borzoi with muzzle racing in lure coursing

Borzoi Muzzle

Racing Borzois typically wear basket muzzles on the track, whether they are Lure Coursing, Open Field Coursing, Straight-Racing or Oval Racing. A borzoi muzzle keeps each dog safe from injuring any other dog another before, during, and after the race; the borzoi muzzles ensure the lure stays intact and helps to determine which dog is the winner!

In this article, we’ll talk all about Borzoi muzzles, from the racetrack to your home.

Why do Racing Borzois Wear Muzzles?

Racing dogs wear muzzles for three reasons:

  • Preventing injuries to other dogs on the track
  • Stopping the dogs from catching and destroying the lure
  • Determining who wins the race

Borzois and other sighthounds get very excited while running. The Borzois are full of energy, and run at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. They may nip at the other dogs without meaning harm, but still injuring them.

They also tend to run with their mouths open and at high speeds. If one Borzoi knocks their mouth into another, their teeth can cause a lot of damage.

Borzoi Muzzle used during Coursing
Borzoi Muzzle used during Coursing

Borzois’ skin is thin like any sighthound, and although their fur does help to prevent some damage, it’s best to be safe.

During lure coursing the borzoi muzzles also stop the Borzois from catching the lure they’re chasing after and destroying it. After all, these are hunting dogs! They weren’t just bred to sprint after prey, but to catch it as well!

Lastly, the muzzles can make it easier to tell who crossed the finish line first, especially if photos or video was taken at the finish line.

Is Borzoi Racing Cruel?

The world of dog racing, particularly Greyhound racing, is a cruel one. Dogs are bred for speed and profit—undesirable dogs are discarded and often killed. This includes the dogs who cannot race anymore, no matter how much money they made while doing so!

These races are tied to gambling and a lot of money is made in the industry—next to none of which goes toward giving the dogs good lives.

That said, there are more humane races, such as those at dog shows. These are designed for fun more than profit, though some owners still take the competition too seriously in a way that harms their dogs.

Racing your Borzoi for fun is okay so long as your dog is also enjoying themselves! It can be a great way to allow them to act on their instincts, get their energy out, and socialize with other Borzois.

The important thing is that your Borzoi has fun, and you provide them with a good life. After the race, they’ll almost certainly want to go home and lounge around on the couch or your bed, sleeping the rest of the day away!

Never over-exercise your Borzoi or expect them to keep racing when they’re finished. This can lead to injuries that not only affect their ability to race, but their quality of life!

Borzoi Muzzle During Racing
Dog owner holding his Borzoi’s muzzle in Dresden, GDR. This Borzoi was the winner of a Greyhound race on the former cycle track Johannstadt

Should my Borzoi Wear a Muzzle?

Your Borzoi can wear a muzzle if you feel it will benefit them, though it isn’t necessary day-to-day so long as your dog is non-aggressive.

Muzzles are good out in public if you don’t trust your Borzoi, especially around smaller animals. For instance, when meeting up with other dogs at the dog park, it wouldn’t hurt to muzzle your Borzoi for safety.

Once you get to know them better, you can avoid situations that bring out their hunting instincts or stay away from animals your Borzoi shows aggression toward. Or, you’ll find that your Borzoi is great with other dogs and doesn’t need the muzzle after all.

Muzzles for rescue Borzois can also be beneficial as you learn about their past and if anything triggers them. For instance, many rescue dogs are weary or aggressive toward certain types of people.

My own rescue dog is incredibly friendly but seems wary around men who limp. We can only assume it’s connected to his past since he behaves a little out of character!

Other rescue dogs might be afraid of loud voices, hats, or men in general. It could really be anything!

Even a friendly dog may be need to wear a muzzle at the vet, though. If you are unsure, ask your vet before making an appointment.

Remember, though, that no dog should wear a muzzle 24/7. They should have it off for the majority of the day. Never crate your Borzoi with a muzzle or any other accessory on—even a collar can get stuck on the crate, causing serious injury or death.

If your Borzoi is wearing a muzzle for an extended period, they should be able to drink water through it—or be given plentiful water breaks so that they stay hydrated. The muzzle should be removed at meal times.

Is it Okay to Walk a Borzoi with a Muzzle?

Yes! If you feel safer with your Borzoi muzzled or they’ve shown aggression toward other animals or people in the past, it’s perfectly okay to muzzle them for walks.

This can protect you, your Borzoi, and others. After all, you don’t want your Borzoi to have a bite history, to have a lawsuit on your hands, or for any other dog or person to be bit!

When walking, simply ensure that the Borzoi muzzle is adjusted properly so that your Borzoi can breathe and pant with the muzzle on. Panting is the way dogs regulate their temperature since they can’t sweat, so it’s crucial that they’re able to do so when exercising. Your walk will also cause your Borzoi to breathe heavier.

Is it Cruel to Muzzle a Dog?

Muzzling a dog isn’t cruel so long as you do it right. They’re meant to be worn as-needed, for a limited amount of time. Dogs must be trained to wear muzzles to make it a positive experience for them.

You can train your Borzoi to wear a muzzle using treats and positive reinforcement. Start by rewarding them for interacting with the muzzle and putting their snout inside for brief periods, and move up to them wearing it for a few minutes at a time.

This works best if you’re the one pulling the muzzle away, rather than your Borzoi moving away first.

Remember that muzzles aren’t for punishing your dog. They’re a tool that can be used to keep your Borzoi and others safe.

Never muzzle your dog while in a crate. Give them plenty of breaks from the muzzle and use it only when necessary or during training to get them to accept the muzzle.

Of course, muzzles can be cruel if:

  • The dog cannot drink or eat for extended periods
  • It’s worn for most of the Borzoi’s life
  • Muzzles are forced onto the Borzoi and proper training is dismissed
  • Your Borzoi cannot breathe or pant while wearing the muzzle

Summary

Borzoi muzzles are used during racing and lure coursing. Your borzoi may also need a muzzle when you walk your dog around other dogs and people. As with most things, muzzles can be used abusively. They also serve a purpose for responsible dog owners. It never hurts to get your Borzoi used to wearing one, because you never know when you’ll need it, whether it’s during a procedure at the veterinarian’s office or around other dogs.

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