Borzois are a strikingly beautiful, loving, and unique breed of dog. Thanks to their large, gorgeously chiselled stature and their calm, affectionate temperament, Borzois have won the hearts of dog owners around the world.
However, whether we can add ‘high intelligence’ to the long list of great Borzois characteristics is quite contested. If you’re considering getting a Borzois, this can be frustrating, as intelligence is an important factor to consider when training a dog.
We are here to help! If you want to learn more about Borzois, including the breed’s history, their intelligence, and their training and socialization needs, check out the information below! It’s also jam-packed with useful tips and tricks if you’re struggling to train your new Borzois.
Borzoi Breed History
Borzois originally come from Russia and served humans for centuries as coursing and hunting dogs. Coursing is the pursuit of animals by dogs, usually game. Although, in this case, Borzois coursed fox, boar, hare, and famously, wolf.
Borzois have an incredibly unique appearance. They have flowing ice-white coats, long legs, and chiselled features. They have an almost royal feel to them, which is quite appropriate, as they became synonymous with Russian royalty.
Since the 15th Century, Russian nobles have owned hundreds of Borzoi and passed them down through the generations. An extensive amount of attention was paid to the breeding, feeding, and training of this noble Borzoi, and hunting competitions would be arranged regularly.
In the 1880s, despite the feudal system collapsing and the kennels being emptied, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich aimed to create the most incredible Borzoi kennel in the world. Some of these dogs were then available for sale.
In 1903, Joseph Thomas Jr. from Connecticut travelled to the Duke’s kennels after being disappointed with the quality of Borzoi in America and the UK. Astounded by the dogs in the Duke’s kennels, Thomas Jr. bought some Borzoi and took them to the West.
When the Duke’s kennels collapsed in the face of the Bolshevik Revolution, Borzoi became a scarce breed in Russia. However, thanks to Thomas Jr.’s breeding efforts, Borzois in the West thrived.
By the 20th Century, Borzois had once again become a kind of royalty. Thanks to their strikingly elegant and angled appearance, they became the muse for many art-deco sculptors and painters.
Since then, Borzois have become a popular family dog, thanks to their laid-back nature. They are agreeable, calm, and incredibly affectionate. They rarely bark and are understood to have very good manners, although, they can have a fun, silly side as well.
Borzois are also incredibly fast dogs and are likely to see other animals as prey. As such, when on walks, Borzois tend to chase other animals. In fact, if a Borzoi moves into a home that has other pets, they are likely to chase these too.
Due to their high levels of energy, Borzois also require a lot of physical activity. They need long daily walks or even jogs to ensure their physical needs are being met. However, once this has been done, Borzois become your perfect couch-potato buddy!
Finally, one of the best Borzoi characteristics is that of their loving nature. Although they require significant attention and companionship, if this emotional need is met, they are one of the most loyal and caring dog breeds.
Are Borzois Smart?
Now, you might assume that, as a dog popular with royals across the globe that has a long and proud history of service, Borzois are probably super-smart animals.
However, you would be wrong. Borzois are actually considered to be one of the least intelligent dog breeds.
How To Determine Intelligence In A Dog
To better understand why Borzois are considered to be one of the least intelligent dog breeds, it is first necessary to understand how to measure intelligence in dogs.
According to this book, The Intelligence of Dogs, written by psychologist Stanley Coren, there are three types of intelligence in dogs worth considering:
1. Instinctive Intelligence
This is measured by looking at a dog’s ability to perform the tasks it was bred for. In the case of Borzois, this would be coursing or hunting.
2. Adaptive Intelligence
This is measured by looking at a dog’s ability to solve a problem independently and its ability to learn from its past experiences.
3. Working And Obedience Intelligence
This is measured by observing a dog’s ability to learn when being trained by human beings.
If a particular dog breed scores highly on these tests, it is considered to be an intelligent breed. If a particular breed scores low on these tests, they are considered to be of low intelligence.
What Are The Least Intelligent Dogs According To These Tests?
