Traits, Personality and Behavior
Despite their fashion-magazine present and recent past, the Borzoi was developed to hunt hare and wolves in the harsh Russian climate. Like most sighthounds -- dogs related to the Greyhound -- the Borzoi loves to run, and his desire to chase things is extremely powerful. That impulse is very likely to over-ride any amount of training your young dog has had, so safely fenced areas to run and play are essential for the puppy or young Borzoi
By the time he's older, if you put the effort into training him to come when called, you may be able to be less strict about fences. However, some owners of Borzoi are never able to let their dogs off-leash in unfenced areas.
Borzoi are typically quiet, clean, and well-mannered, although challenging to train beyond the level of simple good house behavior. Puppies need the same training all young dogs need -- housebreaking, no jumping, don't chase the cat or eat the couch.
The Borzoi is a tall but slender dog, and weighs anywhere from 60-120 pounds. His distinctive silky coat requires a fair amount of care, and needs to be brushed at least weekly. Many Borzoi owners have their dogs professionally groomed, and those who live in the country or who hunt with their hounds often keep their long "feathering" cut short.
Borzoi tend to be very good with children, but their large size can make them somewhat hazardous playmates. Never let your Borzoi develop a habit of jumping on people, no matter how cute it is when he's a puppy.
Health Issues Common to the Borzoi
Borzois are typically very healthy, but they can suffer from a number of genetic health conditions, including some forms of cancer, heart disease, and bone problems.
In the hope of controlling the genetic diseases that already affect the breed and prevent any new ones from emerging, the Borzoi Club of America, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in a program operated by the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC).
CHIC requires that breeders test all their breeding dogs for heart, eye and thyroid diseases that are prevalent in the breed, and recommends dogs also be tested for hip and elbow dysplasia.
All breeders should be able to show written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) clearing your puppy's parents of hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, and eye problems. PennHip, OVC and certification of hips are also accepted, as is GDC certifications of hips and elbows.
Like the Greyhound, Borzois can suffer from a condition known as malignant hyperthermia, a reaction to gas anesthesia that can be fatal and requires very specific treatment. Dogs with MH always react to gas anesthesia in this way, so if your Borzoi has never been anesthetized before, or has been and is known to suffer from MH, make sure that any veterinarian anesthetizing your Borzoi is familiar with the condition and ready to treat it.
Borzois are more likely than many breeds to bloat, a condition in which the stomach twists on itself, cutting off blood flow. Bloat and torsion strikes very suddenly, and a dog who was fine one minute can be dead a few hours later. Watch for symptoms like restlessness and pacing, drooling, pale gums and lip licking, trying to throw up but without bringing anything up, and signs of pain. Bloat requires immediate veterinary surgery, and most dogs that have bloated once will bloat again. That means it's wise to opt for the procedure known as "stomach tacking," which will keep the stomach from twisting in the future. This procedure can also be done as a preventive measure.
Hip dysplasia is rare in Borzois, so if your dog is limping, painful, stiff or reluctant to get up or move around, be thorough in determining the cause. There are a number of neck and spinal problems that can cause those symptoms, and the best place to get a diagnosis for any persistent muscolo-skeletal problem in a Borzoi is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon.
A good breeder will be able to discuss how prevalent these and other conditions that have no genetic screening test are in her dogs' lines, and help puppy buyers make an informed decision about health risks to their dog.
4 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Borzoi Puppy
Concentrate on finding a good breeder rather than a puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. Make sure to select a breeder who is a member in good standing of the Borzoi Club of America.
Puppy or adult, take your Borzoi to your veterinarian soon after he becomes part of your family. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
Although Borzois are virtually never found in pet stores, the advice to never, ever, ever buy a puppy from that source still stands. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Pet Insurance for Borzois
Pet insurance for Borzois costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Borzois are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Borzois are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Borzoi is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.