Borzoi

Table of Contents

borzoi dog portrait
Meet the Borzoi: a stunning blend of elegance, speed, and charm! Often mistaken for a mythical creature with their slender frame and flowing coat, these dogs are turning heads and winning hearts. But it's not just their looks that have people smitten – their intelligence, loyalty, and playful nature make them truly irresistible.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Borzoi is perfect for those who appreciate grace, intelligence, and a touch of regal charm in their canine companion. Ideal for families with older children or adults who can handle their size and occasional bursts of energy, these dogs thrive in environments where they have ample space to stretch their long legs.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEBorzoi
OTHER NAMESRussian Wolfhound, Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya, Psowaya Barsaya
ORIGINRussia
BREED GROUPHound Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT26-34 inches
WEIGHT60-105 lbs
LIFESPAN9-14 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYLow
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK101st
borzoi running on an open field
Photo: alektas/Pixabay

Appearance

The Borzoi dog breed is a true showstopper, boasting an array of striking physical characteristics that set them apart from other breeds. With their tall, slender frames, these dogs stand at an impressive 26 to 34 inches at the shoulder, and typically weigh between 60 and 105 pounds. Males are generally larger and more robust than females, who tend to have a more refined appearance.

The Borzoi’s body is built for speed and agility, with a long, narrow chest and a slightly arched back. Their powerful muscles are hidden beneath a layer of lean flesh, giving them a sleek, streamlined silhouette. Despite their size, they move with a graceful, fluid gait that is reminiscent of a racehorse in motion.

One of the most distinctive features of the Borzoi is their head, which is elongated and narrow, with a barely perceptible stop. Their dark, almond-shaped eyes are set somewhat obliquely, giving them a serene and intelligent expression. The ears of a Borzoi are small and lie close to the head when relaxed, but perk up slightly when the dog is alert.

A Borzoi’s long, elegant neck leads to a deep, narrow chest, giving them ample lung capacity for those breathtaking sprints. The tail of a Borzoi is long and low-set, usually carried in a graceful curve. When the dog is excited or in motion, the tail may rise, but it should never curl over the back.

The coat of a Borzoi is one of their most enchanting features. It is a double coat, with a soft, dense undercoat and a silky, wavy or curly outer coat. The longer hair on the neck forms a luxurious collar, while feathering can be found on the ears, tail, and the back of the legs.

The coat can be found in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including white, black, gray, cream, gold, red, and brindle, as well as combinations of these colors.

Overall, the Borzoi is a breed that exudes elegance, grace, and an air of aristocracy. Their unique appearance and physical characteristics make them an unforgettable sight, whether they’re lounging at home or sprinting across an open field.

borzoi's face
Photo: Jeannette1980/Pixabay

Temperament

Ah, the Borzoi! A breed that’s as intriguing in personality as it is in appearance. Picture a dog that carries the grace of a ballerina, the speed of an Olympic sprinter, and the quiet dignity of an aristocrat. That’s the Borzoi for you.

Now, let’s talk about their temperament. Borzois are known for being good-natured, gentle, and calm. They’re like that sophisticated friend who always brings a sense of tranquility to the room. They have a noble demeanor that pairs well with their aristocratic looks.

One of the most endearing traits of a Borzoi is their sensitivity. They’re wonderfully attuned to the emotions of their human companions, making them an empathetic friend. They also have a unique sense of humor, often behaving in ways that can only be described as clownish. This juxtaposition of elegance and silliness makes them a true joy to be around.

Another key trait to note is their intelligence. Borzois are smart dogs with a sensible outlook towards life. However, they also have a streak of independence and can be a bit strong-willed. In other words, they’re not always eager to please, and they won’t blindly follow commands. Patience and respect go a long way when dealing with a Borzoi.

Despite their size, Borzois carry themselves with a gentle grace. They’re usually quiet, preferring to observe their surroundings with a keen eye. They form deep bonds with their families and are extremely loyal, even if they’re not overly demonstrative about it.

Finally, be aware that Borzois can sometimes be touch-sensitive. They may react quickly if startled or grabbed unexpectedly. So, it’s important to approach them with care, especially when they’re relaxing or sleeping.

