The Borzoi is a breed of long-haired sighthound generally understood to have originated from Russia in its current form. The name translates to “fast”. Also known as the Russian Wolfhound (Русская псовая борзая), borzoi bear a strong physical resemblance to greyhounds, with powerful, slender legs for fast sprinting. They are distinct from greyhounds primarily by the long, wavy coat most members of the breed possess.
Origin and brief history
The breed which became the borzoi was originally believed to have originated from sighthounds bred in both medieval Byzantium and Mongolia in the 9th and 10th centuries A.D., however, it is now thought more likely that its roots rest in what is modern-day Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Like greyhounds, the excellent eyesight and speed of the borzoi make it a popular dog for hunting small game. Borzoi were once notable for their popularity among the Imperial Russian aristocracy for this reason, and they draw their nickname from their use in Russia in hunting wolves, usually in packs of three. Borzoi are also popular show dogs due to their graceful appearance and, if well-trained, obedient disposition.
Borzoi are extremely smart and very athletic dogs. Training a borzoi requires a great deal of patience on the part of the owner, for they are a fiercely independent breed and can exhibit recalcitrant and stubborn behavior. Borzoi are quiet almost to the point of silence, barking only rarely. As they were originally bred to act as long-range hunters on open ground, Borzoi are given to roaming if not properly contained. They are popular as pets due to their gentle personalities and good indoor behavior. Borzoi may act aggressively, though usually not in a dangerous manner, to other house pets if not introduced to them at a young age.
Because the borzoi is a long-haired breed, owners should be diligent about grooming, especially in the warmer months. A normal, pin-style hairbrush, stroking in the direction of the coat, is suitable for everyday grooming. A wide tooth comb and a slicker brush are also very useful for touching up, removing mats in the coat, and removing excess when the dog is shedding. To prevent damage to the coat, slicker brushes should not be used on a daily basis.
Borzoi are quite large and aerodynamic dogs. Typical lifespan is between 10 and 12 years. A mature male borzoi can exceed 100 pounds in weight and stand more than two and a half feet at the shoulder, with females typically two to three inches shorter. Though there are short-haired varieties of borzoi, most have silky coats which develop a naturally wavy appearance, with a notable feature being a long, bushy tail. The head is small proportionate to the body, like the greyhound, and features a long, bullet-like snout.
Borzoi are willful and sometimes obstinate animals, and success in training requires a large degree of consistency and dedication on the part of the trainer. A casual or careless approach can lead to disobedient and misbehaving adults. Though borzoi are perfectly suitable house pets, they require a lot of exercise, not only because they are a high-energy breed, but also because this can help maintain good health in their advanced years. Their tendency to wander can lead them into dangerous situations if they are allowed to roam free, so it is imperative that yards are fenced-in and secure.
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