Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Borzoi
Average Cost to keep/care for a Borzoi
The aristocratic Borzoi is native to Russia where they were used to hunt wolves. Their name means "swift" in Russian and just looking at these elegant dogs with their sleek, athletic build, it offers an insight into how quick they can be when the need arises. The first person to own a Borzoi in the UK was Queen Alexandra when she was offered one as a gift by the Tsar of Russia. From then on, the breed was to become a much noticed and popular dog throughout the country as well as elsewhere in the world. However, they are not a breed to take on too lightly for several reasons with the first being their large size. The second reason being that these dogs have to be trained by someone familiar with the breed. On top of this a Borzoi needs to be given a ton of daily exercise for them to be truly, happy well-rounded dogs.
The exact origins of this graceful hound remains a bit of a mystery, but some people believe the breed was developed way back during the 9th and 10th centuries and that the Saluki may well have been used to create these elegant, graceful, courageous and extremely fast dogs.
What is known is that the Borzoi is Russia's most well-known hound and that they were used during the 17th century to hunt wolves. It was a Russian Duke who first imported a number of sighthounds after having travelled to Arabia. These dogs were not robust or strong enough to survive Russia's harsh winter temperatures so the Duke imported several more of these sighthounds only this time he crossed the hounds with native breeds which are thought to have been coursing hounds or shepherd dogs used by the Tartars back in the day.
The Borzoi soon became a popular gift offered to European royals by the Czars of Russia and the sighthounds soon became a firm favourite thanks to their kind, placid natures and exotic looks. In 1903, a man called Joseph Thomas travelled to Russia on a quest to find the perfect Borzoi which he discovered in Woronza at kennels that belonged to His Royal Highness, the Grand Duke Nicholas of Tula and Artem Balderoff.
Joseph Thomas imported a number of hounds from these kennels and it was these Borzois that were to become the foundation breeding stock of dogs both in the UK and on the other side of the Atlantic in America that we see today. Sadly, during the Russian Revolution of 1917, these aristocratic hounds were seen as being bourgeois accessories of the rich and as such many of them were killed. The breed only managed to survive vanishing forever thanks to the dogs that were gifted to people in other countries of the world.
Today, the Borzoi is a popular choice both as a companion and family pet thanks to the very elegant looks and their extremely kind, calm and placid natures.
Height at the withers: Males 75 - 85 cm, Females 68 - 78 cm
Average weight: Males 34 - 48 kg, Females 25 - 41 kg
The Borzoi is a graceful, aristocratic and well-balanced, dignified dog that over the years has become a popular choice with people the world over. They have long, lean well-proportioned heads with females boasting slightly finer heads than their male counterparts. The top of their skull is slightly dome shaped and boasts an almost imperceptible stop. These sighthounds have a long, powerful and deep jaw with a large, black nose that’s nicely rounded adding to their elegant and aristocratic looks.
These dogs have a keen, intelligent and alert look about their eyes which are dark in colour and almond in shape being set well back without being too far apart. Their rims are dark which adds to their overall elegant and kind look. Ears are small, delicate and pointed, set high on a dog's head yet not too wide apart. When dogs are at rest, they hold their ears folded back so they lie along their neck. When alert or working, dogs hold their ears upright with some dogs having the tips falling forward.
A Borzoi boasts a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are arched slightly, well-muscled and quite long. Shoulders slope and set well back. They are clean and muscular which is more proof that these sighthounds boast a quick turn of speed and power. Their front legs are long, straight and clean.
The Borzoi has a narrow chest and ribs with a deep brisket that's more evident in older dogs than younger ones. Their breastbone is pronounced and their abdomen nicely tucked up which adds a lot of elegance to their look. They have quite a bony back, but it is well-muscled and rises in a gentle curve with the highest point being over a dog's last rib. This curve is typically more pronounced in males than it is in their female counterparts.
Loins are powerful, broad and well-muscled with a dog's fallaway being long and muscular. A Borzoi's hindquarters are wider than their shoulders which gives these dogs their balance and stability. Their thighs are well developed and long with dogs boasting well developed second thighs. Back legs are long and very well-muscled and their front feet are oval in shape with closed, well arched toes, while their back feet are more hare-like being shorter with less of an arch. Their tail is long and set low being well feathered and which dogs carry gracefully curved.
When it comes to their coat, the Borzoi boasts a silky coat that can be either flat, wavy or a little curly with the hair having a soft and silky texture to the touch. The hair on a dog's head, ears, front of their legs is short, but it is a lot longer on a Borzoi's body with dogs boasting heavy feathering on the hindquarters, backs of their legs, tails and chests. Dogs boast having a curly frill on their necks with it being more pronounced on males than on their female counterparts. Under the breed standard, a Borzoi’s coat can be any colour.
