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Borzoi Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

smiling borzoi

Height: 26 – 28+ inches
Weight: 60 – 105 pounds
Lifespan: 10 – 14 years
Colors: Any color or combination of colors
Suitable for: Individuals or families looking for a laid-back and friendly dog
Temperament: Loyal, loving, adaptable, easygoing, independent

The Borzoi is a dog you can’t help but notice. He’s hard to miss, for one thing, being as large as some adults are. He has a regal manner, thanks to the breed’s early association with the Russian aristocracy. Then, there is his body shape and form. He is a gorgeous pup that many artists find photogenic and noteworthy.

The history of the Borzoi goes back to the 13th century. His original purpose was to hunt wolves. Back in the time, the population was high, with many injuries and fatalities. The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the breed in 1914 and the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1891. The qualities of this noble breed made these decisions no-brainers.

It’s worth noting that this background meant that people were more likely to gift them to others than sell them. Their grace is even a part of the official breed standard. It’s fitting considering the conformation of the Borzoi from nose to tail. Despite his size, this pup is quite adaptable and can even be a city dweller.
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Borzoi Puppies

Borzoi puppies
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

His background probably helps the Borzoi do well for a pet if you live in an apartment. He isn’t a barker, which also helps. That lifestyle is a boon, considering his wanderlust potential. This dog will run if given a chance. His hunting history also means he will stick with the task at hand with a high wanderlust potential.

The Borzoi is laid-back with a moderate energy level. He’ll fare best if you can ensure he gets enough activity to keep his weight in check. This pup isn’t overly playful. He’s happiest enjoying your company and hanging out together. That’s a good thing because he is prone to separation anxiety if left alone too long. He’s affectionate and wants to share his love.

Despite his size, the Borzoi is relatively long-lived. Many similarly sized breeds have much shorter lives. If you prefer larger dogs, put this pup on your shortlist. He has many qualities that you may find desirable.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Borzoi

1. The Borzoi Is Immortal

Not many breeds can claim to be a part of literature history like the Borzoi. Tolstoy immortalized the dog in his masterpiece, War and Peace. It’s not hard to see why the dog captivated this famous author. The novel is an excellent testament to the pooch’s charm.

2. The Borzoi Almost Became Extinct

The Borzoi’s association with the Russian aristocracy almost led to his demise during the Russian Revolution. The breed was a favorite of the Romanov family. They, like everyone else, were casualties of the war. It took several decades and the dedication of the Borzoi’s enthusiasts to save the dogs for future generations.

3. The Borzoi Started with a Different Breed Name

The Borzoi hunted wolves and was thus, called the Russian Wolfhound. They earned the name because of their prowess. History tainted this moniker. That prompted American breeders to find more neutral grounds. They chose the Russian word, borzyi, meaning “swift” as a homage to the dog’s historical role.

Image Credit: Jeannette1980, Pixabay

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Borzoi 🧠

You might think with the Borzoi’s history that he would be an aggressive dog. That’s not the case with this pooch. Instead, you’ll find that he is affectionate and loyal. He is also intelligent, albeit, with a stubborn streak that novice pet owners will find challenging. His strong prey drive means that you should keep him in a fenced-in yard, too.

The background of the Borzoi made him a fast runner. If you think he looks like a Greyhound, you’d be right. The two are related. That accounts for his speed to chase after wolves. The temperament of this pup will likely remind you of a cat. How he carries himself and his quiet manner are distinctly feline in nature.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Borzoi is a social animal, and thus, will make an excellent family pet. He will even welcome strangers into your home. During the early days of the breed’s history, these dogs were guests at many lavish events attended by others in the aristocracy. You can almost say that socialization is inherent in the Borzoi.

It also isn’t much of a stretch to learn that he isn’t an overly playful dog. He will indulge you in a game of fetch, but he’s not a pup for roughhousing with the kids. He’ll do best in a home with older children who will respect his space.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The events we mentioned earlier also included other dogs. Therefore, he’ll probably get along with other pets in your household. Because of his size, it might be problematic if you have smaller pups. The same caution applies to cats. If a feline runs from him, a Borzoi will give chase. He has a high wanderlust potential and the tenacity to see it through to the end.

double borzoi
Image Credit: Pikist

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Things to Know When Owning a Borzoi:

It’s a shame that this breed isn’t more popular. The Borzoi is a good-looking dog with lots of desirable qualities. However, owning a large pup like this one also has its challenges that a prospective buyer should know upfront. While he isn’t a vocal pooch, he has a moderate tendency to nip that you must curb while he’s a manageable size as a puppy. A full-grown adult is another story.

