The Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound

by Major Borman


To take the points of the breed in detail, the description of the perfect Borzoi is as follows -

    1. Head - this should be long and lean. It is, however, not only essential for the head to be long, but it must also be what is termed "well balanced," and the length, from the tip of the nose to the eyes, must be the same as from the eyes to the occiput. A dog may have a long head, but the length may be all in front of the eyes. The heads of this breed have greatly improved the last few years; fewer "apple-headed" specimens, and more of the desired triangular heads being seen. The skull should be flat and narrow, the stop not perceptible, the muzzle long and tapering. Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of the head being well filled up before the eyes. The head, from forehead to nose, should be so fine that the direction of the bones and principal veins can be seen clearly, and in profile should appear rather Roman nosed. Bitches should be even narrower in head than dogs. A perfect head is shown on p. 185.
    2. Eyes - These should be dark, expressive, almond shaped, and not too far apart.
    3. Ears - Like those of a Greyhound, small, thin, and placed well back on the head, with the tips, when thrown back, almost touching behind the occiput. It is not a fault if the dog can raise his ears erect when excited or looking after game, although some English judges dislike this frequent characteristic.
    4. Neck - The head should be carried somewhat low, with the neck continuing the line of the back.
    5. Shoulders - Clean and sloping well back, i.e. the shoulder blades should almost touch one another.
    6. Chest - Deep and somewhat narrow. It must be capacious, but the capacity must be got from depth, and not from "barrel" ribs - a bad fault in a running hound.
    7. Back - Rather bony, and free from any cavity in the spinal column, the arch in the back being more marked in the dog than in the bitch.
    8. Loins - Broad and very powerful, showing plenty of muscular development.
    9. Thighs - Long and well developed, with good second thigh. The muscle in the Borzoi is longer than in the Greyhound.
    10. Ribs - Slightly sprung, very deep, reaching to the elbow.
    11. Fore-legs - Lean and straight. Seen from the front they should be narrow and from the side broad at the shoulder and narrowing gradually down to the foot, the bone appearing flat and not round as in the Foxhound.
    12. Hind Legs - The least thing under the body when standing still, not straight, and the stifle slightly bent. They should, of course, be straight as regards each other, and not "cow-hocked," but straight hind legs imply a want of speed.
    13. Feet - Like those of the Deerhound, rather long. The toes close together and well arched.
    14. Coat - Long, silky, not woolly; either flat, wavy, or curly. On the head, ears, and front legs it should be short and smooth; on the neck the frill should be profuse and rather curly; on the chest and the rest of the body, the tail and hindquarters, it should be long; the fore-legs being well feathered.
    15. Tail - Long, well-feathered, and not gaily carried. It should be carried well down, almost touching the ground.
    16. Height - Dogs from 29 inches upwards at the shoulder, bitches from 27 inches upwards. (Originally 27 inches and 26 inches. Altered at a general meeting of the Borzoi Club, held February, 1906.)
    17. Faults - Head short and thick; too much stop; parti-coloured nose; eyes too wide apart; heavy ears; heavy shoulders; wide chest; "barrel" ribbed; dew-claws; elbows turned out; wide behind. Also light eyes and over or undershot jaws.
    18. Colour - The Club standard makes no mention of colour. White, of course, should predominate; fawn, lemon, orange, brindle, blue, slate and black markings are met with. Too much of the latter, or black and tan markings, are disliked. Whole coloured dogs are also seen.

The foregoing description embodies the standard of points as laid down and adopted by the Borzoi Club, but I have interpolated some remarks for the further guidance of the novice.

