Can Borzois Pull Sleds?

By Abigail Bodeley on Jan 4, 2024 Reviewed by Mick Ford

Can Borzois pull sleds?

Can Borzois Pull Sleds

Table of Contents

What are Borzois used for?

The Borzoi is a true sighthound.

Sighthounds are very ancient dogs that pursue their prey by watching them run rather than by following a scent trail. The later are known as, you guessed it, scenthounds.

Like other sighthounds, Borzois were developed through selective breeding for characteristics that promote speed.

They have strong supple backs, a deep chest for accommodating the larger than normal heart, an athletic build that allows the body to stretch out at full gallop, long-striding elastic limbs, and the characteristic long narrow head with no stop at all that is carried low when the dog is running at full stretch.

In pre-Soviet Russia the Borzoi was the dog of choice for nobility, specifically bred for running down and killing wolves—all sighthounds were bred to hunt specific prey. Often, over a hundred Borzois would chase wolves through the snowbound tundra.

Today, these breathtakingly beautiful hounds are popular as large pets that can be sensitive and incredibly demanding.

They are happy in regular homes but training them is a challenge because they can sometimes be stubborn and a bit independent. They are good with other dogs but they will not tolerate boisterous behaviour from any other breed. They are good with children too as long as they know them, and the children are well behaved.

They are good alarm barkers but not as good guard dogs. They can be calm around the house but they need a lot of exercise and get destructive when bored.

Besides being kept for companionship or as pets, they are extremely popular in lure coursing events.

Like other sighthounds, interaction with small pets should be carefully supervised. A sighthound chasing after what it perceives as prey is almost impossible to stop. Their hunting instinct will override all obedience training.

What is the best dog for sledding?

The best dogs for sledding are known as spitz-types. A team of huskies pulling a sled over icy wastelands epitomizes the type of dog known as a Spitz.

Although spitz-types have diverse uses — some can even make excellent pets — they have historically been used for pulling sled over icy wastelands and pulling huge loads for great distances over ice before sleds were invented.

Common characteristics of spitz-type / sled dogs

  • These are dogs, whether large or small, bred specifically for living in extremely cold climates. They typically have the famous “Northern breed coat”—a dense double coat that is long and downright woolly, with a thick dense undercoat.
  • These dogs have pointed densely-furred ears, and densely-furred feet, to prevent heat loss in low temperatures.
  • These dogs have the distinctive “spitz” tail that curls upwards over the back.
  • Many of these breeds originated in northern Arctic regions with only a few exceptions such as from East Asia such as the Chow chow and Akita.
  • These are tough dogs, popular for endurance racing, and hunting large game such as reindeer, and/or fighting.
  • These are high energy dogs, prone to dominance over almost all other dog breeds, and destructive behaviours when bored.
  • Siberian Husky — a pack of huskies pulling a sled over icy wastelands epitomizes the type of dog known as a Spitz. Long used as a sled dog by the indigenous peoples of eastern Siberia.
  • Canadian Eskimo Dog (Inuit Dog) — perhaps the oldest breed of sled dog in the world.
  • Greenland Dog — a classic sled dog for polar expeditions. Used by Arctic peoples for sledding long before European and American explorers.
  • Alaskan Malamute — bred by the Native American Mahlemut people to pull heavy loads over great distances across sloe when sleds were the only mode of transport.
  • Chinook — developed for sled-hauling at the beginning of the 20th century in the U.S.
  • Samoyed — developed centuries ago by the nomadic Samoyed people of Siberia for sled-hauling, and herding reindeer.

Other dogs that can used for sledding:

  • Norwegian Elkhound — once used for tracking game in Scandinavia but it is sturdy enough for sled-hauling.
  • Black Norwegian Elkhound — grey-coated Norwegian Elkhound considered versatile enough to be a sled dog.

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive, and not all spitz-type dogs are sled dogs, especially the smaller Spitz-types, such as the tiny Pomeranian and the newly created Alaskan Klee Kai. These are specifically bred as pets (some as “toy” dogs) but they still embody the indomitable spitz spirit.