You may have recently realized that your couch has a perfect spot for a large dog to curl up and cuddle with and you have set your sights on a borzoi. Before you take the leap, you should do as much research as you can to make sure that a borzoi is a good match for you and vice versa.
First off, do they even like to cuddle? This guide will cover the origins of the borzoi, its appearance, and its temperament so that you know exactly what you are getting into and if you should reserve that space on the couch for a cuddlier breed.
The short answer is that some borzoi love to cuddle, and some don’t. While a borzoi will typically be very affection with its owner, they may not take well to strangers. As sighthounds, they may take off running if something catches their eye, even if you think its time to cuddle. Also, they are considered to be “giant” dogs, so without a large couch or a big clear area, cuddling may be challenging.
What is a Borzoi?
Borzoi is a dog breed that emits elegance and grace that will turn heads at the local park. However, seeing as they rank 93rd on the breed popularity chart in America, there is a chance that you won’t see one very often.
The borzoi originated from Russia where they are also known as ‘Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya’ which loosely translates to ‘Russian Long-haired Sighthound’. When borzois were first introduced, they were named Russian Wolfhound and were bred by combining breeds such as long-haired sheepdogs, wolf dogs, and Irish greyhounds.
The genetics from these breeds combined to create the familiar characteristics of the borzoi including their long snout, legs, and hair.
They were mostly used by nobility to run beside their horses in pairs and hunt whatever wild game they came across, that is why they got the name Borzoi as it means ‘fast’. They can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and look effortless while doing so, even at a gait they cover a good amount of ground.
Due to them being closely associated with the aristocracy, there was a big decline in their numbers because of the Bolshevik Revolution. Despite this, some lucky Borzois had been shipped out of the country just in time and were soon established elsewhere.
To this day, Borzois are still used in Russia as sighthounds but are also companion pets to many across the world.
Borzoi coats can come in a large range of colors and patterns that are accepted by the Kennel Club, but you will likely see more white ones with brown patches on the face, back, and tail which is also known as the piebald pattern. The other colors they can have are black and white, tricolor, blue sable, tortoiseshell, cream, and many, many more.
To describe the body of a borzoi, it’s easiest to think of a greyhound with a longer snout and much longer, silkier hair that can also have a flat, wavy, or curly texture. It has the same deep chest and slim build as any sighthound and is very large, with males standing at about 32-inches tall and females at 30-inches. Even though they are tall, they do not weigh much due to their very slender build and will tip the scale at no more than 105 pounds.
According to the American Kennel Club, the muzzle should be the same length as the skull that should also have a slightly domed shape with powerful jaws that get narrower toward the end of the nose. The ears should be relatively small and high set, lying flat on the head unless they are standing up when the dog is alert.
They may have a grand appearance, but these dogs tend to be quiet and reserved. Borzois are intelligent but don’t expect them to do every trick in the book because they have an independent character that will make them more aloof with strangers but more affectionate with their family.
However, if the family has young children a borzoi may find them too overwhelming and would prefer not to be around children or ones that are old enough to be calm and gentle. This does not go for all borzoi dogs as some can adjust quite well to young children if they have been accustomed from a young age.
Each dog has a different personality and the level of how affectionate it is with you depends on multiple factors such as past experiences and genetics.
Generally, borzois will be open to affection and may like to flop on top of you at the end of the day but can also have an aloof side that will lead them to initiate the affection on their terms. Additionally, don’t expect them to rush to welcome any strangers that enter the home before they have warmed up to them.
Along with their independence, they get easily get bored during training sessions and will lose interest quicker than some other breeds, to get the most out of the borzoi you should keep the training session gentle and varied. Even if they have a good recall, you cannot count on them to come back every time because they have a strong built-in prey drive and will take after small animals such as rabbits or cats.
If you plan to have a borzoi and a cat in the same household, you should introduce them when they are young to prevent any accidents from happening.
Due to their reserved nature and their history of working beside people, they can suffer from separation anxiety if they have not been left alone enough as a puppy and are not used to it. They do not tend to bark much and do not make good guard dogs, even though they are very large.
Borzois have a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years and can suffer from health issues such as an overly narrow jaw and misplaced lower canine teeth, but this is a genetic issue that is usually prevented by reputable breeders. Other than this, they are generally healthy and have no other known health conditions that the breed is predisposed to.
Because they are active dogs and have been bred to run long distances, they require around an hour and a half of exercise a day which can consist of walking or running. Remember to have the borzoi on a lead unless they are in an enclosed area such as a field or garden so that they don’t take off chasing after anything.
You should brush their coat at least once a week as it is quite long and will tangle if it is not looked after. Having knotted and tangled hair can irritate a borzoi because it is painful and pinches at the skin. To keep the hair shiny and healthy, you can also try dog shampoos that should be used no more than once a week.
When you feed your adult borzoi, they should not have one big meal a day as breeds with deep chests have a higher risk of suffering from bloat. Giving them smaller, more frequent meals works much better and will keep them energized throughout the day.
Borzois are beautiful dogs with such a rich history, but they are not for everyone. If you want a dog that responds to your every command, will meet strangers with a waggy tail, and can be trusted off the lead in open areas then a borzoi may not be for you.
If you want a dog that you can cuddle, then you will be happy to know that even though Borzoi are not keen on people they aren’t familiar with, they can be very affectionate with their family and will cuddle with you. Be mindful of the fact that you cannot force your borzoi to be cuddly if they are not naturally so and enjoying each other’s company from separate couches is just as valuable.