Breed At A Glance


Quiet, intelligent and affectionate

Life Expectancy
11-13 years

Average Height
26-32 inches

Average Weight
Males 75-105 lbs, Females 55-75 lbs

Coat Color
Varies widely

Coat Length/Texture
Long and silky, flat, wavy or curly

Shedding Propensity
Seasonally high

Also known as Barzoï, Russian Wolfhound, Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya, Psovoi

General Temperament

The Borzoi is a quiet, intelligent and active sight hound. They are extremely loyal to their family, and affectionate to people well known to them, but they can be aloof to strangers. Nevertheless, they rarely bark, and for this reason they are not good watchdogs. Borzoi are gentle, sensitive dogs with gracious house manners and a natural respect for humans, but they are sometimes nervous around children and need to be introduced to them at an early age. On the other hand, they are terrific companions for older considerate children, and they do well with other medium or large dogs they have been raised with. Borzoi can be raised very successfully to live with cats and other small animals provided they are introduced to them at a young age. Some, however, will possess such a strong hunting instinct that they find it impossible not to chase an animal that is moving quickly.

The Borzoi requires calm, patient, and consistent guidance with mutual respect. It is considered a giant breed and is therefore not a breed that will fit into every household. They require basic obedience and socialization, and do not respond to harsh or heavy-handed training methods. Borzoi puppies are relatively easy to housebreak since they prefer to be clean.

As sight hounds Borzoi require constant attention and restraint, and an inordinate amount of exercise. Provided that they are securely leashed, Borzoi make excellent jogging and walking companions. Ideally, they like plenty of space to run in a large securely fenced yard, but are able to adapt to apartment dwelling provided they are sufficiently exercised. Borzoi can suffer depression and separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods of time, and will become bored and destructive; as such, they are not well suited for a two-career family.

Breed History

In Russia, the precursors of the Borzoi were thought to be of several different types, including the long-coated, smooth-faced bearhound of early Russia, the Southern coursing hounds of the Tatars, the Owtcher-a tall Russian Sheepdog, as well as other ancient sight-hound types. This elegant sight hound was crossed with longer haired sheepdogs and used to hunt wolves and other large game by the Russian nobility, who hunted with these dogs for hundreds of years. This earned the dog the name “Russian Wolfhound.” Eventually the Borzoi’s popularity spread throughout Europe. Queen Victoria owned Borzoi’s, and many of the British aristocracy soon followed suit. The breed became favored for gifts among royalty.

In 1889, the first Borzoi arrived in America from England, and although they became more docile as their use as a companion dog increased, in Western states it is still used by farmers to control coyote populations, tapping in to the breed’s original heritage.

Body Structure and Composition

The Borzoi is elegant and arisocratic in appearance, with a long, thin, narrow head and a slightly arched muzzle. They developed powerful jaws and necks over hundreds of years of bringing down and restraining large game. The deep chest and long powerful legs give Borzoi great sprinting speed and a graceful gait. The ears are small and fine in quality, lying back on the neck when at rest and raised when at attention. The tail is long and carried low in a graceful curve.

Medical Information

The Borzoi is a very sound breed with few common medical problems. Conditions that are frequent in other, such as Hip & Elbow Dysplasia and congenital eye or heart diseases, are relatively unknown to this breed. But, as with other very deep-chested breeds, Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) also know as bloat/torsion is the most common serious health problem in the Borzoi. Excess gas trapped in the dog’s stomach causes “bloat,” and twisting of the stomach (volvulus or “torsion”) causes or is caused by excess gas. GDV is an emergency condition requiring immediate veterinary treatment, although it is believed to be anatomical rather than strictly genetic in origin. Many Borzoi owners recommend feeding the dog two or three small meals per day from a raised platform, instead of once per day from a bowl on the floor or ground. It may also help to allow the dog to rest quietly after eating, as opposed to immediately engaging in rigorous exercise.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which leads to degeneration of the retina and eventual loss of sight, is also somewhat common in the Borzoi. Being built primarily for speed, Borzoi do not carry large amounts of body fat or muscle, and therefore can have difficulty with anesthesia. This should be discussed with your vet before any surgical procedure.

The long silky coat is easy to groom, but should be brushed regularly with a firm bristle brush, and dry shampooed when necessary (bathing should not be required very often). It is also important to clip the hair between the toes to keep the feet comfortable and to stop them from spreading.

Anecdotal Information

The Borzoi’s elegance has always made it a popular subject for artists, especially during the Art Deco period. They have also had many cameos in Hollywood films, including War and Peace, Love at First Bite, Legends of the Fall, Bride of Frankenstein, Easter Parade, Gangs of New York, Chaplin, and Last Action Hero, to name a few.

It is not uncommon for a litter of Borzoi puppies to be as small as one, and as large as eleven.

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