hollywood actors in the 1920s and 1930s.

The breed was known as the “Russian wolfhound” in English until 1936, when it was renamed the borzoi, after the Russian word for “swift.”

Borzoi dogs are huge hounds with deep chests, slender limbs, and long, silky hair that are native to Russia. The Borzoi has long been regarded as one of the most attractive breeds, having been developed as royal members of the Russian aristocracy. Though these graceful sighthounds are amiable and peaceful, they were once used to hunt wolves because of their incredible speed.

Borzois can sprint at speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour, which isn’t surprising given that their rich silky coat contains Greyhound blood. Borzois are today’s loving and devoted family pets, with both strength and style.

History Of The Borzoi

The Borzoi, formerly known as the Russian Wolfhound, has a written history dating back to 1650, when the breed’s first standard was created in his homeland of Russia. The Borzoi is thought to have evolved from the early Russian bearhound, Tatar coursing hounds, Arabian Greyhounds, and the Owtchar, a tall sheepdog, and has been bred by Russian aristocrats for hundreds of years.

The lords’ hunts were quite the spectacle. They may include over a hundred Borzoi, hunted in trios of one female and two males, as well as an equivalent number of foxhounds to find and flush out the prey. The huntsmen released their dogs when the wolf was spotted in order to capture, pin, and keep it. The huntsmen would sometimes release the wolf after ceremoniously binding and gagging it, to be pursued again the next day. These extravagant hunting expeditions were frequent until 1861, when the serfs were freed and the aristocrats no longer had access to a limitless labor force.

Few Borzoi remained by 1873, frightening fans of the breed’s beauty and speed. The Imperial Association was founded by Russian fanciers to protect and promote the breed’s qualities, and many Borzoi in America may be traced back to pups from Imperial Association members’ kennels. Grand Duke Nicholas, Czar Nicholas II’s uncle, and Artem Boldareff, a wealthy landowner, were among the association’s members.

Regrettably, this link to the aristocracy proved fatal. Because of it, many Borzoi were slaughtered after the Russian Revolution in 1918. The Russian breed was only survived because several were presented as gifts to royals in other nations, including Queen Victoria and Princess Alexandra of Wales, or were imported by breed enthusiasts.

Borzoi In The United States

Elsie, the first Borzoi known to have been imported to the United States, was bought from the United Kingdom by a Pennsylvania man called William Wade. Elsie, who was described as “small, light, and weedy,” wasn’t much to look at. C. Steadman Hanks, another American, visited Russia in the 1890s and established his Seacroft Kennels by importing Borzoi directly from their motherland.

Princess Irma was the first Borzoi to be registered with the American Kennel Club in 1891. In 1903, Joseph B. Thomas helped to develop the breed in America by traveling to Russia three times to buy dogs from Grand Duke Nicholas’ Perchino Kennel and Artem Boldareff’s Woronzova Kennel. In the same year, the Borzoi Club of America (then known as the Russian Wolfhound Club of America) was founded.

The name of the breed was changed from Russian Wolfhound to Borzoi in 1936. The Borzoi in your living room today bears little resemblance to his forefathers in Mother Russia. He’s still the same towering and gorgeous sighthound that was one of Czarist Russia’s greatest treasures.

Quick Breed overview

The Borzoi is the epitome of refinement and grace, with his tall, thin physique, long, narrow head, and silky coat. Borzois have a proud demeanor, and it’s easy to imagine them lazing in Russian Tsar palaces or sprinting down a wolf in the Russian countryside. However, before bringing a Borzoi to your castle, you must first determine whether a Borzoi is the ideal pet for you.

Borzoi are known for their speed, which is contrasted with a laid-back personality. They are prized for their grace as well as their sweet dispositions. Borzois prefer sprinting to long-distance running and are content to return home and relax on their favorite sofa. They aren’t your typical high-energy dog. If you prefer to spend the day in bed or on the sofa, your Borzoi will gladly accompany you.

Despite his laid-back demeanor and majestic appearance, the Borzoi is more than just a lovely ornament for your home. This gigantic breed, which stands between 28 and 32 inches tall, has his own thinking and a strong yearning for human interaction. He’s not the best pick for folks who spend a lot of time away from home. He sheds a lot of his thick double coat, which kept him warm during the harsh Russian winters. The Borzoi is a friendly dog, although puppies are energetic and may knock a toddler over when playing.

In dog sports, the Borzoi’s athleticism comes in handy. He’s naturally stunning in the show ring, and he excels in agility, obedience, and rally as well. But it’s in the lure coursing field where he really succeeds, using his innate drive to chase. Borzoi are sometimes used in open field coursing to hunt jackrabbit in Western states, and some farmers use them to defend their cattle from coyotes.

