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BORZOI …. dignified, elegant, independent and  noble dog.

A borzoi pack assisting in a Russian wolf hunt, as shown on Охота на волка 1873

A borzoi pack assisting in a Russian wolf hunt, as shown on Охота на волка 1873

When I think of Borzoi, the first thing that appears in my mind is the picture of Tsar’s Russia and the vastness of that big country. Aristocrats are riding horses.  By each rider walk few tall and strong dogs bright with passion. Their nostrils are expanding, their necks are elongated, all the muscles are stretched tight, and sometimes they raise their ears lurking for a sound. Their big eyes, the color of dark velvet, are scanning the horizon. They feel the tense of the hunt. And then they slice through the air with their slender bodies. After the rush the only thing that exists is the silence that holds the continuous gallop, the hard breath of horses and the squeaking saddle. With incredible speed and agility they hunt down their prey. They represent the perfect combination of harmony and efficiency.

After the war with Napoleon the sport activities have again recapitalized that days when Borzoi was just a hunting dog and his working abilities were major. Nobody cared how they looked like. Working on their improvement they inter-crossed them with another sort, so there remained only a small number of purebred Borzois. In 1824 Borzoi exhibited for the first time in Moscow. After that event, theirs look also becomes very important. They wanted to have a dog who is both excellent hunter and dog – show winner. Therefore inter-crossing with other dog breeds was  stopped.

Ruski hrtIn 1873, in Moscow was constituted the Society for the Development of Hunting Dogs. They organized exhibitions and interceded for Borzois body and hunting abilities improvement.

In 1887 duke Nikolai Nikolayev’s Romanov bought the estate near village Pershino. Duke, as a passionate hunter, collected the fastest and the bravest greyhounds. He owned 160 Borzois, and he took a great care about them. His kennel Pershino became the most renowned in the western world. However her history began much earlier, when the Russian tsarina Cathrine has gifted the well known bank manager Lasarieff a big estate in the province of Tulsk. His son in law known as a big fan of hunt was first who started to breed Borzois on the estate. The following years that came had been full of both prosperity and poverty. The kennel Pershino will experience good progress during the reign of duke Nikolai. As the president of the Society for the Encouragement of Sport in 1889 he produced the Borzoi standard.

Other Russian nobles were also establishing kennels with lots of greyhounds. Depending on personal hunting ambitions of noble – owner, and depending on the “western” imported dogs, which were used to mate with their own dogs, originated different types of Borzois, which were named by the names of kennels. The vastness of the country contributed to the varieties in the breed. The distances between the estates were great and every kennel was like island in a ocean. Thanks to a few breeders the native type of Borzoi was preserved to the end of 19th century, and their attributes have become more determined. Two of the bigger kennels, Gustopsovoy i Christopsovoy, exchanged the dogs and together raised the unique type – which are Borzois as we know them today. According to the logs and notations there were seven big kennels at the end of 19th century: The most renowned and popular was the Pershino breeder and the others were: Oseroff, Boldereff, Tschelischtscheff, Sumarokoff, Gejeroff and Bibikoff.

The breed soon recovered and that part of history was maybe the most fortunate period of their existing. They had lived the life for which they were created – the life of hunter. They represented a big treasure which could be owned only by nobility. It was unthinkable to sell them or buy them. Borzois were gifted to loyal people of the empire or were gifted as an expensive gift to the crowned heads of Europe.

They lived in better conditions than the most of the Russian population at the time. They were aristocratic dogs. Alleged; till the 1918, there was a legal act which provided death penalty for illegal ownership of Borzois. Nobility was strongly against illegal hunting on their estates, especially by using the dog as perfect as Borzoi.Povijest Borzoi In 1904 the Russian – Japanese war had began. Failures and big victims in that war had accelerated revolutionary expansion through decades of accumulated disappointments. In 1905 began the first bourgeoisies-democratic revolution and nine years after the First World War (1914-1918).The archaic economy of Imperial Russia could not satisfy the needs of the Russian army. The exhausted country had approached to the total catastrophe. Bourgeoisie had made beneficial acts using the war situations. The attitude of workers was suddenly changed. All those disappointments of imperial regime made a revolutionary situation in the country. In 1917 and 1918 a democratic revolution proceeded in the proletarian revolution. For the first time on a sixth part of a planet Earth, in a Big October, has been realized the dictatorship of proletarians. Povijest BorzoiNobility disappeared in Russia. It was a big tragedy for humans and animals. Everything associated on aristocracy was destroyed. Most of the kennels disappeared, and a small part of aristocracy has succeeded to flee with their dogs in Europe, mostly in Holland. Some of Borzois escaped to the woods and became wild. Most of them were killed by the furious revolutionary soldiers. The breed was again at the beginning of extinction. In 1920 the whole Russia had just a few sections of purebred Borzois, in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Fortunately the communist reign admitted Chelischev, Sumarokov and Mamontov to save their dogs. They continued their work in national kennels. They started from nothing but they managed to save the breed. Today in Russia there are around 2000 Borzois with authentic pedigree.

