The Borzoi


Borzois were developed in Russia during the 1600s and were favored by Russian aristocracy for hundreds of years. They’re the result of cross breeding between the Arabian Greyhound and thick coated Russian breeds. The first standard for Borzois was written in 1650 and has undergone very few changes in the time since then.

Hunting was taken very seriously in Russia through the 1800s. Often times hunting events involved a grand ceremony attended by the most influential of sorts. Hundreds of Borzois may have been on hand to hunt rabbit or more commonly wolf. The Borzois generally worked in teams. They could attack a wolf from two different sides and pin them to the ground until the hunter arrived to either finish the kill or set the animal free.

Borzois were rarely let out of Russia and so were nearly made extinct during the Russian revolution. During that time they were killed on mass because of their association with the aristocracy. By the 1940s there were sparse pockets of Borzoi in America, England and Russia, but they were dwindling fast. Constantin Esmont convinced the Russian government that Borzois were a vital breed and so a government regulated breeding program was started to save the Borzoi.

In America the Borzoi was officially recognized as a breed in 1891. They’re numbers have remained modest and they are often seen as a celebrity glamour dog.

Sizing up

  • Weight: 55 to 120 lbs.
  • Height: 26 to 28 inches
  • Coat: Long silky coat
  • Color: Most any color
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years

What’s the Borzoi like?

Borzois are instinctually hunters but are actually a relatively low energy dog preferring a good sprint to a marathon. They will require at least a walk every day but are more inclined to become couch potatoes than other dogs might be. Still, they won’t hesitate to chase smaller animals, even small dogs, and hold them by the neck until you arrive to pry them off. Fences and leashes are definitely a good idea for this breed.

Around strangers Borzois might be reluctant to approach but shouldn’t ever be aggressive. They’re not going to make good guard dogs although they may alert you to a newcomer’s presence. Kids might also make Borzois nervous unless they’ve known them since birth.

Training Borzois can be challenging but their difficult reputation is overstated. With the proper motivation a Borzoi can compete in agility training and obey commands with ease. What they don’t like are repetitive tasks or harsh words.

Borzois will require frequent grooming: as much as three times per week. They can shed heavily at times.


You should be on the lookout for any of the following conditions in the Borzoi:

  • Gastric torsion
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Wobbler syndrome
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cataracts

Takeaway Points

  • Borzois are challenging but rewarding to train.
  • Borzois are hunters by nature.
  • Borzois don’t need as much exercise as other hunting dogs.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Borzoi – the dog of aristocrats

Due to its aristocratic appearance and hunting abilities, the Borzoi became a companion of the Russian aristocracy in the 19th century. Nowadays, Borzoi occupies an important position as a hunting and racing dog, but also as a pet. Although it is rather suitable for ambitious and experienced owners, it cannot be denied sensitivity and great intelligence, as well as great endurance and independence. Let’s get to know more details about the life of a Borzoi.

FCI classification

  • Group 10 Sighthounds
  • Section 1 Long-haired or fringed Sighthounds
  • Without working trial
  • Origin Russia
  • Other names: Barzoï, Russian hunting sighthound, Russkaya psovaya borzaya
Borzoi, Barzoï, Russian hunting sighthound, Russkaya psovaya borzaya

History and origin of the breed

Borzoi, also known as the Russian Greyhound, has old and deep roots. There are records of the hunting of several Mongol rulers (in the times of the thirteenth-century conqueror of Genghis Khan), who were accompanied by long-haired dogs in the type of greyhounds.

The Russian type of Borzoi is derived from several different types of dogs, including early Russian smooth-haired bearhounds, Tatar hounds, Russian Shepherds, and other old hunting breeds.

The first breed standard was written in 1650 and does not differ significantly from the modern version. In the nineteenth century, hunting with Borzoi became a national sport of the Russian aristocracy. In one hunting group, there could be over 100 dogs representing several breeding lines. The dogs were housed in groups of 3 (2 female and 1 male). When they saw a potential prey, such as a wolf, they chased it and then held it down until a hunter arrived to kill the prey.

Today, Borzois are highly valued for their beauty, intelligence and gentle nature, which make them wonderful human companions. In western countries, farmers use them to control the coyote population. This is due to the primal instincts of Borzois, which made them great hunters in the past.

