Borzoi dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Popular for its gentleness, gracefulness, and independence, the Borzoi is a sweet and exceedingly loyal dog to its family. It is warm and friendly, especially to the members of the household. But aside from being a loving companion, the Borzoi is also characterized by its special skills.

In the earlier years, the Borzoi became prominent for protecting people and securing livestock from wolf ravages. In the like manner, this dog breed became a part of sports and wolf hunting activities. Its speed and endurance enable it to adapt to harsh climates. Although it’s a little bit less friendly to kids as it has a low tolerance for rough play, it can still be a good companion as long as you provide a firm, consistent and gentle training.

Aside from its ability to protect and guard, it loves playing an active role in day-to-day activities. Indeed, you will find a charming and independent buddy in a Borzoi.

Breed Characteristics

HealthAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsBelow Average

Dog Breed Group:Hound Dogs
Height:2 feet, 2 inches to 2 feet, 8 inches tall at the shoulder (Males: 28 inches; Females: 26 inches)
Weight: 55 to 105 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years on an average

Tough on the outside, a Borzoi is a tall, wiry dog that is characterized by its elegant and graceful posture. It has a long, narrow head, low seat ears, and circuitous dark eyes. While the dog breed can easily grow and mature, some puppies take more time to become full-grown. In line with this, some breeders suggest owners wait until a male Borzoi turns 18 months before considering sterilization since this dog breed needs ample time to develop.

The Borzoi originated in Russia, and it was bred by the royal class in the earlier years. Since it was mainly used for hunting and chasing wolves, hares and foxes, the Borzoi was most initially known as Russian wolfhound. As time passed by, it was introduced to the public as the Borzoi, which was derived from the Russian word “Borzii”, meaning swift.

Being one of the oldest dog breeds known, the Borzoi was a crossbreed between the Russian sheepdog and the Arabian Wolfhound. It was originally bred for a wild game on open terrains. Instead of relying on scent, it uses its sharp eyesight to chase and to hunt opponents. Not long after this era, the Borzoi became a pet companion of the aristocrats across continental Europe. Characterized by its elegant stature and graceful stride, there is no need to wonder why people who belonged in the upper class preferred the Borzoi over other dog breeds.

Aside from being remarkably posh, the Borzoi is now a favorite of many dog breeders because of its calm and pleasant temperament. This dog breed is quiet in nature, but it can also be tenacious, especially when it senses danger. Even though they are tender and warm family dogs, they can also get over-excited at times. The sight of a cat or squirrel can quickly activate their instinct to chase.

Training a Borzoi can be difficult. It is self-reliant, and it doesn’t like being told what to do. Hence, it should be trained with patience and consistency, along with positive reinforcements and rewards. Instead of harsh punishments, owners should prepare treats such as food and play to motivate this dog breed.

If you’re considering a Borzoi, bear in mind that the space where you allow it to run should be enclosed and safe, or else it will be out of your sight in just a few seconds. Before buying a puppy, build a fenced space and prepare to take your dog to daily walks.

In the like manner, daily exercise is a must since the Borzoi has a desire to run in wide spaces. Human companions should allot enough time for this dog breed to gallop and run, so its body could fully mature. Without physical activity, a young Borzoi will not develop properly.

Even though the Borzoi is large, this breed makes a great house pet. If you are looking for a well-mannered, quiet and dignified partner, you should highly consider welcoming a Borzoi in your household.

Main Highlights
  • Borzois are sight hounds that are characterized by their instinct tochase and run after anything that moves. Owners should always keep them on-leash unless they are in a secure and fenced area.
  • Due to a low percentage of body fats, the Borzoi is sensitive to drugs and medicines, especially anesthetics. Also, owners should also keep their pet companion off lawns and grasses that were recently sprayed with fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals.
  • In terms of feeding, owners should divide the Borzoi’s daily meals into small portions. Small, frequent feeding is recommended since the Borzoi is vulnerable to bloating. Also, exercise after meals is not advisable.
  • Owners should introduce the Borzoi to small kids who are parts of the household at an early phase since this dog breed can easily be anxious. Through early socialization, the Borzoi can learn how to properly interact with children.
Breed History

The Borzoi came from Czarist Russia, where aristocrats bred them as coursing sighthounds. Ancestors of Borzoi include the long-coated, smooth-faced Russian Bearhound, Tatars coursing hounds, Russian sheepdogs and other ancient sighthound breeds. According to studies, these ancestral breeds originated from Egypt. While the hare coursing sport was documented in 1260, the first standard characteristics of the Borzoi were written in the year 1650. Since then, the Borzoi was bred by Russian upper class.