Borzoi, the magnificent dog bred only for hunting, with a perfect body for that purpose, these days does not hunt almost anywhere. A dog which was not bred as a pet, unaccustomed to pampering, complete individual, has become a dog only for exhibitions. The looks are the most important thing. Today the breed is again endangered.


While announcing Borzois on a certain dog show the speaker said: “I cannot announce next group the same as other dogs,… because they are not just dogs. That’s why I find it sufficient to say: Borzois come next.”

He was right. Borzois are different from other dog breeds. They are unique. Although lovers of other breeds probably won’t agree with me, I find them the most elegant and beautiful among dogs. Beauty is not so important because there are many good looking dogs. What makes Borzois unique is their character. Whoever hasn’t met Borzoi, but wants one, has to think twice about getting it, because that particular dog breed is not for everyone.

Tajna von Belonski


If you want a dog with typical “dog behavior”: a dog who will folloresw you, who will put his toys in your lap, who will want your constant attention, or who will want to play frequently, then Borzoi is not the dog for you. They are calm and unobtrusive dogs. They can spend hours laying on comfortable sofa or soft bed either in house or in apartment. Although they will look disinterested, they will follow everything what is happening around them. Their beautiful eyes, like two porcelain pebbles, are constantly following your actions. Their lively temperament is expressed only when they are allowed to roam free in nature. Of course, there are always exceptions, and even among Borzois there are some who won’t have those characteristics.

Don’t expect from Borzoi to fetch. They are not aporters. They can learn to fetch, but it will take time to learn that skill. In past, they were trained to hunt, and hunters (owners) role was to pick up what Borzois caught. But, if you insist, they will learn to fetch for you.

If you are strongly emotional person, loud, or gesticulate much with your hands, then Borzoi is not a dog for you. They are annoyed by noise and chaos. Their owners need to have calm and composed personalities, while their homes need pleasant atmosphere. They are also not recommendable as first dog to own. Although their character is different from other dogs, it is better to have experience with dogs in your home before purchasing Borzoi.

Borzoi s are good with kids, especially if they grew up with them. I wouldn’t recommend them to people with infants. It is better to wait for the infant to grow up a bit, when it can be explained to him that Borzoi is not a toy which can be bothered, kicked and screamed at. Borzoi will always move away from trouble, but it can be a problem if infant doesn’t understand the meaning of Borzois action. To bigger kids, who can understand the dogs’ behavior, who respect their nature, and treats the dog right, Borzoi can be great friend, and will adore them as any other dog.

They are very proud, dignified and intelligent. There are people who doubt their intelligence, but they don’t know, or forget the fact that Borzois are maturing later, as all great breeds. They achieve physical and psychical maturity with 3 years, unlike smaller breeds, who reach their maturity after only 1 year. My little mongrel Nera learned how to open all the doors in the house very early. Lona; Borzoi, never learned the trick, but she learned how to call Nera to do it for her.

Borzois are very emotional, and they respond to any harsh word or action the owner refers towards them. Once I reprimanded Lona when I caught her stealing, and she was so sorry that she threw up everything she ate during that day. Because of their height they have good view of the contents on the table, so it is very hard for them to resist the temptation.

My friends Borzoi learned to open the door of the refrigerator. Once when he came home, whole apartment smelled like meat rolls with cabbage, and his dog was lying happy and careless on the bed decorated with shreds of cabbage. She ate few meat rolls with cabbage, drank some milk, ate few soft cheeses… and she didn’t have any digestion problems. She repeated her stunt few more times, and it all ended with my friend blocking the fridge door with kitchen table every time before he went out. I don’t know if he still does that.

The Dogs I had before Lona were successfully trained not to steal, but not her. I only managed to make her more careful. As a result my kitchen is very tidy, and nothing is ever on the table. If it is, Lona puts it away.

Roughness is completely unsuitable in Borzoi upbringing. You must forget physical punishments, sudden leash pulling and so on. You must bear in mind that they are very independent. For hundreds of years they were brought up for hunting where they had to make their own decisions. With dogs like that, owner must have lots of patience, and learning must be based on prizes which will encourage positive behavior, along with gentleness and kind words. Vindor school was proven best for Borzois. My Lona finished that school, and she behaves perfectly. During school, one could notice the difference in character between Lona and other dogs. During one lesson, owners had to give their dogs leash to trainer, move away from them some 20 steps, and then call them back. Trainer would then release their leashes, and all dogs ran to their owners. All accept Lona, who elegantly walked back to me and gently touched my hand, unlike other dogs that jumped all over their owners.

