What is a Borzoi?
The Borzoi breed is known as the Russian Greyhound. They are long-haired Greyhound-type dogs originating in Russia. They have a similar body type to a traditional Greyhound with their slim build making them ideal for sprinting up to 40 miles per hour.
The Russian sighthound is a large dog with an elegant appearance with slim legs, floppy ears, and a pointed snout. They are a fluffy Greyhound breed, with longer, more coarse fur than that of a Greyhound, making them appear bigger with a fuller stature.
The Borzoi is a popular Greyhound breed, as they have a loving and calm temperament, but also show off a more cuddly appearance than a traditional Greyhound, making them more attractive to some owners. Though, this extra coat may require more care and attention. This means that they aren’t the most obvious breed for people with busy lives.
Borzoi Origins & History
Originally, the Borzoi was bred in the 17th century in Russia and was known as the Russian Wolfhound right up until 1936. The traditional Greyhound was mixed with a thicker-coated Russian hound to create the appearance you see today. Their slimmer figure differs massively from traditional Irish Wolfhounds, who are more stocky and solid.
However, their slimmer build helps them to be more aerodynamic. While they may not be as much of a match for a wolf alone, a few Borzois working together would be able to outrun a wolf and take it down. Their speed meant that they were more successful at their job.
Today, this Russian sighthound – named as they could chase down any prey on sight without having to sniff them out first – still operates a high prey drive, just like their traditional Greyhound counterparts.
For this reason, they aren’t good pets for homes with other animals, as they are likely to start chasing them.
Is the Borzoi a Popular Breed?
Today, the popularity of the Borzoi Greyhound is increasing. However, right up to the 1940s, the breed was almost unheard of outside Russia. This is because Russian Wolfhound breeders were rarely let outside Russia, meaning that the gene pool of the dog didn’t expand and they nearly became extinct.
This issue was escalated by the mass killing of the breed due to their association with the aristocracy in Russia as they were loyal dogs used for hunting.
Today, small pockets of breeders exist in the US, UK, and still in Russia, meaning that the puppies are easier to source than ever before.
A male Borzoi will stand at around 28 inches at the shoulder as an adult, with the females being a little shorter. In terms of Borzoi vs Greyhound, this is around the same size as a traditional Greyhound breed.
However, the Borzoi is slightly more stocky in the shoulders and chest than a Greyhound, meaning they can weigh up to 105 pounds in adulthood, whereas a Greyhound typically only reaches around 90 pounds.
When choosing a dog breed, color is important. Greyhounds tend to be a single color, sometimes with a few white markings. While piebald is possible, it’s much less common and it is usually the result of overbreeding.
However, the Borzoi offers the more interesting, piebald option – but there are fewer color variations overall. The most common colors for a Borzoi are red sable and white, or white with a sable mask. They can also be a cream color which is listed as ‘gold.’
They also come in all-white or all-black coloring and, on the odd occasion, they can be tri-colored – black, sable, and white.
However, full gray is a difficult color to achieve in a Borzoi Greyhound. This is much more common in the traditional Greyhound.
How Much Does a Borzoi Cost?
Neither Borzois nor Greyhounds are a cheap choice for your new puppy. Because it’s important to get the breeding just right on each to achieve the signature body shape, the breeders can charge a little extra for the quality.
Greyhounds can be anything between $1000 and $4000 typically, depending on where you purchase from. However, the Borzoi, due to its rarity, may set you back up to $5000.
You should also factor in the travel costs. As there are fewer Borzoi breeders, it’s likely to cost a little extra to actually get your Borzoi puppy to you as well.
The Borzoi Personality
Borzois have an independent nature. They are loving and loyal and will be gentle, yet protective. However, they aren’t ‘velcro dogs.’ This means that they won’t be with you every single second and may like a little alone time to chill out.
This differs from the Greyhound. They won’t be able to relax unless they know exactly where you are. It’s even known for Greyhounds to sleep with their eyes open, so their brains don’t fully switch off. This means they can sense your presence and alert you to danger, even during sleep.
For this reason, Greyhounds suffer quite badly from separation anxiety and don’t like to be left alone. Borzois, on the other hand, are stronger in personality and can be left alone for short spaces of time without feeling anxious.
Greyhounds require crate training to make them feel secure if you leave the home, but Borzois may potentially accept you leaving without feeling insecure.
Borzois are known to be calm, dignified, and intelligent. They are loyal and protective dogs who will love your company. They are also incredibly gentle with young children. However, because of their dignified personality and elegant frame, they aren’t the most playful with other dogs. You may find that they prefer the company of people to other dogs.
This contrasts with the traditional Greyhound breed, as they will get on very well with other dogs typically.
Training a Borzoi can be a little tricky. While they are very intelligent, they do have their own minds and tend to get easily distracted. They can pick things up, but may simply choose not to do as you’re asking. Greyhounds are known to be a little more pliable. They’re quick learners and are obedient.
