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Borzoi 101: Breed History, Care, and Essential Training Tips

by Dan Turner

I’ve always been fascinated by the elegant Borzoi, a breed that looks like it stepped straight out of a Russian novel. With their long, silky coats and aristocratic demeanor, Borzois carries a rich history that’s as intriguing as their appearance.

Originating from Russia, these sighthounds were bred for hunting and are known for their incredible speed and grace.

Caring for a Borzoi is a unique experience, given their size, grooming needs, and exercise requirements. They’re not just any dog; they’re a statement of elegance and history. And when it comes to training, their independent nature can be a challenge, but with the right approach, they can be rewarding companions.

Let’s jump into the world of Borzois, exploring the depths of their history, understanding their care needs, and revealing the secrets to their training. Trust me, it’s a journey worth taking.

Borzoi Breed History

I’ve always found the history of the Borzoi breed absolutely fascinating. These elegant dogs trace their lineage back to the aristocratic courts of Tsarist Russia. It’s not just their sleek appearance that captures attention; it’s their noble past too.

Originally, Borzois were bred for a very specific purpose: hunting wolves. Yes, you heard me right—wolves. Can you imagine those regal creatures sprinting across the Russian plains, matching pace with some of the most formidable predators? That’s exactly what they were born to do. The Russian nobility, always in pursuit of grandeur and luxury, found the perfect companion in the Borzoi for their hunting expeditions.

Here’s a bit on how they got their iconic look and temperament:

  • Selective breeding refined their long, silky coats and slender bodies.
  • Inherent traits like speed and agility made them unmatched in the field.
  • Their independent nature was actually prized since it made them more efficient hunters.

With time, but, the role of the Borzoi evolved. As wolf hunting declined, these dogs went from being esteemed hunters to symbols of aristocratic opulence. By the time of the Russian Revolution, owning a Borzoi was essentially a statement of your status and wealth. It’s pretty wild to think about how the social revolutions and shifts in history affected this dog breed, transitioning them from the open plains into the laps of luxury.

Their journey didn’t stop there, though. Borzois caught the eye of breeders and dog enthusiasts across the world, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom. By the early 20th century, they began making their mark in the West, appreciated not for their hunting skills but for their distinctive beauty and grace at dog shows. It’s intriguing to see how the Borzoi adapted and thrived, moving from one continent to another, from hunting wolves to winning ribbons.

Caring for a Borzoi

Borzois are not your average dogs, and their care isn’t either. I’ve discovered that these elegant creatures ask for a bit more than your standard kibble and walks. Here’s what I’ve learned about keeping them in tip-top shape.

Diet and Nutrition

First off, food. Borzois have sensitive stomachs, so I stick to high-quality food that’s easy on their digestive system. I’ve found that a balanced diet of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates works best. Avoid cheaper brands that use fillers; they’re not good for your Borzoi’s tummy.


Next, grooming. That luxurious coat isn’t going to brush itself! I spend time each week brushing to keep it mat-free and shining. These sessions aren’t just about looking good though. They’re perfect for bonding and checking for any skin issues or ticks.

  • Weekly brushing
  • Regular baths
  • Check for skin issues

Exercise and Training

Let’s talk exercise. Borzois, bred for hunting, have energy to spare. They love a good sprint but don’t require hours of exercise. A secure, spacious area where they can run freely is ideal. But, recall they were bred to chase, so a leash is non-negotiable unless it’s a safely enclosed space.

Training a Borzoi takes patience. They’re independent thinkers, which can be mistaken for stubbornness. Positive reinforcement and consistency are key here. Remember:

  • Short, enjoyable training sessions
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Patience is crucial

Socialization and Health Care

Finally, socialization and health care. I started socializing my Borzoi early, introducing them to various people, dogs, and situations. This helps prevent shyness and ensures they grow up well-rounded.

Health care is straightforward but crucial. Keeping up with vaccinations and regular vet checkups is non-negotiable. Also, due to their size, Borzois are prone to certain conditions like bloat and hip dysplasia, so I keep a vigilant eye on their health and behavior.

Grooming Needs

Even though their elegant, long coats, Borzoi care is surprisingly straightforward. My weekly routine includes a thorough brushing session to keep their silky hair free of tangles and mats. Here’s the thing, though—I’ve learned that regular grooming is about more than just keeping them looking stunning. It’s also a crucial step in maintaining their overall health.

  • Brushing: At least once a week, I dedicate time to brush my Borzoi’s coat. This not only keeps it clean and manageable but also distributes natural oils, enhancing the coat’s health and sheen.
  • Bathing: Borzois don’t typically enjoy getting dirty, which means they don’t require frequent baths. But, every few months or so, or when they’ve rolled in something unsavory, a gentle shampoo does the trick.
  • Teeth and Nails: I make it a point to check their teeth regularly for any signs of dental issues and clean them as needed. Their nails, if not worn down naturally, get trimmed to prevent discomfort and potential health problems.
  • Ears and Eyes: A quick weekly check to ensure there’s no redness, swelling, or discharge keeps potential infections at bay.

