Borzois, otherwise known as ‘Russian Wolfhounds’, are a large breed of dog. They are active dogs, that were originally bred as sight hounds. As a result, they love the outdoors and need to be exercised for a minimum of one hour a day.
They are also high in energy and need a large amount of space to play and roam. While these are big dogs, they are affectionate and loyal to their owners. They enjoy human company and can run the risk of getting separation anxiety.
The wonderful Borzoi is known as a glamour dog. Their roots are linked to the Russian aristocracy, and even in modern times, are used for photoshops within the fashion world. This is because of their luscious coat and slender build.
If you own one of these marvelous dogs, or you’re thinking about getting, or reducing a borzoi, then you will need to ensure that you understand the potential health risks they may endure. By providing yourself with the knowledge, you are making sure that you can spot any signs of degenerating health early.
So, let’s dive in and discuss some common health problems in Borzois.
Purebred And The Kennel Club
A borzoi is a purebred dog. Like many others that fall in this category, it means they are sadly at higher risk to certain conditions. It does not mean that a borzoi will develop these health concerns, but it just means there is a higher chance of development.
If you are considering buying a Borzoi puppy, you need to be very careful. The parents of the borzoi puppies must have had the correct health screening so that the risk of the puppies being affected by certain conditions is lower. You should ideally choose a buyer which is a Kennel Club Assured Breeder. They will meet the requirements, and more, to ensure that the borzoi puppies are healthy.
While this may not seem like a big deal, it is. If two dogs are bred, and they have not had the relevant health checks, they could be passing on very damaging genetics. It is unfair to produce puppies that will be born with ill health. By going to a breeder which has had the relevant health checks, you know that they care about their animals and the puppies.
The Kennel Club has classified the Borzoi as a ‘category two’. This means that the Borzoi has points of concern, which are visible features, which could affect future generations of the breed if the features are exaggerated. For Borzois, their point of concern refers to the shape of their mouth and their jaw. If this feature is exaggerated, it can cause them very painful dental problems.
Common Health Problems In Borzois
Below, we’ll discuss the main health problems that can develop in Borzois. This will help educate you to look out for any potential signs of ill health, and hopefully, will prevent any diseases from worsening, or developing.
Given our last section, you have probably already guessed the first common health concern, which is dental disease.
Borzois are at risk of developing very serious dental problems. The statistics show that dental disease affects 80% of dogs by the age of two. While this is a worrying statistic alone, dental disease is even more likely to occur in Borzois.
It usually begins as a tartar buildup on the teeth. It will then progress to infections of the roots of the teeth, and infections of the gums.
This is very serious and can lead to a dog losing its teeth, as well as causing damage to the liver, heart, kidney, and joints. Moreover, it can even shorten the lifespan of a dog, by one to three years.
You should ensure that your borzoi has their teeth regularly cleaned, and that dental hygiene is heavily practiced.
Bloat, also known as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is an fatal illness. It is more common with dogs that have deep, narrow chests. As Borzois have deep and narrow chests, they are at higher risk for developing bloat.
In its awful, and simplest terms, bloat is when the stomach twists on itself, and gets filled with gas. When the stomach twists, it cuts off the blood supply to the stomach. In some cases, it can cut off the blood supply to the spleen.
It is a serious, fatal illness, which can result in death within 30 minutes. Some symptoms your dog may exhibit are the following.
Your dog may heave, or retch, but nothing will come out. They may also act very restless. Their abdomen may be enlarged, and they may be laid with their feet down, and rear end upwards.
You need to take your dog to the emergency vet immediately if you see symptoms.
Bone And Joint Problems
There are a lot of different, musculoskeletal problems that can occur in the Borzoi. We will name a few, but it is a long list, and like all the diseases we discuss, should be researched further.
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
First, there is a disease called osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). If the puppies grow too quickly, the cartilage in the joint might not attach properly to the bone. If this is developed, surgery can fix it, but it is not always guaranteed.
To prevent this, you need to ensure you stick to the recommended growth rate. This means you do not overfeed your dog. Talk to your vet and stick to the growth rate that they recommend. It is vital that you stay on top of it.
The Borzoi is also at risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. It is an inherent disease, which prevents the joints from developing properly. It results in arthritis.
You may notice your dog developing stiffness, becoming lame in the leg, or having problems getting up after lying down. These are all possible signs. You need to contact your vet immediately so that arthritis can be treated. While it cannot be cured, you can help prevent discomfort and better care for your dog.
Overweight dogs are more likely to develop arthritis, which is another reason the diet is very important.
Patellar luxation is when the kneecap slips out of place. It is very painful and causes the dog a lot of discomfort.
You may notice your dog running, and then picking up their back leg, and hopping, or skipping for a couple of strides. They will likely then kick out the leg in a sideways position, which actually ‘pops’ the kneecap back in place.
The vet should be contacted if this occurs, as it can be a sign of arthritis. If it’s mild, then it can be maintained with medication. However, if it’s severe, surgery will likely need to occur, to realign the kneecap, which will, hopefully, prevent it from popping out of place.
Next, we’ll be discussing thyroid problems.
So, while many dogs can develop thyroid problems, the Borzoi is more likely to develop hypothyroidism. This is when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones. If treated early, the dog should be able to maintain normal health, but catching it late can be an issue. Signs of hypothyroidism are hair loss, dry skin, dry coat, and behavioral changes — such as aggression, or anxiety.
Enzyme Disorder – Methemoglobin Reductase Deficiency
Enzyme disorders are not unique to the Borzoi, they can occur in any breed. However, the Borzoi is sadly more likely to develop an enzyme disorder, in comparison to other breeds.
The enzyme disorder in question is Methemoglobin Reductase Deficiency. Now, Methemoglobin Reductase itself is an enzyme that is vital for the functioning of red blood cells. While the disease is often mild, it often displays no symptoms. While this is good for the well-being of your dog, it means you must ensure that you have regular health checks.
There can be quite severe cases of this enzyme disorder, which you will notice very obvious symptoms. The dog will develop a blue tint, or brown on the gums, and then will become weak. This is due to the lack of oxygen.
While there are no current specific treatments, nor cures, your vet can help you find the best ways to manage the disorder. You should note that onions, and certain medications, can make this disorder worse.
Borzois are at risk for certain diseases more than other breeds, but it should be noted, that all breeds are at a higher risk of some disease. In the grand scheme of things, Borzois are actually very healthy dogs. They, like all dogs, need to ensure that they do not grow too vast, maintain very good dental health, a healthy weight and have regular health check-ups.
Each breed has its set of difficulties, the only thing you can do is ensure you look after your dog’s health. Also, keep in mind that a dog with ill health should not be bred. It is not ethical to produce puppies when there is disease present within a dog.
We hope you have found this article very informative, and wish you good luck with your Borzoi.