CH Strawberry King - click to enlargeThe Borzoi Club was founded in 1982, and now consists of about fifty members, with the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle as joint-presidents. It does much good work for the breed, guaranteeing classes at shows, where otherwise few or none would be given, encouraging the breeding of high-class Borzois by offering its valuable challenge cups and other special prizes, and generally looking after the interests of the breed.*

Although the Club standard of height has been raised from 27 and 26 inches to 29 and 27 inches for dogs and bitches respectively, it must be borne in mind that the best dogs of today far exceed these measurements, and, unless exceptionally good in other points, a dog of 29 inches at shoulder would stand little or no chance in the showing under the majority of English judges; indeed, bitches of 29 to 30 inches are by no mens uncommon, as will be seen by glancing at the following measurements of some of the leading champions of recent years.

Ch. Velsk (dog)



Height at shoulder

31 3/4 ins.


Length of head

12 1/2 ins.


Girth of chest

35 1/2 ins.

Ch. Tatiana (bitch)



Height at shoulder

30 1/4 ins.


Length of head

12 ins.


Girth of chest

35 1/2 ins.

Ch. Statesman (dog)



Height at shoulder

31 3/4 ins.


Length of head

12 1/4 ins.


Girth of chest

35 1/4 ins.

Ch. Kieff (dog)



Height at shoulder

33 ins.


Length of head

12 1/2 ins.


Girth of chest

35 ins.

Ch. Miss Piostri (bitch)



Height at shoulder

31 ins.


Length of head

11 1/2 ins.


Girth of chest

34 1/4 ins.




The above, of course, all combine quality with size; mere size in itself is nothing to go by. A list of Borzois entitled to the coveted prefix of "Champion" at the present day (1907) may be of interest.

Clumber Kennels (Her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle's) - DOGS: Ivan Turgeneff, Velsk, Votrio, Vassal. BITCHES: Sunbeam, Theodora, Tatiana.Piostri's profile - click to enlarge

Ramsden Kennels (Mrs. Borman's) - DOGS: Kieff, Ramsden, Ranger, Statesman. BITCH: Miss Piostri.

Padiham Kennels (Mr. Murphy's) - DOG: Padiham Nordia.

Mrs. Aitcheson's Kennels - DOG:Strawberry King. BITCH: Votrio Vikhra.

Mrs. May's Kennel - DOG: Berris.

There are, however, a few others that have won one or two challenge prizes, and who, ere this appears in print, may rank with the elite of their breed.

The above measurements, together with the accompanying photographs, should be sufficient guide to an intending purchaser of Borzois, who must, however, remembers that they are given only as a guide, and that he must not expect quite such excellence, unless prepared to dip very deeply into his pocket.


>>> Care of the Borzoi

* The Hon. Sec. is Major Borman, Billericay, Essex, who will at all times be pleased to furnish any lady or gentleman desiring to join with full particulars.

Coursing and Racing Dogs
(Freeman Lloyd)

(not exclusively Borzoi)

Coursing Excerpt from The Beasts of the Prairies

Dog of All the Russias
(W. Haynes)

Dogs of Today - the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi

Dogs That Hunt Bears and Wolves (Excerpt)
Freeman Lloyd

Excerpt from Hutchinson's Encyclopedia

Excerpt from the Kennel Encyclopaedia

Freeman Lloyd on Borzoi

Hound of the Czars
(Walter Dyer)

Hunting Dogs: Sighthounds and Scenthounds
(L. P. Sabaneev, 1899)

Hunting Large Game Excerpt

J.B. Thomas Says American Borzoi Lead the World
(Micheline de Zutter)

An Outline of the History of the Borzoi
Baron G.D. Rozen, 1891

Ruby de Bolshoy
(Melanie Richards)

Russian Wolfhounds of Yesterday and Today
(Freeman Lloyd)

RWCA's History (1930)

the Borzoi
(H. W. Huntington)

the Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound
(Major Borman)

the Hare and Many Foes

the Russian Borzoi (excerpt from "Dogs From All Angles")

the Russian Wolfhound
(James Watson)

the Russian Wolfhound or Borzoi
(W. Johnston)

Twentieth Century Dog - Borzoi Section

Watson on Borzoi


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