Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya (Borzoi)
Country of origin:
Life span (years):
any; except blue, brown (chocolate) and any derivatives of these colours
FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR, CKC
Good with kids:
• glamorous and elegant appearance
• fabulous hunter
• gets along with other dogs (except for small breeds)
• rather low grooming requirements
• won’t do well in a family with small kids
• demanding in relation of physical activity;
• poor guard- and watchdog;
• can’t be trusted around other non-canine pets
The Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya is a tall sight hound, which is esteemed for its exceptional gracefulness as well as for its hunting prowess. Initially developed for quarrying wild animals in the Russian hunting grounds, presently this extraordinary dog is a frequent participant of dog shows and popular companion animal. However the Borzoi didn’t lose its field skills and it’s widely used in its primary role.
The homeland of the Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya is tsarist Russia where it was bred by for hunting purpose. The reference to the coursing can be met in the documents of the Court of the Grand Duke of Novgorod dated as far back as to 1260. The progenitors of the Borzoi are believed to have originated from Egypt and present the long-haired formidable Russian Bearhound, the sporting dog of the Tatar, the Owtchar (the lean variety) and other ancient varieties of sight hounds. Also, among dogs that were used in the development of this breed could have been the Greyhound and the Saluki. The first breed’s standard was compiled in 1650 and since then it was changed only in minor details.
Hunting with the Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya was the favourite entertainment of Russian aristocracy until the release of serfs in 1861. At that time the breeding of this dog was performed at an unprecedented level with thousands of huge rural estates dedicated to its training and promoting. Hunting expeditions usually included hundreds of Borzois, supplementary foxhound packs, hunters on horsebacks and so called «beaters» whose job was to scare away the quarry, commonly a wolf. The dogs would chase the wolf and the riders would follow them until they cornered the beast. Then hunters would descend from their horses, immobilize the wolf and either finish it off or release it. The name «Psovaya» stems from the Russian word «psovina», which purports «wavy silky wool»; and the name «Borzoi» - from the Russian ancient word «borzii» or «borzoi» which purports «quick».
The first Borzoi was brought to the Britain in 1842 in the form of a present to Princess Alexandra. The breed was introduced to general public at the first Crufts World Dog Show in 1891. It became known in the United States in 1889 when several dogs were imported by some breed’s enthusiast from England. In 90s of XIX century Joseph B. Thomas of Valley Farm Kennels and a few other breeders travelled directly to Russia in order to acquire specimens of the Borzoi, which eventually helped to establish strong American bloodlines of this breed. In 1891 it attained recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) under the name Russian Wolfhound, and it was renamed to the Borzoi in 1936. In modern days the Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya is largely treated as a charming, elegant and loving companion animal although this dog is still fully capable of performing its hunting duties.
The Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya stands out for its well-mannered, noble, loyal and gentle disposition. While it always favours the signs of affection from its masters this dog can amuse itself in a constructive way and doesn’t require permanent control. Above all, it tends to become much less energetic with maturity. This breed is great with polite children who love its swiftness and agility. Teach your child how to handle dogs properly and you will never have problems with the canine aggression.
The Borzoi treats unfamiliar people as potential friends although some initial aloofness and shyness are fairly common for this breed. Timely socialisation is a key to raising a well-behaved dog, which will easily adapt to various new situations. The affable nature of this dog means that it will make a lousy watcher. It’s also ill-suited for the role of a guardian since it has rather weak protective instinct.
The Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya used to operate in concert with dozens of other dogs so it would prefer to co-exist with several canines. It’s also relatively good with strange dogs and rarely becomes an instigator of a conflict. Be mindful that this dog is an avid chaser and therefore poses serious threat for all small animals (including small dogs). Commonly it gets on with those pets with which it has been raised since its puppyhood.
The most common problems for the breed include:
• gastric torsion;
• canine hip dysplasia;
• cervical vertebral malformation («wobbler» syndrome);
• eye problems;
• osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
The Borzoi is a breed with a semi-long coat, which needs rather insignificant maintenance. Weekly brushing will be quite sufficient to keep it in an orderly fashion. This dog sheds slightly all the year around and intensely during the spring and fall. During these periods it’s highly advisable to brush your pet more frequently.
The Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya is a tidy dog whose hair easily repels dirt so it requires rare bathing. Systematic ear cleaning and teeth brushing will prevent bad bacteria from accumulating in the dog’s ears and the tartar from building up on its teeth. The master should also trim the dog’s nails every two months.
The training of the Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya isn’t an easy job to do. Being a typical hound this dog definitely has a mind of its own so it’s rather reluctant to obey orders. It will look up only to the handler, who always exercises confidence and patience during training sessions.
Remember that this dog isn’t amenable to harsh discipline and must be motivated with praise and its favourite food. The breed isn’t able to concentrate long enough on a dull, repetitive task so make sure to make lessons as entertaining as possible. The Borzoi needs early socialisation in order to behave mannerly in the presence of new people and in unfamiliar situations.
The Borzoi is a super athletic and swift dog, which needs a great deal of vigorous exercise to stay fit and happy. Daily playtime in a spacious securely-fenced yard is a must for this dog if you want it to remain well-behaved at home. Thanks to its excellent stamina this breed can become a good companion for a jogger or biker.
Although the Borzoi is rather calm and relaxed indoors it doesn’t fit well for a city dweller. Large suburban house with roomy adjacent yard is an ideal living condition for the Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya. Be mindful that an under exercised specimen will most likely grow up into nervous, hyper active and unpredictably aggressive creature.