In summary, the Borzoi is a unique blend of grace, strength, and sensitivity. They’re calm yet playful, independent yet loyal, making them a fascinating breed to share your life with.

borzoi standing near a lake
Photo: eAlisa/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for a Borzoi is one that caters to their unique needs and allows them to thrive both physically and emotionally.

Physical Environment

These dogs are most suited to a home where they have ample space to move around, both indoors and outdoors. A large, securely fenced yard is highly recommended, as it provides them with a safe place to stretch their legs and indulge in their natural instinct to run.

Climate Adaptability

When considering the adaptability of the Borzoi to various climates, it’s important to note that their thick, double coat provides them with some protection against cold temperatures.

They can tolerate moderately cold climates, but it’s essential to provide them with a warm, cozy shelter during harsh winter conditions. Extra care should be taken to protect their paws from ice, snow, and salt, as well as monitoring them for any signs of discomfort or hypothermia.

On the other hand, Borzois may struggle in extremely hot climates due to their dense coat. In warmer temperatures, it’s crucial to ensure they have access to shade, fresh water, and a cool spot to rest. Avoid exercising your Borzoi during the hottest parts of the day, opting for early morning or late evening walks instead.

Be vigilant for signs of overheating or heatstroke, and take appropriate measures to keep your dog cool and comfortable.

Ideal Owner

When it comes to pet parents, the Borzoi is best suited to individuals or families who can provide the love, attention, and care they require. These dogs appreciate a calm and gentle approach, so an understanding of their sensitive nature is essential. Borzois will thrive with owners who are patient, consistent, and willing to invest time in building a strong bond with their canine companion.

Other Pets

In terms of cohabitation with other pets, Borzois can generally adapt well to living with other animals, particularly if raised together from a young age. However, due to their strong prey drive, careful introductions and supervision are necessary when bringing a Borzoi into a home with smaller pets, such as cats or small dogs.

It’s crucial to ensure that all animals in the household feel secure and comfortable in each other’s presence.

borzoi running on a beach
Photo: ragnahellberg/Pixabay

Grooming

Grooming is an essential aspect of caring for a Borzoi, as it helps maintain their stunning appearance and overall health. While their grooming needs are not overly demanding, regular attention to their coat, teeth, nails, and ears will ensure your Borzoi looks and feels their best.

Coat Care

The Borzoi’s coat is comprised of a soft, dense undercoat and a silky, wavy, or curly outer coat. Regular brushing is crucial to prevent mats, tangles, and excessive shedding. It’s recommended to brush your Borzoi’s coat at least once or twice a week, although more frequent brushing may be required during seasonal shedding periods.

A slicker brush, pin brush, or comb can be used to gently work through the coat, starting at the head and working your way down the body. Be sure to pay special attention to areas with longer hair, such as the neck, tail, and the backs of the legs, where mats are more likely to form.

Borzois do not require frequent baths, as over-bathing can strip the natural oils from their coat and skin. Bathe your Borzoi as needed, typically every few months or when they become dirty or smelly. Use a mild, dog-specific shampoo and conditioner to keep their coat clean and healthy. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residues, and dry your dog with a towel or hairdryer set on low heat.

Dental Care

Dental care is vital for maintaining your Borzoi’s overall health. Regular teeth brushing helps prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. It’s recommended to brush your dog’s teeth at least two to three times a week using a dog toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste.

Introduce dental care gradually and with positive reinforcement to make the experience pleasant for both you and your Borzoi. In addition to brushing, dental chews and toys can help support your dog’s oral health.

Nail Trimming

Regular nail trimming is essential for the Borzoi, as long nails can cause discomfort and affect their gait. It’s recommended to trim your dog’s nails every three to four weeks, depending on the rate of growth.

Use a dog nail clipper or grinder, and be cautious not to cut the quick, which is the blood vessel within the nail. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult a vet or professional groomer for guidance.

Ear Care

Regular ear checks and cleaning are important for preventing infections and maintaining your Borzoi’s overall health. Examine your dog’s ears weekly for signs of redness, irritation, or foul odor, which could indicate an infection.

