Breed Group: Hound

Temperament and Behavior

Borzoi are exceptionally intelligent, independent, graceful, and polite. They are cautious, wary of strangers, and easily startled. They are loyal to their family but only modestly protective at best. Socialization can help offset some of their reserved nature but little will change their sensitivity. Borzoi can be good with children when properly socialized, but may not be playful enough to be a child’s best friend. They get along well with other large dogs, but bred to hunt wolves, they will hunt down small animals including cats and small dogs. Their size and sighthound heritage results in exceptionally high exercise needs. Borzoi should be allowed to run free two or three times a week, but only in a large, securely fenced area. If taken for a walk, a leash is required. Lure coursing is a popular activity for Borzoi. Provided their exercise needs are met, they are calm and docile indoors.
Physical Characteristics
Borzoi are tall, slender dogs. Males stand 28 to 33 inches in height at the shoulder and weight 75 to 105 pounds. Females are typically 26-31 inches tall and are from 55 to 90 pounds in weight. A Borzoi’s coat is long and thick to protect them from the cold which they enjoy. Heat, on the other hand, is not well tolerated. Coat colors are white, golden, tan, gray, and any combination with black markings. Their coat needs a short session of daily brushing to prevent mats most of the year. During seasonal shedding, additional brushing is needed. The amount of shedding is about average.
Trainer's Notes
Like hounds in general, when they identify something of interest, a trainer is like static on a radio– easy to filter out. This results in willful, stubborn, not-necessarily-interested-in-pleasing-anyone behavior. To compound these challenges, these dogs easily become bored with repetitive training. They are most responsive to praise and games. Treats alone will likely not be enough to maintain a Borzoi’s interest level. All things considered, they are best for an experienced dog owner.
Photo © by Pleple2000 available under the CC BY-SA 3.0
Borzoi, red coat
The most serious health concern for these dogs, Bloat, is a life-threatening condition that occurs in the digestive system. Despite their size, Borzoi can be picky eaters. They are also sensitive to mediations. A healthy Borzoi may live as long as 14 years.
Borzoi have never been an extremely popular breed in the U.S. They rank about 94th in AKC registrations annually with close to 700 dogs registered annually. They are most frequently owned by those seeking a “glamor dog” or as show dogs.
Breed History
The Medieval Russian aristocracy bred the Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound, to course wolves for the hunt. These large, fast, and elegant dogs sighted and then chased down wolves and held them until the hunters arrived. The dog is thought to have originated from a Middle Eastern breed given to the Russians as a gift. The dogs were then bred with Russian breeds to increase their size and the thickness of their coats; both important traits for chasing wolves in a cold climate. The importance of the hunt to the aristocrats led to intensive breeding of Borzoi. By the nineteenth century, there were seven different lines in Russia. Today, most dogs descend from the Perchino line. After the Russian Revolution in the early 1900s, many Borzoi were killed because of their status as symbols of royalty. The breed’s survival depended on the many dogs given as gifts to foreign royalty.
Additional Information
Those of note who are Borzoi fanciers include Bo Derek, Michael Douglas, Don Johnson, Nick Nolte, Zubin Mehta, and Rod Stewart. For more information about the breed, you can visit their US breed club, the Borzoi Club of America.

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