Boasting an aristocratic look and demeanour, the Borzoi is an elegant hunting dog which is fleet of foot but very sensitive. Also affectionate and loyal, this breed has many fans but can be hard to train and possesses an independent streak. The Borzoi is great with kids but wary of strangers and requires a copious amount of exercise. It’s hard not to love this dog but prospective owners must be able to offer it the space and time outdoors that it needs.
Which breed group is the Borzoi in?
Breed group: Hound
Borzoi breed history
The precise origins of the Borzoi are unknown, but it is likely that this graceful Russian dog has the Saluki amongst its ancestors. It is known that a Russian Duke imported sighthounds in the 17th century and then crossed these with native dogs to evolve a hunting dog which was fleet of foot. Borzois were used to hunt foxes and soon became popular with European royals. In 1903 a gentleman called Joseph Thomas imported Borzois to the UK and these were to become the foundation of the breed in both the UK and America. In their native land, Borzois fell out of favour during the Russian Revolution as they were associated with the aristocracy but the breed survived due to the number of dogs which had found their way overseas.
Borzois were known as Russian wolfhounds until the 1930s when the name of the breed was changed. They now boast many fans and are popular across the world.
Borzoi breed characteristics
Dignified, graceful and elegant, Borzois possess lean bodies and well-proportioned heads with dome-shaped skulls. Eyes are almond-shaped and dark with dark rims while ears are small and pointed. When Borzois are at rest, they fold their ears back and when they are alert, they hold them upright. Their chests are narrow, and their breast bones are pronounced. These dogs are built for speed and stability. They have muscular loins, broad hindquarters, well developed thighs and muscular back legs. Their long tails are feathered and carried curved.
Beautiful Borzois boast silky coats which can be flat, wavy or even a little curly. Hair is longer on the dogs’ bodies and there is feathering to the hindquarters. Coats can be a wide variety of colours including white, red, sable and silver.
Notable for their placid natures, Borzois can be aloof and difficult to train. They love to roam and tend to have a stubborn streak. They can be wary of strangers but are loving to their owners. These dogs are highly sensitive to touch and have a low pain threshold which can mean that they are very cautious when moving around.
- Lifespan: 10-12 years
- Height: up to 85cm
- Weight: up to 48kg
- Built for speed
- Almond-shaped eyes
- Small, pointed ears
- Silky coats in a variety of colours
- Coats can be flat, wavy or slightly curly
- Sometimes aloof
- Wary of strangers
- Sensitive to touch
Health issues with the Borzoi
This breed is known to suffer from several hereditary and congenital conditions as follows:
- Degenerative Myelopathy (CDRM)
- Congenital deafness
- Borzoi multifocal chorioretinal lesions
- Primary lymphodema
- Fibrinogen Factor 1
- Cancer which includes osteosarcoma
- Metabolic bone disease
- Sensitivity to barbiturates and anaesthetic
- Bloat/gastric torsion
- Injuries to legs
- Bed sores
What is the Borzoi bred for?
The Borzoi was originally bred as a hunting dog and was popular with the nobility.
What sort of owners does the Borzoi suit?
Loyal, affectionate and placid, Borzois are wonderful pets but are difficult to train. They love human company and are good with children. These dogs are best suited to experienced owners who can train them well and cope with their tendency to do things in their own time. They will be happiest living with active people who spend much of their time in the great outdoors. Borzois need plenty of exercise and are not a good choice for those who live in apartments due to their size. They need space both inside and outdoors in which to roam and would relish life in the countryside. Borzois don’t tend to be barkers and so are unlikely to become a nuisance to near neighbours.