A Look at The Russian Wolfhound Or Borzoi. Scruffy, Calm and Loyal

A Look at The Russian Wolfhound Or Borzoi. Scruffy, Calm and Loyal

It is no wonder that many people find him such good company. The Russian Wolfhound has a narrow, slightly domed head as well as a long muzzle that is slightly arched. Their dark eyes have a slant while the chest is deep and narrow. Other features of this adorable breed include a tail that’s set low with a curve, straight front legs, and a back that is arched slightly upward.

The Borzoi comes in a variety of color combinations including gray or tan with black markings, tan, white, black as well as golden in either mixed or solid colors. The male Russian Wolfhounds weigh up to 100 pounds. Their average height is 30 inches while that of females is 26 inches.

Health issues that affect the Borzoi

Russian Wolfhounds have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. Some live to be older than that. Dogs that are vigorous and physically fit from youth to middle age tend to be healthier when old. The most frequent causes of premature death of the Borzoi in the US include cardiac problems and cancer. Elbow and hip dysplasia, as well as OCD, have remained uncommon, but modern breeding practices have led to a few health issues for the Russian Wolfhound.

The Borzoi comes in a variety of color combinations including gray or tan with black markings, tan, white, black as well as golden in either mixed or solid colors. The male Russian Wolfhounds weigh up to 100 pounds. Their average height is 30 inches while that of females is 26 inches.

  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus: This is the most serious health threat that Borzoi faces. Otherwise known as GDV, gastric torsion, twisted stomach or bloat, this condition involves twisting of the stomach and requires prompt treatment to prevent death. Even with treatment, GDV has a mortality rate is 10-60% while with surgery, the mortality rate is 15-33%. It occurs due to dysfunction between the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus. An obstruction of outflow through the pylorus can also lead to gastric dilatation-volvulus. A standard recommendation is to raise the bowl when the dog eats. Studies have, however, shown that this can decrease the risk of GDV.
  • Cardiomyopathy and Cardiac arrhythmia disorders: These are less common problems in Russian Wolfhounds. The former is a group of diseases that affect the cardiac muscles while the latter refers to a group of medical conditions where the heartbeat is either too slow or too fast.
  • Borzoi retinopathy: This disease is often in the Borzoi, particularly active ones. It differs from progressive retinal atrophy in several ways including the fact that it is unilateral and doesn’t affect dogs below three years old. Also, there is no clear connection between the condition and genetics. Affected dogs do not always go blind.

There is a lot of debate surrounding appropriate diet during puppyhood for Russian Wolfhounds. Enormous growth surge is usual during the first two years of their lives. Reinforcing faster growth by feeding Borzoi highly concentrated and high-energy diet can prove more dangerous than beneficial skeletal development. Such a diet can lead to unsoundness not to mention increased the tendency to injury and joint problems.

The Borzoi are specially built for speed, meaning that they do not carry much body muscle fat or muscle. Their physiology is different compared to that of similar-sized dogs including the Alaskan Malamute, St. Bernard and Newfoundland. Moreover, laboratory-formulated diets designed for large breeds can hardly take on the needs of Russian Wolfhounds.

Temperament: What living with a Russian Wolfhound feels like

The Borzoi are known for their quiet yet athletic and independent nature. They bark very rarely and because they do not have strong territorial drives, they cannot be relied upon to raise the alarm in case of an intruder.

Handling them requires a lot of patience and experience.

They are smart, gentle and very sensitive. They have a natural respect for humans and as such, make decorative couch potatoes with gracious manners. While they do not display aggression or dominance over people, they certainly turn aggressive if the sense hostility. They are affectionate with people they know well but reserved with strangers.

How do they get on with kids?​

They can be nervous around children especially in the event of an invasion of personal space unless they are brought up with the kids. Russian Wolfhounds adapt great to a suburban life as long as they are privy to regular opportunities for exercise and a large yard.

There is a common misconception that dogs in the Hound group draw their intelligence from their independent nature. This conflicts with the confusion between the concepts of obedience and intelligence when it comes to canine brainpower.

According to a study by Stanley Coren and published in The Intelligence of Dogs, Borzois obeyed the first command a quarter of the time. The study, however, was heavily weighted towards the ‘obedience’ interpretation of intelligence. It was also based on a better understanding of ‘working’ breeds rather than hounds. Work for hound breeds is achieved through the sight of the companion as well as hearing. It is an activity where dogs are released rather than commanded.

