The borzoi comes from Russia and has become one of the most popular niche dogs to be kept as a pet. With a unique appearance and an amazing temperament coupled with incredible intelligence, it’s little wonder that these dogs are so well loved.
But while many people simply want a borzoi to be their lifelong companion, others may wish to (correctly) put their dog to work for hunting purposes. But are borzois good hunting dogs?
Fortunately, if you’re in love with the borzoi breed and want a dog that can hunt, you’re in the right place. These dogs were originally bred as hunters and have all the characteristics that make them incredibly adept at what they do.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at what makes the borzoi one of the best hunting dogs and how you can enjoy spending time with your canine companion this way.
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When you think of a hunting dog, there are several different breeds that might spring to mind; the beagle, the foxhound, the pointer, among others. But not many people’s minds would drift to the borzoi and yet they are one of the most effective hunting dogs on the planet.
These beautiful creatures have a hunting heritage that dates back many years. Having originally been bred in Russia to hunt a variety of animals including foxes, boars and hares, the borzoi really came into its own when hunting wolves. That’s where it gets its nickname; the Russian wolfhound.
The borzoi dog is incredibly large and what’s most interesting is that while they are extremely adept hunters, they don’t hunt prey in the same way that other breeds of dog do. For example, things like the Basset hound and the Beagle will use their sense of smell to locate prey and track it. On the other hand, the borzoi uses its excellent sense of sight to literally spot and chase prey. This puts it into the category of sighthounds.
While using their eyes is the primary way that borzois will hunt, that isn’t to say that you cannot train these dogs to work with their sense of smell. It is very common for owners to provide their dogs with this training which ultimately leads to one of the most amazing hunting abilities of any dog.
Another key factor in why the borzoi is such a great hunter is their speed. Back in the day, they were used for their ability to chase running prey so it’s essential that they made use of their agility and speed as well as their unrivalled endurance to ensure a successful hunt. These traits were highly respected in Russia and it was quite common for nobility to train and use borzois in their hunting pursuits.
These dogs are so fast and agile that the name borzoi literally translates from the Russian language to mean swift.
There are varying rules on hunting with dogs in the United States so before you head off on a hunting adventure, we would advise checking your local regulations. At the time of writing, there are still 11 states that permit hunting deer with dogs. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. This type of hunting is also permitted in Hawaii and California but since these rules apply mostly to whitetail and the population in these two states is sparse, you may have issues when hunting here.
Once you have determined the local laws on hunting with dogs, you’re ready to train your Borzoi to become the hunter he or she can be. Since it’s within their natural character to be a good hunting dog, you shouldn’t have too many problems in getting the best out of them.
That said, if you know anything about the borzoi, you’ll also know that they can be a very stubborn breed and so training can sometimes prove difficult. But that isn’t to say that they are smart; borzois are one of the most intelligent breeds of dog, it’s just that they’ll want to do things on their terms rather than their owner’s!
The key to correctly training your borzoi to hunt is to be patient with them. Furthermore, since borzois are such clever animals, it isn’t uncommon for them to easily bore during a dull training session. This is one of the main things you will need to keep in mind and always make sure that training is fun and keeps your dog’s attention. If you can do this, you might even find that your borzoi begins to look forward to the sessions.
Owners should also keep in mind that positive reinforcement will lead to the greatest success. This applies especially to people who are trying to train their borzoi to hunt with his or her nose. Make sure that you incorporate things that your borzoi inherently likes to do such as chasing and running as this will further ensure successful training.
Borzois are large dogs and this should instantly tell you that they require a lot of exercise. Keeping them in enclosed spaces without the freedom to run around is nothing short of cruel. This applies to borzois that are kept as pets as well as those who will be used for hunting.
It is essential that any borzoi; hunting or not, engages in at least 90 minutes of active exercise every day. For the most part, this would include running and chasing as these are parts of this breed’s heritage so it makes perfect sense to exercise them in these ways. Free running is great as the dog will be able to explore and enjoy themselves without restriction, however it is incredibly important to think about your borzoi’s character before letting them off the leash.
Since it is their natural instinct to chase, they should not be released anywhere that they may pose a risk to other dogs or animals. Moreover, you should not let your borzoi run free anywhere that is not secure as this carries a risk of them escaping.
One of the best types of exercise for your borzoi when training him or her to hunt is lure coursing. This activity was actually invented for sighthounds and was designed to allow them to take part in simulated hunting.
It works by setting up a path that measures 500 yards; it’s important that this path is zig-zagged as opposed to straight. You will also use a motor that operates a line and pulley system. Attached to this will be some sort of plastic lure. Generally speaking, you would fashion this using strips of plastic from a household item like a garbage bag. When you release your borzoi, he or she will chase after this lure, zig-zagging down the path you created.
This is an excellent form of exercise and will certainly test your dog’s speed and agility. Moreover, it’ll give him or her the physical exercise they need to remain healthy and it’ll count towards hunting training. Although you might also try things such as rallying and obedience trials.
When exercising your borzoi, we would strongly advise keeping their size in mind. While they are incredibly affectionate dogs with those that they trust, their sheer size can be dangerous to children especially when the dog is excited and running around. For this reason, it is a good idea to exercise and train your borzoi in a dedicated location where children are kept away. There’s no reason that your children cannot form a good bond with your dog but this should be at an appropriate time and should always be supervised.
The borzoi is a dog whose name literally means swift in Russian and it was in this country that these dogs were first put to use as hunters. Being sighthounds, borzois do not naturally rely on their sense of smell for hunting but rather their vision to spot and chase prey which is what makes them so good at catching moving prey.
That said, it is entirely possible to train a borzoi to also work with its nose to sniff out prey and doing tracking training is a great way to achieve this.
But no matter what method of hunting they use, one thing is for sure; there aren’t many other breeds that are as adept or reliable when it comes to hunting as the mighty borzoi!