Though their coat seems demanding, Borzois have relatively straightforward grooming needs. The key to keeping the process manageable is incorporating it into a regular routine. Plus, it keeps them looking regal and ready for any impromptu photo sessions we find ourselves in.

While grooming my Borzoi, I’ve found that patience and gentle handling foster a sense of trust. And let’s not forget the power of treats to make any grooming session feel like a breeze. By integrating these habits, I ensure that my Borzoi not only looks their best but feels great too.

It’s essential, though, to start these grooming practices early. Acclimating them to the sensations of brushing, bathing, and the occasional nail trim from a young age helps them grow into well-adjusted adults. After all, a Borzoi’s majestic appearance is a considerable part of their charm, and maintaining that through regular grooming reaffirms their elegance.

Exercise Requirements

Borzois, with their sleek frames and aristocratic stance, possess an often surprising level of energy that necessitates a thoughtful approach to exercise. I’ve learned through experience and research that these dogs aren’t just about elegance; they’re athletes at heart. Ensuring they get enough physical activity isn’t just a recommendation – it’s essential for their well-being.

First off, let me share a bit about their endurance. Borzois were historically bred for hunting, which means long stretches of running were part of their daily routine. Today, this translates to a need for ample space and time to sprint. A quick stroll around the block simply won’t cut it. Here are the key elements to keep in mind:

  • Daily Exercise: A must. At least an hour of vigorous activity is what I aim for.
  • Variety is Key: Mix in sprints, jogs, and playful activities like fetch.
  • Mental Stimulation: Puzzle toys and training sessions help keep their mind sharp.

Don’t think that because Borzois need a hefty dose of exercise, they’re always on the go. In fact, after a good run, they’re content to lounge around the house, embodying the term “couch potato.” But skipping their exercise can lead to pent-up energy, resulting in destructive behavior or anxiety. It’s all about balance.

When it comes to puppies, their exercise needs differ slightly. They’re just as energetic but their bones and joints are still developing. I always keep activities for my Borzoi puppy short but sweet, and avoid hard surfaces to prevent any potential injury.

Also, given their high prey drive, an enclosed space or a securely leashed walk is non-negotiable. They might spot a squirrel and before you know it, you’re starring in your very own sprinting competition. Trust me, they’re faster than they look.

Engaging in these activities with your Borzoi isn’t just about meeting their physical needs. It’s a pathway to deepening your bond and understanding each other better. Plus, let’s face it, watching a Borzoi in full sprint is a breathtaking sight. 

Training Tips

Training a Borzoi comes with its unique set of challenges and delights. Let’s jump into making this journey enjoyable and effective for both you and your majestic companion.

Understanding Your Borzoi’s Nature

First off, Borzois have a strong independent streak. They’re not your typical eager-to-please labrador. This doesn’t mean they’re untrainable, far from it. But it does mean that patience and understanding are your best tools. Recognizing their independent nature is crucial. It’s about finding what motivates them and using that as leverage.

  • Treats: High-value treats can work wonders.
  • Praise: They may act aloof, but deep down, they crave your approval.
  • Play: Sometimes a quick play session is the best reward.

The Basics of Training

Start early. Puppyhood is the golden time for laying down the foundations of good behavior.

  • Socialization: Introduce them to as many new people, animals, and environments as you can.
  • Basic Commands: Focus on ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, and ‘heel’. Keep training sessions short but sweet, no more than 10-15 minutes.
  • Leash Training: Essential, considering their high prey drive.

Keeping Borzoi Engaged

Borzois are smart. They need mental stimulation just as much as physical exercise.

  • Puzzle Toys: Great for keeping their minds active.
  • Training Variations: Mix up your training routines to keep them engaging. Incorporate tricks and agility training to keep things interesting.
  • Environmental Enrichment: Create a stimulating environment with different textures, sounds, and smells.

Patience Is Key

It bears repeating: patience is everything. Training a Borzoi isn’t about asserting dominance; it’s about building a bond based on mutual respect and understanding. Celebrate the small victories and don’t get disheartened by setbacks. They’re part of the journey.

Keeping these tips in mind will not only help in training your Borzoi but also deepen the connection between you. Remember, every Borzoi is different. What works for one may not work for another. It’s about being adaptable, patient, and creative. Engaging in training with this mindset turns challenges into enjoyable learning experiences for both you and your Borzoi.


Diving into the world of Borzois has been quite the journey. But the reward? A loyal, majestic friend who’ll add a touch of grace to your life. Remember, while they might have a regal bearing, at heart, they’re playful and affectionate. So if you’re ready for the challenge and the joy of having a Borzoi in your life, embrace it with both arms. After all, every moment spent with them is an opportunity to strengthen your bond and enjoy the unique beauty they bring into the world.


Dan Turner

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