The Borzoi, or Russian Wolfhound

by Major Borman


Not many of us can afford to start at the top of the tree, and, except for the favoured few to whom money is no object, and who can buy ready-made champions, there is no better way of starting a kennel than to purchase a really good bitch, one, say, capable of winning at all but the more important shows. CH Miss Piostri - click to enlargeShe must be of good pedigree, strong, and healthy; such an one ought to be obtained for £15 upwards, Mate her to the best dog whose blood "nicks" suitably with hers, but do not waste time and money breeding from fourth-rate stud dogs, for if you do it is certain you will only meet with disappointment.You may save a guinea or two on the stud fee, but you will find you will have no sale for the progeny of unknown dogs; whereas strong, healthy puppies by a well-known sire will always command a ready market. On the other hand, if you have had little or no experience of dogs, you may possibly prefer to start with a puppy. If so, my advice is to place yourself in the hands of a breeder with a reputation at stake (unless you have a friend who understands the breed). It is a fact that even a "cast off" from a good strain that has been bred for certain points for years is more likely to turn out a better dog than a pup whose dam has been mated "haphazard" to some dog who may or may not have been a good one. Big kennels also generally possess the best bitches and breed from them, and the bitch is quite as important a factor as the sire. If, however, you prefer to rely on your own judgement, and wish to choose a puppy yourself from a litter, select the one with the longest head, biggest bone, smallest ears, and longest tail, or as many of these qualities as you can find combined in one individual. Coat is a secondary matter in quite a young pup; here one should be guided by the coat of the sire and dam. Still, choose a pup with a heavy coat, if possible, although when this puppy coat is cast, the dog may not grow so good a one as some of the litter who in early life were smoother.

As regards size, a Borzoi pup of three months should measure about 19 inches at the shoulder, at six months about 25 inches, and at nine months from 27 to 29 inches. After ten or twelve months, growth is very slow, although some continue adding to their height until they are a year and a half old. They will, of course, increase the girth of chest and develop muscle until two years old; a Borzoi may be considered in its prime at from three to four years of age. As regards price, from £5 to £10 is not too much to pay for a really good pup of about eight to ten weeks old; if you pay less you will probably get only a second-rate one. Having purchased your puppy, there are three principal items to be considered if you intend to rear him well; firstly, his diet must be varied; secondly, the pup must have unlimited exercise, and never be kept on the chain; thirdly, internal parasites must be kept in check. For young puppies the writer - who has tried nearly every advertised remedy - has found nothing to equal "Ruby" Worm Cure; it is most efficacious, and does not distress the patient.

Food should be given at regular intervals - not less frequently than five times a day to newly weaned puppies - and may consist of porridge, bread and milk, raw meat minced fine, and any table scraps, with plenty of raw milk. Well-boiled paunch is also greatly appreciated, and, being easily digested, may be given freely.

One important part of the puppy's education that must by no means be neglected is to accustom him to go on the collar and lead. Borzoi pups are, as a rule, extremely nervous, and it requires great patience in some cases to train them to the lead. Short lessons should be given when about four months old. If you can induce the puppy to think it is a new game, well and good - he will take to it naturally; but once he looks upon it as something to be dreaded, it means hours of patient work to break him in.

If you decide on commencing with a brood bitch, see that she is dosed for worms before visiting the dog; that she is in good hard condition - not fat, however; and, if possible, accompany her yourself and see her mated. For the first week rather less than her usual quantity of food should be given; afterwards feed as her appetite dictates, but do not let her get too fat, or she may have a bad time when whelping. For two days before the puppies are due give sloppy but nourishing diet, and this should be continued, given slightly warm, for four or five days after the pups are born. Borzois as a rule make excellent mothers, but to rear them well they should not be allowed to suckle more than five - or, if a strong, big bitch, six - pups. If the litter is larger, it is better to destroy the remainder, or use a foster mother.

One great advantage the breed has over many others is the absolutely natural state in which the dogs may be shown. No "trimming" is required. A good bath a day or two before the show is all that is necessary, for which purpose nothing is better than rain water; a little liquid ammonia in it helps to remove the dirt.

Mrs. Borman's Borzoi - click to enlargeWhatever they may be in their native land - and the first imported specimens were perhaps rather uncertain in temper - the Borzoi, as we know him in this country, is affectionate, devoted to his owner, friendly with his kennel companions - I have had as many as twenty all running loose together, and kennel fights are practically unknown - and he makes a capital house dog. As a lady's companion he is hard to beat; indeed a glance at any show catalogue will prove that the majority of Borzois are owned by the gentle sex. No one need to be deterred from keeping a Borzoi by a remark the writer has heard hundreds of times at shows: "Those dogs are so delicate." This is not the case. Once over distemper troubles - and the breed certainly does suffer badly if it contracts the disease - the Borzoi is as hardy as most breeds, if not hardier. Given a good dry kennel and plenty of straw, no weather is too cold for them; in fact, all my own dogs live in cold kennels with open doors the entire winter. Damp, of course, must be avoided, but this applies equally to other breeds.

The adult hound, like the puppy, should never be kept on a chain; a kennel with a railed-in run should be provided, or a loose box makes a capital place for those kept out of doors, otherwise no different treatment is required from that of other large breeds. A dry biscuit in the morning, a good feed at night - most Borzois are, for their size, comparatively small eaters - a good grooming daily with an ordinary dandy brush, and plenty of exercise, should suffice to keep any Borzoi in excellent condition. A few minutes expended on the dog's coat daily saves much trouble in the long run; a Borzoi "pays" for a little attention. His beautiful coat shines; the feathering keeps free from mats, the skin is clean and healthy, and a bath is unnecessary except before shows. One word more: feed, groom, and exercise your purchase yourself, at all events until he thoroughly knows you are his master. A dog arriving at a new home, petted and ordered about by all the inmates of the house, oftens ends by rendering obedience to none.

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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