Curious about the wonderful Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound? Then read on for advice on this breed’s health, trainability, personality, and habits.

Borzoi dog standing

Known for their strength and elegance, the Borzoi temperament is naturally calm, which comes as a surprise to some since this breed was originally used for hunting.

Height: 28 inches male, 26 inches female
Weight: 34-48 kilos male,  25-40 kilos female
Lifespan: 7-10 years
Pedigree Breed (recognized by the Kennel Club): Yes, this breed is recognized by the Kennel Club

Positives and Negatives

Before purchasing your loyal companion, it is important to understand the pros and cons that generally come with this breed type.

The following are the main positives and negatives for the Borzoi:

Pros

  •  Rarely bark and hold a very calm nature
  • Once out of the puppy stage the Borzoi is generally well-mannered and make the perfect indoor pooch
  • Affectionate, loyal and protective
  • The Borzoi is fast and reaches around 30-40mph

Cons

  • They need a lot of space to accommodate their size
  • Can’t live in a home environment with conflict, a sensitive breed that could fall ill if surrounded by constant family arguments
  • Their independent nature can make training a Borzoi difficult
  • Some may still have the instinct to aggressively pin other smaller animals

Borzoi puppy sitting

Overview

The Borzoi, a Russian wolfhound, is a descendent from the sighthound working dogs who came with their owners to Russia from Central Asia before the 17th century.

The Kennel Club have listed this breed as ‘Category Two’ meaning there are ‘Points of Concern’ and owners must understand their commitments before purchasing a Borzoi as a pet.

Today in Russia, the Borzoi’s official name is ‘Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya’. They were originally used for wolf hunting however they weren’t used to kill, they pinned the wolf down until the hunters could catch up. The breed were widely loved amongst the Russian aristocracy.

This elegant pooch attracted attention from far and wide. The 27th Infantry Regiment of the US Army have used the Borzoi in their logo. The captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith was also a proud owner of a white Borzoi, who fortunately didn’t go on the fateful voyage.

Borzoi are no longer used as royal hunting companions and are instead just loveable pets, with many owners entering and competing in dog shows. They compete best under agility, obedience, lure coursing and bikejoring.

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History

The Borzoi originated from Russia after being crossbred with the Arabian greyhound and another thick-coated Russian breed. They were used for wolf hunting, a common sport amongst Russian aristocracy during the Romanov era.

The Borzoi was officially recorded in Russia in 1650 under the Tsar rule. The breed was not able to be purchased and was only given away as gifts. Peasants were forbidden from owning this breed. They were known as the Russian Wolfhound until 1936 when they were then called the Borzoi.

In 1918, the slaughter of the Romanov family, nobles and their dogs had a devastating effect on the numbers of the Borzoi in the 20th century. Thankfully, imports of the Borzoi began a few years before the massacre, and countries like the UK and America potentially saved this breed from extinction.

Borzoi are still used to this day as protectors of livestock and also hunt the fields for rabbits and hares. In Russia hunting is still legal in some areas.

The Russian Wolfhound makes the perfect hunting dog as they aren’t trained to kill, they pin the animal down for the hunter to catch it instead, allowing less injuries to the body.

Two Borzoi dogs standing

Personality

Borzoi are known for their good nature, independence, and calm temperament however they can be rather sensitive. They are shy and don’t like their privacy invaded by strangers or animals they don’t know.

This breed is gentle, calm, elegant and graceful and were loved by Russian aristocracy for their good manners in the home. It is important that a Borzoi does have access to a decent-sized garden to keep them busy.

This breed doesn’t like to be left alone and hold a strong, loyal connection to their owner, so they should only be left by themselves for around 4-6 hours.

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Are They Good With Strangers?

This breed responds well to people their owner knows, however they may be more reserved with people you don’t. This will most likely lead them to feel timid around strangers.

Borzoi dogs playing

Are Borzoi Friendly With Other Dogs?

It is important to integrate and socialize a Borzoi puppy with other dogs regularly whilst they are young. They can have a tendency to snap or become aggressive to dogs of the same sex, so training them as puppies is vital.

Smaller dogs should be introduced to your puppy from a young age and throughout their training. This way you can try to prevent their instinct to aggressively pin and chase those smaller than them.

Are They Ok With Children?

Borzoi are better off being raised with children from a puppy as they can become sensitive over their personal space. They aren’t the best breed to have around children and won’t become their playmate.

Family dynamics can have a profound effect on this breed if there is constant arguing in the home. As the Borzoi is sensitive this could lead to them becoming stressed or possibly even sick.

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Health

It is important to understand the breeds potential common health issues before purchasing or rehoming any dog. The following health problems have been related to the Borzoi.

  • Hypothyroidism- The decrease in the production of thyroid hormones.
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus- Emergency veterinary care is required. The stomach essentially twists, trapping food and gases inside the belly.
  • This breed is very sensitive to anesthetics and barbiturates, so your vet will need to source alternative treatments.
  • Osteosarcoma Cancer can be more prone to this breed at a younger age.

To prevent GDV use a dog bowl that slows down your dogs eating to stop air going into the stomach.

Exercise

A Borzoi may be extremely well mannered in the home but once they get outdoors all they want to do is run! It is recommended exercise is around 1-2 hours per day and should be exercised in a closed-off area. Especially if they still have a strong instinct to chase smaller animals or their recall isn’t good.

This breed isn’t exactly high in energy but they do need a garden to keep them entertained.  Remember exercise especially with large breeds is vitally important for their health and muscle development.

Intelligence & Trainability

Borzoi are independent and aren’t the easiest of dogs to train. People often confuse hunting breeds (like the Borzoi) for working breeds (like the German Shepherd) and therefore don’t respond as quickly or efficiently to their owner’s commands.

Don’t be offended if you don’t find the right training technique, it often takes a few tries until you find what is right for both you and your pooch. Patience is key as this breed will not respond to harsh training techniques.

The two main focuses should be socialization and recall. As a hunting breed, the instinct to chase is strong, so you must ensure your dog’s recall is sufficient before allowing them off the lead.

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This dog has a great memory and if they suffer a bad experience it won’t be forgotten easily. So it is best to avoid punishments, especially when house training your puppy.

If they have any toilet accidents in the home, take them straight outside and continue to monitor their behavior indoors. You can often tell when they will go to the toilet in the home as they begin smelling the floor.

The Borzoi’s intelligence has often been debated, training can be difficult with this breed leading many to feel they just aren’t that smart. However, others instead blame this on their stubbornness and independence.

Two Borzoi dogs standing

Grooming

This breed has a long thick coat that comes in a variety of different colors. They have an undercoat which often sheds in the warmer months so you must keep up with grooming.

It is recommended to brush their fur at least 2-3 times a week. If this hasn’t been kept up to date the coat will become tangled and matted which can become highly uncomfortable for your pooch when trying to reverse this. The fur is often silky and isn’t difficult to maintain.

A variety of different style combs can be used to comb your dog’s fur which include the slick brush, greyhound comb, and a large pin brush.

Do not use a wire brush as this could potentially damage the fur. This breed does shed a lot, so this should be expected around your home.

You should trim the nails every 6 weeks and trim the fur around the paw areas to prevent any discomfort. Clean the ears regularly to prevent infection as this breed’s long floppy ears can often trap bacteria.

When it comes to bathing clean the coat following the grain of the hair, not against. Dog shampoos that have a balanced Ph level should be used. If you regularly bathe your dog for shows then conditioners can be sourced to make the fur silkier, but you must make sure the products have been completely rinsed out before drying.

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