One of the most popular sighthounds, the present-day Russian Borzoi is a common family pet and show dog, rarely used as a hunter anymore. Its origins can be traced to the crosses between ancient ovcharkas, beardogs and coursing hounds intended to produce a sighthound of great speed, tenacity and power. Breeds such as the West-Siberian Mastiff, Arab Saluki, Afghan Hound and the lighter types of the Central Asian Shepherd Dog, as well as Laikas and the extinct Lapp sled-dogs are said to had been used in the development of the working Borzoi of the middle ages. A variety of types existed among the early Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya breed, ranging anywhere from shorthaired to longhaired to bearded dogs, as well as specimens of different sizes and temperaments.
By the 1600's, the Russian Wolfhound was fairly standardized and it became a favourite hare-coursing and large game hunting breed of Russian royalty, participating in their famous hunting expeditions for centuries. Over a hundred dogs were commonly employed in these hunts. Alongside the Chortai hounds and Medelyan mastiffs, the Siberian Borzois were used to catch, overpower and hold the wolf or tiger until the hunters came to either kill the beast or set it free.
The most popular Borzoi type came from the Perchino (Perchina) bloodlines bred by the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevitch and these were the dogs given as gifts to European royalty by the Czar of Russia. The word "Borzoi" is actually used to describe any sighthound in Russia, but in the West it sounded exotic enough to make it an official name of the Russian Wolfhound, which became quite popular in the 1800's Britain, thanks to Princess Alexandra's fascination with the breed. The Russian revolution nearly wiped out the entire Borzoi population, seen as a remnant of the hated aristocratic past. It is believed that the remaining Perchina specimens found in Europe were crossed with Greyhounds and Collies, creating the modern Borzoi breed.
The Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya has enjoyed a steady popularity in the West throughout the 20th century and its appeal is increasing worldwide. Tall, lean and athletic, this breed makes a well-manered house pet, but needs an active outside lifestyle with proper socialization and obedience training.
The coat is rich and soft, needing regular care. All colours are acceptable. The average height is around 30 inches.