His hunting background, with its formidable prey, means that the Borzoi has strong jaw and neck muscles. He is also a courageous dog that isn’t intimidated easily. Combined with his speed and size, that makes early training imperative. He’ll make a better pet in the long run.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

For a dog that is as large as the Borzoi is, he doesn’t have the appetite to match. That’s because of his lean form, which gives him only a low propensity to gain weight. It’s essential to give your pup a food formulated for canines of his size. These dogs mature slower than smaller breeds. Consequently, their diets are less calorie-dense than a Yorkshire Terrier, for example.

Also, we recommend giving your pooch a diet that is appropriate for his life stage. Puppy foods are more nutrient-dense to support their early development. You can start by offering your Borzoi three meals a day. You can cut it back to two once he gets older. Encourage your dog to eat as soon as you put down the bowl. Give him about 30 minutes and then pick it up from the floor.

Exercise 🐕

The fact that the Borzoi is a fast runner should tell you everything you need to know about how much exercise he must get. It’s an essential trait for his job. Wolves are tireless, too. If you’re going to control the population, an equally matched opponent is crucial. As we’ve discussed, the high wanderlust potential means that you’ll have to supervise his activity outdoors.

We recommend at least an hour of walking, running, or playing each day. That will satisfy the Borzoi’s need for exercise and keep this intelligent pup mentally stimulated. That’s essential for his overall health. His social nature means that he will play nice at the doggie park. However, supervision is vital because of his size. The setting may get him too excited to interact with smaller dogs.

Training 🦮

When you combine intelligence and independence, you know it’s going to be a handful. It is with the Borzoi. However, it’s not impossible. You just need to assert yourself as the boss in your relationship. Bear in mind that this pup is sensitive to harsh reprimands. That’s not the way to connect with him. Instead, try positive reinforcement with treats. You’ll have better luck.

Consistency is key. Remember that the Borzoi is smart. It’s what he expects from you. That’s sound advice for whatever dog you get. Many pups, like this one, are eager to please. He just needs the right direction for you to make it happen. It’s an excellent way to make training easier for you, too.

closeup borzoi
Image By: Jeannette1980, Pixabay

Grooming ✂️

The Borzoi has a long coat that requires regular care. We suggest brushing him at least every couple of days to keep mats under control. A pin brush is an ideal tool for the job. It’s also an excellent time to bond with your pooch. Makes sure to check his ears for trimming and his toenails for clipping. This dog is one that you want to always look his best.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Overall, the Borzoi is a relatively healthy pup. Surprisingly, elbow and hip dysplasia aren’t significant problems with a dog of his size. He does have other issues that are equally as much of a concern. The low popularity of the breed keeps some of them under control. We’d also suggest that his regal background is another factor in maintaining the integrity of this noble canine.

Minor Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergies
  • Cataracts
Serious Conditions
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Heart issues
  • Bloat
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Male vs Female

There are both size and personality differences between the sexes. Males and females are significantly disparate in size if that’s a consideration for you. Males carry themselves as decidedly masculine. They don’t walk into a room. They enter it. Likewise, the females are feminine with all the grace you’d expect from a pup with their background.

In any case, consult with your veterinarian about the best time to spay or neuter your pet if you don’t intend to breed them. More pups are still intact, perhaps because of their scarcity.

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Final Thoughts

Few breeds have the charisma as the Borzoi. The pup’s connection with nobility speaks a lot to what you can expect from inviting this dog into your home. He brings his history as a hunter of wolves with the dignity that is befitting of a canine that socialized with royalty. He is relatively laid-back with few needs other than enough exercise to satisfy his Greyhound roots.

If you have the time and space to keep him happy, the Borzoi is an excellent choice for families, especially those with older children. The breed is adaptable, so even if you don’t have a fenced-in yard, he’ll still fare well as a city dog. In return, you’ll have a loyal and affectionate pooch that is relatively low maintenance.

Featured Image Credit: Pikist

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