ROAN, ROBUST, ROYAL
History & Origin
The Borzoi has an ancient history dating back to 1260 AD. They are a Russian breed. There used to be two breeds of Borzoi. The one in northern Russia was fast with a fine build. They were used for hunting hare. The lowland Borzoi had a stockier build and was used for hunting wolves. By breeding the two variations, the all-purpose Borzoi we know today is the result. They are better suited to hunt a variety of game.
When hunting wolves the Borzoi worked in pairs. They would catch up to the wolf, get a hold of the neck, flip it over, and sit on it until the hunter arrived. He would then kill it. When hunting smaller game, they would also flip them over but break their necks without damaging their prey. They did not damage the pelts of the animals they caught and killed. This makes them firm favorites in Russia up to this very day.
Only the aristocrats could own Borzoi. Most of these dogs were slaughtered during the Russian Revolution because of their association with the aristocrats. Only a few remained.
It is unclear when the first Borzoi left Russia. It is believed the Czar presented the first to Queen Victoria. Importing some good dogs from other countries to Britain saw a revival in the breed. They became very popular during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed in 1891.
PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER
A Borzoi is comparable to a cat. Your puppy will grow up to be both independent and dignified. As an adult, he will be calm and quiet.
Once outside or off the leash, however, he will run about. His running gate almost floats along the ground.
With strangers, they are reserved yet polite. They are clowns when they want to be and are very good-natured. Unfortunately, male Borzois do not get along with other male dogs. Neither should you get a Borzoi puppy if you have cats or small dogs in the home. They see them as natural prey and chase them. The consequences could be sad. They are, basically, one-pet dogs.
Although very intelligent, your Borzoi puppy will learn what you want him to perform only in order to humor and please you. If you make lessons fun, however, they learn faster.
Borzois are not, unfortunately, the world’s best protectors. They are adequate, though. They will bark to warn you, but that is about it. Do not expect them to become great attack dogs. It will never happen.
Because they are natural athletes, they need a fair amount of exercise each day. When not exercising, though, they have no problem playing the part of the couch potato.
Coming from Russia, they love the cold. You will often find your Borzoi curled up and fast asleep on a cold, tiled surface. Warm climates do not agree with them.
Having sensitive souls, teasing is a big no with this breed. This makes them not suitable for homes with small children. Never startle a Borzoi. Their reflexes are lightning fast. This could have serious consequences that are not the dog’s fault.
They need an owner with a firm hand but do not take well to any form of harsh treatment whatsoever.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
The breed has an average lifespan of seven to twelve years.
Your Borzoi, like humans, needs a nutritious diet. Many illnesses in dogs, as well as behavioral problems met, are the result of a bad diet. Most commercial dog food is bad for your pet. This is because they contain fillers and other additives. They are also not balanced. If you feed your Borzoi commercial dog food, ensure it is high-quality food, and age and size-specific.
The ideal food for a Borzoi is a raw food diet that consists of real food. Protein comes from red meat, poultry, and fish. You also need to add vegetables. Carrots, broccoli, and sweet potato are great vegetables to add. Brown rice is good for puppies as it helps with digestion.
The benefits of a raw food diet for dogs:
- It improves digestion
- It ensures better oral hygiene and healthier gums
- Builds a stronger immune system
- Your dog has a healthier coat and skin
- The dog has more muscle and less fat
- Has less chance of developing a degenerative disease
- Smaller, less smelly stools
- It improves arthritis
A Borzoi should never be overweight. Adjust the amount of food according to your pup’s level of activity. A good rule of thumb to see if your dog is overweight is to feel your dog’s ribs. Ribs felt but that do not stick out means your dog is healthy.
Your Borzoi puppy needs much more protein in his diet than an adult Borzoi. They grow very fast.
You have to feed your puppy the same food he ate at the breeder. To change his food when he comes home with you will make for a very sick puppy. Their tummies need time to adjust. If you want to change their diet, do so gradually over a few days. Add a little more of their new food to their old food every day. His tummy will adjust to the new food without him getting sick all over your house.
Feed your puppy according to a schedule. This means three to four times a day until he is six months old. Scheduled feeding makes it easier to housetrain your dog. Free feeding is a bad idea. This is where food is always available. It makes it difficult to housetrain your puppy and causes obesity later in life. Obesity causes health problems like diabetes, for example.
Always keep a bowl of fresh water out for your puppy. Borzois can overheat very easily, especially in warmer climates or during the summer.
COAT AND GROOMING
Size and Coat
The Borzoi, or Russian Wolf Hound , is a large dog. A male stands at about 28” (measured from the withers to the floor) and weighs between 75 pounds and 105 pounds. A female stands at about 26” and weighs between 60 pounds and 85 pounds.