To clean your dog’s ears, use a dog-specific ear cleaner and a cotton ball or soft cloth to gently wipe away any debris or wax buildup. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can push debris further into the ear canal or damage the eardrum.

Additional Grooming Tips

In addition to these grooming tasks, it’s essential to check your Borzoi’s skin for any signs of irritation, ticks, or fleas during regular grooming sessions. Addressing any issues promptly can help prevent more serious health problems.

borzoi in a forest
Photo: Bob63/Pixabay

Exercise

The Borzoi is a breed with moderate exercise needs, requiring a balance of physical activity and mental stimulation to maintain their health and happiness. While they may appear calm and laid-back indoors, they still possess a strong instinct to run and chase, inherited from their sighthound ancestors.

Exercise Amount & Types

Daily exercise is essential for a Borzoi, with a combination of walks and more vigorous activities. A brisk walk of 30-45 minutes per day is a good starting point, but it’s important to remember that these dogs were bred for sprinting, not endurance.

Incorporating short bursts of running or playtime in a safe, enclosed area can help satisfy their need for speed and keep them physically fit. Due to their strong prey drive, it’s crucial to ensure that your Borzoi is on a leash or in a securely fenced area when exercising outdoors.

In addition to walks and runs, engaging your Borzoi in various activities can provide mental stimulation and help prevent boredom. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and obedience training are all excellent options for keeping their minds sharp and focused.

Dog Sports

For those interested in dog sports, the Borzoi excels at activities that showcase their natural abilities. Lure coursing, a sport in which dogs chase a mechanically operated lure, is an ideal outlet for their innate chasing instincts. Other dog sports, such as agility, rally obedience, and even canine freestyle (dancing with dogs), can also provide a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog.

Exercise Precautions

When participating in any form of exercise with your Borzoi, it’s essential to be mindful of their unique physical characteristics. Their long, slender build makes them prone to injuries if overexerted or subjected to excessive jumping or rough play. Always monitor your dog during exercise and adjust activities as needed to ensure their safety and well-being.

two borzoi dogs sitting side by side outdoors
Photo: Carmelka/Getty Images

Training

Training a Borzoi can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but it’s important to understand their unique temperament and approach training with patience and consistency. These intelligent dogs are capable of learning a wide range of commands and skills; however, their independent nature and occasional stubbornness can present challenges during training sessions.

When training a Borzoi, it’s crucial to use positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, and play, to motivate and encourage them. Harsh methods or punishment can cause a Borzoi to become fearful or uncooperative, hindering progress and potentially damaging the bond between you and your dog.

As with any breed, early socialization is vital for a well-rounded and confident Borzoi. Expose your puppy to various people, animals, sights, sounds, and experiences during their formative months to help them develop into a well-adjusted adult. Puppy kindergarten classes can be an excellent way to start socializing your Borzoi while also introducing basic obedience commands.

Consistency is key when training a Borzoi, as they may test boundaries or exhibit selective hearing at times. Establishing a routine and setting clear expectations will help your dog understand what is expected of them. Keep training sessions short, engaging, and fun to hold their interest and prevent boredom.

Due to their strong prey drive, teaching a reliable recall command may be more challenging for a Borzoi than for other breeds. It’s essential to practice recall regularly and in a controlled environment, always rewarding your dog for returning to you. However, it’s important to remember that a Borzoi may not be reliable off-leash, especially in the presence of small animals or other distractions.

In addition to basic obedience commands, training a Borzoi in dog sports can provide both mental and physical stimulation. Activities such as lure coursing, agility, and rally obedience can help channel their natural instincts and energy in a productive and enjoyable manner.

borzoi playing on the grass
Photo: Bob63/Pixabay

Diet & Nutrition

A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for maintaining the health and vitality of a Borzoi. It’s crucial to choose a high-quality dog food that meets the nutritional requirements established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to ensure your dog receives all the necessary nutrients for their size, age, and activity level.

What to Feed & How Much

There are various options when it comes to feeding your Borzoi, including dry kibble, wet food, and raw or home-cooked diets. Each option has its advantages and drawbacks, so it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best choice for your individual dog.

