Choosing a Borzoi

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The borzoi is an elegant and exotic dog that has a long and interesting history. A member of the sighthound family, the borzoi was originally called the Russian wolfhound because Russian nobility used this breed to track and hunt wolves. With an ability to run very fast, this breed loves nothing better than to chase anything and everything.

History and Origin

The borzoi is an old breed of dog hailing from Russia. The first breed standard for the borzoi was written in 1650 and the dog has changed little since then. To keep the breed inviolate, the Russian Grand Duke Nicholas, uncle to Czar Nicholas, helped to establish the Imperial Association in 1873. This breed club was formed to protect and promote the borzoi breed. Many borzois of today owe their heritage to this group.

In 1889, the first borzois arrived to the United States from England. The first imports directly from Russian did not arrive until the following year. Eventually, in 1936, the name of the breed was changed officially from the Russian wolfhound to the borzoi, which is Russian for "swift."

Appearance and Size

The borzoi is a lean and tall dog. With an exotic, glamorous appearance and luxurious double coat, the borzoi may appear fragile but is actually quite tough, able to withstand the brutal Russian winters.

The borzoi is a member of the sighthound family, which included greyhounds and Afghan hounds. As with other sighthounds, the borzoi has a deep chest and arched loins. The head is long and the muzzle has a Roman finish. The borzoi has a low placed long tail that is carried in a streaming manner behind him when trotting or galloping. The ears are folded and lie close to the neck. The double hair coat is thick and flowing, and is available in many different colors, even multi-colors.

The adult borzoi stands 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder. The British version stands a little taller, at 29 inches. The adult borzoi weighs between 70 and 100 pounds.

Personality

The borzoi is a quiet and well-behaved dog. They enjoy and prefer being indoors but need a lot of daily exercise. The borzoi is very fast and agile though not tolerant of any pain, real or imagined.

Home and Family Relations

The borzoi can do well in an apartment if provided adequate exercise. The breed is gentle and enjoys a good racing game. Because they are large, they are not recommended for households with very small children. However, they make great companions for older kids.

The borzoi also does wonderfully in homes without children. They adapt well to a life of pampering. Since the borzoi is a quiet breed, they do not make very good watchdogs.

Training

Training should begin early for borzois. They learn quickly but can be somewhat stubborn. The borzoi can do well in obedience but seems to become bored easily with repetition.

Their speed and agility have made the borzoi a popular lure coursing dog. Previously used to hunt wolves in Russia, the borzoi can be seen hunting coyotes in the United States.

Special Concerns

One of the biggest concerns regarding borzois is their love of the chase. This breed should never be allowed to exercise freely. If they spot something they want to chase, they will take off running without regard to safety.

The borzoi is a dog that does not do well in strict confinement. Some space is necessary for happiness.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the borzoi is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a disease that causes nerve cells in the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition usually begins in older pets and can lead to blindness.
  • Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
  • Wobbler's syndrome is a malformation of the spine in the neck leading to weakness, staggering and potential paralysis.
  • Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to loose transparency and can result in blindness.
  • Retinopathy of Borzois is a progressive retinal degeneration that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition can lead to blindness.

    As with other sighthounds, the borzoi is sensitive to various anesthetic agents. They are also sensitive to some chemicals, including flea products.

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