Borzoi are a member of the sighthound family.
These graceful dogs can trace their origins back to Russia where Borzoi were used in hunts amongst the aristocracy.
Nowadays, Borzoi can be found in homes across the world thriving as devoted family pets.
The American Kennel Club list the Borzoi breed as the 93rd most popular dog in the USA.
Formerly known as the Russian Wolfhound, Borzoi were bred to be swift but they can also have a stubborn cat-like streak. These sighthounds have a reputation for having a high prey drive – too.
It’s worth remembering that every dog is different but there were some reoccurring themes when we spoke to the dog owners featured in this Borzoi pros and cons article.
We’ll hear from Esper and Ora (@esperborzoi), Dino and Gyuri (@diamondd.and.gyurika), Yeti (@yetiandthebear) and Luna (@lunatheborzoi) who will share their Borzoi pros and cons.
If you’re looking for a dog breed that has a reputation for being relatively placid, Borzoi embody these traits. The American Kennel Club describe these dogs as having a “quiet, catlike way”. They’ve earned a reputation for being dogs with a calm temperament.
Grace, who is the owner of a Borzoi called Luna, explained how her dog likes to assess new situations and isn’t impulsive in her reactions.
I think that Borzoi’s have the ideal temperament. I wouldn’t say Luna is timid but she does take time to “read the room” before greeting other people or dogs. I would also say she doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body. She’s very much a gentle giant.
In our conversations with Borzoi owners, the word “calm” popped up a number of times. Ellen, who has a Borzoi called Yeti, described these sighthounds as a “gentle” breed.
Borzoi are very sweet, gentle, and calm dogs, but like most sighthounds, they’re also quite aloof and independent. I often say that Yeti has two modes, regal and graceful one minute and silly and playful the next!
As we mentioned earlier, Borzoi are often compared to cats for their calculated movements and independent personalities. These sighthounds don’t tend to be velcro dogs so it’s unlikely they’ll be attached to your side at all times unlike other dogs. But this independency can manifest itself as a stubborn streak where training is concerned.
Urska, who owns two Borzoi called Damond and Gyuri, shared her experience and knowledge of this independent dog breed.
They have high emotional intellect and are resourceful and independent. They work and feel better in packs of two or three but will just as well operate well on their own with just their person in the pack with them.
Borzoi are a friendly dog breed that will enjoy socialising with other dogs and meeting new people. Having said that, these elegant canines will need to be treated with respect. Although they’ve got a high prey drive, Borzoi can do well with other pets when inside the home.
Gracie explained that Luna has always gotten along with other animals such as cats and horses.
I definitely think Borzoi are friendly. Luna gets along with people of all ages as well as individuals with special needs. When it comes to animals Luna has been around cats, dogs, horses, cows and gets along with them all. She has been known to chase a barn cat up a tree but has never hurt any other animal.
Urska backed up this point by describing the Borzoi as “pet-friendly”.
They can live with any kind of pet, even cats. But as they are very gentle and loving when cats or other smaller pets are inside, they will most likely chase them when outside because they are hunters after all.
Although the Borzoi has a lowly ranking in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence Of Dogs, these Russian dogs are smart. They can be quick to learn new commands and tricks with consistent training. Borzoi can excel in a number of roles, such as working as therapy dogs.
Gracie believes Borzoi can sometimes be unfairly stereotyped as “stubborn dogs”. She shared her experience training Luna.
This question makes me laugh because I was always told that Borzoi are stubborn and hard to train but I didn’t find that with Luna. I found that she was very smart and picked up on this quickly. Sometimes she doesn’t have her “listening ears on” so it might take me saying a command two or three times but that’s just on off days.
If you’re looking for a loyal, furry friend, Borzoi could be the right breed for you. They can settle on their pack leader and follow their lead with devotion.
Urska provided an insight into her bond with Dino and Gyuri.
For me, their character is just a win all the way. They go with me really well because they will not try to impress other people but will do anything for and with me, for the one in their pack. I find them very loyal to the person they love the most.
Grace described Luna as an owner-orientated Borzoi.
I don’t know if it’s true for all Borzoi but Luna is very owner-oriented so even if she gets too far ahead of me she will wait to see if I am taking the same path she is and if I change direction to keep her on her toes she will still circle back to find me.
It will come as no surprise to learn that Borzoi are conversation starters. If you’re thinking of getting a Borzoi, you should be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your graceful sighthound and settle into your new role as an advocate for the breed.
JC, who is the owner of Esper and Ora, revealed that children usually have the best reactions to meeting his Borzoi.
Kids always have the best reactions. One girl screamed and started crying because she thought that Esper was a Unicorn (which she is). They both LOVE HUMAN ATTENTION, so walking around is always an adventure. Most people think they are Afghan hounds, or some say a long haired greyhound – though not technically correct is very apropos.
