These tall, elegant sighthounds carry their long, narrow heads with pride. Borzoi coats are silky and of medium length with heavy feathering (longer hair) on the legs, undercarriages and tails. The coat comes in white, gold, red, grey, black roan and patched. The adult female stands at a minimum of 68cm and weighs around 34kg. Adult males measure a minimum of 74cm and weigh approximately 41kg.
Borzois have been used for coursing wolves in Russia since the 17th century. A Russian duke imported several sighthounds from Arabia, but they could not survive Russia's harsh winters. The second time around he crossed the hounds with native-coated breeds, possibly Tartar coursing hounds or long-legged shepherd dogs. Because of their gentle temperaments and exotic appearances, the Borzoi dog breed made ideal gifts from the Czars to the crowned heads of Europe. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Borzois were associated with the ruling class and many kennels were destroyed; the breed only survived thanks to the original gifts to the western world.
Despite their size, these good-natured dogs are gentle and calm in the house. They can be rather aloof and distant with strangers. They will tolerate other dogs who are similarly-minded to themselves but they must be introduced to cats and other household pets at an early age, as they will always react to the sight of a fleeing animal.
The Borzoi breed is generally a healthy, robust one. As with many breeds, some hereditary eye conditions can occur, and breeding dogs should be eye tested. Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland) can be an inherited condition in this breed.
Although Borzois are relatively quiet in the house, they do need at least an hour's daily exercise, preferably more, and large, open spaces to run and walk. However, do remember these are hounds, and they will instinctively run off after any prey that is spotted, so care must be taken.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Borzoi is prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
The silky, wavy Borzoi coat needs regular grooming (two or three times a week) and the hair between the pads must be trimmed frequently. During the moulting seasons they will cast copious amounts of hair.