- Breed group — Hound group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 30-25 inches
- Weight — 75-125 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Silky, flat, wavy, and luxurious medium-length coat
- Coat color — Cream, white, red, mahogany, gold, apricot, black, tan, and black. There is no significant difference between adult coat color and puppy coat colors.
- Exercise needs — High
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — Rarely
- Life span — 7-11 years
- Temperament — Patient, smart, independent, adventurous, and loyal
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — Russia
Borzoi fun facts
- Borzoi were bred to be skilled hunters. Also known as the Russian wolfhound, they were commonly used to hunt wolves for sport, and maintain that speed and agility today.
- Borzoi are relatively rare in America. The breed currently ranks 101st among the AKC’s most popular dog breeds These large hounds also were noted status symbols of the Russian aristocracy in the 1800s and 1900s.
- A borzoi was featured on a Pink Floyd song. Lead singer Syd Barrett had a borzoi “sing” and bark supporting vocals on the band’s song Mademoiselle Nobs, which went on to become a cult hit.
Borzoi temperament and characteristics
Borzoi are notably energetic, adventurous, and loyal, making them an ideal companion for pet parents who have the time to give them the attention they need, plus plenty of exercise.
Borzoi love to play and romp, requiring at least an hour of outdoor exercise per day. They are an athletic breed with great stamina, originating from their history as fierce hunting dogs with a high prey drive, especially towards small animals. While strong, borzoi are gentle and kind — making them a suitable family-friendly option for those with young children or other pets. Early socialization and training are a good idea as with any dog, generally helping borzoi pups to acclimate quickly, and keeping experiences positive and as safe as possible through the process of joining your family.
While borzoi are loyal, they aren’t necessarily defensive. Many pawrents have noticed extreme friendliness, even in unknown situations or with new acquaintances. Rather than teaching your borzoi to be calm around new people, you may have to teach them proper boundaries to avoid surprising jumps and licks.
A borzoi will often do best in a mid-size or larger home with room to run. They are larger dogs, and would do best with plenty of space to roam and stretch their long legs. However, they can also live successfully in smaller spaces, so long as owners ensure to block time for regular outings such as trips to the dog park or to your local coffee shop, or even involvement in dog sports.
Common borzoi health problems
Borzoi are relatively healthy pups in general. However, taking the time to learn about potential health conditions can give your borzoi a higher overall quality of life.
- Hip dysplasia. Borzoi may experience hip dysplasia, which generally occurs when there is instability between the head of the femur and the hip socket. If left untreated, hip dysplasia can cause discomfort and limited mobility. Your vet may treat with medication, physical therapy or surgery if required.
- Bloat. This condition is also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, or GDV. It occurs when your dog’s stomach twists quickly and unexpectedly, usually when it’s filled with food or gas. This can be life-threatening if left untreated, as ongoing constriction could reduce blood flow to your puppy’s stomach tissues. Your vet can intervene using IV fluids, medication and rigorous walking to help the contents pass. Surgery may also be considered depending on the severity of the condition.
- Retinal atrophy. This condition is a progressive eye disease in dogs that occurs when cells in the retina slough away prematurely, dying in the process. This can affect your pup’s overall vision and balance. Your vet can treat using supplements or vitamins to help slow the progression as much as possible.
- Hypothyroidism. This condition can occur when the thyroid hormone is underperforming, and may be indicated by dry or dull skin or coat. Your vet may treat this with ongoing medication and supportive therapies.
Cost of caring for a borzoi
The borzoi breed generally isn’t as high maintenance as some other small dogs or brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds. . However, their medical care can cause unexpected costs. If you’re considering welcoming a borzoi into your home, you might consider signing up for pet insurance to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. You may even get a reward for signing up prior to your pet’s arrival!
If you’re looking for a more flexible option, you might consider budgeting and creating a pet savings account. This can offer you a greater degree of flexibility and reduce monthly costs.
But how much does a borzoi cost to care for, really? On average, your borzoi may cost about $3,000 to $5,000. This projection covers costs like breeders fees, registration and the initial items you’ll need to give your borzoi a seamless transition — such as a bed, toys and their first bags of food.
After the first year, you can expect to see this cost drop to about $1,500 to $2,500, which is an average total cumulative costs of vet visits and food for your pet.
History of the borzoi
Borzoi have a rich history, descending right from the laps of Russian aristocrats in the 16th century. They were considered such a precious breed that Tsars would keep them as gift-only animals for centuries after their initial discovery — forbidding any kind of breeding or transfer of borzoi puppies unless they were given as a direct gift from the Tsar themselves.
They were esteemed family dogs, loved for their elegance and association with Russian royalty. Their small ears and narrow chest gave them a unique appearance, making purebred dogs of this Russian breed valuable to royals and regular families alike.
While there is no written date of the borzoi emigration to the U.K., many believe it occurred in the 19th century in the years preceding the Russian Revolution. The breed would then be on their way to the U.S., where they would become loved for their obedience and sweet demeanor, and ultimately gain AKC recognition in 1891. The violence of the Revolution nearly led to the borzoi’s demise, but efforts of breeders overseas helped bring them back from the brink and eventually go on to thrive in the United States.
Caring for your borzoi
Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming — which is why we recommend a few key steps to get you off to a solid start. First, you’ll want to book your borzoi dog’s first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s necessary vaccinations.
