Also known as the Russian hunting sighthound (Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya), Borzois have all of the elegance one would expect from a dog so beloved by Russian nobility for centuries. In Russian, their name translates to “quick,” and they certainly are, but they’re also quick to love. This breed has been made famous through film and literature throughout the centuries as evidenced by its prominence in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Borzois are uncommon in the UK, which means that they’ll get plenty of attention from neighbours and passersby. This loyal breed is quite large and requires plenty of love, grooming, and exercise, so it may not be the best choice of puppy for first-time owners. Regardless, there are plenty of excellent reasons to purchase a Borzoi puppy.
Some highlights of Borzois:
Sociable: Borzois are a sociable breed that enjoy playing and being affectionate.
Isolation: this breed is able to tolerate being left alone for long periods of time, making it a good choice for owners that aren’t home all day.
Family-friendly: this breed gets along well in family settings and can make a loving companion.
Rarity: Borzois are somewhat rare in the UK and have a unique, beautiful appearance.
Barking: this breed doesn’t bark much at all and tends to be rather quiet.
Some downsides to the Borzoi:
First-time owners: this breed is quite demanding in many regards and may not be the best choice for first-time owners as a result.
Prey drive: as a sighthound, Borzois are prone to chasing other pets and animals.
Adaptability: this breed is large and won’t tolerate living in a small apartment or anywhere where he lacks the space to roam and wander.
Expensive: Borzois are a large breed and eat voraciously, therefore resulting in high food costs.
The exact origins of the Borzoi are up to speculation, but it is widely believed that they were introduced to Russia during the Mongol invasions of the 15th century. Tatars used Arab sighthounds called Koutsi whereas Russian hunters did not use hunters but instead used strong and robust Loshaya dogs. By breeding these two together, the origins of the Borzoi began to take root. Later in the 16th and 17th centuries, Polish Greyhounds were mixed in order to provide elegance. This breed thrived and was beloved by many members of the aristocratic class in Russia through the centuries, but since it was a symbol of the bourgeois class they were brought to near-extinction during the 1917 revolution. It was only due to their international adoption that their numbers gradually began to rise again. They remain a rare breed in the UK to this day.
Borzois look elegant and aristocratic. They are a large breed that is tall and strong, but appears long. In some regards, they resemble the Afghan Hound and the Kyrgyz Taigan.At first sight, however, many may see them as a long-haired greyhound. This may be due to Polish Greyhound being mixed in the breed historically.
Borzois are large/giant-sized dogs. Males grow on average to 75-85 cm in height, whilst females can grow up to 68-78 cm high.
Fully-grown adult male Borzois weigh between 34-48 kg on average. Females weigh between 25-41 kg.
The following colours are commonly recognised for the Borzoi:
Pale with light grey shading;
Essentially, Borzois can appear in any colour from white to black, with the exception of the following undesirable colours: brown, blue, isabella (lilac), and shades of these colours.
Borzois are calm and composed, and that includes around people and families. They’re a lovely breed that is sociable and affectionate. They’re also sensitive and require patient training in order to foster obedience and a bond of loyalty with owners. Borzois are not territorial but they naturally have a high prey drive, which can be a blessing and a curse simultaneously.
This breed is not an ideal guard dog. They seldom bark and aren’t known to be territorial. They are also not ideal watchdogs.
Borzois hardly ever bark. They are well-mannered and only bark if they lack attention or whilst playing.
As an intelligent and sensitive breed, Borzois can be trained fairly easily with patience and a steady hand.
As puppies, Borzois love to play. As they grow into adulthood, however, they are known to be calm and easy-going.
Although they are large, Borzois enjoy spending time with families and children. Due to their size, however, it’s best that they’re always supervised whilst playing with children.
If introduced properly, Borzois can get along well with other dogs although they may show signs of nervousness at first. They aren’t ideal in homes with other smaller pets due to their high prey drive.
Borzois can tolerate being left alone for long periods of time, but that doesn’t mean that they should be neglected, either. Spend plenty of time with your Borzoi, especially as puppies, to ensure that their social needs are being met.
Some Borzois enjoy swimming, but many will not. As with most breeds, introduce your Borzoi puppy to water gradually and on his own terms so that he doesn’t become frightened. This breed doesn’t like being on boats.
Generally, Borzois are expected to live anywhere from 10-12 years.
This breed requires plenty of exercise in order to remain stimulated. Endeavour to spend at least an hour every day walking and playing outdoors to keep your Borzoi mentally and physically stimulated and healthy. A tired dog is a happy dog, and Borzois are no exception to the rule.
Borzois are prone to the following common health issues:
Progressive retinal atrophy.
A particular issue that Borzois tend to face is bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus). It’s debated whether or not their feeding bowls should be placed above the ground or not. It’s believed that the cause of bloat is due to anatomy, so if your Borzoi is growing quickly and you fear that bloat may be an issue, contact your veterinarian to have a closer look and to make a good recommendation.
This breed requires large, open spaces in which he can roam and exercise regularly. Therefore, Borzois are not ideal for an urban living nor are they happy in apartments.
A fully-grown Borzoi should be fed 4 to 7 cups of high-quality dog food every day. Adjust as necessary to promote good health and to prevent overfeeding.
Borzois are high-maintenance in terms of grooming. Their coats need to be brushed every day, but they should also be professionally groomed frequently as well. Ensure that their ears and eyes are inspected for infections as well.
This breed sheds profusely and will require constant brushing in order to keep shedding under control paired with rigorous routine cleaning.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly £500-800 for a well-bred Borzoi puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £100-130 per month
You can read our general buying guide here, with the most important thing being going to view your Borzoi puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Borzoi puppy buying advice:
Borzois grow from puppies to adults very quickly. Feeding habits for Borzois are debatable, but it’s best that you ask a veterinarian about feeding schedules for Borzoi puppies in order to foster healthy growth.
This breed is not very popular in the UK, so it may be rather difficult to find a desirable puppy online. Good things come to those who wait, so don’t always purchase the first Borzoi puppy you find online. Instead, take your time and evaluate the health and desirability of the puppy and ensure that he has been raised according to the Kennel Club of Great Britain’s guidelines.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article:
The Borzoi Club: https://www.theborzoiclub.org.uk/
Federation Cynologique Internationale: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/193g10-en.pdf
Kennel Club of Great Britain: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/search/breeds-a-to-z/breeds/hound/borzoi/
UK Dog Trust: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/
Blue Cross: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/rehome-pet