What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Borzoi Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
Possessed of a quiet dignity and independence, the Borzoi is sometimes compared to a cat.
Once past the puppy stage, he is calm and quiet indoors, gliding through the living room with light-footed grace.
Off-leash, though, he explodes into a powerful, driving, floating gallop. The space where he is loosed to run must be safe and enclosed, else he will be out of sight in seconds. Breeders say the leading cause of death in Borzoi is being hit by a car.
Most Borzois are polite but reserved with strangers. Because of their great size and strength, they require early socialization to avoid either shyness or aggression.
Usually sociable with other dogs of their own size, the Borzoi is a deadly serious chaser of anything that runs, including cats and tiny dogs.
Like all sighthounds, Borzoi are independent and not inclined to obey slavishly.
Though usually sweet and docile, they can be touch-sensitive and may react with lightning reflexes if grabbed unexpectedly or startled. This is a not a breed to be taken lightly or teased.
If you want a dog who...
- Is tall and slender, yet very powerful -- a racy athlete
- Has a silky coat that comes in many colors
- Is extremely athletic and graceful -- can run swiftly and jump great heights
- Carries himself in a calm, dignified manner
- Is mannerly and undemanding in the home (adults only)
- Is polite with people
- Doesn't bark much
A Borzoi may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Providing a safe enclosed area where he can gallop
- Shyness or suspiciousness when not socialized enough
- Emotional sensitivity to stress and abrupt changes in schedule
- Strong instincts to chase other living creatures that run
- An independent "what's in it for me?" attitude toward training -- can be stubborn and strong-willed
- Slowness to housebreak
- Heavy shedding
A Borzoi may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Borzoi
If I was considering a Borzoi, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough running exercise. Borzois don't need miles of running, but they MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy through all-out galloping a few times a week. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by destructive chewing.
Borzois need access to a large fenced area -- fenced because these independent dogs are likely to take off and not come back. If there is a dog club in your area, get your Borzoi involved in lure coursing (chasing a mechanized lure around a track or across an open field). This is an appropriate outlet for the full-speed galloping behaviors that are "hardwired" into his genes.
- Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Borzois need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness or suspicion, which are difficult to live with.
- Chasing other animals. Most people do not realize just how fast and agile sighthounds are -- or how strong their instincts are to chase and seize fleeing creatures. Some male Borzois are aggressive with other male dogs. Many Borzois will pursue your neighbor's cat or small dog, if given the chance. In today's society, the legal liabilities of owning a large hunting breed should be considered.
- The independent temperament. Borzois are not Golden Retrievers. They are independent thinkers who don't particularly care about pleasing you. Most Borzois are stubborn and can be manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Borzoi to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Borzoi Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Emotional sensitivity. Be honest...is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? Are there arguments or fights? Borzois are extremely sensitive to stress and can end up literally sick to their stomachs, with severe digestive upsets and neurotic behaviors, if the people in their home are having family problems. Sighthounds are peaceful, sensitive dogs who need a peaceful, harmonious home.
- Heavy shedding. Borzoi shed a great deal. You'll find hair all over your clothing, upholstery, carpeting, under your furniture, and on your countertops.
- Health problems. Borzoi are extremely prone to a life-threatening digestive syndrome called bloat. In addition, an alarming number of Borzoi are dying early of cancer and heart disease.
To learn more about training Borzoi to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Borzoi the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Borzoi. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Borzoi might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Borzoi home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Borzoi...
When you're acquiring a Borzoi PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Borzoi who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
No part of this website may be copied, displayed on another website,
or distributed in any way without the express permission of the author.