Borzoi Dog aka Russian wolfhound Description
The tail should have an extended length with a curve that hangs low. The nose and eyes should be dark in color. While the ears should fall back when the dog is relaxed, they may stand upright when the dog becomes active. The Borzoi has a narrow chest, and their coats will have a smooth texture.
The coat of the Borzoi may either be curly or wavy. The acceptable colors are tan, gray, gold, or white. Black patches may also be present.
Until 1936 the Borzoi was known as the Russian Wolfhound. The American Kennel Club (AKC) had its first entry into the studbook of “Princes Irma” in 1891. Although the history of the Borzoi in America has been pretty much cut and dried, its origins in Russia are shrouded in mystery.
The Borzoi is a sight hound that depends on its speed and agility to overtake what ever game it is sent after and there are records that speak of the breed’s ability in this area being used by the Russian aristocracy for centuries. There are even accounts of from the Thirteenth century that speak of hunting expeditions by the Mongol rulers in which long hounds were the main dogs used.
There are theories of the Borzoi having ancestors that were the ancient bear hound of Russia, the coursing hounds of the Tatars as well as other extinct sight hounds. Regardless of the ancient origins, the Borzoi has remained virtually unchanged since 1650 when the first standard for the breed was written in Russia.
Through the ending of Russian serfdom in 1861 and up until the Russian Revolution, there were huge country estates with thousands of acres that bred, trained and hunted Borzois. Enormous amounts of money were poured in the development of the Borzois in a way that has never been equaled in any other breed.
One of the main men who bred and hunted the Borzois before the Russian Revolution was the Grand Duke Nicholas, uncle to Czar Nicholas. It is said he would ship complete hunting parties that included up to a hundred dogs and horses to various areas of Russia to hunt a variety of game although his favorite was wolf. It was the job of the Borzois to follow the wolf by sight, not scent, trap it and hold it until the hunters following on horseback could catch up.
There was a time between 1815 and 1861 when some breeders were outcrossing to other breeds and the true Borzoi came close to being lost.
Thanks to the Grand Duke and a wealthy landowner Artem Boldareff, a Borzoi club was formed which advocated the breeding and protection of the Borzoi in its ancient type. It is due to these two men’s efforts that today’s Borzoi is of the type it is.
Although the first Borzoi to come to America arrived in 1889 and was owned by William Wade of Pennsylvania, C. Steadman Hanks imported the first Russian born Borzoi to his Seacroft Kennels in Massachusetts.
In 1903 another Borzoi fancier, Joseph Thomas imported several dogs directly from the Grand Duke’s Perchino Kennels and Artem Boldareff’s Woronzova Kennels. It is from these dogs the majority of today’s American Borzoi can be traced back to.
Even though the Borzoi was used for centuries to hunt wolves, they have a sweet, gentle disposition and can make excellent pets. Normally a quiet dog with a quick intelligence and an eagerness to please the owner, Borzois have been very successful in earning the various Obedience and Coursing certificates offered by the AKC.
Due to the type of game the ancestors of our present day Borzois, certain characteristics and physical traits were bred with special care. They had to be fast, able to run for miles and courageous when hunting the wolves. They also needed to be agile and sound of bone with strong necks and jaws. In breeding for these traits the Russian breeders came up with a dog that is elegant, graceful and who has long, flowing lines.
Head-The skull is slightly domed, long and narrow with almost no stop between the muzzle and foreface. The muzzle tends to be Roman-nosed, jaws are extremely powerful and the teeth are white and in good condition. Missing or discolored teeth are penalized in the conformation ring. Nose is large and black.
Bite-The bite of a Borzoi can be either even or scissored. Overshot or undershot bites are also a penalty.
Ears-The ears are small and fine. When at ease they lie back upon the neck and almost touch the occipital bone. When alert they become raised.
Eyes-A Borzoi’s eyes are set obliquely and must be dark in color. They have an alert, intelligent expression while giving the impression of gentleness. They are never to be round in shape. The eye rims are also dark in color.
Neck-The neck is slightly arched, very powerful and must be clean. There should be no throatiness or excess skin. It should flow gracefully into the shoulders.
Shoulders-These should be sloping and fine at the withers. They should give no indication of coarseness.
Chest-The Borzoi’s chest will appear narrow but will have depth in the thorax area.
Ribs-The ribs seem to only be slightly sprung but they are very deep to give room for heart and lungs.
Back-This has a graceful curve that rises a little at the loins.
Forelegs-The bones are long, straight and flattened in a way that is reminiscent of a blade with the edge to the front.
Feet-The feet are hare-shaped with well-arched knuckles. The toes are close and well padded. Round, flat or splayfooted dogs will be penalized.
Hindquarters-The rear quarters of the Borzoi are long and powerful. They are slightly wider than the front with the legs being parallel when viewed from the rear. The hocks are clean and well let down.
Tail-The tail is long, set on and carried low. It should have a graceful curve but never be carried over the back.
Coat-The Borzoi has a long, silky textured coat. It can be flat, wavy or even curly. The head, muzzle, ears and front legs have short, smooth coats whereas the neck has an ample frill. There should also be feathering on the hindquarters and tail. The color of the coat can be any color or combination of colors.
Size-Mature males are at least 28 inches at the withers and mature females are at least 26 inches. Both sexes are heavily penalized if they do not make the minimum height requirements. Average weight for a mature male is 75-105 pounds while the females can be 15–20 pounds less.
Also Known As
- Russian Wolfhound
- Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya
The Borzoi is kind and intelligent. They have a demeanor which matches their appearance. They are noble dogs, and are reliable to those that care for them. While they can be trained to obey commands, they are free spirited dogs who will want to do things their own way. They will not work as hard to please their owners and some dog breeds. Despite this, the Borzoi is a quick learner, and can groom itself. These dogs are exceptionally quiet, and will not bark a lot. While the Borzoi will behave with other dogs, owners will want to monitor it when it is around pets that aren’t canines. These dogs are natural hunters, and will chase animals that run from them.
These dogs don’t take well to certain medications. They may develop bloat, and they are very selective about the foods they eat. It is important for owners to make sure they are not overfed, and they should never be taken out for an exercise just after they’ve eaten. The Borzoi has a maximum life expectancy of 12 years.
The Borzoi is a hunting breed that needs large amounts of exercise. Owners will want to let them run off the leash, but this should only be done in a safe area. These dogs are great for people who like to jog. These dogs will chase any small animals they encounter, and it is important for owners to keep control of them. The Borzoi can live in an apartment if it is given extensive amount of exercise, but it will perform best in a small yard.
Special Grooming Needs
These dogs have extensive coats that are easy to maintain. Owners will want to use a strong comb or brush on a regular basis, and bathing should rarely be needed. The fur between the toes should be clipped. The Borzoi will shed large amounts of fur during their shedding season.