|Sensitivity to strangers|
|Affection for family|
|Suitable for first-time owners|
|Ease of grooming|
When you see a Borzoi, you will be totally surprised. It is also called the Russian hound or Russian Wolfhound. It is tall, slim, with a particular body shape, curly hair, an aristocratic look, and discreet.
All of this is not a coincidence: It has been bred and adored in Russia for centuries. The Borzoi is an integral part of Russian history, customs, and the essence of its motherland. It is not a dog for everybody: it is a unique breed, fit only for unique people.
Borzoi, the Russian hound or Russian Wolfhound (Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya)
The story of the Borzoi or the Russian Hound is found in the first centuries of Russian history. Even before the arrival of the tzars, Russian aristocrats would breed hounds for hunting and to defend cattle against wolves. One of the first records associated with the Borzoi, that literally means fast, is a letter dated 1260, that describes the characteristics of a hunting dog with excellent sight (hounds observe and chase their prey more than smell it).
Thanks to Russia´s vastness, several kinds of Borzoi were bred, depending on different climatic and earth conditions and the type of hunting carried out in that region. There are 2 special varieties, crossed in North Russia, one is very slim and fast and the other is “heavier” so as to hunt wolves. These Borzoi were bred to create the Psovi, a long-haired and medium-sized Borzoi, ancestor to the present Russian Hound.
In the year 1650 a description of the breed was created, surprisingly closed to the present standard for the Russian hound. The Borzoi was a prerogative of Russian aristocracy: if a peasant was surprised by touching a dog of this breed, he was sentenced to death. These dogs were not sold, they could only be donated by aristocrats. Legend has it that a princess was given in marriage to a hunter, in exchange of 1 or 2 Borzoi!
The first exported specimens were given away by the Tzar to Queen Victoria, in the mid 19th century. Until then, the Russian Lebrel was jealously “hidden” in its motherland. Immediately it was accepted the English royal family, it soon became a coveted dog, even by British aristocracy.
The Borzoi, or Russian Hound, was officially recognized by the AKC in 1891 and the FCI in 1956.
This is how it was described in the official standard: a dog with an aristocratic appearance, of larga size, with a slim build, but at the same time, sturdy. Females are generally larger than males. They have a strong bone structure but not huge or heavy.
Its muscles are lean and well developed, especially in the thighs, but they do not stand out too strongly. Shape and movement harmony are of high importance.
There are many famous Russian personalities who have bred Borzoi, from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great, but also Nicholas II and Pushkin.
Its head is slim, long, and aristocratic, very elegant. The main veins are visible through the skin. The snout is very long, the eyes big and expressive, hazel or dark brown. The tail is shaped as a sabre or sickle, with an abundant “crest”.
If it is not hunting, the Borzoi’s jog is a long trot, effortless and elastic. During hunting, the trot is extremely fast with great long jumps. The hair is fluffy, soft, with short curls; in the head, ears and extremities are satin.
We can find it in different color varieties:
All fur combinations are accepted in the Borzoi, uniform and with markings, except for blue, chocolate brown and all its derivatives. Generally:
- White with yellow, orange, red, striped or grey markings.
The fringe in its tail are lighter than the inner coat. It may have a typical carbon black mask.
Height at the withers: males 30 to 34 inches (75 to 85 cm), females 27 to 31 inches (68 to 78 cm). In shows some specimens that exceed this height are allowed, as long as the typical morphology is kept. Weight: males 75 to 16 lb (34 to 48 kg), females 55 to 90 lb (25 to 41 kg).
The typical Borzoi has a calm and balanced character, but it immediately reacts if it sees a prey to hunt. It is a quiet dog that rarely barks, it is independent and extremely smart, but it needs to be trained and controlled with adequate patience and experience.
They are delicate and they naturally respect human beings, when they are treated with care, otherwise they can react aggressively. They are discreet with strangers, however, they become attached to the people they know well, ever if they are not part of the family circle.
