The Borzoi’s abnormally long muzzle may make you wonder about their teeth. We know that short-muzzled breeds are prone to dental problems, often needing extractions. Is it the opposite for Borzois, or are they too susceptible to teeth issues?
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Unfortunately, Borzois are more prone to dental problems due to their long snouts. Due to poor breeding practices, they are also at risk of missing teeth and having small teeth, which tend to be weaker than large, deeply-rooted teeth.
In this article, we’ll talk about the Borzoi’s teeth throughout history, how poor breeding has influenced the breed, and what dental problems to watch for in Borzois.
Borzoi Teeth through History
Borzois were initially bred to have deep, powerful jaws. They needed to be able to hunt and hold down wolves, so they couldn’t have weak teeth!
However, Borzois today are used for hunting more rarely. Unfortunately, this also comes with less incentive for them to be bred with strong teeth.
Large, deeply-rooted teeth are strongest, but Borzois are increasingly being bred with small teeth. In the 60’s, these dogs were often seen with missing teeth as well. Now, the breed standard specifies that Borzois must have a full set of teeth.
It’s important to note that there are usually gaps between teeth due to the dogs’ long muzzles, so don’t fret if you see this in your Borzoi! Counting their teeth is the best way to check—they should have 42 teeth.
Borzois are also prone to having extra premolars. Because their snout is so long, these teeth don’t tend to cause problems—there’s plenty of space for them in the dogs’ mouths.
Do Borzois have Dental Problems?
Any dog can have problems with their teeth, and it’s important to brush them daily to prevent plaque buildup, dental disease, and other health issues.
Dental health is incredibly important, and should never be overlooked—over 80% of dogs two years and over suffer from dental disease! Borzois are even more susceptible to dental conditions due to genetics.
One thing to look for is Oligodontia, which is when the teeth do not develop properly. Luckily, a reputable breeder will screen for this condition, which is inherited through recessive genes.
Another is overbites, which can make it difficult to eat and cause dental health issues and bad breath.
How Many Teeth do Borzois have?
The breed standard for Borzois specifies that they must have all 42 of their teeth. Some Borzois have more teeth than this, but less is considered unacceptable.
As we discussed above, this rule came about when many show dogs were missing teeth. It gives breeders more incentive to breed knowledgably and ethically, and to screen their dogs for genetic conditions like Oligodontia.
Do Borzois have Overbites?
Borzois can have overbites. This happens because they are a dolichocephalic dog breed—meaning they have very long snouts!
Long snouts allow for a powerful bite strength, which aids Borzois in hunting. However, Borzois’ snouts are also very narrow, which can cause some dental and eye issues. Overbites affect a dog’s posture, bite, and dental health.
Dolichocephalic Breeds and Dental Issues
As we discussed above, Borzois are a dolichocephalic breed. This means that their snout is long and skinny, which is common in sighthounds.
The reason we see this face shape is that these dogs have a full sprinter’s build. Their body shape helps them to run faster, from their deep chest to their agile legs and their long, triangular-shaped heads.
Downsides to this typically happen because the snouts are very narrow, leaving less space on the sides of the mouth for teeth to grow.
Two other muzzle shapes seen are in brachycephalic and mesocephalic breeds.
Brachycephalic breeds include Pugs and Boston Terriers. They have short, squishy-looking muzzles. This brings them many health problems including dental issues and difficulties breathing.
Mesocephalic breeds include Beagles, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers. These dogs have a “normal” or medium snout length.
Borzoi Bite Force
Borzois are giant dogs with long snouts. They were bred to hunt wolves, so their bite force is nothing to mess with! They also have the capability to hold something in their jaw for a long time.
When hunting wolves in 1600s Russia, Borzois would chase and then hold the wolves down while they waited for human hunters to either kill or capture the wolves.
Luckily, Borzois are known for their gentle, if aloof, temperament toward people. Any dog can bite, however, and a Borzoi’s hunting instincts can make them dangerous to small animals or children if not properly trained and supervised.
They’re especially prone to chase running targets, as this satisfies their natural instincts as a sighthound to sprint after “prey.”
You’ll have to be especially careful not to let your Borzoi chase your child in the backyard or your cat around the house. If you have small pets or children, it’s best to adopt a rescue dog who’s been raised in similar family situations.
Of course, children and other pets should also be socialized to large dogs and taught how to interact with them. Nevertheless, you may want to use a borzoi muzzle when taking your dog for walks around other people and other dogs.
A dog is a lot more likely to snap at a child who is hitting them repeatedly, for instance, than one who knows to stroke them gently. The same goes for small ankle-biter dogs who may push even a patient Borzoi to their breaking point!
Never leave small children unsupervised with any breed of dog, and always introduce new pets to one another slowly and cautiously.