As referenced by Borzoi owner Gracie above, this breed are often stereotyped as “stubborn dogs”. Every dog is different so it’s likely you’ll find examples of obedient Borzoi but stubborn Borzoi too. In the interviews that we carried out with the Borzoi owners featured in this article, this stubborn trait was referenced a number of times.
Ellen explained that in her experience, Borzoi can have a stubborn streak.
Though Borzoi are intelligent and tend to be fast learners, they’re also very independent and can be stubborn, making training a little more challenging at times! Like any dog, positive reinforcement is the way to go and Yeti is very responsive to treats. We also reward her when training recall with her favourite games like chasing a lure (flirt pole).
Urska had a different training experience with her two Borzoi, with Gyuri relishing the chance to learn new things but Dino are little more reluctant.
My boys are completely opposite when it comes to “training”. Gyuri is a bit of a show off and genuinely loves to learn new things. it does not take long for him to learn something, I usually just have to show it once or twice to him. Then he is excited to show me what he knows and how to do it. Dino on the other hand will do things just for my praise and love and does not see the point in “silly tricks”. He knows how to do something and is capable of doing it, he just won’t do it in a given moment if he thinks it is useless and unnecessary.
Like we referenced in our previous point, no two Borzoi will be exactly the same. Having said that, some of these sighthounds have a tendency to be aloof or reserved. JC described his Borzoi Esper as having a “queenly” vibe. Speaking to hellobark.com in this exclusive interview, the experienced Borzoi owner said:
Esper is demur, calm, queenly. She is also very sneaky and smarter than anyone could possibly realize. I remember she used to rearrange Tina’s sweaters anytime we left her alone for more than a couple hours. We still, to this day, have no idea how she retrieved the sweaters or why building an effigy with them on the bed was so important. Where Esper is shy and reserved, Ora is a wrecking ball.
There are some characteristics that can vary a lot and you can get a dog that has more hunting instinct than others, a dog that is more introverted and aloof, or a real joker that will make fun of himself all the time.
High Prey Drive
One thing that all our Borzoi owners mentioned was the tendency for these elegant dogs to have a high prey drive. When outside, they’ll want to chase any small animals that they spot. It should come as no surprise as the Borzoi were bred in Russia to be a hunting breed. Therefore, it’s a good idea to start recall training early with these sighthounds. Having said that, your safest bet is to keep your Borzoi on leash.
Urska believes consistent training is the key.
If they come from old hunting lines or coursing lines, it can be super hard (but not impossible) to teach them a good recall because their prey drive is that high. BUT If you have a good training plan and are consistent, you can teach any dog anything in my opinion.
Gracie added that continuing to train your Borzoi in recall well into adulthood is a good idea.
Borzoi’s are sighthounds meaning they will have a higher prey drive than other breeds, so training recall is best done when they’re puppies and continually practiced into adulthood.
Need A Secure Garden/Yard
Tying into the previous con, if you’re thinking about introducting a Borzoi to your home, you’ll need to make sure your garden and yard is secure. These dogs can jump or scale fences if they’re not sufficiently high. With their tendency to chase other animals, you’ll need to make sure there’s no way these escape artists can get out.
JC explained that Borzoi can jump as high as six feet!
Vigorous off leash play is an absolute must, so having a yard with a TALL fence (they can jump up to 6 feet) is really important.
Borzoi have gorgeous coats that add to their breathtaking appearance. While these coats are aesthetically pleasing to look at, they’ll require regular brushing to maintain their appearance and health. It’s a good idea to brush your Borzoi at least a couple of times a week. Most Borzoi will blow out their coat at least once or twice a year – usually at the start of summer and just before winter. During these spells, Borzoi owners will have to contend with a lot of hair!
Ellen provided an insight into Yeti’s grooming routine.
Sorry to disappoint but Borzoi shed A LOT! Yeti is only 7 months old so we haven’t experienced the intense seasonal shedding of an adult borzoi but I’m prepared for a very hairy house! Having said that, day to day grooming is pretty simple. We brush Yeti every 1-2 days with a pin brush and bathe her occasionally. People always ask us how we keep her so white but the borzoi coat is a little bit magic! It’s super silky so once any mud dries it falls off or can be brushed off easily. Borzoi also groom themselves almost like cats and Yeti likes to keep herself very clean.
Not Suitable For Homes With Young Children
While Borzoi can make great family pets, the American Kennel Club write online that these dignified sighthounds don’t like to be roughhoused. Therefore, Borzoi will probably do better in a home with older children that can be educated on how to interact and play with these Russian dogs.
Urska supported the AKC’S point by suggesting the Borzoi for families with more mature children.
They love kids but these children have to be well mannered. As there are some breeds of dogs that have much more patience, I would not suggest an adult borzoi for a family with very small children that would pull it’s hair or climb on top of it. But if the children are gentle and loving, a borzoi will fit right in. As borzois mature, they more and more need their peace and quiet time and will not feel good if there will always be someone bothering them. But you can do a lot with puppies as you can desensitize them to any kind of a household.