The Borzoi is a beautiful looking dog and they boast lovely, placid natures to match their lovely looks. However, they are not the best choice for first time owners because they are not the easiest of breeds to train, handle and manage. They are known to be rather aloof when the mood takes them. The other thing about these large dogs, is that they boast a strong instinct to go off roaming whenever they can which is a trait seen in many sighthounds.
They are also known to have a bit of a stubborn streak, which makes them hard to train unless, that is their education is being managed by someone who is familiar with this type of hound. The Borzoi is sensitive by nature and as such they do not respond well to any sort of harsh training or correction. Because they tend to be aloof and extremely alert, it's essential to know how to handle these large dogs in order to get the best results.
The Borzoi can be a little wary when they are around strangers which can border on them being nervous around people they don't already know, but they are affectionate and loyal towards their family becoming valued members of a household and forming strong bonds with their owners.
Borzois also boast having a high body sensitivity which means they are ultra-aware of touch as well as pain and discomfort they may be feeling. This is a two edged sword because if accidentally knocked into, a Borzoi may well whelp even though the knock was only very slight. However, their body sensitivity means they can be easier to control when they are put on a lead, although great care has to be taken when correcting them. It also means for such large dogs, the Borzoi tends to be extremely cautious around the home, being extra careful not to knock into things. These dogs also have very long memories and if they experience a bad experience, they are very likely to remember it for an extremely long time.
Although Borzois are quite intelligent dogs, they are notoriously hard to train all thanks to their stubborn streak and their strong desire to take off when the mood takes them. With this said, in the right hands and with the correct amount of training which has to be consistent and started when dogs are young, the Borzoi can be trained to be obedient although it would be unwise to let them off their leads in a public park or when walking in the countryside. In short, with a lot of patience and understanding of the breed, it is possible to train a Borzoi although they would probably never be 100% obedient.
The Borzoi is known to be a good-natured dog and for their size, they can be extremely gentle and calm when they are around children and are known to get on pretty well with them as long as playtime does not get too boisterous. These large dogs do not like any sort of rough play which means when they are around children, any interaction has to be supervised by an adult to make sure things stay friendly and calm. They are not the best choice for families with very young children.
They will generally tolerate being around other dogs, but this can make a Borzoi rather nervous so care has to be taken when they first meet any. Care also has to be taken when they encounter smaller pets or animals and this includes cats because a Borzoi might just see them as prey, especially if they start running away. As such it is best to prevent these dogs from coming into contact with smaller pets and cats, unless that is they have grown up together and even then it would be unwise to trust a Borzoi with smaller animals and pets.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Borzoi is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other pedigree dogs, the Borzoi is known to suffer from certain hereditary and acquired health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning to share your home with one of these large and dignified dogs. The health concerns that seem to plague the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Borzois need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Borzoi boasts a high maintenance coat which need to be brushed every day to prevent tangles and matts forming in it. Ideally, their coats need to be professionally groomed at regular intervals which makes keeping on top of things that much easier in between visits to a grooming parlour. Like most dogs, the Borzoi sheds more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn, when they literally shed copious amounts and leave hair all over the place which is why dogs need more frequent grooming at these times of the year. Interestingly, males only shed more once a year unlike their female counterparts.
The hair between their paw pads also needs to be regularly trimmed to prevent it from balling up during wetter and colder weather which can make walking uncomfortable. It's also important to regularly check their ears and to clean them when necessary making sure they are well dried afterwards. If too much moisture builds up in a dog's ear canal, it can lead to a painful and nasty yeast infection and once the condition flares up, it is often very hard to treat.
Although the Borzoi is not a high energy dog, they do need to be given a lot of exercise for them to remain fit and healthy. A minimum of 2 hours a day is the ideal and if possible a dog should be allowed to romp around in a secure large garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, it would be unwise to let a Borzoi off their leads in a park or other safe open space because if they spot anything in the distance that takes their fancy, these dogs will run off after their prey, ignoring any recall commands altogether.
If you get a Borzoi puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because Borzois are prone to suffering from bloat, it's really important not to feed them just before they go out for walk or when they just get back from one. Feeding a dog before any strenuous exercise or when they have just come back from a walk, puts them at great risk of suffering from bloat which could prove fatal. It’s also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls so they don’t have to lower their heads when they eat which makes it easier for them to reach their food. Borzois can be a bit naughty when it comes to stealing food if they can which means making sure anything that's left out has to be well out of their reach.
If you are looking to buy a Borzoi, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy bearing in mind that you may well have to go on a waiting list because not many of these lovely dogs are offered for sale. There were only just over 120 puppies registered in 2015 with the Kennel Club. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Borzoi in northern England would be £26.65 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £49.42 a month (quote as of April 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether it’s wet or dry to feed your dog throughout their lives always making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £60 - £80 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Borzoi and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Borzoi would be between £100 to £130 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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