Believed to descend from dogs brought to Russia from Central Asia in the 9th and 10th centuries and later by Mongol invaders coming from the East, the Borzoi has an ancient bloodline that narrates a colourful history. Despite popular conjecture suggesting at its lineage, the Borzoi can only officially be traced to 1650 Russia, where it was primarily bred for the purpose of laterally coursing game and wolves across open land. Otherwise known as the Russian Wolfhound, the Borzoi's name derives from native Russian, meaning 'swift.' Widely utilised in hunting trials during the Tsar era, the Borzoi gained popularity as the favoured dog of the royals and aristocracy, retaining this reputation through the centuries. Sadly, following the Russian Revolution of 1917, many of the Borzoi breed were slaughtered due to their affiliation with the aristocracy. Officially recognised by the AKC in 1891.
Often likened in appearance to the Greyhound, the Borzoi is thought to be the result of crossing between the Arabian Greyhounds and heavy-coated, native Russian dogs. A typical sight hound in its athleticism and stature, the Borzoi is visibly streamlined for speed coursing, with straight, powerful legs, small ears, a long muzzle and a deep, narrow chest. The Borzoi coat varies in length, with longer hair found on the hindquarters, tail and neck. Common colour variations include white, black, grey or tan, usually with markings in black or gold.
Despite the common misconception that the Borzoi is a highly-strung and aloof breed, the opposite is quite true. Neither aggressive nor temperamental, the Borzoi displays devotion and affection towards its master and family, being highly trainable and adapting well to new situations and people. Whilst exhibiting a certain reticence around strangers that it might initially perceive a threat, the Borzoi is gentle and mannered, well suited to the home setting and active family life. On average, a healthy Borzoi will weigh 27-48 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Sensitive to drugs, care needs to be observed at all times when administering treatment to the Borzoi. Typically healthy and resilient, the breed is susceptible to several genetic disorders, including heart disease, optical disorders and skin allergies. The Borzoi is known to suffer with bloat, a condition that can prove fatal, so a Borzoi should never be exercised directly after a meal.