The Borzoi, also known as the Russian wolfhound, is quite similar to the Italian Greyhound, but much more elegant and larger. The chief distinguishing feature of these beautiful Russian dogs is their coat which is dense, fine, and sometimes, rough and wavy. Let us study the Borzoi (pronunciation bore-zo-ai) in detail.
Fun facts about the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi
- The first sighthounds brought to Russia by the Tataro Mongols were dogs that resembled the Saluki of today. Interbreeding between these dogs and a thick-coated Russian Laika resulted in the Borzoi. Hunters used these dogs to kill wolves and course hares; they were even skilled enough to hold or pin down the prey until a hunter came to capture or dispatch it.
- Another possible ancestor of the breed is the Arabian Greyhound
- By the 18th century, the Borzoi was extremely popular with the Russian aristocrats. Many royals used the white-haired Borzois as a fashion accessory.
- The word ‘Borzoi’ means swift in Russian. These dogs are known for their speed apart from their incredible hunting skills.
- Among the many loyal fans of this breed was Queen Victoria. She may have been responsible for bringing the breed over to the UK. Borzois came to the United States from the UK in 1889 and the AKC recognized the breed in 1891.
Physical description of Borzoi dogs
Borzois are a mix of elegant beauty and lethality. Their hunting prowess is second to none. Male dogs measure about 28 inches and weigh up to 100 lb. Females are slightly shorter and lighter.
Borzois have a graceful, well-muscled build. Their long, silky coats may be available in solid or mixed patterns and available in colors like white, tan, black, gray with black, and gold. Borzois display unmistakable elegance and grace in motion and repose. Adjectives such as powerful, smooth, elegant, speedy, and agile are ideal for describing the Borzoi. Their long, narrow heads are rather similar to those of the greyhound varieties of dogs.
Sweet, loyal, and extremely intelligent, Borzoi needs an experienced owner who can train him from puppyhood. Many a family has fallen for the Borzoi’s good looks and trusted them; only to come home to find a dead cat in the living room, the bedroom, and probably all other rooms! Never trust a Borzoi around other house pets; this dog has strong hunting skills and he won’t hesitate to use them. Your Borzoi needs a home with a secure yard. Ensure that your fence is sturdy enough to deter this dog from escaping. Even well-trained Borzois are known to bolt after small prey particularly if the animal in question is running.
With strangers, Borzois are usually aloof, quiet, and alert. However, they love the people they know well and will always be protective of them. Young borzois are active and hyper; they need a lot of physical activity to expend that extra energy. As they grow older, they mellow down but you must still ensure exercising and training them so that they know the house rules.
Around children, borzois are generally wary. They won’t take too kindly if a child tugs on its ears or pulls its tails. They also aren’t too fond of noise and excitement. So always watch them, especially around young kids. Training and socialization can help prevent behavioral issues.
Borzois do not make great watchdogs since they do not bark. However, should an intruder enter your premises, your Borzoi would not hesitate to use his powerful scissor bite and lightning-quick speed to bolt on him.
Where to find a Borzoi
Always try to find a Borzoi rescue first. You can contact local vets who may know shelters that keep exotic and rare dog breeds. However, being a relatively rare dog breed, you may want to get your puppy from Borzoi breeders. The Borzoi Club of America lists registered breeders who are working for the breed’s welfare. Contact several breeders and, if possible, visit their shelters. Meet the parents of your potential puppy. Ethical borzoi breeders won’t hesitate to show you records of genetic testing done for degenerative myelopathy, a common genetic issue in this breed. The average price of a Borzoi puppy varies from breeder to breeder, its coat color, and the pedigree and is usually in the range of $1000-$2000.
Younger Borzois are hyperactive dogs and they need mental and physical stimulation to prevent misbehavior. You must train your puppy from an early age and also walk him twice a day. Gentle exercise is best for younger dogs and this could include a game of fetch or walking or swimming. Older Borzois mellow down with age and they get surprisingly placid. However, their hunting instincts may drive them to chase after small prey. So, do secure the yard and never take him out in public, unleashed. You Borzoi will make a tireless running or jogging partner and you will both look forward to these activities. Never over-exercise your Borzoi in very hot weather.
Training a Borzoi
These intelligent dogs accept basic training but might refuse to perform tricks. You can start with housetraining. Show your pet where it is okay to eliminate. You must take your puppy out at least 3 times a day so he can relieve himself. This is essential to avoid accidents in the house.
Many dog-training CDs and internet videos are available these days and you can utilize them to train your Borzoi. If needed, seek the help of a dog handler or enroll your pet in obedience classes near you. Your breeder or vet can also direct you further regarding training.
Grooming a Borzoi
The Borzoi’s long silky coat does not need too much attention other than regular brushing. They are seasonal shedders so make sure to brush them more during shedding. The best kind of brush for this breed is a pin brush; avoid wire slickers which can damage the coat. Trim their nails a couple of times a month or as needed. Dry shampoo your dog between baths; bathing this rather tall dog can be a huge hassle. If needed, seek professional grooming services. Clip the excess hair between your dog’s paws otherwise, it can get rather uncomfortable.
The breed is prone to bloat and leg fractures. Certain types of cancers are also seen in the breed namely osteosarcoma. A common cause of death in Borzois is cancer. The average lifespan of the Borzoi is 12-15 years.