Tall, skinny dogs are typically known and bred for sprinting. Many of them are sighthounds, or dogs that hunt using their sense of sight. They have been used throughout history for hunting and racing.
Perhaps the most well-known tall, skinny dog is known for its long participation in the latter category. Greyhound racing has been banned in over 40 states due to the abuse that is rampant in the sport.
In this article, we’ll talk about the Borzoi, Greyhound, and other tall skinny dogs so that you can learn all about these elegant puppers!
Table of contents
- Great Dane
- Silken Windhound
- Afghan Hound
- Irish Wolfhound
- Hortaya Borzaya (Chortaj)
- Ibizan Hound
- Doberman Pinscher
- Irish Setter
- Pharaoh Hound
Borzois were first bred in 1600s Russia and are thought to have been a mix between Arabian greyhounds and an unknown Russian breed. They were used primarily for hunting wolves, so they needed to have three attributes: the strength to take down large game, the speed to catch wolves racing across open fields, and a thick coat to withstand harsh winters.
Russian wolf hunts of the time were a grand production. They included hundreds of dogs, which would then hunt in small packs.
Once set loose, the dogs would sprint at top speeds after their prey. They held onto the wolves once caught, allowing human hunters to either kill or capture them.
Captured wolves were used for training new Borzoi.
Nowadays, Borzois are typically used to protect livestock or kept as family pets. In the average home, they need quite a bit of exercise—but as sprinters, they use up their energy relatively quickly.
Instead of hunting actual wolves, borzoi enthusiasts use lure coursing to mimic the hunt and give their dogs opportunities to run at full speed.
Like a typical sighthound, they’re content to laze the rest of the day and love comfort. It’s not surprising to see them curled up on the couch beside the family or resting in a dog bed at your feet—though they can be quite independent, they also love to be included!
Borzoi Quick Facts
- Height: 26+ inches
- Weight: 60-105 pounds
- Average Lifespan: 9-14 years
- Exercise: Borzois need at least one long walk or run daily, as well as a large, enclosed yard to satisfy their sprinting instincts.
- Grooming: Comb their fur thoroughly once every few days to avoid mats. They may need more frequent grooming during the shedding season.
- Trainability: Borzoi can be stubborn due to their independent nature. Train them using consistency, patience, and positive training methods. Do not expect reliable recall from this breed, but instead keep them leashed or enclosed at all times.
Greyhounds today are most known for racing, but the breed is actually thousands of years old. It originated in the Egyptian deserts, where these dogs were used to hunt hare and other wildlife.
This breed is so old that we don’t know its exact origin, though it can be traced back over 5,000 years.
In the modern day, Greyhounds are typically seen as family pets. They’re sometimes compared to cats due to their calm, finicky, and independent natures.
However, they do need quite a bit more exercise than your average feline. Though these pups can be seen as lazy, they’re the fastest dog breed in the world—sprinting at speeds over 40 miles per hour!
For this reason, they’re unfortunately also used for Greyhound racing. This is an inhumane practice where the dogs are mass-bred and overworked for profit. Dogs that don’t perform are killed or, if they’re lucky, rescued and adopted to a family that will treat them right.
Greyhounds are also known as universal blood donors because over 85% of them have blood that can be used universally to treat other dogs (compared to less than 50% in most other breeds).
Greyhound Quick Facts
- Height: 27-30 inches
- Weight: 60-70 pounds
- Average lifespan: 10-13 years
- Exercise: These dogs need at least one long walk or run daily and time to sprint in a safely-enclosed yard.
- Grooming: Greyhounds require very little grooming, but should be brushed weekly to maintain a healthy coat and reduce shed.
- Trainability: Their independence can make them difficult to train, especially if you are an inexperienced dog owner. Use positive reinforcement methods only for this sensitive breed, and have patience! Never allow them off-leash in unenclosed areas.
Despite their name, Great Danes are German in origin. They were originally bred to hunt boars and later used as guard dogs.
This breed is around 400 years old—not young by most standards, but one of the newer breeds on this list!
Great Dane ancestors include the Greyhound, English Mastiff, and Irish Wolfhound.
Today, the breed is usually a member of the family. They can double, or even serve primarily as, guard dogs with strong builds and deep, threatening barks. Most intruders won’t mess with a dog of this size!