Borzoi, Barzoï, Russian hunting sighthound, Russkaya psovaya borzaya



The Russian Greyhound is a large dog, resembling Asian breeds such as the Kyrgyz Greyhound (Taigan/ Kyrgyz Taighany), Afghan Hound and Persian Greyhound (Saluki). Borzoi is described as a long-haired breed with various colors. Virtually any color combination is allowed, except for blue, chocolate and all variations of these colors. The dog may be solid-colored or have patches. Sometimes a mask is visible on the face, mainly in color varieties rich in so-called tarnish. The fur is long on the body, while the rump and shoulder blades have characteristic curls.

The coat is silky smooth and close-fitting, often wavy or slightly curled. The coat consists of two layers: a wavy top coat and a soft undercoat that thickens in winter and in cold climates. In summer, the thick undercoat is shed to avoid overheating. Males weigh approx. 45 kg (99 lb) and are approx. 76 cm (30 in) high at the withers, while females are approx. 68 cm (27 in).

Despite its size, the Borzoi is a dog full of charm, grace and strength. It is supported on tall, slim and muscular limbs. The silhouette is slender and elongated, the muzzle is narrow and long, but proportionate. Ears not too big, mobile and thin, located above the eyes, pointing backwards. If the dog is listening, the ears may be more raised and directed forward.

Borzoi, Barzoï, Russian hunting sighthound, Russkaya psovaya borzaya


Borzoi is classified as calm, but also active and independent. It barks extremely rarely, so it is a quiet animal. It does not exhibit territorial behavior, therefore it is not suitable as defense or guard dogs.

Since it is very intelligent, it requires a committed and experienced owner. Intelligence is also associated with gentleness and tenderness towards people, both adults and children. It usually does not show aggression, but this can happen if handled severely.

She keeps her distance from strangers, but loves her owners very much. Although it is not territorial, it likes to have its own peaceful space. Therefore, if you want to avoid nervousness in meeting with expansive children, the dog should be brought up with them from the puppy period. Large sizes do not interfere with its suburban life, if you provide it access to a spacious garden and free physical activity every day.

Borzoi, like all greyhounds, was bred for speed and endurance. Therefore, carefully select the walking areas where the dog can be unleashed. Due to its independence, it can move very far from the owner, so avoid areas adjacent to roads or highways.

Despite hunting instincts, the Borzoi can live in harmony with smaller animals (e.g. cats), provided that they are raised with them from puppy age. Some animals, however, have such a strong instinct that they will chase cats that move quickly. In Borzois, primary hunting responses are triggered by movement, so therefore depend on the behavior of smaller animals.

Borzoi, Barzoï, Russian hunting sighthound, Russkaya psovaya borzaya

Health condition

Borzoi, as one of the breeds with a deep chest, often suffers from the gastric twist. It is a life-threatening condition related mainly to anatomy, not a genetic record. To minimize the likelihood of this disease, it is recommended that your dog’s bowl is placed at a certain height while eating. However, other studies suggest that such actions even increase the risk of stomach torsion.

Currently, it is assumed that accelerating the growth process through certain specialized feeds is dangerous to the health of Borzoi. This may lead to disorders in skeletal development, which may result in later injuries. The anatomy of the breed is designed for a rush, therefore the Russian Greyhound does not have large reserves of fat. It, therefore, has different physiology than dogs of similar size, such as Newfoundlands, St. Bernard dogs, and Alaskan Malamutes. It is possible, therefore, that the diet developed by specialists for “giant” breeds does not take into account the predispositions of such “misfits” as Borzoi.

Borzoi, Barzoï, Russian hunting sighthound, Russkaya psovaya borzaya

Detailed data and dimensions (size)

Borzoi, Russian Hunting Sighthound

  • Height at the withers:
    • males: 75–85 cm (30–33 in)
    • females: 68–78 cm (27–31 in)
  • Weight:
    • males: 34-48 kg (75–105 lb)
    • females: 25-41 kg (55–90 lb)
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years / median 9 years
    • the oldest Borzoi survived to 14 years and 3 months according to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee studies
Borzoi, Barzoï, Russian hunting sighthound, Russkaya psovaya borzaya