According to this book and these tests of intelligence, these are the least intelligent dog breeds:
1. Basset Hound
7. Chow Chow
10. Afghan Hound
Why Are Borzois Considered To Have Low Intelligence?
As proven great hunters, with a loving and compassionate manner, you might wonder, how have Borzois scored so low on intelligence tests?
Well, generally, it all comes down to their stubbornness. Borzois aren’t as driven to please their masters as other breeds, and as such, can be tricky to train.
This personality trait may significantly affect Borzois’ ability to perform the latter two tests well, which would affect their overall score of intelligence.
Additionally, Borzois are incredibly focused animals when it comes to stalking and hunting. However, this can mean that whilst on walks, Borzois may mainly focus on other animals in its environment.
This heightened focus often comes at the expense of an awareness of its surroundings, such as roads. This may be another reason that Borzois are considered to have low intelligence.
Do All Borzois Have Low Intelligence?
This is definitely not to say that all Borzois will have low intelligence.
In fact, their stubborn personalities and lack of environmental attention can be adequately dealt with if they are trained appropriately, persistently, and from a young age. When Borzois are appropriately trained, they can become particularly intelligent dogs.
Training And Socialization Tips
Borzois require significant physical training, socialization, and emotional work, to ensure that they are content, intelligent, safe, and healthy dogs.
If you’re considering getting a Borzoi, check out these useful training and socialization tips. These will help combat that stubborn nature and ensure that your new dog feels comfortable in its new environment.
1. Be Patient
As discussed above, Borzois are stubborn, and as such, they can be particularly tricky to train. In fact, it can take a lot of time to even just find the right training technique, so it’s important to be patient!
Also, don’t be disheartened if you feel like you cannot find the right technique. Borzois are just very picky. You will eventually figure it out!
2. Avoid Punishments
Generally, Borzois do not respond to harsh training techniques, so remember to keep calm as you try out new methods.
Specifically, thanks to their excellent memories, being punished won’t go down well with a Borzoi. If they feel as if they’ve had a bad experience, they won’t let it go easily. As such, it’s best to avoid methods that involve punishments of any kind.
3. Socialize As Early As Possible
Socialization is incredibly important for Borzois for a few reasons.
First, they can be particularly skittish or shy dogs. As such, to avoid them feeling fearful, it’s important to expose Borzois to the different environments in which they will find themselves, and the other dogs within those environments.
Secondly, Borzois are large dogs that are lightning-fast. Being bred to hunt, they can respond quickly and instinctively to other small animals in their environment and tend to chase them.
This can be dangerous for everyone involved. Specifically, when focusing on smaller animals, Borzois tend to pay little attention to other factors in the environment, such as busy roads. Therefore, it’s important to expose your Borzoi to other small animals to limit this response.
Finally, Borzois can be very touch sensitive. If they are startled or grabbed unexpectedly, their super fast reflexes may kick in. Therefore, make sure to socialize your Borzoi by also introducing it to the people that often visit your home.
It is also necessary to discuss the needs of your Borzoi with these people. To avoid your dog feeling uncomfortable or on-guard in its own home, be sure to tell visitors to avoid sneaking up on your Borzoi or touching it when it is unaware.
4. Ask For Help If You Need It
Training a dog can be difficult at the best of times, let alone when your dog is large, stubborn, and picky. If you’re struggling with training or socialization, ask for help!
There are great group training programs available. These can be particularly useful if you’re a brand new dog owner and want to introduce your new dog to others at the same time.
To find a good trainer, word of mouth is your best bet. Ask other dog owners within your community, or check out Borzoi-specific online forums. There is so much information out there!
If you prefer the idea of training and socializing your Borzoi yourself, there are a number of resources out there that can help you along the way. Check out this book called Dog Training Revolution by Zak George on amazon. It is a complete guide to raising the perfect dog with love!
Borzois are a wonderful breed of dog. They are strikingly beautiful, loving, calm, and good fun to be around. Although, their super stubborn nature is often interpreted as meaning they have low intelligence.
Not to worry though! This can be easily fixed with a patient and loving training method and proper socialization. We hope our tips and information have given you the confidence to welcome a Borzoi into your home.