Like sighthounds, Great Danes are calm at home, yet make great hiking or running companions once they’re old enough for rigorous activity. As with any giant breed, they stay puppies for a long time—reaching full maturity at around two years old.
Unlike sighthounds, however, they hunt using their sense of smell – they are scent hounds. Once they latch onto a scent, they become determined to finish the hunt—so it’s still important to keep them on leash or in an enclosed space at all times.
Great Dane Quick Facts
- Height: 28-32 inches
- Weight: 110-175 pounds
- Average lifespan: 7-10 years
- Exercise: Take these pups on at least one long daily walk, or 2-3 shorter ones, daily. They also require a large yard for play and activity.
- Grooming: Brush these dogs once weekly for most of the year, and once daily during shedding season.
- Trainability: Great Danes are one of the easiest to train on this list due to their eagerness to please. Use positive training methods and stay consistent. Never allow them off leash in an open space.
Silken Windhounds were bred to be trainable, mini Borzois. Their original breeder, Francie Stull, wanted a mid-sized sighthound with long fur.
She accomplished this by breeding Borzois, Lurchers, and Whippets. This breed is incredibly new, dating back to 1985, and is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club.
They have the easy-going temperament of the Borzoi paired with an eagerness to please that makes them incredibly sweet and family-orientated.
Silken Windhound Quick Facts
- Height: 18-23.5 inches
- Weight: 20-55 pounds
- Average lifespan: 14+ years
- Exercise: These pups need at least one walk or jog daily.
- Grooming: Comb their fur once every other day or so—the coat looks much more difficult to maintain than it is!
- Trainability: These dogs are much easier to train than most sighthounds, and excel with positive training methods. However, they do have a strong prey drive and shouldn’t be allowed off leash in unenclosed areas.
We don’t know much about the origins of the Afghan Hound because it’s been around longer than written history!
First bred around the area of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, these gorgeous dogs were owned by nobility of all kinds. They later spread into Europe, where they were also well valued.
These dogs aren’t all looks, however. They were also fierce hunting dogs, and they maintain those instincts today.
Afghan Hounds are sometimes seen as lacking intelligence, but this isn’t true—they just don’t train as easily as other dogs. Keep in mind that hunting breeds were valued for their independence, and these pups traditionally needed to make decisions on their own.
They are family-loving as any sighthound, however, and they do want to please you! Time, patience, and positive reinforcement go a long way for these pups.
Their long coat makes them one of the highest-maintenance sighthounds when it comes to grooming, but lovers of the breed won’t mind the care as it means keeping that luxurious coat healthy and beautiful!
Afghan Hound Quick Facts
- Height: 25-27 inches
- Weight: 50-60 pounds
- Average lifespan: 12-18 years
- Exercise: At least one long walk or jog daily is required for these active dogs.
- Grooming: Comb their long fur thoroughly at least once a week to prevent matting.
- Trainability: Use positive training methods and have patience with this aloof, independent breed. Never allow them off leash in an unenclosed space.
Early trade brought Middle Eastern hounds to the United Kingdom, where they were bred with dogs native to the area. Thus, the first Irish Wolfhounds were born!
We don’t know a lot about this ancient dog’s history, but we do know they were used to hunt Irish Elk, wolves, and other large game.
They were so great at their job that their game went extinct, and the Irish Wolfhound breed almost vanished with them.
A man named George Graham set out to rebuild the breed, which is why we can still keep them as family pets!
Today, Irish Wolfhounds are the largest breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. As with all large to giant breeds, it’s crucial that they receive adequate training and socialization. Stay consistent and use positive training methods.
Despite their fierce hunting history, these dogs are typically calm and gentle. They’re known for being great with kids, and so they make great family companions.
Of course, as with any breed, they still shouldn’t be left unattended with small children.
Irish Wolfhound Quick Facts
- Height: 30+ inches
- Weight: 105-120 pounds
- Average lifespan: 6-8 years
- Exercise: Provide at least one long walk or run daily alongside play and time to run in a large, enclosed yard.
- Grooming: Brush them at least once a week to keep their coat healthy and reduce shed.
- Trainability: These dogs learn quickly when positive training methods are used. Due to their hunting instincts, their recall is lacking—never allow them off leash in an unenclosed space.
Salukis are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They’ve been around for thousands of years and were bred to create many other sighthound breeds that we know and love today.
