Also known as the Russian Hunting Sighthound, the Borzoi is a large and unusual-looking dog breed with a long history. Despite their long history and wonderful temperament, this breed is still relatively uncommon but thanks to platforms like TikTok, they seem to be gaining some popularity. Their unusual look is thanks to their thin limbs and narrow, domed head. With a laidback but dignified personality, it’s not hard to see why this breed is a good fit for some folks.
Before becoming companions for European royalty and canine babushkas posing as family pets, Borzois were hunting dogs and worked in teams to go after rabbits, foxes, and even wolves. In fact, they were known as the Russian Wolfhound until 1936 and their current name comes from an archaic Russian adjective meaning “fast”. The first breed standard was written in 1650, meaning that the Borzoi has been around in some shape for centuries. To this day, Borzois are fast, slender dogs that can run up to 35-40 miles an hour. However, these dogs prefer sprints to long-distance running, which means they may not be the best running partner. In fact, ancestors of this breed include Greyhounds, which explains why Borzois are so slender and fast.
As you might expect with a dog that looks so elegant, Borzois are typically even-tempered, quiet, and dignified. As sighthounds, they do have a strong prey drive and might chase anything that moves, so they may not be the best dog to have around cats or other small animals. But Borzois are often good with other dogs and while they can be reserved with strangers sometimes, they’re great with their people. Even as dignified as they appear, these dogs can still be silly, affectionate, and fun, making them great family dogs. However, they can be a bit emotionally sensitive and don’t like being left alone for long, extended periods of time.
Physically, these dogs stand 26-28 tall and can weigh anywhere from 60 to 100 pounds. As far as their health goes, they are, unfortunately, prone to a few issues, including bloat and sensitivity to drugs. A few genetic problems could come up, including heart disease or other cardio issues, eye problems, and a neck problem called wobbler syndrome. Regular vet visits and prevention measures (like smaller and more frequent meals to decrease the likelihood of bloat) can definitely make a difference. While they are often gentle giants and can be happy to lay on the couch for long periods, Borzois still need regular bouts of exercise, mental enrichment, training, and grooming to be happy and healthy. Grooming is particularly important, as these dogs have long, silky coats that need to be brushed every few days.
Like any other dog (and living creature), Borzois aren’t simply decorations or things you can pull out to impress people. They will need your time, energy, and resources to be fully happy and healthy. If you’re looking for a hiking or running companion or a dog with minimal grooming needs, this is definitely not the breed for you. Like Greyhounds, Borzois prefer fast sprints to marathons and have a long, double coat that will need plenty of care. But with the right care and training, these dogs can be incredibly wonderful to have around and great pets.