The Borzoi learn selectively, they get bored easily if the proposed or requested activities are repetitive, and if they do not understand their meaning. For this reason, they can be a bit stubborn if they are not motivated. They cannot live in an environment where education is given aggressively, or brusquely, or if you raise your voice. However, being smart and sensitive dogs, as it was mentioned above, with the correct training method, you can get excellent results.
Borzoi: Hunting Instinct of the Russian Hound
As it was mentioned above, the Borzoi’s hunting instinct remains very active. This behavior trait, combined with its speed and physical dexterity, make it unfit for a life in a small apartment. Watch out for walks in outdoor areas: if it sees an animal outside, it may go and chase its “prey”, jumping over fences, and risking everybody’s lives, not only his.
At the same time, it is not advisable to let it run free in the field, precisely due to its hunting skills, it might run away and get lost. Therefore, you must be attentive to its walks, that in any case must be adequate in order to guarantee sufficient exercise, a need for this dog breed.
At home, the Russian Lebrel is delicate and spends most of its time sleeping quietly. Therefore, there are no problems when it comes to care (also because, despite having thick hair it is unthinkable to let a Borzoi live a life exclusively outdoors). You should also pay special attention to the way it interacts with children, both kids living at home and visitors. The Borzoi needs absolute respect, especially its space.
The Borzoi was born as a hunting dog (by sight) and it was also used for races and coursing. Nowadays, it is welcome in the family like a companion dog.
It is also possible to use it in disciplines like obedience and agility, as long as the Borzoi is trained properly, with educational methods compatible with its character and sensibility.
The Borzoi is a breed that does not suffer from many genetic diseases, so much that in some countries, in selected breeding programs, no health tests are performed in the parent dogs.
However, there are some cases of cardiomyopathy or heart arrhythmia. Another problem that may affect this breed, although it is not inherited, is stomach torsion, of anatomical origin. It is important to ask your vet how to reduce the risks of stomach torsion, and how to recognize symptoms of this condition that may be deadly if left untreated.
The Borzoi has a lifespan of about 10-12 years. The age record of this breed was of 14 years and 3 months. In a study carried out in Great Britain, the main causes of premature death in dogs of this breed were tumors and heart problems.
Borzoi: Relationship with its Owner
The Borzoi will integrate really well in a family with people capable of respecting its sensibility, and if the children know how to interact correctly with it. It is advisable to have experience with “difficult” breeds, so you can have the correct approach with this noble dog, that is not for everybody.
The Borzoi is not the ideal breed to those who have a chaotic life, or that lack sensibility and have no respect for a calm proud life. It is difficult to manage the Russian Hounds walks in exclusively urban contexts, since these would not guarantee adequate movement for these dogs.
This is not a breed for those who train their dogs with violent methods, and in general for those who do not want to understand this discreet but fascinating dog.
Borzoi: Relationship with Children
In general, hounds do not have a close relationship with children, and the Borzoi is not the exception. Certainly, it will love all the children in the house, but they are not playful, and they cannot stand voluntarily to have their space invaded. They can behave very nervously towards children who will not respect their privacy.
Borzoi: Relationship with Other Dogs
The hunting instinct of the Borzoi does not make it easy for small dogs to approach it, since these are seen as prey. When it comes to medium or large dogs, coexistence may be possible, as long as these dogs do not invade their spaces and are not too imposing during interactions (despite being large-sized, hounds are pretty physically sensitive and too vigorous manipulations may affect them).
Borzoi: Breeders, Price, and Puppies for Sale
You should avoid, and especially pay attention to, pet stores or breeders with too many canine breeds. We recommend getting in touch with a respected breeder.
Being a scarce breed, you should consult the breeder directly about the cost of a Borzoi puppy with pedigree papers from a respected breeding establishment. This cost will not be less than 1600 dollars, or 1300 English pounds.
Now that we have cleared all the main doubts, you can go and search for a new 4-legged friend, who is surely waiting for you.
In addition to the Borzoi, there are other types of sighthounds recognized:
Long or wavy sighthounds:
- Azawakh (African Greyhound)
- Spanish Greyhound
- Polish Greyhound
- Magyar agár (Hungarian Greyhound)
- Miniature Italian Greyhound
- Sloughi (Arabian Greyhound)