region Russia
cut M 75 to 85 cm, F 68 to 78 cm
hair  Silky, soft and supple, wavy
dress Combination of all colors except blue and brown
head Dry, narrow, slightly marked stop, large nose
eyes Dark hazelnut or dark brown, almond-shaped
ear Small, mobile, set high, rather backwards
tail Long, saber-shaped, topped with a plume
behaviour Calm, balanced. Gets excited at the sight of game
federation FCI nomenclature group 10 section 1 no 193
The Borzoi or Russian Greyhound (Rousskaya Psovaya Borzaya, psovaya borzaya meaning "fast, long-haired") is a canine breed originating from Russia. The International Cynological Federation classifies it in group 10, sighthounds, section 1, standard n° 193. Use: sighthound for hunting, racing and sight pursuit on decoy. Care and health The maintenance of the Borzoi is limited to the bare minimum, for a long-haired dog: a good careful brushing, once or twice a week, is enough. A bath from time to time and in particular two days before an exhibition (so that the hair is particularly beautiful and natural). If he is brought up appropriately and if he lives in conditions favorable to his development, to his blossoming, the borzoi is a vigorous and resistant animal. That said, his life expectancy is 13 years, rarely more. As a rule, females live longer than males. Pathologies listed in the Borzoi, listed in alphabetical order: Various eye conditions, including Borzoi retinopathy Cardiopathies (among others: valvular dysplasia) Hypothyroidism (thyroid insufficiency) Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency) Spondylopathies (among others: the syndrome of Wobler) Torsion (or reversal) of the stomach (volvulus) with or without dilation, consecutive or not to splenic torsion. All of these conditions - except retinopathy in its unique Borzoi form - affect many other dog breeds as well. Most are hereditary or racially predisposed.
The origins of the borzoi are remote and controversial. It would be the result of crosses between different Asian greyhounds (originally Sloughi / Tazi) and the Laïka, spitz-type dog, with long hair, originating from northern Russia, used in particular for hunting and drawing. Other crossings undoubtedly took place thereafter. Furthermore, in the current state of knowledge, the possibility of an origin directly linked to wildlife cannot be excluded. In any case, the selection made by breeders resulted in the creation of a more or less homogeneous breed, from the end of the 18th century1. The first mention of a Russian greyhound - but not necessarily of the psovoi borzoi - in France, dates from the beginning of the 11th century. According to a chronicle, Anne of kyiv, daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of kyiv, who married King Henry I in second marriage, was escorted by three greyhounds: a black, a gray and a fawn. She liked, we are told, a lot to hunt with hounds. We also know that in 1519, the king of Denmark, Christian II, offered to Francis I, king of France, greyhounds of Russian breed, brought back from Muscovy In his Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii (Commentaries on Muscovite affairs), published in 1549 , Baron Sigismund von Herberstein, Ambassador of Emperor Maximilian I to Grand Prince Vasily III of Moscow, described a Grand Ducal hunt which he attended as a guest. This hunt took place as follows: touts beat the clumps of trees and brushwood to get the hares out of them and when these appeared in the open, the hunters posted around released their greyhounds. According to Artem Boldarev, himself the owner of a famous pack (Woronzova) and a great connoisseur of the breed, “it was indeed with borzois that Grand Prince Vassili III hunted. There is a missal miniature where he is represented going on pilgrimage, seated in a sleigh and followed by his hunting squire leading his svora made up of three borzois on a leash. These are very recognizable by their elongated muzzle, their long hair and their sickle-shaped tail. The earliest known description of a densely coated Russian Greyhound dates from the early 17th century (1635). It is found in a book entitled The Rules of Hunting with the Long-Haired Greyhound, written by Christian von Lessing, from Riga. In the 18th century, hunting with hounds reached its golden age in Russia. Most members of the Romanov dynasty (founded in 1613) and Russian landed gentry have always loved and assiduously practiced hunting with hounds, with borzois, even other greyhounds, and hounds. This form of hunting is unique in that it involves a pack of hounds and a pack of borzois. Launched