How to Train a Borzoi


Want to learn how to train your Borzoi to be one of the best-trained dogs? Click here to find out how.

Among the most impressively beautiful of all dogs, the aristocratic Borzoi is cherished for his calm, agreeable temperament. In full stride, he is a princely package of strength, grace, and glamour flying by at 35 to 40 miles per hour.
Borzoi are large, elegant sighthounds. A mature male stands at least 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs 75 to 105 pounds. Females will be smaller. Beneath the luxurious silky coat, Borzoi construction follows the ancient Greyhound template. One known as the Russian Wolfhound, Borzoi were bred to be swift and tough enough to pursue and pin their ferocious lupine quarry. In their quiet, catlike way they can be stubborn, and training is best accomplished with patience, consistency, and good humor. Affectionate family dogs, Borzoi are nonetheless a bit too dignified to wholeheartedly enjoy a lot of roughhousing. The sight of a cat or squirrel on the run will quickly stir their pursuit instinct, and fenced-in running room is a must.


During the centuries of Romanov rule in Russia, wolf hunting was an all-consuming passion of the Russian aristocracy. Nobles would stage ritualized hunts—festivals, really—on their vast estates, with their guests, horses, and hounds ferried in on special hunt trains. It wasn’t unusual for a hundred Borzoi and just as many servants to be employed in these extravagant affairs, which traditionally concluded with a great feast at the manor house.

“It is difficult today to even imagine the grand scale and magnificence to which the gentle Borzoi is heir,” wrote a breed historian. “Before 1861, and to a lesser extent after that time up to the Russian Revolution in 1917, the time, effort, and money expended on these ‘hunts,’ as they were called, is surely unequaled in the development of any breed.” Russia’s great novelist Leo Tolstoy, himself a devoted Borzoi fan, immortalized one of these grand spectacles in his War and Peace.

With the Revolution came the wholesale slaughter of the Romanov family, their nobles, and their aristocratic hounds. This was a disaster that set back Russian breeding of Borzoi and other national breeds for much of the 20th century. If not for the Borzoi’s devotees abroad, the breed might have gone extinct.

In the years leading up to the Revolution, dog fanciers in England and America had begun the importation of Borzoi to their shores. These early imports ensured the breed’s survival. In the English-speaking world, the breed name was Russian Wolfhound. In America this changed in 1936, when after a long and spirited debate pro and con among the U.S. breed fancy, the breed was officially rechristened the Borzoi, from the Russian borzyi, meaning “swift.”

By all accounts, this noble breed of haughty looks and sterling temperament is little changed from the hounds Tolstoy described so movingly in his writings.

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What To Expect When Caring For a Borzoi

Owning a dog is not just a privilege; it’s a responsibility. They depend on us for, at minimum, food and shelter, and deserve much more. When you take a dog into your life, you need to understand the commitment that dog ownership entails.


Borzoi are generally healthy dogs,and a responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, and progressive retinal atrophy. Like other large and deep-chested dogs, they can experience bloat, a sudden and life-threatening stomach condition. Owners should educate themselves as to what symptoms indicate this is occurring and what to do if so. Sighthounds, including Borzoi, are more sensitive to anesthesia than other breeds. As with all breeds, a Borzoi’s ears should be checked regularly, and the teeth should be brushed often.

Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Degenerative Myeolopathy DNA Test


Like any long-coated dog, the Borzoi will shed a bit. In general, a quick brushing every day or two with a pin brush, slicker brush, and/or a comb will remove any loose hair and dirt from the coat. About once a year the Borzoi will shed more heavily for several weeks, and during this shedding season, more frequent grooming is needed. Regular baths keep the Borzoi clean and looking his best. As with all breeds, the Borzoi’s nails should be trimmed regularly.


Even though Borzoi are large, they are graceful, athletic animals who make good housedogs. They do need daily exercise, whether in the form of long walks or running in a securely fenced yard. Being sighthounds, they are apt to chase anything that moves, so they should always be in an enclosed area or on a leash. It is never advisable to allow a Borzoi to run loose. Borzoi enjoy doing activities with their owners and excel in canine sports such as agility and lure coursing.


Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Exposing the puppy to positive experiences with a wide variety of people, places, and situations will help him develop into a well-adjusted adult. Borzoi are intelligent and very affectionate with their owners, but are also independent and sometimes stubborn, so training may be a challenge. Patience and consistency are key. Overall they are usually gentle, well-mannered companions. Remember that Borzoi were bred to chase game, and any small animal that runs may trigger this response, so the breed should be on leash when on outings.


Borzoi tend to eat less than one might assume for their size. Borzoi puppies consume more food than adults due to their rapid growth. The Borzoi should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Because of the risk of bloat, strenuous exercise is not recommended before or after feeding time. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

Want to learn how to train your Borzoi to be one of the best-trained dogs? Click here to find out how.