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The Serious Version of Bonnie Dalzell's Frequently Stated Answers About Borzois and
the Questions that Inspired them
These fall into three categories:
||Serious (this document)
** I thought of other names for the third
category but this a page open to the general public, children and gerbils.
Serious Answers to Questions About Borzoi and the Questions
that Inspired them.
- What is a Borzoi?
- A Borzoi is a large swift running hunting dog from Russia.
They look like a large winterized greyhound with a silky coat and a long skinny
nose. Here is a link to a typical formal
description of the breed.
- An old name for the breed is "Russian Wolf Hound". Borzoi breeders do not
like to call them this for several reasons. First, it is not the correct name
for the breed. Secondly people tend to confuse them with Irish Wolf Hounds.
- Borzoi is pronounced Bore zoy - rhymes with "more toy".
- The singular and plural are the same - Borzoi.
- Annual cost of a large Borzoi?
- Borzoi are not heavy eaters nor do they usually have
unusual dietary problems due to allergies. We feed our dogs a mixture of
relatively inexpensive quality dry dog foods manufactured by Blue Seal: Natural
26 and Natural 27. These are 26 % protein and 27 % protein foods that are soy
free. For people unable to find the Blue Seal brand I suggest Purina Pro Series
or Pedigree. Generally I suggest avoiding the very expensive premium foods such
as Eukanuba or Science Diet.
- An adult Borzoi with moderate exercise that spends
1/2 its time outdoors will eat 4 to 6 cups a day. We figure 40 lbs of food a
month/per dog. Retail on the Purina or Pedigree is around $25/mo. Avoid very
cheap, soy based high dye, grocery store special foods and be careful about
buying outdated foods at discount warehouses such as PACE or the Price Club.
Borzois do seem to be sensitive to spoiled dry food. I know of several
instances where bloat may well have been triggered by spoiled dry food.
- Some Borzoi may be picky as to the snacks they like. I give mine stale dry
bagels, dried liver treats, raw, fresh beef knuckle bones and the fatty
trimings from our steaks. However I have a lot of Borzoi and the dogs are
- Toys - large sturdy squeaky toys. Borzoi vary in their respect for and
care of their toys. Some are so addicted to the squeak of squeaky toys that the
de-squeak them within a few minutes, other dogs are careful of the toys and
will not destroy them over several months time. I find that a Borzoi rarely
likes a Nylabone, almost always likes these soft plush toys and generally
destroys a latex squeak toy fairly quickly. On the other hand I have a plastic
(but desqueaked) raggedy ann toy that has been around since Darkness was a
puppy in 1979 which the dogs play with but have never destroyed.
Veterinary Care ?
- I suggest that a dog owner with limited funds set up a dog savings account and
put $50 a month into it until it accumulates $1000. This gives you a
catastrophic health care plan. Alternatively you can try and locate a pet
health insurance policy. Such are sold. Dr Norman Roskin of Sandy Springs
Maryland is a Vet who provides a health policy that is prepaid. I think right
now it runs $150 a year for initial enrollment of a single young healthy dog.
With his plan the rates do not change as the dog ages. It stays at its initial
- Generally they are healthy dogs and the owner only faces the annual cost
of vaccination for the first 3 years. If the owner learns how to brush the
dog's teeth and clip the claws a major maintainance expense tooth cleaning and
claw clipping in the older dog is reduced or eliminated.
Other Possible Costs:
- 6 foot high fence.
- Large dog house.
- County Dog License fee.
- Dog bed, leash, buckle collar for tags & ID, chain choke collar for walking.
- Crate (500 varikennel for female or small male - a large male may take up to two
- Replacement costs on neighbor's pet rabbits/cats
What is the worst that can happen financially with one? Breed problems or
making a snack out of the neighbor's prize cat?
- The most serious problem for most of the Borzoi I have sold is being killed by
a car. This usually happens when the dog is around 18 months old. Most novice
owners are just not sufficiently paranoid about the sight hound ability to
unexpectedly take off at high speed. They can run 35 mph for a mile and they
can travel at 20 mpg for 20 miles. They tend to get into a "runners high" and
become oblivious to large moving objects such as cars.
- The second serious problem in my experience is bloat and torsion (AGD&V=
acute gastric dilatation and volvulous). This is a medical emergency where the
stomach becomes distended with foamy gas, turns on itself so as to cut off it's
blood suppy. In the absence of expensive surgical treatment dogs that bloat
die. It is a major problem in all larger breeds of dogs, especially deep
chested narrow bodied breeds. Both heredity, diet and other aspects of
management are thought to have an influence on bloat. Bloat surgery generally
runs around $1200.
- Other serious problems include chasing small furry objects that don't belong to
you, aggressive adolescent males becoming hyperdominant (lack of training and
genes have a role in this) bored dogs confined to the house during the day
- Finally there is the problem of just loosing the dog. Borzois can run off
and often do not find there way home. This can happen if a gate is left open or
is opened in the owner's absence or if the dog gets away from an unfamiliar
handler (as in when it is being boarded.) Over the years with the dogs I have
sold there have bee over 10 Borzois that vanished and were not recovered
despite months worth of advertising and hundreds of dollars worth of posters
circulated in the areas where they got away.