During this 1860s, land owners bred and trained the Borzoi. The Russian royalty pampered and promoted this breed on a grand scale. In fact, more than a hundred Borzois in matched pairs or trios became a part of extravagant affairs and festivities during this century.

By 1873, the dog breed’s population came to a great decline. Thanks to a Russian association that protected and promoted the breed, the Borzoi is not just a legacy as it is now prominent even in countries outside Russia. In 1936, the name of the breed was changed from Russian Wolfhound to Borzoi. Today, there’s very minimal difference between the Borzoi lineage in Russia and those that can be found in other parts of the globe.


The female Borzoi typically stands 26-inch tall and weighs 55 to 85 pounds, while its male counterpart can be as tall as 28 inches and as heavy as 105 pounds.

Personality and Character

Disruptive as puppies, the Borzoi’s personality can tremendously develop as it welcomes adulthood. While it is fond of affection, the Borzoi also does a great job in keeping itself entertained. It does not demand too much attention, and it does not require constant supervision since it is highly independent in nature. In addition to this, it has a very low tendency to disrupt the home due to over-barking. In fact, owners can barely notice their pet companions passing by because it strides silently across corridors. Simply put, the Borzoi is not an energetic dog. Instead of jumping and galloping on furniture sets, it loves lying down on the coach like a true aristocrat.

As a pet companion, the Borzoi is calm, sensible, and level-headed. Even though it does not seek too much attention, it does not want to be left alone for an extended period of time. Also, the Borzoi can either be unapproachable or friendly to strangers. It can easily trust people, making it a highly sociable dog breed.

However, the easygoing nature of the Borzoi doesn’t necessarily mean that training would require minimal effort. Since it is independent, it can be extremely stubborn, especially since it does not like being bossed around. Hence, a calm and firm approach best works when training this dog breed.

While Borzois are tolerant of other dogs, they should be kept away from small animals like rabbits, cats, and squirrels since they have a strong instinct to chase. In the like manner, just like other dogs, the Borzoi also necessitates early socialization so it can grow up into a well-versed dog. This is especially true for aspiring owners that have children at home, since the Borzoi has the tendency to get overwhelmed around unfamiliar children.

Health and Potential Problems

Borzois are generally healthy but just like the other dog breeds, they are also prone to different health disorders. Even though not all Borzois would suffer from these conditions, it is still necessary for owners to be more aware so they can eliminate the health risks of their pet companions as they grow up.

To help you become more familiarized, below are some of the health conditions common to the Borzoi’s bloodline:

  • Osteochondritis Dissecans(OCD): In this condition, a deteriorated bone lies under the cartilage. This is a condition that usually affects large dog breeds. Commonly, OCD affects the shoulder, elbow joint or ankle, and it usually occurs during the growth stage of a young dog (six to nine months of age). Aside from genetics and size, jumping off furniture can also be a risk factor since it can cause injury. To remove the torn cartilage, veterinarians might suggest surgery and complete rest.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a kind of disorder where the eye loses its photoreceptors, which can eventually cause blindness. If the dog is given regular medical attention, PRA can be diagnosed even before the dog shows any affirmative signs and symptoms. Luckily, dogs have other senses that can aid them in compensating with their blindness in case PRA was discovered at a later stage. Once the dog completely loses its eyesight, owners should provide support and attention. Also, they are not advised to re-arrange their furniture sets so their pet companion can still move with ease around the house.
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus:Also popularly known as bloat or torsion, this kind of disorder can be a deadly condition. The worst part is, it can greatly affect large dogs with a deep chest such as the Borzoi. Some of the risk factors include eating a large meal once a day, eating rapidly, drinking too much water after meals, or exercising after eating. In the like manner, raised food dishes and certain types of food are also considered as pre-disposing factors.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus is more common among older dogs. GDV occurs when the stomach twists while it is full of gas or air. Once this happens, the dog will be incapable of vomiting liquids or belching out air, which will in turn hinder the normal flow of blood. If not given proper and immediate attention, the dog’s blood pressure will drop and the dog will go to a state of shock.