They were beloved by nobility in the Middle East and Asia, and it’s no wonder why. These are beautiful dogs, and to see a sighthound sprinting at top speeds is glorious.
The Arabic thought of them as a gift from God, they were so treasured!
These dogs were skilled gazelle hunters that still have strong hunting reflexes today. Once they catch sight of prey, whether it be a gazelle, a squirrel in the front yard, or a plastic bag blowing down the street, they’re off!
It’s incredibly important to keep these dogs safe by always having them on leash or in an enclosed area. High fencing is a must so that they can’t jump over.
When Salukis aren’t active, though, they’re content to laze around at home. They love comfortable areas such as a plush dog bed or sofa.
Being in on the action, or lack thereof, is important to them as well. They love their families and can be quite clingy.
Saluki Quick Facts
- Height: Males are 23-28 inches, while females are smaller
- Weight: 40-65 pounds
- Average lifespan: 10-17 years
- Exercise: At least one long walk or run daily is a must for these active pups. They also need a large, safely enclosed yard to run in.
- Grooming: Brush their short coat once weekly. Feathered Salukis, or those with long-haired ears and tails, should have their long fur combed once a week as well to prevent matting.
- Trainability: These dogs have an independent streak, but ultimately want to please. Use positive training methods only, and never allow them off leash in an unenclosed space.
Hortaya Borzaya (Chortaj)
This Spanish dog was originally bred to hunt rabbits. They are often compared to deer—graceful, quiet, and sometimes timid.
Thousands of years later, they’re still used for hunting small game. However, they’re most likely to be found in homes as family pets.
Ibizan Hounds can have smooth or wiry coats that are red, white, or a combination of both colors. Their ears stand upright, their faces are narrow, and their eyes are bright and alert.
They are good watchdogs and bark moderately, so they aren’t quite as quiet as many of the pups on this list!
Ibizan Hound Quick Facts
- Height: 22.5-27.5 inches
- Weight: 45-50 pounds
- Average lifespan: 11-14 years
- Exercise: These dogs require two long walks or runs daily, as well as space to run in a large yard with tall fencing.
- Grooming: Brush the coat weekly to keep it healthy and reduce shed.
- Trainability: These dogs can be aloof and stand-offish with strangers, but early socialization and positive training methods will keep them in line.
The Sloughi is a sandy-looking dog native to Northern Africa. Their short coat comes in the colors cream, mahogany, red, and sandy. With one look, it’s easy to tell that they originated in the desert!
Their exact history is unknown due to the ancient timeline of the breed. We do know that, like many sighthounds, they were treasured as prized hunters and worked for the nobility.
They may be reserved with strangers, but love spending time with family. These dogs value their personal space, however, and seem to know they come from luxury—preferring to lay around in comfortable areas of the home such as a soft dog bed or on the furniture.
Like many sighthounds they are sensitive, reading and responding to your emotions. They don’t do well in tense environments and prefer a calm life.
That said, they do still need activity! These pups are great for laid-back people who enjoy hiking or running.
They also need a large, properly enclosed yard. Fencing should be tall, as these dogs are jumpers!
Sloughi Quick Facts
- Height: 24-29 inches
- Weight: 35-50 pounds
- Average lifespan: 10-15 years
- Exercise: At least one long walk or run is required daily. These dogs should also have a large, enclosed yard to run around in.
- Grooming: Brush the short coat once a week to keep it healthy and reduce shedding.
- Trainability: As with most sighthounds, Sloughis are aloof and independent. Train them using positive reinforcement techniques, and never allow them off-leash in an unenclosed space.
Doberman Pinschers are most known for their role as guard dogs. They can also make loving, sweet companion animals and are a great addition to the family.
They’re named for their original breeder, Louis Dobermann, who wanted a dog that was fierce and protective.
Nowadays, they fill various roles that include working as police, military, therapy, and service dogs!
Though slim, Dobermans are incredibly muscular. Their fine coat varies in color but always has rust-colored markings.
Upright ears and docked tails are common in these dogs, but we don’t recommend ear cropping or tail docking. Both are unnecessary and painful for the dog, and the practices are banned in several countries due to their cruelty.
With a deep bark and muscular frame, Dobermans can both sound an alarm and guard territory when needed. This strength is also a reason to ensure proper training and socialization, as large dogs can present a danger to themselves and others when raised improperly.
