Dog Insurance
Dogs for sale
Pet Supplies
How to draw a dog
Join Our Dog Forum FREE!
Dog Clothes
Dog Supplies
Dog Forum
Dog Health
Dog Articles
Dog Posters
2010 Dog Calendars
Dog Cages
Portable Dog Crates
Electronic Dog Doors
Dog Kennels
Small Dog Clothes
Slow Cooker Recipes
Dog Leads
Pet Travel Guide
Toy Dogs Guide
Dog Supplements
Dog Medicine info
Dog Allergies
Dog Portraits
Dog Resources

The Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound

Author: Robert Leighton

Of the many foreign varieties of the dog that have been introduced into this country within recent years, there is not one among the larger breeds that has made greater headway in the public favour than the Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound. Nor is this to be wondered at. The most graceful and elegant of all breeds, combining symmetry with strength, the wearer of a lovely silky coat that a toy dog might envy, the length of head, possessed by no other breed--all go to make the Borzoi the favourite he has become.

The Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound

He is essentially what our American cousins would call a "spectacular" dog. Given, for example, the best team of terriers and a fifth-rate team of Borzois, which attracts the more attention and admiration from the man in the street? Which does he turn again to look at? Not the terriers! Add to this that the Borzoi makes a capital house dog, is, as a rule, affectionate and a good companion, it is not to be wondered at that he has attained the dignified position in the canine world which he now holds.

The Working Russian Wolfhound / Borzoi

In his native country the Borzoi is employed, as his English name implies, in hunting the wolf and also smaller game, including foxes and hares.

Several methods of hunting the larger game are adopted, one form being as follows. Wolves being reported to be present in the neighbourhood, the hunters set out on horseback, each holding in his left hand a leash of three Borzois, as nearly matched as possible in size, speed,  and colour.

Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi's are Excellent Hunters

Arrived at the scene of action, the chief huntsman stations the hunters at separate points every hundred yards or so round the wood. A pack of hounds is sent in to draw the quarry, and on the wolves breaking cover the nearest hunter slips his dogs. These endeavour to seize their prey by the neck, where they hold him until the hunter arrives, throws himself from his horse, and with his knife puts an end to the fray.

Another method is to advance across the open country at intervals of about two hundred yards, slipping the dogs at any game they may put up.

Field Trials with Russian Wolfhounds or Borzoi's

Trials are also held in Russia. These take place in a large railed enclosure, the wolves being brought in carts similar to our deer carts. In this case a brace of dogs is loosed on the wolf. The whole merit of the course is when the hounds can overtake the wolf and pin him to the ground, so that the keepers can secure him alive. It follows, therefore, that in this case also the hounds must be of equal speed, so that they reach the wolf simultaneously; one dog would, of course, be unable to hold him.

Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound description

To take the points of the breed in detail, the description of the perfect Borzoi is as follows:--

HEAD--This should be long, lean, and well balanced, and the length, from the tip of the nose to the eyes, must be the same as from the eyes to the occiput.

A dog may have a long head, but the length may be all in front of the eyes. The heads of this breed have greatly improved the last few years; fewer "apple-headed" specimens, and more of the desired triangular heads being seen. The skull should be flat and narrow, the stop not perceptible, the muzzle long and tapering.

Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of the head being well filled up before the eyes. The head, from forehead to nose, should be so fine that the direction of the bones and principal veins can be seen clearly, and in profile should appear rather Roman nosed. Bitches should be even narrower in head than dogs.

THE EYES should be dark, expressive, almond shaped, and not too far apart.

THE EARS like those of a Greyhound, small, thin, and placed well back on the head, with the tips, when thrown back, almost touching behind the occiput. It is not a fault if the dog can raise his ears erect when excited or looking after game, although some English judges dislike this frequent characteristic. The head should be carried somewhat low, with the neck continuing the line of the back.

SHOULDERS--Clean and sloping well back, _i.e._, the shoulder blades should almost touch one another.

CHEST--Deep and somewhat narrow. It must be capacious, but the capacity must be got from depth, and not from "barrel" ribs--a bad fault in a running hound.

BACK--Rather bony, and free from any cavity in the spinal column, the arch in the back being more marked in the dog than in the bitch.

LOINS--Broad and very powerful, showing plenty of muscular development.

THIGHS--Long and well developed, with good second thigh. The muscle in the Borzoi is longer than in the Greyhound.

RIBS--Slightly sprung, very deep, reaching to the elbow.

FORE-LEGS--Lean and straight. Seen from the front they should be narrow and from the side broad at the shoulder and narrowing gradually down to the foot, the bone appearing flat and not round as in the Foxhound.

HIND-LEGS--The least thing under the body when standing still, not straight, and the stifle slightly bent. They should, of course, be straight as regards each other, and not "cow-hocked," but straight hind-legs imply a want of speed.

FEET--Like those of the Deerhound, rather long. The toes close together and well arched.

COAT--Long, silky, not woolly; either flat, wavy, or curly. On the head, ears and front-legs it should be short and smooth; on the neck the frill should be profuse and rather curly; on the chest and the rest of the body, the tail and hind-quarters, it should be long; the fore-legs being well feathered.

TAIL--Long, well feathered, and not gaily carried. It should be carried well down, almost touching the ground.

HEIGHT--Dogs from 29 inches upwards at shoulder, bitches from 27 inches upwards. (Originally 27 inches and 26 inches. Altered at a general meeting of the Borzoi Club, held February, 1906.)

FAULTS--Head short and thick; too much stop; parti-coloured nose; eyes too wide apart; heavy ears; heavy shoulders; wide chest; "barrel" ribbed; dew-claws; elbows turned out; wide behind. Also light eyes and over or undershot jaws.

COLOUR--The Club standard makes no mention of colour. White, of course, should predominate; fawn, lemon, orange, brindle, blue, slate and black markings are met with. Too much of the latter, or black and tan markings, are disliked. Whole coloured dogs are also seen.

The foregoing description embodies the standard of points as laid down and adopted by the Borzoi Club, interpolated with some remarks for the further guidance of the novice.

The Borzoi Club was founded in 1892. It does much good work for the breed, guaranteeing classes at shows, where otherwise few or none would be given, encouraging the breeding of high-class Borzois by offering its valuable challenge cups and other special prizes, and generally looking after the interests of the breed.

Thinking of getting a Borzoi puppy?

If you wish to choose a puppy yourself from a litter, select the one with the longest head, biggest bone, smallest ears, and longest tail, or as many of these qualities as you can find combined in one individual. Coat is a secondary matter in quite a young pup; here one should be guided by the coat of the sire and dam. Still, choose a pup with a heavy coat, if possible, although when this puppy coat is cast, the dog may not grow so good as one as some of the litter who in early life were smoother.

As regards size, a Borzoi pup of three months should measure about 19 inches at the shoulder, at six months about 25 inches, and at nine months from 27 to 29 inches. After ten or twelve months, growth is very slow, although some continue adding to their height until they are a year and a half old. They will, of course, increase in girth of chest and develop muscle until two years old; a Borzoi may be considered in its prime at from three to four years of age.