The exact origins of this graceful hound remains a bit of a mystery, but some people believe the breed was developed way back during the 9th and 10th centuries and that the Saluki may well have been used to create these elegant, graceful, courageous and extremely fast dogs.
What is known is that the Borzoi is Russia’s most well-known hound and that they were used during the 17th century to hunt wolves. It was a Russian Duke who first imported a number of sighthounds after having travelled to Arabia. These dogs were not robust or strong enough to survive Russia’s harsh winter temperatures so the Duke imported several more of these sighthounds only this time he crossed the hounds with native breeds which are thought to have been coursing hounds or shepherd dogs used by the Tartars back in the day.
The Borzoi soon became a popular gift offered to European royals by the Czars of Russia and the sighthounds soon became a firm favourite thanks to their kind, placid natures and exotic looks. In 1903, a man called Joseph Thomas travelled to Russia on a quest to find the perfect Borzoi which he discovered in Woronza at kennels that belonged to His Royal Highness, the Grand Duke Nicholas of Tula and Artem Balderoff.
Joseph Thomas imported a number of hounds from these kennels and it was these Borzois that were to become the foundation breeding stock of dogs both in the UK and on the other side of the Atlantic in America that we see today. Sadly, during the Russian Revolution of 1917, these aristocratic hounds were seen as being bourgeois accessories of the rich and as such many of them were killed. The breed only managed to survive vanishing forever thanks to the dogs that were gifted to people in other countries of the world.
It is worth noting that the breed’s name was changed from Russian Wolfhound to Borzoi during the mid-1930’s so that they were known by the same breed name throughout the world. Today, the Borzoi is a popular choice and the breed has a large and loyal fanbase both as a companion and family pet thanks to the very elegant looks and their extremely kind, calm and placid natures.
Interesting facts about the breed
- Is the Borzoi a vulnerable breed? No, although the numbers of well-bred puppies registered with the Kennel Club is quite low. As such anyone wishing to share a home with one of these elegant hounds would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so
- A male Borzoi is masculine in appearance without ever showing any sort of coarseness while females have a more refined and feminine look about them
- A Borzoi’s build is all-important because the way they are put together is what makes them so good at the job they were bred to do, namely chase, catch and hold their prey
- The first Borzoi arrive in the United States in 1890
- The first Borzois to be offered as gifts by the Czar were to Queen Victoria, but later, the Prince of Wales and King Edward VII were also given some hounds too