Lastly, we recommend signing up for FidoAlert. This service provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case your pet wanders off.
Now that we’ve covered the quick guide, here are some other basics specific to know about borzoi.
Borzoi are generally large dogs with larger-than-life stamina. They love to run around and try all sorts of fun ways to play, including tug-of-war, wrestling and classic fetch. They need at least one hour per day dedicated to burning energy alone — but would love any spare moment you can give them beyond that.
Borzoi are incredibly smart, and do well with athletic play that also encourages them to engage mentally. This means that activities such as challenge courses, memory games and puzzles are great choices to keep your borzoi dog busy.
The seasons may change, but your borzoi generally won’t. Your adult borzoi will love to play with your younger and older children, staying resilient and ready to go no matter how hot or cold it is outside. Thanks to their Russian ancestry, these gentle dogs don’t mind a little chill. As long as it’s not icy, windy or dangerous, it’s perfectly safe to have them play outside year-round.
Borzoi have a unique silky coat that requires just the right amount of grooming to properly maintain. The Borzoi Club of America notes that too much or too little can cause flaking, itching and discomfort to your pet’s skin.
Unlike many other dogs, the borzoi’s coat is dynamic. Staying true to their original name of the Russian wolfhound, it seems to change seasonally — varying from luxuriously plush to a lightweight summer thickness.
Generally, you should plan to wash your borzoi about once every two weeks. This can keep their coat and skin clean while limiting oil loss from the surface of your pet’s fur. Conditioner should be used to keep as much moisture as possible in the coat and skin.
Since the borzoi coat can be quite thick, it’s recommended that brushing occurs at least once per week. Doing this doesn’t just keep your pet’s coat tangle-free. It also helps to evenly distribute coat oils and keeps your skin moisturized. You might find that regular trimming can help your pet’s more furry areas (such as their ears and chest) from overgrowth.
Diet and nutrition
Finding the right dog food is critical for your borzoi. Puppies generally do best with four to six small meals throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels stable, totaling about four to eight cups of food per day. Adults can do with a bit less, approximately three to four feedings per day.
Due to the sheer quantity and frequency of your borzoi feedings, finding a quality dog food that has the proper balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats helps to give your borzoi as long and as healthy of a life as possible.
It’s important to note that the recommended quantities of food may vary depending on your pet’s certain characteristics, such as if they’re elderly, sick, or a young puppy. If you have questions about how much food to feed your dog or how to choose dog food, we always recommend consulting with your pet’s veterinarian. They’ll be able to assess your pet and create a tailored dietary strategy to support their healthy growth.
Training your borzoi
Your borzoi is extremely intelligent, making them excellent and trainable students. They enjoy challenges, especially when they’re followed by the right rewards — which is why it’s important to formulate a training strategy that works for your borzoi’s specific personality and preferences.
Training strategies that borzoi respond to include:
- Reward-based learning. This is done best with a treat, a toy, or some snuggles and cuddles! Set up a light training session for your borzoi, broken down into intervals of a few minutes. Train with a single, specific command and give a reward and positive reinforcement as soon as they execute it.
- Short and sweet sessions. While they are intelligent, borzoi can get bored quickly. Keeping training sessions short and sweet almost always guarantees a better result.
- Consistent, routine sessions. Borzoi prefer to have consistent, routinely scheduled training sessions. Try to make this a regular rhythm to give your borzoi dog the stability they need to thrive.
Breeds similar to the borzoi
Not quite sure that a borzoi is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Ibizan hound. These special dogs have similar, borzoi-like features, and they are also incredibly sweet. However, they can be considerably more chatty and are slightly smaller than borzoi are.
- Italian greyhound. These sweet pups are considered by many to be the “bare” versions of the borzoi breed, having an extremely short, skin-level coat. Italian greyhounds are similar to borzoi as far as size, looks and intelligence are concerned. However, they are slightly louder and require significant amounts of exercise compared to a borzoi.
- Afghan hound. These special dogs are slightly more common than borzoi, and they offer the same high energy and intelligence with an even friendlier persona. Afghan hounds love to run and enjoy homes with multiple family members and other pets.
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Frequently asked questions
Are borzois hard to raise?
Borzoi are not hard to take care of. Like any dog, they thrive with the proper care, attention and support — so finding high-quality dog food, veterinary care and time in the schedule to play is critical to their health and development.
What to know before getting a borzoi?
Borzoi are independent, loyal and fearlessly smart. Training from the younger years can help them to socialize well with other people and animals in the home, as they do well with boundaries.
Do borzoi like cuddling?
Borzoi are incredibly sweet dogs who love the physical and emotional attention of their human(s). Be sure to leave plenty of time in your schedule or one-on-one attention and snuggles. Your borzoi will love it!
How often do you brush borzoi dogs?
Borzoi should be brushed at least twice a week, keeping matts and knots at bay. It will also keep your dog more comfortable, while preserving the health of their skin. Brushing is a way to naturally distribute the fur’s oils down the shaft, giving your dog’s coat a glossy and healthy sheen.
Can a borzoi be in apartments?
Borzoi are generally happy in any environment with room to play and snuggle up with their pet parent. If you do plan to buy a borzoi for your apartment, we recommend booking activities and dog park trips several times a week to let them run out their excess energy and socialize.