Borzoi Coat

The long, silky coat of the Borzoi can be flat, wavy, or curly, and it can be any color or combination of hues. The head, ears, and front legs are all covered with short, smooth hair, and the neck is adorned with a curled frill. The tail and back end have thick feathering covering them. The hair’s lovely silky texture repels grime and mud, making it simple to maintain.

Weekly, use a pin brush to groom your Borzoi’s coat. Any matting behind the ears or between the hind legs should be removed. Use a wire slicker brush sparingly, as it can damage the coat. Borzoi shed heavily at certain times of the year and may require more frequent brushing. As necessary, bathe him.

Brush your Borzoi’s teeth at least twice a week to remove tartar accumulation and the bacteria that live within it. If you want to avoid gum disease and bad breath, brushing their teeth every day is even better.

Once or twice a month, you should trim their nails. They’re too long if they may be heard clicking on the floor. Short, carefully trimmed nails keep your Borzoi’s feet in good shape and protect your shins from scratches when he jumps up to meet you.


Borzoi personalities range from serious and regal to clownish and everything in between. The Borzoi is an intelligent, peaceful, and reasonable friend. He dislikes being left alone for extended periods of time. Strangers elicit a spectrum of reactions from him, from aloof to cordial. He’s not shy and is generally trusting of others. However, the Borzoi’s laid-back personality does not always imply that he is easy to train. He is a free-thinking individual who can be obstinate. Finally, the Borzoi needs to know that he is cherished, cared for, and will never be in danger.

Heredity, training, and socialization are all elements that influence temperament. Nice-tempered puppies are curious and energetic, eager to approach people and be held. Choose a puppy that is in the midst of the pack, rather than one who is savagely attacking his littermates or hiding in a corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — the mother is usually the one who is available — to make sure they have pleasant personalities. It’s also a good idea to meet the parents’ siblings or other relatives to get a sense of how the puppy will grow up.

Borzoi, like all dogs, benefit from early socialization, which involves exposing them to a variety of people, sights, noises, and experiences. Your Borzoi puppy’s development as a well-rounded dog is aided by socialization. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten program is a terrific place to begin. Regularly inviting guests over and taking him to crowded parks, dog-friendly stores, and leisurely strolls to meet neighbors can all help him improve his social skills.

Are they good family dogs?

A household with tiny children, particularly toddlers, may find the Borzoi to be excessively large. They’re massive dogs that can easily knock a toddler over by accident. Borzois are also not particularly tolerant to toddlers prodding and poking them. They’re great for families with older kids who know how to interact with dogs.

Always teach youngsters how to approach and touch dogs, and supervise any interactions between dogs and small children to avoid biting or ear or tail pulling on either party’s side. Teach your youngster to never approach a sleeping or eating dog, or to try to steal the dog’s food. A child should never be left alone with a dog.

Borzoi are generally not violent against other dogs, yet their sighthound heritage may take over in an uncontrolled scenario, especially if tiny dogs are present. When it comes to dogs of the same sex, some can be violent. Young Borzoi can be taught not to chase or snap at small animals, such as cats, with proper training. However, that instruction may be limited to the confines of a building. Outdoor cats, including your own, may be considered fair game.

Caring for a Borzoi

Borzois are sometimes mistaken for a low-maintenance breed because they are known as gentle giants. Even if temperament consumes the majority of their days, these dogs require regular exercise and thoughtful, positive reinforcement-based training to live happily. To keep their silky coats, this breed must be groomed on a regular basis.


Long walks are required for these huge, athletic canines. It’s critical to have a fenced-in yard and to walk these powerful sighthound dogs on a leash at all times, as the sight of fleeing wildlife such as a cat or squirrel is far too tempting for their strong pursuit instinct. This large dog also enjoys participating in active, outside activities with their owners, and they excel at canine sports such as lure coursing and agility.


The Borzoi sheds a lot due to their long, silky coat, so brush them every couple of days with a pin or slicker brush and/or comb to remove loose hair and dirt. In the summer and fall, the Borzoi has an annual shedding season, which necessitates more frequent grooming. The texture and distribution of this breed’s coat are distinctive; it should have a frill on its neck, as well as feathering on its hindquarters and tail. This breed, like most dogs, needs to be bathed and have their nails trimmed on a regular basis.


Borzoi ownership often necessitates a great deal of patience, consistency, and a sense of humour. These dogs are similar to cats in that they may be both silent and stubborn. Borzoi are bright, friendly, and well-mannered dogs, but they are extremely autonomous when it comes to training (so training may be somewhat of a challenge).