Borzois have a slender yet strong build that is similar to that of Greyhounds. They are, however, much stronger than Greyhounds. Their jaws are capable of holding down a wolf. A lean, graceful body ensures a dog capable of great speed. A deep-chested breed, Borzois are prone to bloat.
A Borzoi’s coat is long, thick, and silky. Males tend to have a plusher, longer, more beautiful coat than the females. Their coats come in all color variations, but white with spots is the most common. Coats can be flat, wavy, or curly. All colors and color combinations are acceptable in the show ring.
The silky texture of the Borzoi’s coat is resistant to dirt. This breed is easy to keep clean. Bathing is on an as-needed basis. Their fur tends to shrug off mud and dirt as soon as it is dry. This means you need to expect a lot of dried mud, etc. in the house as if falls off your puppy. To keep their fur in good condition, use a good quality shampoo and conditioner.
Always brush your dog before a bath. This makes it easier to brush afterward while drying. A dog that is not brushed before bathing gets tangles. You could break his beautiful fur while trying to get the tangles out when wet.
To dry your Borzoi puppy quickly, make him used to a hairdryer from the time he is a puppy. This ensures he does not go roll in the dirt while trying to get dry.
Borzois need a weekly brushing. This goes for males especially, as they have longer and more hair. Besides keeping their fur in great condition, it gets rid of any loose hairs. They are a breed known for their shedding habits.
Active dogs’ nails tend to file down naturally. Less active dogs need their nails clipped every four to six weeks. You usually know when it is that time when you hear their nails clicking on the ground when they walk. Many pet owners do not like to clip their dog’s nails. A quick trip to the veterinarian or doggy parlor gets the job done. It does not cost much at all.
Keep your puppy’s ears clean with a damp cotton wool ball. A discharge or discoloration means your dog probably has an ear infection. Please take him to the veterinarian. It is very painful indeed.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
Exercise, Energy, and Activities
Borzois have lots of energy. They need long, daily walks on a leash. This is important. A Borzoi that is off the leash will chase something the first chance they get. It is in their genes. Many Borzois are run over by motor cars because they are chasing something. They are focused on their prey and do not see the car coming.
This is not a breed for apartment dwellers or the elderly. Nor are they for homes with small children. They have too much energy and can knock small children down by accident. They do well in a home with older children with whom they can play. This gets rid of their energy. Please ensure the backyard is large and closed off.
They excel in certain activities. These include lure coursing, open field coursing, obedience trials, flyball, scent hurdling, agility, and tracking. They also make excellent therapy dogs, visiting people in hospitals and institutions.
Training and Sleep/Rest
Borzois need socialization from an early age and plenty of it. This includes other members of the family, strangers, and especially other dogs. A walk in a dog-friendly park sees to most of this.
Right up there with socialization is puppy potty training. Potty training starts from the day you bring your new puppy home.
A puppy has a small tummy and a fast metabolism. What goes in quickly needs to go out. Taking your puppy outside fifteen minutes after a meal to do his thing makes sure you do not have mistakes in the house. Other times to take your puppy outside are every morning and night, and every 35 minutes to one hour during the day.
A small puppy does not have control over his bladder and bowel movements. He, however, does learn to control it as he grows. Your puppy needs taking out less and less often as he grows older.
Puppies sleep a lot. Fifteen to twenty hours of sleep a day is quite normal. As you puppy grows he will sleep less and become more active. Your puppy is still a baby. Babies need sleep in order to grow.
The Borzoi is a healthy breed of dog. It is also, like other dogs, prone to certain diseases. You should only buy your new puppy from a reputable breeder. They have the breed’s best interests at heart, can answer all your questions, and tell you all about your dog’s parents’ health history.
The main health problems in the Borzoi breed contain bloat (gastric torsion), hip and shoulder dysplasia, Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD), and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
Bloat is a condition where the stomach fills with gas and turns on itself. It can be deadly. Hip and shoulder dysplasia are both inherited illnesses. Surgery responds to the problem. OCD is where cartilage does not turn into the bone as it is supposed to, while PRA, another inherited disease, can lead to blindness if not caught early.
The Borzoi is a breed of dog that is very sensitive to anesthesia. If your dog needs anesthesia for any reason, remember to remind your veterinarian of this. He might have to use a different anesthetic for you dog from that which he normally uses.
To Sum Up
A fast dog that needs a lot of exercise, the Borzoi is perfect for families with older children which have an active lifestyle. He needs space and lots of it, actually. He does not take well to apartment living and is preferable for one pet household dog.
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