- Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
- In popularity, these elegant friends currently rank #103 out of all 192 AKC-recognized breeds.
- We think everyone on earth should be a fan, but does the average person in the street recognize him? Is this good or bad when it comes to placing puppies?
- Few of these dogs really “work” anymore. How has he adapted to civilian life? What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house?
- A big strong Sighthound requires a special household to be a perfect fit. What about the breed makes him an ideal companion? Drawbacks?
- What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate?
- At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthiness (or lack thereof)?
- We find his aloof demeanor enchanting, but wonderful if this can make him difficult to train. Is this your experience? Does that make it more interesting, or exasperating? (Or both.)
- What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging?
- What is your ultimate goal for the breed?
- What is your favorite dog show memory?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.
My parents met at a dog show. I was born on the way home from a dog show. I come from a large family (nine children). My first babysitter was a Great Dane. My parents had Boxers and Great Danes, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles, Old English Sheepdogs and Giant Schnauzers. My parents gave all the children, when they were old enough, their first dog, their choice of breed. I was about 15/16 years old when I saw Borzoi at a show (I believe it was Irv Bonois ) and was astounded by their movement. Didn’t get my first Borzoi for another seven years but he was worth the wait. I breed on a limited basis but have had some great successes. Have worked with my Borzoi in feature films with celebrities (Mel Gibson, Robert Downey, Jr., Jared Leto, just to name a few)
I live in Southern California, born and raised in a dog show family. I had a corporate career in Mfg Quality Control, retired in 1989, opened a grooming salon and then took over family boarding kennel in 2005. I’m currently semi-retired. Does anyone in dogs really retire?
My average response “on the street” is, “How beautiful! Is that a Greyhound?” In today’s environment with Meet the Breeds and dog shows more widely publicized, I see a more informed person when looking for a new addition to their family. I participate in an annual three day event (America’s Family Pet Expo) which draws approximately 15,000 spectators daily. I am impressed to hear pertinent questions as to the fit a Borzoi would make for them personally. I am fortunate to have most of my puppies spoken for before they are born.
My experience over the last 45 years with Borzoi adaptability has been incredible. Inside, I find they want to be where you are and have a relatively calm demeanor. They get to use their
inherent skills outside keeping uninvited guests (cats, small wildlife and coyotes) off their property.
They are the ideal companion, they are always there, easy to travel with and for their size rather unassuming in a social situation. Drawbacks are they require socialization, to stay in good shape, we need exercise and proper nutrition. And, obviously, their size.
When interviewing a prospective new puppy owner, you want to ensure they are prepared to take on a 10 to 15 year commitment. As cost of living increases and smaller living spaces become more common, educating a new owner to the cost, time and responsibilities required to have the pet/show dog you saw that interested you to begin with, that is paramount.
I am observing my puppies the moment they drop. It is amazing what you can see from the beginning. At approximately eight weeks I begin to see trait consistencies (good and not so good) that guide me to my next up and coming show prospect.
Does the breed’s aloof demeanor make training more interesting or exasperating? Definitely both. Over the years my experience has led me to at least leash train puppies before they go to their new homes. This gives the new owner the beginning most new puppy owners want, which to show off their new addition to their family.
The most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Borzoi is a slow maturing breed. Have patience. Yes, we can show young dogs and finish them quickly sometimes. However there is still a dog in progress. Borzoi can complete growth and maturity as late as three to four years.
My ultimate goal for the breed is to keep and preserve the Borzoi uniqueness that I have enjoyed all these years and hope to share with others the same.
My favorite dog show memory? I can’t point to one specific memory but I can tell you my dogs and their participation with me at dog shows, never ending excitement.
I brought my first Borzoi in 1971, paying $100 and trading an Indian sitar for her. She finished within the year. When I was first starting out, I was fortunate to have some stellar mentors. Thanks to their guidance I’ve gone with a very small, limited breeding program that has produced multiple champions, several all champion litters, #1 Borzoi, BIS/BISS winners and multiple top producers and ROMC Borzoi. In the beginning of lure coursing (1970s) I also had several BIF winners.
I live south of HHH—“Hot, Humid Houston”, Texas. What do I do outside of dogs? Who has time to do stuff outside of dogs? Professionally I work for Phillips 66, an energy distribution company. In my little free time I try to keep my birds, butterfly and bees garden blooming. We’re surrounded by commercial rice fields and our garden is a very popular stopping place for flying friends.
Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? While one of the sweetest breeds around I would be very happy if Borzoi never became one of the top most popular breeds The sighthound temperament is not for everyone and too often the average person is looking for the wrong breed in a Borzoi.
How has the breed adapted to civilian life? I don’t feel there’s very many ‘field’ qualities that come in handy while around the house. Field qualities call for a hunting gamey dog. We do our best to suppress this gaminess in modern society.
What about the breed makes them an ideal companion and are there drawsback? Did I mention hair, hair and more hair? As the old song goes, “Hair, Hair, Everywhere”. Definitely a drawback.