Regardless of the type of food you choose, make sure it provides a balanced blend of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals to support your Borzoi’s overall health.

The amount and frequency of feeding depend on your dog’s age, size, and activity level. Puppies generally require more frequent meals, usually three to four times per day, while adult dogs can be fed twice daily. Always refer to the feeding guidelines on the dog food packaging and consult your veterinarian for personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs.

Keep in mind that Borzois are prone to a condition called bloat, which is a life-threatening twisting of the stomach. To help prevent this, it’s advised to feed your dog smaller, more frequent meals rather than one large meal per day. Additionally, avoid vigorous exercise immediately before or after eating, and consider using a slow-feeder bowl to encourage slower eating.

Treats & Water

Treats can be a valuable tool for training and bonding with your Borzoi; however, they should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain or nutrient imbalances. Opt for healthy treats, such as lean meats, fruits, or vegetables, and always account for treats in your dog’s daily calorie intake.

Fresh water should always be readily available for your Borzoi to stay hydrated. Make sure to provide a clean water bowl and refill it regularly, encouraging your dog to drink throughout the day.

Health

The Borzoi is generally a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 9-14 years. However, like any breed, they can be prone to certain health issues. By providing a healthy diet, ensuring regular veterinary check-ups, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations, you can help your Borzoi enjoy a long and healthy life.

Here are common health issues associated with the Borzoi:

Bloat (Gastric Torsion): This life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach twists on itself, cutting off blood flow and trapping gas and food inside. Symptoms include a swollen abdomen, restlessness, drooling, and attempts to vomit without success. Immediate veterinary attention is crucial for a positive outcome. Feeding smaller meals and avoiding exercise around mealtime can help reduce the risk of bloat in your Borzoi.

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition results from an improperly formed hip joint, leading to arthritis and pain over time. Regular veterinary check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be required.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disease that causes gradual deterioration of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. Responsible breeders screen their breeding dogs for this condition to reduce its prevalence in the breed.

Cardiomyopathy: This heart condition affects the muscle of the heart, causing it to enlarge and weaken over time. Symptoms may include weakness, lethargy, or difficulty breathing. Regular veterinary check-ups and early detection can help manage this condition through medication and lifestyle adjustments.

Osteosarcoma: This aggressive form of bone cancer is more common in large breeds like the Borzoi. Early detection is crucial, and treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

To keep your Borzoi in optimal health, provide a balanced and nutritious diet that meets their specific needs. Regular veterinary check-ups, including dental care and monitoring for any signs of illness or discomfort, are essential for early detection and treatment of potential health issues. Additionally, maintaining a vaccination schedule can help protect your Borzoi from various infectious diseases.

By being aware of the common health issues associated with the Borzoi breed and providing consistent care, you can help ensure your canine companion lives a healthy and happy life by your side.

borzoi in the snow
Photo: ragnahellberg/Pixabay

History

The Borzoi boasts a rich and fascinating history that dates back several centuries. This elegant and swift breed is believed to have descended from the ancient Saluki and Greyhound breeds, which were brought to Russia by Arabian traders around the 9th and 10th centuries.

The Borzoi was selectively bred by Russian nobility to create a dog capable of hunting wolves and other large game in the vast, rugged terrain of the country.

The breeding efforts of Russian aristocrats resulted in a dog with incredible speed, agility, and endurance, as well as a keen sense of sight and strong prey drive. Borzois became an integral part of Russian culture, often featured in works of art and literature.

They were revered for their hunting prowess and were primarily kept by the upper class, who organized grand hunting expeditions showcasing the dogs’ skills. During these hunts, Borzois would work in teams of three to pursue and catch their quarry, while their owners followed on horseback.

The Borzoi’s popularity spread beyond Russia’s borders in the late 19th century when the breed was introduced to Europe and North America. In 1891, the first Borzoi was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), marking the beginning of the breed’s recognition and development in the United States. The Borzoi Club of America was established in 1903, and the breed’s popularity continued to grow.

Throughout the years, the Borzoi has made its mark in popular culture, often portrayed as a symbol of elegance and luxury. The breed has been featured in various films, television shows, and books, typically as a companion to wealthy or high-society characters.