They are quickly bored by repetitious and seemingly meaningless activities, and they, like other sighthounds, are extremely sensitive to severe treatment. This means that your Borzoi will be unable to deal with yelling or any other sort of punishment-based training. The importance of early socialization and positive reinforcement training cannot be overstated.

Nutrition and diet requirements 

Borzoi dogs eat less than other dogs their size, while puppies eat more than adults due to their quick growth. Borzoi owners should avoid overfeeding their dogs or giving them too many treats, as this can lead to obesity and other health problems.

High-quality dog food, whether professionally manufactured or prepared at home under veterinary supervision, should be fine for Borzois. Depending on whether your dog is a puppy, an adult, or a senior, choose food that is age-appropriate. Consult with your veterinarian to determine a healthy, safe eating schedule as your dog grows, as the recommended number of feedings per day (and amount of food per meal) is based on their age.

Due to these dogs’ proclivity for running and chasing, it’s critical to precisely time their meals. Feeding your Borzoi before or after a tough workout can cause bloat. For this energetic breed, clean, fresh water should always be provided.

The Borzoi’s Health

Borzois are typically healthy dogs, although they have been linked to a number of health problems, including gastrointestinal, knee, and eye problems. This dog’s ears and teeth, like those of all breeds, should be cleaned on a regular basis.

All dogs, like all people, are susceptible to inherited health issues. Any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who claims that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who claims that her puppies are kept separate from the rest of the home for health reasons should be avoided at all costs. A professional breeder will be forthright and honest about the breed’s health issues and the frequency with which they arise in her lines.

Borzoi are generally healthy, although they are susceptible to a number of inherited health concerns, including wobbler syndrome, heart disease, hypothyroidism, and visual issues such cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Certain anesthetic medicines, as well as the stress of hospitalization, may cause aberrant responses in some Borzoi. Consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about a planned anesthetic operation.

Not all of these diseases can be detected in a growing puppy, and it’s hard to know whether an animal will be free of them in the future, which is why you need to locate a trustworthy breeder who is dedicated to creating the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to show independent proof that the dog’s parents have been checked for common problems and deemed fit for breeding.

Most common health problems

Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint becomes unstable as a result of both developmental and environmental factors. Dogs are prone to this bone and joint disorder. The femur does not meet the pelvic bone appropriately, causing the bones to wear out prematurely.

Later in life, your dog may develop arthritis, which can be excruciatingly painful. This ailment shows itself as a peculiar walk, shaky posture, or limping, all of which are plainly seen in your beautiful pup. To preserve your dog’s quality of life, discuss care with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy is an eye ailment that might have a negative impact on the quality of life of your dog. This usually happens later in life as a result of retinal degeneration. Retinal dysplasia is the name for the early-onset type, which is observed in puppies. This is when the retinal cells do not mature properly.

The dog becomes partially or completely blind in both cases. While the disease isn’t unpleasant, it can have a significant influence on your dog’s quality of life. Consult your veterinarian about your dog’s alternatives, as well as what to do if he becomes blind.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

This is one of the most prevalent blood clotting problems in humans, and you might be surprised to learn that it can also affect your dog. Von Willebrand’s disease is caused by a lack of the von Willebrand Factor, a protein that aids in blood clotting.

In the event of even a minor cut, this can result in significant bleeding. This disease is difficult to detect because your dog may appear to be in perfect health for their whole life unless they have an injury. Other signs and symptoms may appear in some dogs. Nosebleeds, blood in the feces or urine, and easily damaged skin are examples.

If you and your dog are both careful, this ailment will not have a significant impact on your dog’s quality of life. Inquire with your veterinarian about treatment options for the condition. It’s critical to have your puppy checked for this problem as soon as possible, as certain medications, such as aspirin, might make it worse.


Allergies to pollen, mold, and dust cause people to sneeze. Instead of sneezing, allergies in dogs produce itching. Atopy is a name used to describe a common skin allergy in these puppies. The feet, tummy, skin wrinkles, and ears are the most commonly affected locations. Symptoms normally emerge between the ages of one and three, and they can get worse as time goes on. Licking the paws, stroking the face, and recurring ear infections are the most prevalent allergy symptoms. The good news is that these diseases can be treated in a number of different ways.


In older canines, cataracts are a common cause of blindness. The lenses of his eyes become more opaque—in other words, hazy rather than clear. Many dogs adapt well to losing their vision and live happily ever after. Surgical removal of cataracts and restoration of vision may also be a possibility.


Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV or Bloat) is a condition that affects dogs with deep, narrow chests. This indicates that your dog is more vulnerable than other breeds. The stomach twists on itself and fills with gas when a dog bloats. The twisting cuts off the stomach’s and sometimes the spleen’s blood flow.

If left untreated, the sickness can kill your dog in as little as 30 minutes. Your dog may retch or heave (but nothing comes out), be agitated, have an enlarged abdomen, or lie in a prayer position (front feet down, rear end up). Preventive surgery, which involves tacking or suturing the stomach in place so that it does not twist, is possible.

Borzoi FAQ

What were Borzois used for?

The Russian elite liked the “pasttime” of wolf hunting centuries ago. They would swarm out on horseback from their vast estates, led by more than fifty tall, thin, powerful Borzoi ready to track down and kill wolves. Sighthounds are canines that hunt by sight rather than by scent.

Is a Borzoi a Good Dog for a Family?

The Borzoi is an excellent dog for families with children for a variety of reasons, including its calm demeanor and friendly, loyal nature. This breed, however, can be wary of strangers, so make sure your dog is properly socialized with your extended family and friends.

Are Borzois suitable for children?

Borzois are not recommended for youngsters under the age of ten unless they are particularly mild. Around extremely young children, sensitive sighthounds might be a little high-strung and defensive, and their reflexes and reactions can be lightning-fast.

Do Borzois get along well with other dogs?

Borzois prefer their own breed, but they get along with most other dogs. There is, however, some same-sex hostility.

I’d never keep a Borzoi with a toy breed, either. A Borzoi snatched a toy breed from its owner’s arms and killed it, and I was an unhappy witness. This is a powerful hunting breed. I know I keep repeating it, but it’s because it’s such an important attribute to master.

Do Borzois get along with cats?

Hmm. If they were raised in a household with a cat, they might be fine with it. Indoors. Maybe.

Sighthounds, on the other hand, have strong “prey” reflexes, which include chasing and catching living things that suddenly sprint, flutter, or move swiftly.

Are Borzoi Dogs Aggressive?

Borzoi dogs do not have a reputation for being aggressive, but they do have a natural hunting instinct. Many Borzois get along well with other dogs and smaller pets like cats, but they must be introduced gradually (when your Borzoi is still a puppy, if possible).

Are Borzoi Dogs Intelligent?

The Borzoi is a smart dog that was created primarily for hunting in packs and is recognized for its great trainability. However, because these dogs are sensitive and quickly bored, it’s advisable to utilize regular positive reinforcement-based training while introducing your dog to the household.

Are Borzois easy to train?

Nope. Borzois, like all sighthounds, are independent minds, similar to cats. They have little motivation to please others, and many are unmotivated by food rewards. They’re also physically and emotionally vulnerable, thus correcting children for misbehavior should be done gently.

Are Borzoi Dogs High-Maintenance?

Borzois don’t require as much exercise or training as other dog breeds, but their long, silky coats do necessitate frequent care. This breed requires at least one hour of daily exercise and should be combed twice a week to keep its fur smooth and tangle-free.

Where Can I Adopt or Purchase a Borzoi?

Borzoi dogs can be found through local animal shelters and rescue groups. The Borzoi Club of America, the National Breed Club for Borzoi dogs, can also assist you in finding your new best buddy. A Borzoi puppy from a breeder normally costs between $1,000 and $2,000, however depending on the breeder, the price can go up to $5,000.

Final thoughts

Borzoi dogs are huge hounds with deep chests, slender limbs, and long, smooth hair that are native to Russia. The Borzoi has long been regarded as one of the most beautiful breeds, having been developed as royal members of the Russian aristocracy. Though these graceful sighthounds are amiable and peaceful, they were once used to hunt wolves because of their incredible speed.

Borzois can run at speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour, which isn’t surprising given that their rich silky coat contains Greyhound blood. Borzois are today’s affectionate and devoted family pets with strength and style.

The Borzoi, like the Greyhound, has a calm, placid, and even-tempered demeanor with delicate and graceful manners. Borzoi are devoted, affectionate family pets, but they’re not the type of dog to play rough with kids—they’re a little too dignified for that. They can be reserved around strangers yet affectionate around their family and close friends.

Borzoi dogs may not always get along with other pets due to their strong prey drive and inclinations to hunt and chase; ideally, they should be introduced to other animals in the home when they are puppies.

When deciding whether the Borzoi is the ideal dog for your family, explore all elements of the breed and seek advice from other Borzoi owners, breeders, and rescue groups.

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My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.