Borzoi Guide

Hound Dog Breeds

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The borzoi is a running hound capable of hunting large, fierce game in a very cold climate. As such, it retains the greyhound build necessary for running at great speed, but it is larger and stronger than the greyhound. Its jaws should be strong enough to hold down a wolf. The long, silky coat, which can be either flat, wavy or rather curly, provides protection against cold weather and snow. Borzois should possess elegance and grace, with flowing lines, whether standing or moving.

A breed of quiet elegance, the borzoi exemplifies the well-mannered house dog. Outdoors, it races with wild abandon, and it will chase any small animal that runs. It is independent but very sensitive. Although generally good with children, it may not be playful enough to satisfy some children. Some can be timid. It is reserved with strangers.


FAMILY sighthound, Southern (sighthound)



ORIGINAL FUNCTION coursing wolves

TODAY'S FUNCTION lure coursing

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: >28 Weight: 75-105

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: >26 Weight: 60-85

OTHER NAME Russian wolfhound

Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Shy

Friendliness toward strangers Shy

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability Low

Protection ability Moderately protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

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The borzoi needs the chance to exert itself daily. Although a long walk can satisfy most of its needs, it should be combined with a sprint in a large safe area. The coat, which is characteristically fuller on males, needs brushing or combing two or three times a week; at times it sheds a lot. Borzois can live outdoors in temperate climates as long as they have soft bedding and good shelter, but most do best as house dogs with access to a yard.
• Major concerns: gastric torsion
• Minor concerns: none
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: none
• Life span: 10 – 12 years
• Note: sensitive to anesthesia
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The borzoi (also known as the Russian wolfhound) was bred by the Russian aristocracy for hundreds of years. Coursing of hare for sport was known in Russia as early as the 13th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries, crosses of coursing hounds with bear hounds and with tall Russian sheepdogs were made to increase size and coat, both necessary for hunting wolves in the cold climate. The first standard was written in the 1600s in a book of borzoi hunting rules. Perhaps no other breed has ever been the focus of hunting on such a grand scale. Hundreds of serfs worked in the upkeep of the hounds on huge estates; the hunts themselves were grand events. One account describes the hounds, horses, beaters and hunters arriving in a train of over 40 cars, with another train bringing the grand duke and other nobility. Over 100 borzois might partake in a hunt. Beaters and scenthounds initially trailed the wolf, followed by hunters on horseback. A pair or trio (consisting of two males and a female) of matched borzois were then unleashed when the wolf was sighted. The dogs would strike at the same time, forcing the wolf down and holding it until the hunter arrived to bind the wolf and then, often, set it free. By the 1800s, seven distinct subtypes of borzoi existed in Russia. Most present borzois descend from the Perchino type kept by Grand Duke Nicolai Nicolayevitch, and many of the early American imports came directly from the Perchino kennels. The Russian czar would often present borzois as gifts to visiting royalty. After the Russian Revolution, the days of the nobility were over and many borzois were killed. The fate of the breed was left in the hands of foreign royalty who had been given borzois and of a few remaining borzoi kennels. In America, the borzoi soon gained the reputation as the ultimate glamour dog, often seen at the sides of movie stars. Although only enjoying modest popularity as a pet, the breed remains a popular show dog, coursing dog and model.
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