If you are interested in getting a Borzoi, there are definitely some things you will need to keep in mind. As with any breed of dog, there are characteristics and traits which are typical of the breed. Certain traits can make it harder to train some dogs, but is this the case with the Borzoi breed?
In this article, we will take a look at this ancient breed of dog and learn whether they are hard to train or easy to train.
In general, Borzoi are very smart dogs, but, as sighthounds, very easily distracted. Therefore, to train a Borzoi successfully, you need to understand the breed and follow a few general guidelines.
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What was the Borzoi Bred for Initially?
Firstly, looking into why this breed of dog came to be is important, this is because you can get a feeling for what their proclivities are as animals, what their instinct drives them to do, and maybe get a glimpse of their trainability.
Borzois were first popular in Russian, especially in the aristocracy. These beautiful and loyal dogs were once coursing hounds and sighthounds. Their beautiful, lithe, and elegant bodies were bred for more than looks, the Borzoi is built for running. This is because they were originally coursing hounds, which means that they were used on hunts. Running along with horse riders and giving chase to large game like boars and wolves.
In fact, this is where the old moniker for this dog breed came from, the Russian Wolfhound. They were known by this name up until 1939 and their name was changed to ‘Borzoi’ meaning ‘fast; in Russian.
From this information, we can see that this dog breed is bred for the hunt. Not only that, but they love to run and chase, especially when an animal is smaller than they are. But, what exactly does this mean for the Borzoi in terms of characteristics and traits?
The Borzois Traits and Characteristics
Before delving into the meat and bones of what characteristics and traits a Borzoi might typically have. It is important to realize that while these traits are generally true, they are not always the case.
You will always have an element of personality in the mix, which may affect how your dog will act or interact with others. For example, the life a dog leads and how they have been treated, or a dog’s individual nature can be reasons why your Borzoi will not have the typical traits you might expect for this breed.
First, we will look at the physical traits of these dogs.
- Height at the Shoulder: They are usually between 26 and 28 inches, but Borzoi can grow bigger, especially in the males of the breed.
- Weight: Borzois typically weighs between 60 and 105 pounds but can be heavier depending on how large the dog is.
- Coat Texture: The texture of this dog breed’s coat can vary between flat, wavy, or curly. This is often down to genetics.
- Coat Coloring: This dog can come in almost any color, some of which can include, cream, white, tan, black, sable, brindle, red, brown, gray, or even blue.
A Borzoi is typically an aloof, almost aristocratic animal. They enjoy being independent, but at the same time are extremely affectionate and friendly animals.
They require a lot of exercise, this is due to their energy levels as well as being bred to run and chase. Running is a happy place for this breed. Borzois do not tend to bark a lot but are very playful and eager to be a part of their people’s lives.
Some things you need to know about this breed’s tendencies
- The Independent Nature: This aspect of this breed’s personality tendencies can make training a bit difficult. These independent thinking dogs do not particularly care about pleasing you and can have a ‘What’s in it for me’ reaction to training. Because of this, you will need to be consistent in your training.
- The Instinct to Chase: This breed of dog is lightning quick and was initially bred for hunting, as such, that desire to chase small furry things is deep-rooted in this breed. It is not recommended to bring a Borzoi into a home with other small animals like rabbits, cats, or even small dogs unless there is training done from a young age.
- Emotional Sensitivity: Borzois are extremely sensitive to stress, to the point that it can literally make them sick. Sometimes this can mean they will have severe digestive upsets or neurotic behavior. If your home is not harmonious and is instead full of anger, emotion, or negative energy, this breed will not do well.
There are a lot of factors that might go into shaping your dog, there will always be an element of instinctual behavior in Borzois and any other dog breed.
It is important to understand that the expected personality traits of a dog are not always up to the breed, each animal is shaped by the people around them and the world they live in, which can alter the way they behave.
But, in the case of Borzois, you can usually expect them to be independent and have that desire to hunt, so when you are training them, make sure to keep those in mind.
But how do I go about training my Borzoi, you might ask? Below, we will look into when you can expect while training and some of the best approaches if you want results.
What to Expect While Training Your Borzoi
The first thing to understand is that a Borzoi is an independent dog and is not actually a working breed, despite their hunting background. Because of this, they are slower to respond to commands. Because of the aforementioned hunting instinct, the Borzoi is predisposed to chasing small animals, as such the first thing you will want to work on is socialization and recall.
This should help them interact with dogs of all sizes, as well as call them back in a situation where they are fighting that urge to chase.
Although this breed is intelligent and learns quickly, they have a tendency to get bored easily. As such, keeping your training sessions short and varied should be a great way to keep your dog engaged and picking up on when you are teaching them.
Because of a Borzoi’s long memory, a negative or bad experience will not soon be forgotten, because of this, it is important to use a gentle approach while training. This also ties in with this breed having a tendency to pick up on stress very easily, to the point that it affects their health, especially concerning digestion and sleep.
A few things to keep in mind while training your Borzoi
- Start training as soon as you can, this is because as a Borzoi grows into themselves and their personality, it can get challenging to work around that independent streak.
- Borzois are not necessarily people-pleasing dogs, as such, they might only find the motivation to train for a delicious treat. Don’t be offended if they are just in it for the food, shower them with praise, and find the right reward system for them.
- Set them up for success, train your Borzoi in a distraction-free area where there are no small animals to chase, as this hunting instinct can make it hard to focus on you and the training they are undergoing.
- Make sure that you completely trust your Borzoi before letting them off the leash. Some owners never let their dogs off the leash, while others have formed enough trust and use a well-ingrained recall command. But, make sure that you have a good bond and your dog is well-trained in recall before letting them off the leash. This dog really does fly once they are off the leash, especially if they see something small and furry they can chase.
- Positive reinforcement is best for this dog breed; a harsh method will only alienate this sensitive and independent dog breed. So make sure to take a gentle approach and set them up for success.
- Finally, have patience. This breed is not as quick as a working dog like a German shepherd. Do not take their lack of enthusiasm as them not being engaged, they move at a slower pace while in training, so make sure to have patience and reward them often.
In conclusion, Borzois are not hard to train, or not especially. They are independent creatures and work more for treats than to please you. It is always recommended to take a gentle approach, positive reinforcement is your friend and will yield the best results for such a sensitive dog.
They have a long memory and a bad experience will follow them for quite a while. So, make sure that you set your dog up for success.
Remember, they were bred as hunting dogs, their speed was used to chase down boar, deer, and wolves. So training them to come when called and getting them used to other smaller animals is very important.
Overall, these dogs, like any, have their positives and negatives where training is concerned. As such, always be patient and try to take into account the dog’s nature. What may work for one breed may not work for another.
Borzois are not particularly hard to train, they just have specific needs, which when properly understood can make it easy to train this beautiful and elegant hound.