into the undergrowth by the huntsmen on horseback, the pack of hounds drives the game over open ground, towards the borzois posted at a distance. Hunters on horseback lead the borzois in svora of two or three (the word svora designates both the pair or trio of dogs and the long leather strap that holds them). As soon as they are freed at the sight of the game, the borzois must catch up with it to kill or immobilize it. Whether they hunt by taste or by tradition, the Russians maintain sumptuous crews. Take the example of a certain Samsonov, in Smolensk, who owns a thousand dogs and, we are told, never fails to add the words “first hunter in Russia” after his signature. The borzoi is raised in very distinct packs (colors of coats, type of hair, head shapes, sizes, etc.) according to the respective tastes of the hunters. It is used for hunting hare, fox but also wolf, deer or wild boar. The abundant pictorial iconography available from the 19th century attests that the breed is now at its peak, even in the diversity of its types. But the abolition of serfdom in 1861 dealt it a first almost fatal blow. Landowners are losing an important free labor force. “Nine-tenths of the fighter crews are liquidated,” writes Artem Boldarev. However, there are still a large number of them. From the 1870s, the borzoi gradually spread throughout the world. We are beginning to know him in England, France, America and elsewhere. However, the morphology of some individuals is debatable. The types are very variable, often bastardized. In Russia, a few breeders are mobilizing to try to save the breed, with the help of the last disparate packs that still exist. In 1873, and on the initiative of Count VA Sheremetiev, they founded the Imperial Association for the Propagation of Hunting Dogs and the Regulation of Hunting. It organizes exhibitions and running events in a closed field. In 1887, the Grand Duke Nicolaï Nicolaïevich Romanov (1856-1929) created his own hunt, on the domain of Perchino (province of Tula). His pack will remain the most famous and undoubtedly the most beautiful among all the others whose name has been remembered in history. Nicolai Nicolaievitch was not only a great career soldier but also an avid hunter and a shrewd breeder. We can also admit that, as regards his hunting crews, he willingly took advice from his steward, Dmitri Valtsov, author of a reference work devoted to Perchino (La Chasse de Perchino), published in Russia, in 1913 Unfortunately, the Russian revolution of 1917 will almost annihilate the borzoi in its country of origin. Luckily, the many individuals previously exported - in particular from Perchino - to several European countries and even to the United States will save the breed. The borzoi was very fashionable in interwar society. Its iconography is extremely rich (paintings, bronzes, earthenware, porcelain, illustrations, postcards, posters, photos). Then it fell back into semi-forgetting, after the Second World War. Apart from the countries where you can still hunt with greyhounds (Russian Federation, Eastern European countries and the United States, among others), the borzoi has above all become a companion dog, which also often frequents dog tracks and fields. fitted out for sight pursuit on decoys. Pursuit on sight on a decoy (false game in skin or plastic) - or PVL - is very suitable for the borzoi because it allows him to satisfy his hunting instincts while showing his intelligence on the run.
The Borzoi is a gentle, calm, reserved animal - especially with people he does not know. But this "still water" can also hide a fiery temper. Some well-born subjects, still very close to their hunting ancestors, have more than others an inner fire that just wants to burst forth, all their life. Living with a borzoi is not always easy! A fine and chiseled head The Borzoi attaches itself very strongly and even exclusively to the person who raises it and takes care of it the most. But he is never servile. He can be an excellent keeper. He is sometimes impatient with children whose agitation will push him to flee or - we cannot exclude it - to react aggressively, if he is really "pushed to the limit". Very intelligent, sometimes as stubborn as a mule, he requires a fine education but an iron fist in a velvet glove. Because he is very sensitive and does not support brutality. To be balanced, the adult borzoi needs to exercise, play and run every day (note: the exercise of the young growing borzoi must be carefully modulated, until the age of about 12 months). At home, he likes comfort and tranquility.