Once they become mature, Borzoi become the ideal housedog. Hogging the bed and couch. They love nothing better than to be around and snuggle with their people.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Unfortunately, the AR movement is negatively affecting and limiting our ability to do things that we use to be able freely to do. These days, especially when traveling or out in public, we have to protect our dogs from AR people We are currently finding many hotels that use to accept dogs no longer welcoming.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? By, the time they are up on their feet and trotting around I’ve usually have picked out my leading contenders. Then it becomes a waiting game. Will their bites be okay? Will the males have their equipment? Will they pass their health tests? Normally with health-tested parents this shouldn’t be an issue. I had a bite problem reappear after six generations, changing a beautiful youngster from show/breeding prospect to a companion.
Does the breed’s aloof demeanor make training more interesting, or exasperating? Borzoi are highly intelligent, but not the easiest to train. But they will be very successful in training you in no time at all. You obey them, not the other way around and if you err you will hear about it immediately.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Look for functional and not foo-foo. A Borzoi is a coursing hunting dog. It has adapted well to modern society, but at heart it still has very strong instincts.
My ultimate goal for the breed? Having Borzoi that are sound of mind and body. We are fortunate to have a breed that is overall very healthy. Keeping on top of health testing and supporting health research is important to maintaining the health of the breed. Temperament is highly important. We have worked diligently to keep sound temperaments in the Borzoi breed. They are too big, powerful and quick to be a dog you cannot trust.
Conformation-wise, as I’ve stated above, it’s important that Borzoi stay as a functional dog. Unfortunately, today many sighthounds are slowly slipping away from function.
My favorite dog show memory? Winning the National specialty with my veteran bitch MBIS, MBISS Ch. Soyara’s Chantilly Lace JC ROM-C. At the National she was Best in Sweepstakes as a youngster, WB/BW/AOM as a two-year-old and finally coming out of retirement at eight years old she was Best of Breed.
Borzoi have graced my life for almost 50 years. They are beautiful, sweet and intelligent, regal one moment and clowns the next. You couldn’t ask for a better dog to live with. They’ll even let you share your bed or couch. I can’t see ever being without one.
Leigh & Vicki
I’m originally from Northwestern Ohio. I spent many years at the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research at The University of Chicago, providing computer support. Then I spent even more years at Centra Health in Lynchburg, Virginia, providing computer systems design, programming support, and IT contract negotiation for the Centra Hospitals. I’ve been active in breeding and showing Borzoi, and in ASFA and AKC lure coursing, since the mid 1970s. Organizationally, I’ve been President of the American Sighthound Field Association and of the Midwest Borzoi Club, on the Board of the Borzoi Club of America, and active in the Potomac Valley Borzoi Club. I have just recently retired, and my wife Vickie and I live in Southwest Virginia with our 14 Borzoi.
My wife Vickie and I live in a beautiful location outside Fincastle, in Southwestern Virginia between the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains.
What do I do “outside” of dogs? Until my recent retirement, computer system design, implementation, and contract review. On the side, reading, listening to music and attending concerts.
Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? The average person does not recognize a Borzoi, but if I explain that it’s also known as a Russian Wolfhound, and is related to Greyhounds, they typically grasp the type of dog. I don’t think it’s an issue in placing puppies—pet homes are not typically looking for a Borzoi-sized dog and show homes know what the breed is.
How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Actually, our Borzoi mostly do “work”: at lure coursing and racing, and some of them at open field coursing. I had the #1 Lure Coursing Borzois in 1988, 1991, and 2002. Qualities that are helpful at home would include being sturdy—not inclined to be easily injured, and also concentration: keeping attention on something once it’s been pointed out.
What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? I cannot see that any sort of special household is needed—except that one either needs a big fenced yard or a commitment to walk the dog extensively. I think everything about the breed make them ideal companions—they are calm, intelligent, loyal, smart and they love to have fun.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? The response to that could fill the magazine. Our current climate has anti-pet organizations promulgating the idea that it’s immoral to get a pet unless it’s a rescue. And the most popular “breeds” these days seem to not be breeds at all, but crosses: things like SpitzaPoo, or Schmorkie.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I’d say four months for first choices and six months to be definite.
Does the breed’s aloof demeanor make training more interesting, or exasperating? I do not find that a typical Borzoi has an “aloof demeanor”. Some of our Borzoi may be aloof with strangers, but not with people they know—so that does not make even them difficult to train. Others of our Borzoi are careful but friendly with strangers, and still others are quite outgoing with everyone. And some are completely happy, and rejoice at whatever happens of interest.
The most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? This is a difficult question—the answer could go on for pages. What I look for particularly in Borzoi includes, as indicated in the Standard, sound running gear, strong neck and jaws, courage and agility, combined with proper condition. And I look especially for a properly refined and elegant head and a powerful trot, with tail carriage not too low nor too high.
My ultimate goal for the breed? In our current difficult world for purebred dogs, just to stay alive as a viable breed. To have enough of a gene pool to stay healthy and breed healthy pups, etc. And – to keep the breed health and mental health excellent, and preserve speed and athletic ability. It’s essential that we bring in a new generation of Borzoi breeders, as much in love as we are with their rich history, purpose, and abilities.
My favorite dog show memory? Judging PVBC Sweepstakes and awarding the trophy to an excellent puppy.
I’d also like to share about the breed that they are marvelous friends. They have elegance, beauty and athletic ability. I can’t imagine why anyone would find them difficult.