The Borzoi, also known as the Russian Wolfhound, is a breed of domestic dog that originated in Russia. The breed's unique name "Borzoi" comes from the Russian word "borzyi," meaning "swift." The Borzoi breed has a long and rich history dating back to the 17th century in its native Russia. The Russian aristocracy bred them for hundreds of years, using them in large packs for wolf hunting, a sport popular among the nobility. During the Russian Revolution, the breed nearly went extinct due to its association with the aristocracy. However, enthusiasts managed to preserve the breed, and it later gained popularity in other countries, including the United States and the UK
The Borzoi may suffer from cardiomyopathy (dilated), cataracts, cervical vertebral instability, chorioretinitis, deafness, degenerative myelopathy, dysfibrinogenemia, elbow dysplasia, Factor I (fibrinogen) deficiency, focal retinal degeneration, hip dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, hypothyroidism, lens luxation (secondary), lymphedema, malocclusion, methemoglobin reductase deficiency, microphthalmia, multifocal retinopathy, oligodontia, optic nerve hypoplasia and micropapilla, osteochondritis dissecans (stifle), osteosarcoma, patellar luxation, persistent pupillary membranes, posterior cross-bite, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal degeneration, retinal dysplasia, and tricuspid valve dysplasia. The Borzoi is a deep-chested breed, and therefore susceptible to bloat, also known as gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). This is a life-threatening condition that can come on suddenly, so it’s important to know the warning signs and get an affected dog immediate veterinary care. Borzoi, like other Sighthounds, are more sensitive to barbiturate anesthesia than other breeds (CYP2B11).
Borzois are known for their calm and reserved nature. They tend to be quite gentle and well-mannered, although they can be independent and somewhat aloof with strangers. Despite their hunting background, Borzois are typically quiet and don't often bark. However, they have a strong instinct to chase, which can be triggered by fast-moving animals, so care must be taken when walking them off-leash. They are intelligent and can be trained, but they are not as eager to please as some other breeds, which can sometimes make training more challenging.
While not overly demanding of exercise, they do enjoy a good run in a safe environment, which helps keep them healthy and content. They also appreciate companionship and prefer not to be left alone for extended periods. Their temperament makes them suitable for families, but due to their size and instinct to chase, they are often recommended for households without small pets or young children.
The Borzoi can run at an impressive 35 to 40 miles per hour.
This breed was used historically for hunting wolves, foxes, and hares in large packs, using their speed, agility, and vision.
According to the AKC, in War and Peace, novelist Leo Tolstoy immortalized the extravagence of the Russian aristocracy's staged wolf hunts that employed the help of the Borzoi. The Russian aristocracy bred Borzoi dogs for many hundreds of years.