Would it be able to peacefully coexist with our present cat? Would it
require exposure from puppyhood or would I be able to get an older (or
- Most Borzoi that have not already had the experience of killing a cat will
adapt to an existing pet cat. There is a fairly standard way of introducing the
animals to each other. It may take a few months of controlled interaction
before they are fully trustworthy with a pet cat. A few Borzoi will be so keen
to hunt that they will not be trustworthy with a cat. It is pretty easy to
spot these dogs however.
What sort of bad traits, behavioral and/or physical have
- This is an important question and I will answer it partially here and
refer you to the breed description for more of the answer.
- The most dangerous behavior is unexpected biting, especially at the face.
I am not sure why dogs develop this behavior but I have seen it in around 5% of
the Borzoi I have met and in almost 1/2 of the male rescues that have come our
way. Early socialization and a strong but patient owner who does not allow the
dog to gain an upper hand are important in avoiding raising a dog that exhibits
this dangerous behavior.
- Borzois may have skeletal anomalies in the spine. These cause stiffening
of the back and detracts from the animal's ability to gallop really fast. This does not
generally have a negative effect on the dog as a pet (or even as a show dog).
Can they stay indoors all day, while I'm at work?
I realize they need to run and could take them on very long walks or rides
twice a day, but is this enough? We don't have a fenced in yard and could not
absorb the cost of build ing a fence at present. Our back yard is small, too,
only 25 x 50.
- It depends on how long are you at work?
- Can you put up a 10 by 20 foot run for the times when you cannot be aoutside
with the dog but it must go out? (For example it is freezing rain and 11 at
night and you have the flue but the dog has to releive itself - these are the
times when the dog gets away and is hit by a car!.)
- Fences don't have to be expensive to build - but the cheap ones are not very
pretty. I could fence a 25 by 50 ft yard for around $300 with field fencing
(double layer to get it up to 5-6 feet).
6) Do they dig holes, damage landscaping or plants? Soil carpets indoors?
- They are dogs not glass unicorns
Can they be trained?
Do they require a lot of grooming?
- A borzoi requires around an hour of brushing a week at the most. For much of
the year we do most of ours once a month but during the spring shed each dog is
brushed out once a week.
We live in a high deer population area. Would they become unmanageable
upon seeing one while on a lead? What about while biking?
- When trained and on lead they are generally quite controllable. Off lead
they are quite likely to take off after game.
We love to go on day hikes locally, through rough terrain. Can they
climb rocks? Jump small, shallow chasms?
- A good one is quite athletic and sure footed.
- When I was a geology student in Calfornia my Borzoi went with me in the
field. He did quite well except for the day that he ran his pads off when
were were hiking up the a cinder cone at Mono Lake. Of course he ran up
and down the cinder cone 7 times in the time it took us to go up once.
Do they like being cuddled or just tolerate it? I prefer to cuddle
my pets a lot!
- Ours try and sit on our laps often the succeed.
Will they do their business on an early walk
at 5 or 6 in the morning?
- Doing there business for an adult is a matter of training them to a
schedule. However if they are trained for 5 AM then it is 7 times a week
5 AM - their bladders to not sleep in for the weekend... For how long do
you plan to leave the dog alone each day?
What are typical kennel fees for 2-3 weeks
- At my boarding kennel (Boarding at the Wedge, north of Balimore in
Maryland) we charge $ 15 to $18 a day for boarding a Borzoi, $200 a month.
Closer to Washington DC the boarding fees on large dogs are higher - may be up
Are they always white?
No the breed standard states that they come in a variety of colors. An ours are
What colors do they come in?
- Self colored dogs are dogs that are primarily one color other than white
- spotted dogs have white coats marked with dark spots. The dark colors Borzoi
come in include red, sabled red, black with tan, black, blue dilute of black
with tan & blue dilute of black. They also come in cream and in malamute/husky
color (called sable)
- In addition there is a dark striping called brindle that can be overlain
onto the cream, red, sabled red, agouti, and in the tan of the black with
tan. This results in brindles and mahagony brindles which may be
silvered, red or very dark.
- Dogs also come with "collie" type white markings. This is called "Irish
- Despite the fact that the standard says "all colors equally acceptable",
white dogs and spotted dogs with extensive white markings often appear to
be favored in the show ring. This impression is compounded, in my experience, by
the fact that some professional handlers are reluctant to accept darker colored
dogs to show.
Are any breeders developing a companion personality while maintaining
conformation and endurance running?
if you could arrange to let
them chase across the steppes after something.
- What do YOU MEAN by a companion personality?