To train a Borzoi, you will need to be consistent and patient. You will get there in the end if you stick to it. Make sure that you socialize the puppy early with other dogs and always keep them on a leash when out and about. Just like Greyhounds, their prey instinct is strong, even when they’re a puppy. Letting them off straight away may cause them to be distracted by squirrels or birds. You should prepare for potty training to take a little while longer than other dog breeds.
How Much Exercise Does a Borzoi Need?
A Borzoi needs a lot of exercise. Their bodies don’t support much fat and they constantly need to burn calories to stay in shape. However, they don’t tend to run out of steam as easily as Greyhounds.
Despite their appearance and racing careers, Greyhounds tend to be sprinters. They run out of energy very quickly and will spend the rest of the day sleeping. As a dog breed, they are actually listed as one of the laziest.
Borzois don’t have this background in racing and are slightly more stocky in the shoulders and chest. This means that they take much longer to burn energy. Although they are also excellent at sprinting, they can run for longer distances too.
To keep a Borzoi in shape and happy, you should walk them twice a day for up to 40 minutes each time. If your Borzoi still has energy, it’s a good idea to let them out into a large yard to let off more steam. You should take a keen interest in their diet as well.
While both dogs are great house dogs, a Borzoi will need more space than a Greyhound, just because they have excess energy to burn.
Although Borzois aren’t listed as a breed that needs a lot of doggy hair care, this long-haired Greyhound-looking dog will need a regular brush and a trip to the groomer. Because they love to be outside, their long hair is likely to pick up leaves and mud which needs to be brushed out quickly to avoid matting.
Unlike their traditional Greyhound counterparts, they are shedders. While Greyhounds aren’t technically listed as hypoallergenic, they have incredibly short, fine fur which doesn’t fall out too often.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the long hair Greyhound, the Borzoi. Their long hair will be found on your sofa and you may have to vacuum regularly. They aren’t the best for owners with allergies.
Common Borzoi Health Issues
Before you purchase your new Borzoi, it’s essential that you find a reputable breeder that has completed all the relevant health checks.
As Borzois are fairly similar in body type to Greyhounds, they also have a lot of the same common health problems. However, they are a relatively healthy breed with an average life expectancy of around 7-10 years.
Corns are typically a Greyhound issue. They get corns on the sensitive areas on their feet, just like people do. Corns aren’t always an issue that a Borzoi experiences. However, as the Borzoi line initially came from the breeding of traditional Greyhound breeds, it’s thought to be their genetics that determines if these are an issue for each dog.
If your Borzoi has corns, you will see them limping and feeling uncomfortable walking on hard surfaces – finding grass easier.
The corn will look like a circle of hard skin with a white surround. They can be soaked off if you’re willing to be patient and take your time at home. Or, your vet may be able to laser them off.
Once your dog has had corns, they’re more likely to reoccur.
Hip Dysplasia occurs equally in the Borzoi and Greyhound. This is when the ligaments or bone around the hips moves away from the socket. This can cause pain and discomfort and may even stop your dog from being able to walk.
Hip Dysplasia can be corrected by your vet through an operation. But after this, their ability to run may be hindered and the issue is likely to recur.
The same issue could also happen with the elbows (Elbow Dysplasia).
Bloat is a sudden stomach issue caused by eating too quickly or gases being produced that your dog can’t get rid of. Both Borzois and Greyhounds can suffer from bloat and once you notice the signs, you will need to get them to an emergency vet.
You may notice vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite or even whining in pain. In severe cases, the stomach of the Borzoi may twist and will have to be operated on to untwist it.
Because both breeds are so thin, you may even be able to see a physical change to notify you of an issue.
Keep in mind that Borzois are very sensitive to anaesthesia. This means that operations may be tricky. Your vet may recommend other methods of resolution prior to putting them under.
Borzoi vs. Greyhound
If you’re considering welcoming a new dog into your home a sighthound is an excellent choice. But deciding between a Borzoi or a Greyhound can be tough.
Both dogs have great temperaments and are great with children. However, Greyhounds are likely to be a little lazy, as they burn off more energy. Whereas, a Borzoi may live to run around and need a little more exercise.
Greyhounds are still used for their sighthound abilities on the race track. This often means that, unless you get your Greyhound directly from a breeder, your dog may not be adoptable until they retire from racing. This is usually before they’re 3 years old. Although Greyhounds are typically a more popular breed, depending on where you are in the world, it may be easier to get a Borzoi as a puppy, as they aren’t used for racing and should be available from puppyhood. However, if you don’t currently reside in the UK, US or Russia, the Borzoi puppies may still be few and far between.
If you’re looking for the cuddlier option, both dogs love to settle down and watch TV in the evening. However, a Borzoi has a fluffier appearance for those Instagrammable photos. This extra fluff may require more care though, so you will need to be prepared for higher grooming bills. They should also be avoided if someone in your household has allergies. They also don’t vary as much in color in comparison to Greyhounds. So, if it’s the uniqueness that you’re after, then a Greyhound may be a better choice.
When you’re done cuddling, your Borzoi will also need a fair amount of exercise. They are better suited for families that have more free time for walking and have a larger outdoor space to give them plenty of space to run around.
Overall, both dogs make fabulous additions to a home and, whichever you choose, they’ll love you forever.
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