Barsoi Dog

Borsoi Dog

This noble large greyhound from Russia, whose breed name “barsoi” is derived from the Russian word for “fast”, is one of the oldest dog breeds and the fastest land animals in the world. If allowed to run loose enough, the energetic thoroughbred hunter is a calm and affectionate family dog.


An ambitious hunter and gifted sprinter as a calm family dog? Like no other dog, the Russian Barsoi knows how to combine this apparent contradiction. One moment he is still trotting calmly and resignedly past his owner, the next he suddenly sprints away to chase potential prey. Anyone who can rely on his Barsoi’s obedience when recalling him clearly has an advantage here.

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Ambitious sprinter and calm companion in one

Thanks to its friendly character, the Barsoi is fortunately easy to raise. Moreover, he is focused on people, which makes education even easier. Despite his pronounced hunting instinct and self-awareness, he is docile, loyal, and balanced. He loves the racetrack as much as he loves the couch, where he can relax near his family after the physical exertion. He enjoys that! The energetic hunter shows a completely different side of himself at home and is a pleasant and gentle companion, who radiates calm and tranquility.

Borsoi Dog

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A lot of movement is a requirement

Although the Barsoi possesses the qualities of a good family dog ​​and is generally a sensitive, docile dog that adapts easily, as a thoroughbred sighthound and hunting dog, he needs a lot of exercise and activities. Only if this requirement is met does his positive character traits appear. Anyone who wants to keep the Russian Greyhound as a family dog ​​would do well if he regularly gives him the chance to run free. A short block on the leash is in any case not enough for the sporty Barsoi.

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Happy dogs are easy to raise

A dog that is allowed to run a lot and can expend its energy during the chase on the track will be more obedient. If a Barsoi feels understood by his owner and his needs are taken seriously, he will also do his best to make his owner happy. They are incredibly loyal and affectionate dogs that like to bond closely with their “pack”.

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Socialize a Barsoi as soon as possible

They are reserved with strangers. They are neither shy nor dominant or even aggressive. Anyone who is a bit handy and aware of the basis of puppy education will have no problems during the education and socialization. As with all other dogs, the Barsoi also applies: the earlier he is socialized and gets to know different people, animals, and environments, the less likely he will be upset later on. It is important that he comes into contact with other dogs (of different ages and sizes) in good time because the Barsoi is known for not getting along very well with his kind. If he grows up with them there will be no dominance issues later on.

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Aristocratic appearance

The aristocratic restraint that Borsoi occasionally displays matches the aristocratic appearance. The typical elegant physique of a greyhound, the balanced proportions, the harmonious movements, and the long narrow head contribute to the proud appearance of the dog. The size of the Barsoi is also impressive. The breed has a height of 85 cm at the withers, some males even have a height of 95 cm. Despite this height, the dogs weigh on average only 35 to 45 kg. The weight is not specified in the breed standard.

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Fur, long hair, and a thick coat

The rich and fine hair of the Barsoi is silky and supple. It is very long on the ribs, fore, and hind legs and on the flanks. However, on the head, ears, and limbs, the coat is quite short. Within the FCI, the Barsoi with FCI number 193 belongs to the long-haired or feathered greyhounds (group 10, section 1). The long hair of the Barsoi is slightly wavy and sometimes forms short fine curls, for example around the shoulder blade and at the back.

In terms of color, all combinations are allowed except with blue or brown. The coat can be either solid or spotted. The fringe, breeches and feathering of the tail are considerably lighter than the ground color. In addition, many specimens of this breed have a black mask. This is especially common in the black-spotted variety. Nose and lips should always be black. The Russian Greyhound’s large almond-shaped eyes should also be as dark as possible.

Borsoi Dog

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No wonder that the fascinating appearance of the Barsoi is also a very popular motif in art. Numerous paintings, ceramic and porcelain sculptures, and bronze sculptures (for example by Marcel Debut (1890) or Georges Gardet (1880)) show the impressive pedigree dog. Also in the famous novel “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, the breed was immortalized with the bitch “Milka”.

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The roots of this impressive variety go way back. Gene analyzes from 2017 (led by Heidi Parker) show a relationship of the Russian Borsoys with the Greyhound and the Irish Wolfhound. These ancient European greyhounds were bred by the Celts thousands of years ago.

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Dog of Princes and Tsars

In its native Russia, the Borsoi has been known and loved since the 13th to 15th centuries. Monarchs and Tsars used large and fast hunting dogs to hunt foxes, wolves, rabbits, and even big game. Since there were no long-range rifles then, the hunters relied on the skills of the greyhounds. In a pack, the dogs hunted and restrained the game until the hunter and his horse were nearby and ready to shoot. Russian landowners appreciated the dogs not only for their hunting talent but also for their gentle and loyal nature, which made them a reliable partner not only during the hunt but also in private spheres.