Russian Greyhound, Borzoi – interesting facts

  • Borzoi comes from the Russian word meaning “fast”.
  • A close relative of the Borzoi is Chortaj (Chortai) – a dog from the Russian Greyhound group, not recognized by the FCI.
  • Greyhounds are generally considered not very intelligent dogs. The reason for this is the reluctance to follow orders. According to Stanley Coren, who tested greyhounds for obedience, Borzoi obeyed the first command less than 25% of the time. However, this behavior is not related to a low level of intelligence, but to a high level of independence. Coren himself admitted that his canine intelligence tests are clearly directed towards obedience. It is therefore not an oracle when it comes to judging the intellect of dogs.
  • There are specific behaviors within the breed when playing with other dogs. Both puppies and adult dogs grab a brother / friend by the neck and hold it motionless. At first glance, this strange behavior is not tinged with aggression or a struggle for domination. It is one of the hunting behavior.
  • A Borzoi character named Boris appears in the 1955 animated film from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”
  • In the novel “War and Peace”, Leo Tolstoy included an extensive description of a wolf hunt involving Borzois.
Borzoi, Barzoï, Russian hunting sighthound, Russkaya psovaya borzaya

The Borzoi: A Dog Rooted in History

There are many, many different ways of classifying dogs. Some people classify their dogs based on their breed and whether or not their dog is a purebred creature. Other people classify their dogs based on what purpose they were bred for, such as working or for sport. With that being said, there is no category that is quite as recognizable as the sighthound family. These dogs that are long, tall, and lanky have appearances that will turn heads just about anywhere you go, and they can make some of the best companion dogs around if you have the resources to care for them.

One of the more unique sighthounds out there is the borzoi, sometimes referred to as the Russian wolfhound. These dogs resemble a classic sighthound with a few changes in physical appearance. They are tall, gentle giants and make for good companions. These dogs are adaptable to apartment life, families with children, and even families with other pets in the household, making them a great dog for novice owners to consider adopting.

What Is the History of the Borzoi?

This dog has quite the extensive history, unlike many breeds of dog out there. The borzoi, regularly referred to as the Russian wolfhound, unsurprisingly originated in Russia. This breed’s beginnings can be traced all the way back to 1650, which was when the standards for the breed were officially written. For hundreds of years afterward, this dog was bred by the nobles of Russia for hunting.

In fact, there were special hunting parties that utilized more than 100 borzoi dogs, alongside an equal number of foxhounds. The reason these hunts included so many dogs was to flush the prey (often wolves, hence the name “wolfhound”) out of its home so that it could be caught by one of the hunters behind the hunting dogs. These hunting parties ended in 1861, and with no other reason to breed borzoi, the number of them dwindled drastically until 1873.

When the breed’s admirers noticed how much the number of borzoi had fallen, the Imperial Association was created to protect and promote the best parts about this breed, immortalizing it as one of the best hunting dogs in the nation for a time. In fact, most of the borzoi that are in North America today can be traced back to dogs that were once in the kennels of the Imperial Association. Unfortunately, this foundation’s associations with nobility and aristocracy would lead to yet another downfall for the borzoi breed. After the Russian Revolution in 1918, many borzoi were killed because of the connection to nobility that this breed once had.

One of the only reasons this breed still exists today is because many had been given away as gifts to royal figures in other countries as well as enthusiasts around the world. From here, people who took an interest in the breed would make several trips to Russia specifically to import dogs so that their bloodlines could be kept going. Kennels were created and foundations were formed in other countries in an effort to preserve this unique and prolific breed, and thankfully, it appears to have been a success, as the borzoi that can be adopted today are nearly the same as the ones that caused such chaos in Russia. In 1936, the name of the breed was changed from “Russian Wolfhound” to “Borzoi.”

What Does the Borzoi Look Like?

The borzoi’s appearance can be rather subjective, with some people calling the dog weedy, lanky, and spindly, and other people lovingly calling the dog elegant in stature. In the end, these dogs resemble most common sighthounds. They are tall, standing from 26 to 31 inches tall and weighing between 60 and 105 pounds. As with most dogs, females tend to be slightly shorter and lighter than their male counterparts.

The fur of this sighthound is silky and sometimes called luxurious. It is often a couple inches long, sometimes resulting in a matted, tangled appearance, especially if it is not groomed right. Underneath that fur, these dogs are muscular, built to be agile and swift yet strong enough to pin down their prey. Their faces, as with many sighthounds, are long and narrow.