- They are large hunting sighthounds, they like to run after things and
catch them. A few of show dogs I have encountered seemed to be so dull witted
and slow on the uptake that they no longer notice things to chase and catch but
in my experience these dogs are boreing to own as their main goal in life is to
lie around and be petted. Most Borzois are not like that no matter where they
- A Borzoi will never have the "totally devoted to the
owner, reliable off leash" sort of personality that is characteristic of a
collie. Collies are herding and guarding dogs moving their master's sheep
around and not killing those tempting little lambs. Borzoi are chase crazed
gorgeous hounds bred by the Decadent Russian Nobility (DRN) so that the DRN's
could have an excuse for charging across the steppes in the fall (after the
ground dried up enough but before the snows of winter) on horseback chasing
things and having the dogs catch them. Since they were RUSSIANS they chased
some BIGGER things (wolves) than the Decadent British Nobility (DBR) who
confined themselves to foxes and hares. (The DRN also used their dogs to chase
foxes and hares as these were more common than wolves. There is a lot of the
DRN in the Borzoi still. They love you, they allow you to provide them with a
place to live. They may insist that you pet them but they are their own
individuals and the really would like it
- Borzoi are breed with with a population of perhaps 12,000 in the US as a
whole and with almost no pet market. It may take us a year to sell a
litter and most of our buyers are looking for a combination coursing,
show, breeding, pet animal. Few Borzoi breeders breed for the pet market
Are they good companions for endurance
- They are not really endurance dogs - they are sprinters - 1 mile at 35
- Endurance dogs are racing sled dogs - 40 miles at 17 to 20 mph. Since a
jogging human does not travel any where near that speed "being bred for
endurance" is pretty much irrelevant for a dog accompanying a person on
foot. It could be a problem if you are a high speed bike rider. Dogs do
not sweat through their skins and the major factor that limits athletic
performance in physically normal dogs (ie no hip dysplasia, etc) is
overheating in humid climates. In our high humidity summers around here
many dogs could be severely stressed even at 80 degrees from extended
A lot of people seem to have more than one; is it because one dog
needs another dog companion?
- They are rather like potato chips...it's so hard to stop with just one.
- Seriously once you have modified your life style to accomodate one
sighthound you might as well have several. One alone is neurotic and
anyway it needs something else fast to run and play with (in a safely
enclosed area of course). Confining all of the exercise of a sighthound
to leash work with a jogging human is like exercising an eagle on a
- Of course you don't let them go any place where they can take off
and chase something you don't want chased. Once I was horseback riding in
the mountains of Pennsylvania with one of my Borzoi. He saw a deer and took off
at full speed over the nearest horizon (since we were in the mountains he
didn't have to travel far to be out of sight). It took me 4 hours of riding and
yelling to find him. Then we were both lost. I gave the horse it's head hoping
it would find its way back. This resulted in all 3 of us being lost. Finally I
found a paved road and asked directions. We were about an hour an a half by
road at a horse walk from my friend's farm.
17) Do you know of any Borzoi owners in our area that would consider a
mutually beneficial trading of pet sitting duties? Or is this
potentially a bad idea?
- The main problem with pet sitting is that you must have a good high fence
to do it. Dogs left with people who are not their owners tend to try and
escape in order to go find their owners. Dogs left with strangers are
often desdructive and disobedient. Sighthounds left with people who
are not their owners tend to not come to strangers when they get loose.
In addition there is a legal responsibility if you are caring for
someone's dog and it bites someone else. Dogs that do not know each other
very well may get into serious fights when suddenly housed together in
the care of a person they don't know well.
- I learned this lesson painfully in my youth when I volunteered to dog sit
a friend's Lab while I was living in DC. We had one of those awful DC
frozen rain and sleet storms and when I took the Lab and the Borzoi out
to walk them the Lab pulled me and I fell on the front stairs of the
townhouse. The Lab, then loose, ran down the deserted icy street to be run
over by the only Metro bus moving in DC that afternoon. Had the dog been
in a kennel it would not have happened. Had I been living somewhere with
a secure fenced yard it would not have happened (unless the dog had
slipped out the front door of the house).
What would be the cost of buying a non-show, strictly-for-companionship
Borzoi (puppy or older - known background - adult) not for breeding.
- This varies with the part of the country you are in and how desperate a breeder
may be to place pups in a litter.
- In general our pups go for $500 to $600. Sometimes older animals that have
not turned out to be breeding quality are less. The occasional pup with a bad
bite or a blue eyed dog that was not a blue dilute would be $400. The rescues
are available for our costs which are generally around $250 which includes
neutering, shots and a vet health certificate. We warrentee Borzoi from our own
breeding against congenital temperament/health problems but the rescues are
strictly "what you see is what you get". However we do try and evaluate the
personality of the rescues honestly and they are always placed initially on a
Is there a Borzoi Breed Description Document on the
- There are a number of such documents on the web. One authored by Bonnie
Dalzell is at NetPet on line magazine.
This link will take you there. You may have to use the return arrow on your browser to
return to Borzois.com.
How do I contact the National Breed Club?
- The national breed club is The Borzoi Club of America. This is a link to their pages.
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