An in-depth look at Borzoi dog health and wellness
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An in-depth look at Borzoi dog health and wellness

Dogs
Health & Safety

The borzoi dog (also known as the Russian wolfhound) is a dog from the sighthound grouping, and has a similar physical build and shape to the greyhound. The word “borzoi” literally means “fast” in Russian, and it is certainly true that these dogs could give most other speedy canines a serious run for their money!

The borzoi dog is a descendent of domestic dogs brought to Russia from Asia, and is just one of several Russian sighthound breeds that are native to the country. While the borzoi is not hugely common as a pet within the UK, they are being exported more widely today than they ever have been in the past, and are becoming ever more popular as pets.

The borzoi dog’s appearance can roughly be described as that of a longhaired greyhound; they are about the same height as greyhounds and with their slender, leggy build, but have soft, long flowing hair. Despite their lean appearance, they are actually relatively tough and hardy, and have their warm coats to protect them against the worst of the cold weather.

While the borzoi dog is generally tough and hardy, they are nevertheless prone to some genetically inherited health defects, due to the relatively small gene pool of parent dogs. Added to this, providing appropriate nutrition for the breed is vital, and an important part of maintaining their lifelong health. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at some of the known condition that may be inherited via borzoi dog breed lines, and look at their general health and wellness in more detail.

Read on to learn more.

Borzoi longevity

The average life expectancy for the borzoi dog is ten to twelve years, placing them in the middle of the longevity rankings for dogs of an equivalent size. The UK Kennel Club has surveyed the average age of borzoi death and their causes of death, and found that the oldest recorded pedigree borzoi dog lived to just over fourteen years old. Around one in five borzoi dogs is likely to simply die of old age, while the remaining figure are apt to succumb to a health condition that may or may not have an inherited element to it. Various different cancers and also heart problems generally account for most deaths in old age that have a directly attributable cause.

Maintaining fitness and a lean figure when the dog is young is vital to ensuring an active, healthy old age, and dogs that remain active while young and when adult tend to reach the higher figures in maturity.

General borzoi health and conformation

The borzoi is generally considered to be a sound, tough breed of dog that is not prone to contracting minor ills, or suffering from problems associated with their size and build.

Common conditions that often affect larger breeds of dog such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and osteochondritis were not considered to be a factor of concern within the breed historically, but selective breeding of the borzoi within the last couple of decades to produce more show standard dogs and desirable pets have introduced conditions such as these, as well as certain congenital eye conditions, into some breed lines.

One condition that the borzoi does have elevated risk factors for is bloat, or gastric torsion. This condition is not considered to be something that is hereditary, but comes about due to a certain combination of breed traits that the borzoi, and several other large dogs breeds all share. A wide, deep chest and narrower abdomen such as the borzoi displays is considered to be the conformation most likely to lead to bloat or gastric torsion, and this is something that all borzoi owners should be aware of.

The eye condition known as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is also something that has come to prevalence within the breed, however, it manifests slightly differently in the borzoi than it does in most other breeds of dog, and so, there is some controversy over the diagnosis. A similar or connected condition called borzoi retinopathy is also connected to the breed, and leads to a unilateral and progressive blindness in adult dogs, but unlike PRA, it rarely results in complete blindness. The genetically inherited aspect of this condition has not been proven, however, it presents itself within the breed with enough regularity to prove potential cause for concern.

Heart problems towards the end of life are also among the most common causes of death within the breed, but heart problems rarely affect younger dogs. Cardiac arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy are often among the causes of death in old age in the Borzoi.

Borzoi feeding and development

The borzoi dog goes through a much larger growth surge within their first two years of life than most other breeds, and require careful feeding and nutrition to account for this. Historically, feeding a highly concentrated diet that was very rich in protein to support growth was considered to be the best way to feed the young borzoi, however, this has since been found to affect the skeletal development of the breed, as such a high-energy diet supercharges the breed’s already rapid growth when young.

While the borzoi is considered to be a large breed dog, feeding a commercial diet that is tailored to suit large dogs is not always the best way forwards, as these are generally designed for the nutritional needs of much heavier, slower dogs such as the Newfoundland and the St. Bernard. Getting the balance right when it comes to feeding the borzoi when young and throughout their life is one of the main considerations that can contribute to later health and wellness, so it is advisable to take expert advice when deciding upon the borzoi’s diet.

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