What about Obedience? Are they manageable in day to day life?


Russian Wolfhounds are a breed that learns selectively. They also get bored easily with repetitive and pointless commands or activity. When not motivated properly, one can find them quite frustrating. For instance, baiting or food rewards may work with some dogs but not at all for others. However, with the right training, Russian Wolfhounds are perfectly capable of performing well and enjoying themselves in the face of agility trials as well as competitive obedience.

Are Russian Wolfhounds easily trained?

Like most breeds, the Borzoi do not respond well to training based on punishment or harsh treatment. They also tend to be unhappy if threats and raised voices are part of their daily life. However, like any intelligent dog, they respond well to clear communication, support and guidance of benevolent leadership.

Borzois were bred to pursue and as such, you will often see them chasing after anything that runs away from them, including small dogs and cats. They are built for endurance and speed, hence their ability to cover long distances in a short amount of time. A fully fenced yard is a necessity for anyone who owns a Borzoi or any sighthound for that matter.

This is because, in addition to speed, Russian wolfhounds are highly independent. They will explore far and wide if not contained, and won’t have any regard for road traffic. Borzois are also born with specialized coursing skills, hence their tendency to seize other dogs by the neck and hold them immobile.

How are they with cats? Do Borzoi’s get along with cats?​

Russian Wolfhounds can be raised to live with cats successfully as well as other small animals.

This, however, only works if introduced as puppies. It is important to note that some Borzoi is so possessed by the hunting instinct that they find it hard not to chase after a running cat.

When thinking of introducing a Borzoi to your household where there is an existing cat, it’s best to do so slowly and to keep an eye on them. It’s also worth separating the cat from the Borzoi when you’re not at home. Boredom could mean that they start chasing your cat and it could end in disaster.

Care and maintenance of a Russian Wolfhound

As the Borzoi are built for running, having an area that is large enough for him to exercise as well as sustain the desire to run is important. Without such an opportunity, a young Russian Wolfhound will never develop properly. If a Borzoi sees anything they interpret as game, they start running instantly hence the need for a big, securely-fenced yard. Moreover, an underground electronic fence can help stop a Russian Wolfhound on ‘game.’

Exercise and training: Taking your Borzoi for a walk each day is necessary. The dog should walk behind or beside you, but never in front of you. An average of one 1-hour walk or two 30-minute walks each day will suffice. Given their nature to run instinctively, it is important never to let go of the leash unless in an enclosed space.

Otherwise, the dog may end up chasing after something and never come back.

Also, ensure that you walk your dog in safe places like empty fields or the beach where there is little or no car traffic. When it comes to training your Borzoi, consider starting with basic commands like ‘sit’ and ‘quiet.’

You can also seek the help of a professional or experienced breeder. They will provide you with vital information about how Russian Wolfhounds act. After all, generalized information can never compare to that of an experienced hand. This equips you with everything you need to know about training and developing a strong bond with a Borzoi.

Essentials: When shopping for essentials, be sure to get a martingale collar for your dog. The reason is that Russian Wolfhounds have inset ears and narrow heads and as such, normal collars will just slip off their necks.

Crates are not advisable for this breed due to its high energy nature. Only use crates when necessary and even so, they should be at least 26 inches wide, 36 inches high and 48 inches long.

Feeding: You should never feed your Borzoi anything other than good quality food meant for large breeds. Russian Wolfhounds require specialized diets to ensure they get the essential nutrients their bodies need. If you are unsure of what you should get, consult with a vet to ensure that what you purchase meets your dog’s nutritional needs.

Rather than give him large portions once a day, consider small meals throughout the day. The reason is that Borzois are highly susceptible to bloating and breaking their meals to small ones during the day helps aid this problem.

Also, ensure that the food bowl is on a raised surface and that the dog does not exercise immediately after eating to prevent torsion.

Grooming: Extra care when grooming a Borzoi is essential. You should brush his coat at least once or twice each week to prevent it from getting tangled or matting up. Also, clean his ears and clip the hair between the toes.

While bathing a Borzoi may be necessary, you do not have to do it as often as you would other breeds. Twice or thrice a year will do. You will need to invest in nail clippers, comb, and a dog hair brush.


So has that inspired you to get a Borzoi? They’re certainly a good choice if you have the home and garden to take care of and exercise them. Let us know if you have one and how you’re finding life with your Russian Wolfhound

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