Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
Intro / Overview
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
Known as the Russian Wolfhound until 1936, Borzoi were bred to be swift and tough enough to pursue the wolves they were hunting. These sighthounds have a 270-degree field of sight (humans have 180 degrees) and can reach incredible speeds. But it turns out they have always been known as great companions in the home as well.
These affectionate and loyal pups have a dignified and elegant appearance, a calm and agreeable temperament, and a humorous and playful spirit. If you’ve got room in your heart, and your home, for a regal companion, the Borzoi may be the dog for you. You won’t find a longer snoot in the dog business.
Also Known As…
Barzoi. Russian Wolfhound. Russian Hunting Sighthound. “Basically, they’re Greyhounds with the ability to stay warm in the cold.”
Borzoi originated in 17th century Russia and were bred by the Russian aristocracy for hundreds of years. The Russian Wolfhound, as Borzoi were known until 1936, would hunt in packs of over 100 in spectacular festivals where they, along with an equal number of foxhounds, would track and flush wolves and other prey for human hunters.
The breed’s numbers diminished after the Russian Revolution due to the slaughter of the aristocracy and anything associated with it. Luckily, many Borzoi had been gifted to royalty in other countries and breed survived.
The average height for the Borzoi is 27 – 31 inches for females and 30 – 33 inches for males.
The average weight for the Borzoi is 55 – 90 pounds for females and 75 – 105 pounds for males.
It’s no wonder that Borzoi were so popular among the Russian aristocracy, being the intelligent and sensible companions that they are. But there is also a bit of good-natured humor in these clowning pups. And despite their calm and stately manner, they are always up for an activity with their humans, especially if it involves running.
Although certainly playful, these pups can be a bit sensitive and will only tolerate so much roughhousing. It is important for these trusting dogs to feel loved and secure. Their intelligence can sometimes hinder training, as they may not feel that the task you are asking them to perform is worth their time. Keep things fun and interesting as Borzoi have no time for boredom.
Intelligence / Trainability
While Borzoi are highly intelligent and are loving towards their humans, they are also independent pups with an almost catlike stubbornness. These hunting dogs can have a mind of their own. Therefore, successful training relies on consistency, patience and a sense of humor. Keeping things fun and interesting will also help. Harsh or intimidating techniques will never work.
Borzoi are big pups who need room to stretch, both indoors and outdoors. These sighthounds are likely to chase anything that moves, and should always be in an enclosed area or on a leash. Allowing your Borzoi to run loose is never advisable.
Despite their tendency to roam, these pups are certainly house dogs, and can adapt well to apartment life. But they like to be comfortable. You should plan on sharing your furniture with them, and providing them with plenty of comfy spots and cozy beds throughout the home.
Good For Families And Kids?
While these dogs were originally bred to work alongside humans, and thus make great companions in the home, Borzoi can be nervous around children and should be introduced to them during puppyhood if they will be in frequent contact with them. Families with younger children may not be the best fit as this breed does not tolerate inquisitive hands. Also, these large dogs can unintentionally knock down small humans. Borzoi can, however, adapt to life with older, dog-experienced children.
The average life expectancy for the Borzoi is 10 – 15 years.
Although they are generally a healthy breed, Borzoi are slight dogs and are therefore prone to bloat (also known as gastric dilatation volvulus. Feeding multiple small meals daily rather than 1 or 2 big meals can help avoid this life-threatening condition as well as painful tummy aches. Progressive retinal atrophy and osteochondrosis dissecans are also issues to watch out for and to preemptively discuss with your veterinarian.
While Borzoi don’t require a ton of exercise, they do enjoy doing activities with their owners and excel in canine sports such as agility and lure coursing. So, while a couple of walks or a half hour run around the yard should do the trick exercise-wise, your Borzoi won’t be thrilled if they are left alone or ignored the rest of the day. They’re more than happy to lounge around indoors, but prefer to have you lounging with them.
Friendly With… (Dogs, Strangers, Cats, Other Pets?)
These generally agreeable dogs often get along with other pets including dogs and cats. However, their sighthound instinct may take over with smaller animals, especially outdoors. Early training and socialization can help with curb indoor chasing, although outdoors may be another story. Either friendly or aloof with strangers, a Borzoi will not serve you well as a guard or watchdog.
Coat & Grooming
Borzoi have long silky coats that can be flat, curly or wavy. While these coats do shed, a quick daily brushing should be sufficient for removing loose hair and dirt. For a few weeks out of the year, Borzoi will shed a bit more, at which time you may need to increase those brushing sessions.
A nail trimming once a week along with a good tooth brushing two to three times a week will always help keep these long pups in tip-top shape.
Toys Borzois Would Like Best
Borzoi know how to have a good time. Whether they want to play a round of tug-of-war with a rope toy, or involve you in a little “look but don’t touch” with their favorite plush toy, it’s easy to have fun with these toy-loving pups. Puzzle toys are also a great option to exercise those intelligent minds and also encourage slower eating habits.
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Feeding your Borzoi (or any dog) the freshest whole food diet you can afford (trying to eliminate fillers, grains, or inflammatory proteins such as chicken), can go a long way to decrease health issues and increase longevity.
Coconut oil can also help to prevent inflammation, and can help protect the nervous system, while locally-sourced, season-appropriate honey can help with allergies.
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These delicious, vet-formulated chews are made with all-natural ingredients including Omega 3, 6, 9, and Vitamin E. They are designed to support immune health, provide relief from itchy allergic skin, and promote a healthy coat. ($19.99)
BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)
Borzoi, just like any dog, love to take a load off after a long day of…running around for hours on end or whatever they’re doing. That’s why they deserve their own bed, especially if they have joint issues.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the most active of dogs! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Borzoi Of Your Dreams
National Borzoi Rescue Foundation, Inc. is an independent, national, nonprofit organization with the primary mission to assist all regional rescue groups and individuals in all aspects of Borzoi rescue. Formed in December of 1994, N.B.R.F. is dedicated to the rescue and placement of all displaced borzoi into good, permanent homes through their adoption program.
Notable Instagram Borzoi
Follow Lapsha the Canadian Borzoi and her daily struggles!
The Borzoi loves her life in the UK with her family and animal playmates (both feline and duck!).
Tupelo is a Borzoi living in New Jersey with 2 cats, a lot of heart, and one long snoot. She likes to spend her days playing with pups at the dog park, relaxing at home, guarding her bones, and carrying a big stick.
This Borzoi’s full name is Madam Eris Overbite, Queen of Silly, but you can call her Eris. Follow to see her live up to the title.
Laika and Dante are two Borzoi living in Huntsville, Alabama. A Doberman and three cats round out this pack. Dante is the wild one. Laika is the boss.
***Looking for a gift to blow your Borzoi’s mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂
Featured image via Lydiatheborzoi/Instagram