Borzois have been one of the most popular large dog breeds in recent years, although their fascinating origins show that they’ve been associated with class and elegance since the early 17th century. With a rich and interesting history as hunting dogs, these dogs have found a new life as affectionate and caring family dogs who love exercise and attention.
But why are these tall and skinny dogs so popular, and what are they known for? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. This article will take a look at the Borzoi’s history, from their association with Russian royalty to their modern-day success as show dogs and family pets.
Ready? Then let’s get started!
Borzois: A Brief Rundown
But first things first – what is a Borzoi?
Borzois are a breed of dog that originated in Russia. They are distantly related to Arabian Sighthounds and are similar to central-Asian breeds like the Afghan Hound.
Borzois are classed as a ‘giant breed’, with adults standing upwards of 30 inches tall and weighing around 100 pounds.
These dogs have plenty of varied characteristics. Borzois come in all sorts of colors, and their fur can be wavy, curly, or flat. However, their coats are always long and thick; despite this, dirt and dust won’t build up in their fur due to their silkiness.
While the Borzoi originated as primarily a hunting dog, in recent years they have gained a lot of popularity as pets due to their calm nature, and are often entered in pageants and dog shows to display their beauty and obedience.
What Are Borzois Known For?
The first thing people notice about Borzois is their iconic build. Borzois are long dogs, with thin bodies and legs that are built for speed. They also have unusually long snouts, measuring upwards of a foot long!
Their size makes them stand out amongst other breeds. While Borzois are smaller than other breeds like the Irish Wolfhound, English Mastiff, or Great Dane, they are still much larger than the average dog.
Their slight frame and curvy silhouette, combined with a flowing coat, gives them an elegant and graceful appearance. Don’t let this fool you, however. While they may seem like nothing more than a show dog at first glance, there is much more to the Borzoi than meets the eye.
Borzois are renowned hunting dogs. Their long, spindly frame is deceptively powerful, and Borzois boast incredible speed and strength. Borzois are capable of running at speeds of 35mph.
Unlike other hunting dogs like Bloodhounds and Beagles who hunt primarily with their noses, Borzois have keen eyesight that helps them spot their prey in wide-open fields and plains. That said, their smell is still incredible – a Borzoi’s sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than a human’s!
Historically, Borzois were used for coursing running game like hare and foxes. Their speed, combined with sharp senses and great mobility, makes them perfect for hunting even the flightiest game.
Not only that, but their strength and agility meant that they could even take on larger prey like deer. Borzois were often set out in pairs or threes, making them even more effective at taking down larger game. In the past, Borzois were even used to hunt wolves! This led to their moniker of the ‘Russian Wolfhound’.
Their flowing coat and prowess as hunting dogs made Borzois a hallmark of aristocracy, and they became almost synonymous with the Russian monarchy.
After the Russian Revolution in 1917, in which the Russian Aristocracy was removed from power, the Borzoi was no longer bred for hunting and status.
This led to the breed facing extinction. However, their popularity throughout the rest of Europe and abroad in the USA (where they had been brought over in the previous century) meant that numbers began to grow. Eventually, the Borzoi was brought back over to Russia, where their numbers recovered and the breed regained its popularity.
In the modern-day, Borzois are popular for their beauty and intelligence. As mentioned before, Borzois have long flowing coats that make them ideal for pageants. While these coats tend to shed a lot (similar to other long-haired breeds), proper grooming and maintenance will result in a truly gorgeous dog.
While dirt and dust struggle to build up in their fur, Borzois should be regularly brushed to avoid any tangles. The fur between their toe pads also needs to be trimmed frequently, as it will grow quickly and cause the dog discomfort and mobility issues.
Borzois are highly energetic dogs and are well-known for their love of exercise. They need at least half an hour of exercise each day, and juvenile Borzois may even require upwards of an hour daily. Because of their speed and their tendency to chase things, Borzois need to be kept on a leash and in a fenced-off area when they are outside to prevent them from chasing other animals or running into roads.
With proper training, a Borzoi can make the perfect dog for agility contests and lure coursing.
Why Are Borzois So Popular?
Despite their history as coursing dogs, Borzois make incredibly popular pets. While their size and speed can be intimidating, Borzois have calm and kind demeanors that make them great pets for dog owners with some experience under their belt.
Because they were bred for hunting, Borzois are an intelligent breed that is easy to train. That said, they can also be quite stubborn. Borzois require patience and time to train, and they benefit from positive reinforcement.
You should also avoid getting a Borzoi if you have small children. While their temperament makes it unlikely that they would harm a child deliberately, their size means they can knock over a small child and injure them.
They also need to be treated gently and with respect, so if a toddler is rough they might retaliate out of instinct. If you’re set on raising a Borzoi but you have a young child, it’s important to keep constant supervision when they are together to avoid any accidents.
That said, Borzois are a great breed for families with large spaces. While it’s possible to keep a Borzoi in a smaller apartment or house, they really benefit from having a good amount of space to move around. They also suit owners with an active, outdoor lifestyle. Owners who will take them out for exercise in wide-open areas (as long as they have proper supervision) are perfect for this breed, helping the Borzoi to get proper enrichment and play.
Borzois are a friendly and affectionate breed if you treat them well, and their intelligence makes them easy to train as a family dog.
Borzois are also a popular show dog. Their speed and chasing instinct make them great at agility courses, while their intelligence puts them at an advantage for rallies and obedience challenges. And as mentioned before, their gorgeous silky coats make them a shoo-in for beauty contests.
So there you have it! Now you know a bit more about Borzois, the gentle and graceful wolf-hunters.
From their history as coursing dogs and their association with the Russian monarchy to their contemporary success as competition dogs, Borzois are known for many reasons.
Whether you’re interested in adopting a Borzoi for yourself or simply wanted to know a bit more about this fantastic breed, we hope you enjoyed learning about what makes Borzois so unique and special.