Dobermans are great fun for active people who like hiking, running, or even games of fetch in the backyard.
Doberman Pinscher Quick Facts
- Height: 24-28 inches
- Weight: 60-100 pounds
- Average lifespan: 10-12 years
- Exercise: These energetic pups need at least one long daily walk or run, and plenty of playtime in a large, enclosed yard.
- Grooming: Brush your Doberman’s coat at least once weekly to keep it clean and healthy. This will also help to reduce shed.
- Trainability: These dogs are easy to train and quick to learn. Use positive training methods and keep training fun!
Irish Setters are another non-sighthound breed on our list, instead hunting birds using their sense of smell (also known as scent hound).
They were bred to be quick on their feet and to indicate to hunters when a bird has been found. The hunters can then shoot the bird.
Aside from hunting, these dogs are magnificent family companions. In the way of active breeds, they do best in families where they can get plenty of affection and activity throughout the day.
An Irish Setter who lacks exercise will become bored, which can lead to behavioral problems such as destructive chewing or excessive barking.
However, a well-cared-for pup will thrive, playing well with children and adding welcome energy to the household.
Irish Setter Quick Facts
- Height: 25-27 inches
- Weight: 60-70 pounds
- Average lifespan: 12-15 years
- Exercise: Irish Setters need at least one long daily walk and a yard to play in.
- Grooming: Comb their fur at least twice weekly to prevent matting.
- Trainability: These intelligent dogs are easy to please, and so they are also easy to train. Use positive training methods and provide your dog with plenty of exercise to keep boredom and misbehavior at bay.
This breed is thousands of years old and is thought to have been spread to various parts of the world while traveling on ships with luxury traders. Despite this early travel, they weren’t brought to the United States until 1970.
These dogs were originally used to hunt rabbits, and are still used to hunt small game today. They are the national hound of Malta and have been beloved for their expressive faces since ancient times.
Pharaoh Hounds are said to smile and also blush when excited. With such sweet characteristics, it’s no wonder people cherish this unique breed.
They have a typical sighthound disposition, with a love of comfort and rest combined with a need for daily exercise. They are even-tempered and love being around family.
Pharaoh Hounds are quicker to learn than many sighthounds due to their great desire to please. However, they still cannot be trusted to learn reliable recall—their hunting instincts are too strong to train out.
Pharaoh Hound Quick Facts
- Height: 21-25 inches
- Weight: 45-55 pounds
- Average lifespan: 12-14 years
- Exercise: These dogs need at least one long walk or run daily, as well as a large, properly enclosed yard to run in.
- Grooming: Brush the thin coat at least once a week to reduce shedding and keep the fur healthy.
- Trainability: Pharaoh Hounds are intelligent and learn quickly. However, their recall is lacking, as is the case with most sighthounds. Never allow them off leash in an unenclosed area.
Native to the Azawakh Valley in Africa, these dogs traditionally hunt hare, antelope, and boar. Though they hunt less nowadays than they used to, they are also kept as pets and guard dogs.
Azawakhs are still relatively rare in the United States. Though ancient, they weren’t introduced to the country until the 1980s.
Their short coats come in a variety of colors and markings. With their deep chests, triangular ears, and slim snouts, they have the classic sighthound look we know and love.
These dogs love the comfort of home and need to be pushed into activity to keep them healthy. Don’t expect them to run around alone in the yard, but instead initiate games or have another pup to keep them active.
Azawakhs are stubborn and smart, making them difficult to train for inexperienced dog owners. Keep training fun so that you hold their interest. Consistent, positive training methods are effective, but don’t expect to train out their hunting instincts.
Sighthounds have difficulty learning recall due to their strong urge to sprint after prey. Dogs who are allowed to roam may run into traffic or race away, not to be seen again.
Azawakh Quick Facts
- Height: 23.5-29 inches
- Weight: 33-55 pounds
- Average lifespan: 12-15 years
- Exercise: A long daily walk or run is required alongside playtime in a large, enclosed yard.
- Grooming: Brush them at least once weekly to maintain coat health and reduce shedding.
- Trainability: These dogs are smart and quick to catch on, but also very independent. They have their own ideas, and this may make them difficult to train. Stay persistent and use positive training methods. Always keep them on leash or in an enclosed area, as their recall ability is lacking.