How Does the Borzoi Behave?

Some people compare the borzoi’s personality to that of a cat’s, especially when it comes to training. These dogs often carry a regal air around them, but if they are in the mood to play, they can be goofy and entertaining for anyone who is watching. Generally, they are calm and reserved, and gentle when they are not hunting prey. Training these dogs can be troublesome, as they are just about as stubborn as cats, often taking instructions and going in the wrong direction with them. However, with time and dedication, these dogs will easily pick up tricks.

One downside to their heritage is that once these dogs begin chasing “prey,” the only things that can really stop them are either a wall or a leash. This means that if your dog is not properly introduced to smaller animals in the house, such as rabbits and cats, these animals might become the target of a chase.

Even more importantly, if you are outside and your dog decides to chase an animal into the road, the dog will not care about oncoming traffic. This means that you will need to keep a close eye on your dog when you are outside and also if you have other pets in the house.

How Do You Care for a Borzoi?

As hunting dogs, these dogs require a fair bit of exercise to keep themselves in shape. This means that you should take them on long walks daily, and if you live in an area where this type of dog is allowed off-leash, you should give your dog a chance to run around your (securely closed) yard without that leash. If you have properly trained your dog and it has proven to be a good listener, you can even have your dog running beside you while you jog or bike. Just remember that your dog can run off in a moment’s notice if it sees something that it considers “prey.”

Thankfully, unlike many dogs, the borzoi has a coat that is quite easy to groom and doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day. You will want to use a firm-bristle brush and brush the coat a couple times a week. Very rarely you should consider bathing the dog, but keep in mind that bathing taller dogs can be problematic. You should clip fur between the toes to ensure that your dog’s feet are comfortable and that the dog isn’t slipping on the fur underneath its feet. You should also be prepared for your dog to shed heavily on a seasonal basis. While it will only happen twice a year, you will likely need to brush your dog daily to take care of all the shedding fur.

How Is the Borzoi’s Health?

Unfortunately, this dog is not the healthiest dog around, and this comes from rigorous breeding practices. Not only is it at risk for hereditary diseases that all purebred dogs are at risk for, these dogs are also prone to problems such as bloat, gastric dilation volvulus, heart problems, and bone problems. These dogs also have a considerably shorter life expectancy than most dogs, being closer to 7 to 10 years, occasionally reaching 14 years if you are lucky.

Where Does The Borzoi Come From?

Originating in Russia, the Borzoi were once commonly called Russian Wolfhounds. But, amid controversy, in 1936 they were renamed Borzoi after the Russian word “borzyi,” meaning swift. However, ‘swift’ is just one of their many characteristics.

Russian Borzoi were used as wolf-hunting dogs in the time of the Romanovs, during the early 17th to early 20th centuries. They took part in grand chases across the grounds of the homes of Russian aristocrats. These were truly extravagant affairs of the upper class, involving hundreds of dogs and culminating in a huge feast for all.

Some Borzoi were imported to the US and UK during the Romanov era. So, the breed thankfully survived the Russian revolution, when many of these dignified dogs were slaughtered along with their royal owners.

The Borzoi are part of the group of dogs known as Windhounds, whose ancestors originated in Asia and Africa. These Windhounds were bred for high speed and also include Deerhounds and Whippets.

Today, many of these breeds are better known as members of the modern Sighthound group.

  • Height: 24-28 inches
  • Weight: 60-105 lb
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Group: AKC Hound
  • Best Suited For: Families with older children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
  • Temperament: Quiet, calm, well-mannered, timid
  • Comparable Breeds: Afghan Hound, Greyhound

Also known as a Russian Wolfhound, the Borzoi resembles the Greyhound in size and structure. Popular due to its beauty and temperament, this dog fits into a variety of different households. Quiet, calm, and well-mannered pets, this breed is reserved and timid with strangers.

One of the tallest dog breeds, the Borzoi can reach 28 inches in height. With its elegant long head, intelligent eyes and a beautifully curved muzzle, it’s hard to miss this dog. Read on to find out if the breed fits into your family.

Popular due to its beauty and temperament, the Borzoi fits into a variety of different households.

Watch the video: Tetris the borzoi (October 2021).

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