Borzois don’t come to strangers fawning their tails, wanting to be petted. They will surely flinch if someone abruptly pushes her hand towards them. They are very timid, but not cowardly. They are very bold, but untrustworthy. They are restrained even towards familiar people. There are very few people to whom Borzoi come open hearted. Their rare emotional outbursts are reserved for only the closest members of human pack. Sometimes they don’t like to be petted, and they will never wake you up by jumping onto your bed. But you must remember that you are the center of their world, and they love you in their unique way, even when they turn their head when you want to hug them. They were always hunters, independent and unused to petting, so that kind of behavior is to be expected. What is a hundred years in the life of ancient breed like Borzoi? And that is how long they are pets, without hunting rights.

They are hunters in their souls and their genes, bred especially for that purpose. Today, AKC doesn’t recognize them as hunters, and puts them in 10th group under its own name: Borzoi. Croatian Hunting law doesn’t recognize them as hunters either. Hunting with Borzoi is strictly forbidden (article 63, paragraph 7). Since they are not considered hunting breed; hunting exam doesn’t exist as well. Today, only place where one can hunt with Borzoi is Russia.

Times are changing and we are adapting. We need to adapt our “hunters” to “modern civilization”, and situations with which they will face in real life. They have to be leashed in the city, and in small parks. They can be unleashed only when we are far enough from roads and traffic, but be aware: What we consider “far”, for fast Borzois is nothing but a few seconds of run. It is very important to teach them not to pay attention to birds and cats, and to socialize them with other dogs. They are not aggressive, and they love to play with other dogs, especially their own breed. Problems can be found with small dogs and their owners, who both get scared by Borzois size, and they can react very nervously. Little dogs tend to bark and whimper, and it is difficult to explain to their owners that dogs were “just playing”.

They need long walks and at least once a week good run in natural environment. After active walk, they will be calm and peaceful for the rest of the day. I consider myself very lucky, because I can bring Lona to my work. She is very calm, and doesn’t bother anyone, so sometimes my work colleagues don’t know she is even there.

When walking, because of their size, looks and hair, you will be stopped, noticed and questioned by other people. You will hear good and bad comments, and plenty of names for your dog. Borzois are commonly mistaken with Afghanistan greyhound, some other people call them “longhaired doga???” goats, or little horses – the last one is mostly by children. But most people will give smile of admiration to your dog and lots of questions to you. Wherever you go, you got to be ready for attention you will get. Sometimes it is pleasant, but sometimes it can be bothersome. Once I saw 4 Borzois stop the traffic. Drivers were stopping their cars in the middle of the road to stare at us, bewitched by dogs’ looks. Sometimes it can be very annoying, when dozens of hands want to touch your dog.

Borzois are distinguished by their size, overall looks, and silky, silver hair. But, that hair can be one big reason for not buying the dog, because at least once a year it has to fall off. If you like clean apartments, forget about Borzois. Females start to lose their hair 3 to 3.5 months after estrous cycle, which occur every 6 to 8 months. Some have longer cycle (8 to 12 months) and their owners can consider themselves lucky. If females are sterilized, they will change their coating like males: two times per year.

When Borzois start to change their coating sometimes it will look like you have new carpet on top of your old one.  Dog will also lose some of his/ her looks, but soon new hair will start to grow, and its beauty will make you soon forget about all the trouble you had with cleaning. Enjoying your dogs’ new hair will make you proud, and you will be healthier by touching it: by touching the dogs’ hair you make electricity which soothes the heart, lessens the blood pressure, lowers skin temperature, and slows down the pulse. All those changes were also happening while we touched our mothers when we were toddlers.

In the end, Borzoi cost lots and lots of money: dog itself, food, equipment, vaccines, but no more than other big breeds. Before buying the dog, you must realize if your budget can sustain new family member for the next 10 to 12 years. For little dog you need little bed, but for Borzoi big one, because he grows fast, and one day he will be 75 to 85 cm tall (females 5 cm lower), and they will weigh 37 to 47 kg (males) or 30 to 40 kg (females). Their food is also more expensive then little dogs’ food.

Nourishment is the most important thing for Borzoi, and you must never save money on it, especially while the dog is still growing. Puppy is spending incredible amounts of energy during first few months. To compare it with humans: Borzoi will grow in 18 months the same as human child in 14 years! In first 2 years they need to have the best nourishment you can get, and it needs to be adjusted to their growth rate. The most important mineral in their food is calcium, because of their long bones and joints. The food is important for long and healthy life, so the best option is to let the experts tell you your dogs’ diet. All my dogs grew up on dehydrated, super premium Eukanuba dog food, in which I have my full trust. Mature Borzoi mostly don’t need huge amounts of food, it depends on their active lifestyle.

If you were not discouraged and if you decided after reading my instructions that Borzoi is the dog for you, I welcome you to the club of Borzoi lovers. They will bring happiness and love into your personal life. Only one look on these beautiful beings will bring smiles on your faces and make your day. When I sent email with pictures of my family and Lona to my friend she wrote back:

“If you could see my face before and after I saw the photos, you wouldn’t believe it the same person”.

Belona, Tajna & Friends

Belona, Tajna & Friends