Some notable appearances include the movie “Mildred Pierce,” the television show “Batman” from the 1960s, and the novel “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger.

In addition to their presence in popular culture, Borzois have also excelled in various canine events and competitions. Their natural athleticism and grace make them well-suited for dog sports such as lure coursing, agility, and obedience.

The breed’s striking appearance and elegant demeanor have also led to success in the show ring, with Borzois consistently earning top honors at prestigious dog shows around the world.

Despite their historical role as hunting dogs, modern-day Borzois have adapted well to life as companion animals. Their calm and gentle nature makes them a pleasure to live with, while their unique appearance and storied past continue to captivate dog enthusiasts worldwide.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Borzoi dog breed in the United States is the Borzoi Club of America (BCOA). Founded in 1903, the BCOA is dedicated to preserving and promoting the breed’s unique characteristics, as well as supporting responsible breeding practices and education about the breed. The club also organizes events and competitions for Borzoi enthusiasts.

To learn more about the BCOA, visit their webpage here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities.

Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Borzoi’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

borzoi standing on a green meadow
Photo: eAlisa/Getty Images

Acquiring

When considering acquiring a Borzoi, it’s essential to research and prepare for the breed’s specific needs, such as space, exercise, grooming, and training. Begin by contacting reputable breeders or rescue organizations to learn more about the breed and available dogs.

Rescuing a Borzoi can be a rewarding experience, as it provides a loving home for a dog in need while offering you the opportunity to enjoy the companionship of this unique breed. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Borzoi Club of America (BCOA) can provide valuable resources for locating Borzoi rescue organizations and available dogs.

Before bringing your new Borzoi home, ensure that you have the necessary supplies, including a secure leash and collar, food and water bowls, a comfortable bed, toys, and grooming tools. Additionally, schedule a check-up with a veterinarian to ensure your new companion is in good health.

FAQs

Why are Borzoi dogs considered rare?

Borzois are considered rare due to their lower popularity compared to other breeds. Additionally, fewer breeders specialize in Borzois, which contributes to their rarity.

Why don’t Borzois live as long as some other dog breeds?

As a large breed, Borzois have a shorter life expectancy compared to smaller breeds. Their average lifespan is 9-14 years, which is typical for dogs of their size. Proper care, nutrition, and regular veterinary check-ups can help maximize their lifespan.

Are Borzois expensive to purchase?

The cost of a Borzoi puppy can vary depending on factors such as the breeder’s reputation, location, and the puppy’s pedigree. On average, Borzoi puppies can cost between $1,000 and $2,500. It’s essential to prioritize finding a responsible breeder over the price to ensure a healthy and well-bred puppy.

Are Borzois aggressive dogs?

Borzois are not known to be aggressive dogs. They are generally calm, gentle, and affectionate with their families. However, they do possess a strong prey drive, which may cause them to chase small animals. Early socialization and proper training can help manage this instinct and ensure a well-behaved dog.

Are Borzois good family pets?

Borzois can make excellent family pets for those who can accommodate their exercise needs and provide adequate space for their large size. They are typically gentle with children but may be more reserved with strangers. As with any breed, it’s important to supervise interactions between dogs and young children.

How much exercise do Borzois need?

Borzois require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. A 30-45 minutes of daily walk along with opportunities for off-leash play in a securely fenced area will help meet their exercise needs. They also enjoy participating in dog sports such as lure coursing and agility.

Do Borzois require a lot of grooming?

Borzois have a long and silky coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting and remove loose hair. Weekly brushing, along with occasional baths, will help maintain their coat’s health and appearance. Additionally, routine nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental care are essential for overall health.

Fun Facts

  • Borzois are not just big; they’re fast too! They are capable of chasing game over long distances at a high speed. This need for speed requires them to have plenty of exercise to keep them happy and healthy.
  • Despite their size and hunting history, Borzois are known to be quiet and well-mannered at home. They’re often described as intelligent, independent, and somewhat aloof, but they form strong bonds with their families.
  • With their elegant features and graceful movement, Borzois are often compared to supermodels of the canine world. Their unique appearance and striking silhouette make them stand out in any crowd.

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