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Different types

In colossal kennels with up to 500 dogs, the monarchs and tsars bred the Barsoi. Although the character of this breed of dog did not develop until much later, they were very systematic and professional. There was no clear type at the time. This only developed in the late 1800s when the different dog species were assigned to specific breeds and standardized to a standard. The current Barsoi originated from 10 different types.

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Official recognition of the breed

With the Russian Revolution, breeding the Borsoi, which was Russia’s “national dog” until 1914, became increasingly difficult. The breed is increasingly common in other European countries. Especially in England, the Russian greyhound was further bred and developed according to their own ideas. In 1956, the Barsoi was officially recognized by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale).

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Current breeding and health

Today, the Barsoi belongs to a breed of dog that occurs very rarely. In many countries, it is a beloved dog and is regarded as a hunting dog, family dog ​​, and racing dog. In addition to preserving appearance and character traits, the value was attached to the health of the breed. Independent breeders monitor compliance with prescribed health tests and ensure that only healthy and genetically correct animals are admitted to breeding. Anyone interested in a Russian Greyhound should therefore only go to a serious breeder.

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How do I recognize a serious breeder?

National greyhound breeding and racing dog associations can help in the search for a suitable breeder. Cynological umbrella organizations also maintain lists of registered breeders. The first requirement for purchasing a puppy is first of all that all necessary papers (with FCI logo) are available. But that shouldn’t be the deciding factor. It is also important that you get to know the breeder personally beforehand so that he can convince you of the breeding quality. You must have seen the breeding environment and the mother dog. It is important that you have a good idea of ​​the environment, breeding, and socialization of the dogs.

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What is the right food for a Barsoi?

The more you know about the breed in advance, the better prepared you can be for life with a Barsoi. You should also think about the food of this breed of dog. Finally, the food has an influence on the well-being and health of the dog. So a balanced diet is important. Like all dogs, the Barsoi is a carnivore. The Barsoi’s food must therefore consist largely of meat – but not just meat! Vegetables and something as a “side dish” such as rice, potatoes, or pasta are also important to provide your dog with sufficient nutrients. On the other hand, your dog does not need grains, animal and vegetable “by-products” or sugar, as can be found in many ready-to-eat foods. If you want to feed the dog in a healthy way, this should be avoided. To optimally tailor the diet to your dog’s needs, you need to know your Barsoi’s nutritional needs. The calculation should take into account individual factors such as age, weight, size, gender, and activity level.

Borsoi Dog

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Pay attention! gastric torsion!

Like many large to very large dogs, the Borzoi is prone to dangerous gastric torsion. To keep the risk as low as possible, your dog should absolutely rest after eating. Avoid any kind of exercise after a meal. It is best to feed your dog after an activity. Vets also recommend dividing the daily amount of food over several (smaller) meals per day.

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How much care does the Barsoi need?

If you want to keep a Russian Greyhound properly, you should not only give it plenty of exercise and activities, but also the right care. The coat should be brushed regularly to ensure that the fine long hair maintains its well-groomed appearance. Combing once a week is not enough for a Barsoi. It is better to brush your dog daily – or at least every other day. The ears, nails, and teeth should also be checked and cleaned regularly. This will benefit the health and well-being of your Barsoi and ensure a long and happy dog’s life.

Barsoi with me?

A serious breeder will not just give you a sell a puppy but want to determine during a personal conversation that you are suitable as an owner for a Barsoi. Before you visit the breeder, you need to know why the Barsoi is the right dog for you and what goals you actually pursue with your dog. People who only want to keep the fascinating pedigree dog as a prestige dog and have no idea how much exercise and space the large greyhound actually needs should not be surprised if the breeder advises against buying a Barsoi puppy. With the following questionnaire, you can optimally prepare for the conversation with the breeder. The list should also help you figure out whether the Barsoi is the right breed for you at all and whether you are prepared enough for life with a Barsoi.

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Do all family members agree with the purchase of a Barsoi?

Do you have enough space in and outside the house for the large greyhound?
How much time do I have for my dog? Do I have enough time besides work or can I take the dog with me if I have appointments?
Am I active enough to keep a sporty dog ​​like the Barsoi?
How do I keep my dog ​​busy? Where can I let the dog run free?
How do I ensure that the Barsoi gets enough exercise so that it can lose its energy? For example, are there coursing offers in the area or special facilities where the greyhound is allowed to run?
What do I do with the dog when I have to travel?
Are there children or other animals in the house?
Do I have enough money for the purchase and care of this purebred dog? (The puppy price is about 2000 euros and also the food, insurance, and visits to the vet should not be forgotten.)

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