You Make The Diagnosis: Common Borzoi Health Problems

The Borzoi breed of dogs came from Russia where they were used to hunt wolves. Borzoi have long thin bodies that are built for speed. I think of them as Greyhounds with long hair. They are part of the sighthound group which includes Afghan hounds, Basenji, Ibizan hound, Irish Wolfhound, Pharaoh hound, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound and whippets as well as greyhounds.

Pictured below is a beautiful girl named Shoshone. Like most Borzoi, she is a quiet girl who rarely barks. She enjoys a morning run with the other dogs in her family, checking on the horses and long naps on her well-cushioned bed. Although she is healthy, Borzoi are prone to several health problems. Name the disease. (HINT: Most of these are the same problems found in other sighthounds.)



  1. Hypothyroidism caused by either autoimmune thyroiditis or idiopathic. Since sighthounds generally have lower levels of T4 and free T4, correctly making this diagnosis can be difficult. Testing for TgAA is used to look for dogs who are genetic carriers of this disease.
  2. Ophthalmic Disease including microphthalmia (small eyes) and chorioretinal disease. Although retinal degeneration is seen in Borzoi, it is under debate because the degeneration is different than what is commonly observed in other breeds.
  3. Cancer including hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma and osteosarcoma. In my experience, osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is more common in large and giant breeds of dogs. The most common places I see it are on the femoral and humeral heads.
  4. Bloat which is a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills up with gas. Although it can occur in any breed of dog, it is far more common in large, deep chested dogs.
  5. Heart disease including cardiomyopathy as well as valve disease.
  6. Allergies especially in the white coated dogs.
  7. Dysplasia of the hip and elbow.
  8. Degenerative myelopathy which is a progressive disease that results in paralysis.

Sources:                                                 -www.borzoiclubofamerica/org


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.