What Are Borzoi Bred For?

Two borzoi on leash.

All dogs were initially bred for various reasons. Most of the breeds we see today have historical roots to their original ancestors that were bred for specific purposes hundreds of years ago. In most cases, a lot of species were bred to be hunters, and this includes Borzois.

Borzoi dogs were initially bred to hunt wolves, as wolf hunting was quite popular in Russia hundreds of years ago. Today, Borzoi are more likely to be faithful watchdogs, proficient race dogs due to their impressive size and agility, or family dogs.

As crazy as it may sound, the Borzoi was specifically bred for hunting wolves back in the day, even though the modern-day Borzois are quite good-natured and calm around humans. Let’s look a little deeper into the historical roots of the Borzoi to understand more about this breed and how it came to be what it is today.

Wolf hunters

It was not uncommon for dogs to be bred for a very specific purpose or task, because dogs were usually easier to tame and train than most other animals. Of course, because of that very fact and how dogs are fast, strong, and have keen senses, they use dogs for specific purposes.

In the past, before the days of fast food and grocery stores, people needed to hunt for their food to survive. One of the most common purposes for dogs was to work as hunters. where wolves became dogs as humans looked for the most obedient and most docile wolves so that they can breed them to produce the canine companions we have today. And from those canines, we now have different dog breeds that have their own specific purposes.

And even when humans no longer needed to hunt for their food, they still hunted for sport and employed dogs to help them track different animals. The Borzoi is one of those dog breeds that was later bred to hunt for sport.

While many different dog breeds were bred to be hunters that chased after smaller prey or animals that were less likely to fight back, Borzois were much different. Instead of hunting for rabbits or deer or any other herbivore, Borzois hunted wolves.

Yes, you read that right because Borzois were specifically bred to be wolf hunters even though they may not look like they can hunt.

Back when the Romanovs were in charge of everything in Russia, the Russian aristocrats enjoyed hunting wolves. These noblemen arranged wolf hunting events on many different occasions, including festivals or cultural rituals.

This was usually done on their large personal estates, and it was not unusual for you to see dozens or even hundreds of Borzois used for these ritualized wolf hunts.

However, Borzois usually hunted in packs and could pin down a single wolf just by working in packs. As such, even though the Borzoi isn’t as big and strong as a wolf, they were capable of hunting and pinning down their ancient ancestors by using numbers to their advantage.

When the Romanovs were ousted from power, the dogs were also disposed of. Whatever few remnants of the Borzoi breed remained were kept and promoted to the point that they brought to America, where many of the Borzoi breeds in American households have ancestry lines that can be directly traced back to the wolf hunting Borzois that the Romanovs used hundreds of years ago.


Another impressive trait of Borzois is their incredible skill as a sight hunter who can hunt on sight when it sees even the slightest sudden movements from potential prey. Because of this innate ability, many people have gotten a Borzoi as a watchdog as they excel at keeping watch over a family’s home. They are great at sensing possible dangers that may come and will bark to alert their owners whenever they sense something suspicious. 

As such, they work well at alerting people, but they are not the best when it comes to guarding a property because Borzois are generally gentle and rarely aggressive dogs. Expect them to be great as watchdogs but not so great when it comes to working as a guard dog.

Race dogs

After the Borzois were brought from Russia to America, the Americans of the late 1800s and the early 1900s had no reason to use these dogs for hunting wolves because wolf hunting was never something that was popular in America. Meanwhile, other hounds were employed as hunting companions for those hunting for sport or game, such as rabbits or deer. 

Even though the Borzoi was hardly ever used in America as a hunting dog it was more likely to be a regular as race dogs, as they can easily reach speeds of up to 35 mph. As gentle and friendly as they may look, their roots as wolf hunters allowed them to excel when running at incredible speeds because wolves are able to easily outrun most other dog breeds.

Of course, while the Borzoi may not be as fast as a wolf, what allowed it to excel as a wolf hunter was its fantastic stamina. Having the energy to chase after wolves for hours allowed the Borzois to excel in dog races because they can run at 35 mph for extended periods of time. That said, the Borzois are better suited for sprinting instead of endurance running.

Family companions

As time passed and people no longer train dogs for racing as often as they did in the past, Borzois are no longer primarily bred to be race dogs, much less to be hunters. Instead, more and more people are now breeding Borzois to be pets or family companions due to their intelligence and gentle nature.

They do particularly well when they are around people and are great family companions that are surprisingly well-behaved. However, Borzois are not as high energy as most other family dogs are, but they can be playful when they are encouraged to play.

Another thing, the Borzois are quite independent because they were bred to hunt wolves without being ordered to do so. As such, it is customary to expect a Borzoi to develop a slightly stubborn personality that some families may struggle with. But that doesn’t make them any less capable of becoming loving family dogs.

The Borzoi should maintain its status and identity as a family companion for years to come as there is no reason to expect them to return to their hunting roots. That said, the Borzoi is now bred more like a pet than a hunter or even a competitor. Expect the same to be true for years to come.

People Also Ask:

Can a Borzoi kill a wolf?

Borzoi were bred to hunt wolves. While a Borzoi can be a large and formidable dog, they hunted wolves in packs. Thus, it would require multiple Borzoi’s to kill a wolf.

What were Borzois used for?

Borzois were originally used to hunt wolves. This was popular with Russian aristocrats in the past when the used packs of Borzoi to hunt. They did this by relying on sight (as opposed to scent) to hunt prey.

Is a Borzoi a good family dog?

A Borzoi makes an excellent family dog. While Borzoi were originally bred to be hunters, they are extremely intelligent dogs with a very gentle nature. This makes them ideal family dogs and excellent watchdogs.

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