The Borzoi is an ancient sight hound breed originating in Russia. Originally there were several different types of borzoi reflecting the geographic variations within this vast country but it was during the late 18th century that the type known today became established.
As its alternative name of the Russian wolfhound suggests the original purpose of the breed was to course wolves but were also used to hunt other game such as hares and foxes. Normally when hunting wolves two or three borzoi were used working together although there were instances where just a single dog would be used. They would grasp the wolf behind the neck, knock him to the floor where they held the wolf until the hunter could despatch or capture the animal.
During the 19th century large kennels were established by the Russian Aristocracy, the largest containing over 150 borzoi. During the Russian revolution the kennels were broken up and the breed almost wiped out in its home country.
The Borzoi first appeared in the UK in the second half of the 19th century as dog shows started to gain popularity a few Russian Wolfhounds were exhibited. Their popularity increased further when two borzoi were presented to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and with increasing numbers the name borzoi (which means swift in Russian) became more commonly used.
The Borzoi is a large, elegant hound with males typically reaching 32Ē at the shoulder, their flowing lines, arched back and long silky coat giving them a distinctive appearance.
Initially a borzoi can seem quite aloof, in keeping with their aristocratic appearance and at times like their personal space but when a borzoi wants to play he can be a clown and great fun.
They are an intelligent breed (this isnít the same as obedient) and can be quite independent. Borzoi also fit easily into urban living as they like nothing better than reclining elegantly on a sofa.
Despite being a running dog the borzoi doesnít require a large amount of exercise, preferring short bursts of activity rather than long walks. It is ideal if you have a large securely fenced area to let your dog run free allowing him to use his body and muscles as he was bred to. A couple of free running borzois are fantastic to watch. Owners need to beware though, the borzoi is still a sight hound and the natural instinct to course other animals is still strong. Once he sights an animal to chase all other thoughts disappear from his mind; as wolves arenít available in the UK rabbits, and even birds will suffice.
Overall the borzoi is a healthy breed without specific genetic problems. The main concern, as with other deep chested breeds is gastric torsion, although if this is spotted early enough and veterinary treatment obtained survival rates are much better than they used to be.
Typical of a large breed they do not have a long life span with 8 - 10 years being the typical life expectancy, although some have been known to live to 13 or above.