Common signs and symptoms of GDV include a bloated abdomen, lethargy and a rapid heartbeat. In addition to that, the dog may be suffering from this condition if it is incapable of vomiting or belching out air. Once the dog manifests these signs, the dog must be rushed into a veterinary immediately.

Care Features

The Borzoi is thin and fleshy on the bones. Because of this, it necessitates soft and comfortable beddings. Owners can simply save a space inside the house and set-up the dog’s bedding so it can get sufficient sleep and rest.

In addition to that, the Borzoi is a working dog, so it requires a lot of exercise. To keep this dog breed in good shape, owners must schedule daily walks, coupled with jogging, stretching and other exercises. By doing so, the dog’s muscles will be well-toned, which will in turn facilitate optimal growth.

The Borzois are not high maintenance in nature. To keep them healthy, owners should bring their pet companions to the veterinary regularly and feed them properly. Also, owners can resort to activities that will keep their dog fit and healthy like lure coursing, dog shows, racing, therapy work, obedience and agility training.

Feeding Schedule

The amount of formula the dog necessitates depends on its size. Breed-precise formulas for small, medium, large, and giant breeds are suggested by dog food companies. For this typical breed, experts suggest dividing 4 to 8 cups of high quality dog food into two equal feedings.

As an owner, you have the right to feed your dog based on your preferences, but it is absolutely best to collaborate with your veterinarian as dogs have differing needs. Aside from preparing high-grade dog food, it is highly recommended for dog owners to keep clean water within their dog’s reach.

Coat, Color and Grooming

During spring, the Borzoi’s undercoat sheds, making it necessary for you to give your pet companion extra care and attention during this season. You should brush your dog daily so its coating will not go over your beddings and household furniture.

In addition to this, the Borzoi should be brushed twice or three times a week. While doing so, gently brush its feathering. The coat needs no special care and attention.

In terms of bathing, the Borzoi should take a bath only if necessary or if it is already smelly. After giving your dog a bath, make sure that it is dried properly.

Lastly, to avoid any infection, you should regularly clean and inspect your dog’s eyes and ears. If you have no prior experience in grooming, seek advice from professional groomers first so you won’t traumatize your dog due to improper hair and nail cutting techniques.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Borzoi can be oversized for small children, especially toddlers. They can hit down a kid by accident because of their size. Also, unlike other dog breeds, the Borzoi is not tolerant of children that poke and ride on them. Therefore, they are most suitable for households with older children who clearly understand how to positively interact with dogs and other pets.

To build a positive pet-kid relationship, it is best that you teach your children how to handle and interact with dogs at an early age so they can avoid accidents in the future. Teaching children the basics of proper dog interaction can help you gain the peace of mind you need as you welcome a Borzoi in your home. Just remember, no matter how friendly your dog may seem, any pet-child interaction should be supervised by adults.

In general, the Borzoi is not an aggressive breed as compared to other dogs, although some can be uncontrollable when dealing with other dogs of the same gender. By giving proper training at a young age, the Borzoi will eventually learn not to chase smaller pets.

Loving, athletic, and warm-hearted in nature, the Borzoi is definitely the perfect companion for people who are looking for a new buddy. Since this dog breed gracefully ages, it is best suited or people who love maintaining silence and peace in their home.

Hence, if you are looking for a pet companion, but you are worried that you will go home to a chaotic house, fret not because the Borzoi is a loyal companion that can respect your privacy and space.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.