Like a Cat, this Fastidious Dog Grooms Itself!


Like a Cat, this Fastidious Dog Grooms Itself!

Although it was surmised that Saluki sight hounds similar to the Borzoi were brought to Russia from Byzantium in the 9th and 10th centuries, today it is now believed that the breed instead really originates from the Kyrgyzstan region, where its earliest ancestors were Afghan Hounds from the planes as well as the Kyrgyz Taigan.

The Borzoi is a very sweet and intelligent dog, a proud breed with regal bearing. Affectionate and loyal, it makes an excellent family pet for someone who is willing to provide proper boundaries and has the legs to keep up with this elegant dog. "Borzoi" ("borzoii") means "fast" in Russian. Some have called the breed "long-haired Greyhounds ," although the Borzoi can be of any color. With a silky, flat top coat which is somewhat wavy or curly, the soft undercoat is thicker in the winter and sheds in preparation for summer heat. Although it's called the Borzoi today, it was previously known as the Russian Wolfhound in the United States.


Popular with the Russian aristocracy, the Borzoi was originally known as the Russian Wolfhound in America before 1936 and for hundreds of years prior. Mongol rulers from the time of Genghis Khan in the 13th century used ancestors of these dogs for hunting, although those dogs were perhaps different types including the bear hound of Russia's earliest days, and other ancient sight hound breeds. In 1260, coursing hare for sport became popular, and the Court of the Grand Duke of Novgorod favored the dog for this type of activity. In 1650, the first standard for the Borzoi breed was written, and it's not much different from today's.

By 1861, the aristocracy considered hunting with Borzoi a national sport, and the focus on development of the breed was intense. Hunting parties would be put together where several kennels, with over 100 Borzoi in total, would produce dogs with a specific coat color. With this sport, the Wolf was the desired prey, and a trio of dogs (usually one male, two female) would be set free in pursuit, capturing and pinning it down until the hunter or master arrived to make the final kill.

The Borzoi was introduced to America in 1889, when it arrived from England. In 1903, the Valley Farm Kennel, with Joseph B. Thomas at the helm, imported the Borzoi from the Perchino & Woronzova kennels on three separate occasions. These dogs were among those who set the standard for the breed in the US.

Today, the exquisitely beautiful Borzoi is largely a family dog since its intelligence and gentleness make it the perfect companion. Notably, farmers in western states often use the breed to control coyote populations in recognition of its original purpose.


Similar in appearance to the Greyhound, the Borzoi has a streamlined, fine-boned, and very elegant physique, but with a longer coat. Its narrow, refined head, slanted eyes, and small ears, as well as a long, slightly arched muzzle are all indications that the Borzoi is built for speed. The narrow, deep chest and coltish legs further showcase the Borzoi's talent for fact, purely for the joy of it. The Borzoi has been said to be catlike, in that it grooms itself and is very fastidious. The coat can be any color or combination of colors, with some common colors including solid tan, black, or white, gray or tan with black markings, or gold either as a standalone color, or mixed with others.

Although "large" in stature, the Borzoi is very fine-boned. It will stand at least 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder in adulthood, but will only weigh between 60 and 105 pounds fully grown.


The Borzoi's elegant, fastidious nature and appearance make it seem as though your pet may be part feline – and indeed, that may be true to some extent, in that the Borzoi shares the same penchant for cleanliness. Like the cat, the Borzoi can also be independent.

Sweet, highly intelligent and very loyal, this dog will be affectionate with you and your family and will be obedient to some extent. A sight hound to the core, this breed was developed to be independent, free thinkers and may not be as unquestionably cooperative as other breeds are. That said, they are easily trained and will learn your preferences as long as you provide firm, consistent, gentle leadership. More than most breeds, the Borzoi needs an owner who is most definitely the alpha dog.

The Borzoi's gentle, elegant, almost ethereal nature extends to its bark – or lack thereof. In fact, your pet does have a voice, but will rarely use it. Quiet and serene, this is no rambunctious enthusiastic pet but instead one that wants to keep court with you indoors, quietly. However, this pet will need a lot of exercise and you should take your sight hound for a long daily walk giving it lots of opportunities to run free off leash.

Be careful that you do not let your pet off leash in places that are not safe, because as a hunter by nature, it will take off after prey animals like rabbits, birds, rodents, and other animals and will NOT necessarily heed your command to stop. Keep your pet always leashed unless you are in a fully enclosed outdoor space where you're sure that your pet will remain safe even if it "runs away."

Finally, although Borzoi can be trained to get along well with cats and dogs, other small “prey” animals like birds, rabbits, and small rodents should not be kept as pets if you have a Borzoi in your home. The dog’s hunting instinct is so strong that even the most obedient Borzoi will not necessarily be able to ignore that instinct if tempted by such little pets.


The life expectancy of the Borzoi is quite good for a larger breed, 10 to 12 years on average. Bloat is a concern with this deep-chested breed. To avoid it, feed your pet small frequent meals instead of one large one. Bloat can be fatal very quickly, so if you see your pet acting as though it is having digestive distress trying unsuccessfully to vomit, with a hard, distended stomach, or acting depressed, take the dog to the vet immediately. Surgery is the usual recommended course of action for treatment.


Long and silky, the coat is easy to groom with just a firm brushing. Dry shampooing should only be necessary, with bathing rarely necessary. The hair between the toes should be clipped to keep your pet comfortable. The Borzoi will shed very heavily when it gets rid of its thick undercoat in the spring, but is a moderate shedder during other times of year.


Adopt a Borzoi.

Retrieved August 31, 2013.

AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Borzoi.

Retrieved August 31, 2013.


Retrieved August 31, 2013.

Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound) (Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya) (Psowaya Barsaya).

Retrieved August 31, 2013.

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