About the Breed
Borzoi are one of the oldest Russian sighthound breeds, and their development was to assist the hunter in pursuit of game animals like rabbits, fox, and even wolves. In fact, the pursuit of wolves was an honored activity to test the skill of the dogs, and a hunter would release 2 or more borzoi to chase down the wolf and hold him by the neck until the hunter arrived.
The borzoi is a graceful and natural runner similar to other sighthounds. He has a natural instinct to ‘course’ or chase after small moving objects and has a passion for free running in these pursuits. He is surprisingly laid back in the home in between these times.
Today the borzoi can still be found in activities like lure coursing and less commonly in other performance sports.
The borzoi is classified as a giant breed of dog, and he is a tall specimen at 28-32” tall. He can weigh from 60-100 pounds, depending on the gender of the individual. Although he is tall and appears large, he is very graceful in style. He moves lightly on his feet and has long, lean legs. He has a large rib cage and a tucked up stomach region in keeping with other sighthounds such as the greyhound, saluki, or whippet.
One of the most impressive parts of a borzoi is the breed’s soft and silky coat which is longer in length and ranges from wavy to almost curly in places. Underneath is a softer undercoat. Borzoi can come in almost any color combination.
The borzoi is a quiet breed of dog that moves almost silently through life. He seldom barks. This makes him not ideal as a watchdog. He is friendly but reserved with new people, and many borzoi can be sensitive to having someone intrude in his space. This can be an issue with some borzoi and children. If raised with children, he can do well with them, but very young children who are not properly trained in how to behave around a dog may be too much for him.
As a whole, the breed is very gentle. He gets on well with other dogs and animals. He can learn to do well with a cat, depending on how strong his interest in chasing is and the personality of the individual cat. Cats that are likely to not run are the best choice for a borzoi if mixing the two species.
Many are surprised to know that the borzoi is a relatively quiet and calm house companion who is content to lie around the house. He has excellent house manners, particularly as an adult dog, if he is afforded the opportunity to exercise and free run.
Borzoi, like many hounds, is not a natural at obedience. He is not unintelligent, but it will require extra effort to teach him obedience skills. He does best with positive reinforcement techniques and making the training all about games and fun. He does not do well with constant repetition, harsh treatment, or loud voices.
He is sensitive in nature and wants to be with his human. Harsh treatment will cause him to shut down.
Borzoi need the opportunity to run! As a sighthound, it is important that he is given this exercise opportunity regularly to stretch his legs and reach full sprinting running speeds. This is important for both his physical and mental health. Lure coursing is an excellent sport option for him. That being said, he shouldn’t be in unfenced areas off leash as the desire to run and chase after small moving objects can easily take over him and he likely won’t return right away.
Shedding & Grooming
The borzoi coat is not difficult to groom and requires no trimming. It does need to be combed out weekly to avoid tangles in his soft, silky hair. At least once a year he will blow out his undercoat to avoid overheating in the summer. This will require a heavier brushing to remove.
He does not need frequent baths. He doesn’t have the odor that is sometimes attributed to other hounds, primarily the scent hounds. Too many baths will dry out his skin and coat. Otherwise, regular nail trims and tooth brushing are the primary grooming needs.
Health & Life Expectancy
The borzoi has a life expectancy of 7-10 years although some very healthy individuals may live longer. Although a very healthy breed generally speaking, there are a few issues to be aware of:
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
- Heart issues like cardiomyopathy
- Skeletal development issues: If a puppy grows too quickly due to being fed a food that is concentrated and too high in protein, growth issues can occur with bones and joints.
- OCD and sometimes hip dysplasia
- Thyroid disorders