Beginning in the 17th century, the borzoi breed enjoyed the adoration of the Russian aristocracy for hundreds of years. These giant breed dogs hunted wolves and other game in packs, often alongside 100 or more dogs. From the beginning, breeders raised them for their speed, agility, and stamina, so it’s no surprise that the borzoi requires a substantial amount of exercise to stay healthy. However, this breed is surprisingly mellow indoors and is intensely loyal to their human companions.
These large dogs are slender and tall without the heavy bone structure and build of other giant breeds. They weigh up to 105 pounds and stand just under two-and-a-half feet tall at the shoulder when mature, with females being slightly smaller. The borzoi frame is graceful yet strong, with long, muscular, and powerful hind legs that propel them to top speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
The borzoi coat may be flat, wavy, or curly, but it’s always silky. They are short and smooth around the face, ears, and front legs, with lush ruffles around the neck. Their stunning coat comes in an array of solid colors, including black, cream, gold, red, white, blue, and silver, to brindle combinations and two-tone shades, like mahogany with red. Some dogs have white markings or colored spots on white coats.
This is a luxurious, long-coated breed, so expect a heavy annual shedding that lasts for several weeks. A quick once-over with the brush a few times a week will keep the borzoi coat beautiful, shiny, and healthy. Frequent bathing isn’t necessary. Keep the nails clipped and the long hair between the toes and foot pads trimmed. You’ll find these dogs to be excellent self-groomers, one of their cat-like behaviors.
No need to worry about dog food taking a huge chunk out of your budget. These giant breed dogs, despite their size, aren’t voracious eaters. Puppies consume more food because they grow so quickly. But as they reach adulthood, they eat about the same amount as an adult setter. The borzoi has an increased risk of bloat, a condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach expands due to food, gas, or fluid. Two to three small meals instead of one large meal a day helps prevent it, as does avoiding exercise shortly before and after mealtime.
Fans of the breed say the borzoi is a gentle “old soul.” They’re a quiet dog that doesn’t require constant attention. When indoors, they won’t constantly be underfoot. They’ll likely indulge in a quiet snooze until you’re ready to take them for a walk or jog around the block. But just because they’re independent and self-reliant doesn’t mean they aren’t affectionate. A borzoi not only adores its family but it’s also intensely loyal and adjusts well to the household routine. Although it’s a stable, well-mannered breed, these dogs also have a comical side that owners find irresistible.
The borzoi is an athlete. Without daily exercise, they may become obese, which can lead to joint problems as well as digestive issues, back pain, and heart disease. A leashed borzoi is an excellent walking partner or jogging companion. In addition to a daily walk or run, however, they need about 30 minutes to run, unleashed, in a secured, fenced area such as a yard or dog park. Once you’ve seen a borzoi sprinting effortlessly across an open landscape at top speed, you’ll understand their innate need for this level of exercise.
While many hounds hunt using their sense of smell, these hawkeyed canines use their keen vision to scope out prey. They also have an intense instinct to chase things, so any small animal that crosses their path is fair game. Being on-leash is crucial to their safety whenever they’re not in a secured, enclosed space. The breed’s wanderlust potential is also high. Many breeders recommend microchipping your borzoi at an early age.
Some dogs love rough-and-tumble play times with younger humans, but not the borzoi. They do better with older children who understand how to respect their sensitive personality. The borzoi gets along well with other pets in the household. Indoors, the borzoi will respect their familial ties with the family cat. Outdoors, they may chase their feline housemate across the yard, viewing them as prey.
The borzoi is a hound, which means it tends to have a stubborn streak. But this dog is also tenderhearted and doesn’t respond well to heavy-handed or aggressive training. One day, they may perform commands beautifully. The next day, your borzoi shows no interest in such trivial requests. The secrets to training a borzoi are patience and consistency.
With a life span of nine to 14 years, the borzoi is a hearty breed. Unlike other large dogs, hip and elbow dysplasia are not a serious issue for the borzoi. Bloat and torsion are the most common and most serious health concerns and owners should be aware of the signs. Occasionally, some borzoi develop osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), a joint condition caused by a lack of blood flow. Regular checkups will reveal signs of eye issues, such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
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