Ah, the elegant Borzoi. Believe it or not, there’s not too much information out there about how or why these graceful dogs are so long-limbed (not to mention, with a pretty long snout, too) but we’re here to answer your questions about this unquestionably unique breed of dog so that you have a better understanding of why they look the way they do.
Below, not only are we going to be talking you through the Borzoi breed so that you can learn everything there is to know about them, but we are also going to be taking the time to talk you through why they’re just so long. So, whenever you’re ready – just read on!
Borzoi Breed Overview
Kicking this article off, we’re first going to begin by providing you with a little background about the Borzoi breed, as it gives a great insight into why they look the way that they do. Let’s check it below;
Initially, the Borzoi dog breed was created in Russia and they were initially intended to be bred as working, hunting, and coursing dogs.
After they had been bred, they were often used in groups of three in order to hunt for high society Russia and were often used to hunt rabbits, wolves, and foxes – although other kinds of medium to small game were also sometimes hunted by these large dogs, too.
After a few years, the Borzoi gradually became more and more popular across central Europe, and were, for a short while, the dog of choice in many royal courts across Europe, including the United Kingdom.
As primarily hunting dogs, the Borzoi was incredibly popular throughout the 16th century (and even the 17th century) as companions of the Russian aristocracy, as well as other members of Russia’s high society at the time.
As we have already mentioned briefly above, during these huntings escapades, Borzois were typically grouped into teams of three, and would typically hunt alongside a variety of other animals – including horses (which would have been ridden by the Russian aristocracy) as well as a variety of other hunting dogs, including wolf dogs.
Sometimes, this wolfhound of Russia’s royalty was even adorned in beautiful silk sashes and drapes, in order to celebrate Russia’s favorite hunting dog!
After the hunting session would have come to an end, the Borzoi dog would usually be taken to a ceremonial tent, where the hunting crowd and viewers would enjoy a feast… including the Borzoi dogs!
Interestingly enough, lots of Borzoi dogs were often kept in large, luxurious kennels so that they could live in comfort.
Why Are Borzois So Long?
To follow, even though there isn’t too much information available regarding how the Borzoi breed was initially bred, it is generally believed that they were first bred during the 16th century in Russia (as we have already mentioned above) and is generally considered to have been bred from a mixture between long-haired sheepdogs, wolf dogs, Irish greyhounds and other types of greyhound breeds.
This goes some way into explaining why Borzois are not only a large breed of dog but also a dog that is characterized by having very long limbs, as well as an unusually long snout! (In fact, their snout is so long, it has become an internet meme!)
Wondering why? Well, as the Borzoi was originally bred for either the coursing or hunting of a variety of different wild animals across a terrain that was relatively narrow and less open than other types of popular hunting terrain, which meant that in order for these dogs to thrive while coursing or hunting in this specific type of terrain, they would need to be long and slender in order to navigate and maneuver with ease.
So, with that being said, in order to make sure that the Borzoi would be able to course for wild game in this restrictive terrain, the Russians, during the 16th century, knew that the Borzoi breed was going to need specific physical features that would land them a distinct advantage over other types of hunting/coursing dogs while hunting, catching and carrying the caught game.
For this reason, the Borzoi breed standard was given a specific focus on long limbs, a strong neck, and a slim face in order to grant these dogs the ability to maneuver through rough terrain with ease, while also ensuring that they would have an easier task of catching and carrying the game, too.
With that being said, this is why Borzois were purposefully and specifically bred to have very strong necks and jaws, long limbs that would provide this breed with a graceful yet agile gait, as well as a refined and elegant face.
As for the particularly long snout? While there doesn’t seem to be too much information out there on whether or not this was a specific feature that the first Borzois breeders were looking to achieve, it can be said that the long snout helped to give these dogs an advantage while hunting, as they would have been able to sniff out the game more easily – especially while trying to navigate a restrictive terrain.
In addition to this, it can also be said that the particularly long snouts and jaws of Borzois were specifically designed in order to ensure that these dogs while coursing or hunting, would be able to pick up the game more easily and comfortably, as they would have had more space to hold the game within their jaws as opposed to other types of hunting/coursing dogs.
Do Borzois Have Any Health Issues?
Even though the long jaw, snout, and bodies of the Borzoi breed would have landed them a distinct advantage while hunting way back in the 16th and 17th centuries, unfortunately, this particular physical feature does come with a few health problems that you should make sure that you have been made aware of – especially if you are currently considering purchasing your very own Borzois to keep as a pet in the family home.
Officially, this breed of dog is currently classified as a Category Two by the Kennel Club, which means that they are recognized as being a breed of dog that comes with a multitude of health concerns that they may experience throughout the course of their life. Most specifically, due to the uniquely long shape of the Borzois’ mouth and jaw, it means that this breed of dog is especially likely to develop a variety of dental problems that can be very painful and debilitating for them to experience.
Alongside dental problems, the long bodies of Borzois also put them at risk of developing something known as degenerative myelopathy, which is a disease that primarily affects the spinal cord area, and can become gradually worse and severely impact the quality of life.
For this reason, if you are currently considering rescuing a sweet and loving Borzoi into your life, then we strongly urge you to make sure that you are purchasing your Borzoi puppy from a trusted and reputable breeder who will be able to provide you with all of the necessary DNA information to show that the Borzois you buy will not be at risk of this disease.
By now, you should have a much better understanding of why borzois are so long. You may also have learned a few extra things about this beautiful breed along the way.
One point to reiterate, however, is that to find the most out about your Borzois, it’s essential that you look back at their lineage and DNA history. Of course, this is harder for rescue dogs, but if you are able to source this information you’ll be able to discover everything there is to know about your canine companion.