Sunday, May 11, 2014

I Don't Like The AKC: Borzoi Edition

A brief and totally weird anecdotal thing:

I've handled a lot of dogs (including other sighthounds), and the handful of Borzoi I've laid hands on (all "purebred" AKC versions)  have all felt... funny to me.

They're large dogs that look like they're supposed to be smaller, somehow. They're spindly and narrow, with wispy hair with that weird (and totally unnecessary) humped back and under my hands they feel... too light. Like they  have bones made of balsa wood, or they're actually hollow on the inside. That ridiculously extreme roman nose seems like it's full of air. Certainly, they feel delicate: fine china that would fall apart with too much pressure. Now that I'm writing this out, it occurs to me that all borzoi I've met, no matter the age, feel the way an old or sick dog does under your hands.

My friend and fellow vet tech Joellyn once told me she "prefers a dog she can thump on" (and then gave an affectionate thump on the ribs of her border collie for emphasis). I feel the same way; I don't like tiny shivery dogs.

I don't feel like AKC borzoi are dogs that can be thumped on.

Kind of sad for a breed whose other name is Russian Wolfhound and that supposedly descends from great and tough hunters of the Russian plains.

I wouldn't have thought of this at all, except I saw this recent post about some "real" borzoi (as in: non-AKC dogs in their country of origin, doing the job they were bred for, instead of being overbred to look a certain way for a show ring):

Now there's a dog you can thump on.


Anonymous said...

The Borzoi Club of America sets the breed standard, not the AKC.

Unknown said...

You have to be careful with the word "borzoi" that word in the country of origin basically means "sighthound." The AKC borzoi is the same as the Ruskaya Psovaya Borzaya, or Russian Longhaired Sighthound, essentially. What you show in your picture is probably more closely related to a Tazi, which is similar to an Afghan Hound, though not the same.

While I will not argue that there may be some non-functional borzoi at US shows, I will tell you that there ARE very functional borzoi in US shows that are fully capable of doing the job for which they were historically bred. Do not forget that these dogs are built for running at high speeds. They cannot carry too much heft or they will run like a Rottie or a Lab. Those breeds run well for what they were bred to do, but they wouldn't be able to reliably run down jack rabbits or coyotes because you have to have a certain body type to run fast. I am sure Cheetahs are not as thumpable as tigers either, but a Tiger would not be able to run down a gazelle like a cheetah can.

Greyhoundlover said...

those are not borzoi, BTW, that is a tazi.

I'm sorry you've met wispy borzoi, please come visit me, i'll introduce you to a number of dogs who are not whispy, nor humped back(EWWWWWW), definitely not hollow or fragile.

Home of multiple Best in field, top coursing/racing dogs who also do well in the show ring

Anonymous said...

Five dogs a handful is your description is really not much to base an opinion on. The breed needs exercise to build up the muscles required to chase catch and kill the game it was bred for. Young dogs deprived of proper exercise will sometimes grow up weedy and lacking in substance, it can happen to any puppy of any breed larger than a Border Collie. It is much more likely that the dogs you have seen have not been properly reared. If you take the time to visit a local dog show or better yet a coursing trial or race meet you will see sighthounds that are well muscled and fit and far from flimsy.

Anonymous said...

I hoe someday you meet a REAL Borzoi. The word borzoi mean swift not sighthound. And not all small dogs are wimps, blame that on many owners!!!!

Vickie L. said...

The black dog in your picture is perhaps a Taigan, not what Americans know as a Borzoi. The Roman nose of the Borzoi is indeed designed to be filled with air, which is warmed before it hits the lungs in frigid weather. Borzoi were designed to run very fast in cold weather after very fast small and large game. Come to our Borzoi Club of America National Specialty performance events and you will see muscular dogs capable of running very fast. Our Grand Champions are far from frail, and can still do the job Borzoi were bred for.

Unknown said...

Well, yes, Anonymous, one definition of borzoi can be swift. It also has other meanings not related to dogs or speed. But you will see the word "borzoi" attached to many, if not all of the sighthound breeds, i.e. The swift dogs. Which is why the black dog above (which I believe was correctly identified as a Taigan by Vickie) was probably identified as a borzoi on the website from which it came.

Leonore said...

There are plenty of narrow and weedy borzoi - and lots of other breeds. Come to a lure coursing event, make a effort to find borzoi with performance cred and get your hands on those hounds. Lean, yes. Bones, sure. Also packing lots of muscle and dense flat bones, thick feet, and enough hair to deal with the elements and not drag of the ground. Come hunting and see what they can really do. A few bad examples in the show ring is no place to get an education, their are scores - nay, hundreds - of good borzoi. Make an effort to find them and you willi gain respect without the need to thump anything other than your head on a wall.

Unknown said...

The topline of a Borzoi is functional, not "unnecessary"

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as an AKC borzoi...I've seen worse examples of borzoi over seas. They seem to like the roached back and steep croups. In the US those dogs would not win. Most of the borzoi that win in the show rings here in the US are big, hairy and white. Their rears, so over angular they look like GSDs if they were pained black and tan.

Suzanne said...

I'm guessing someone posted this in a borzoi group or something, because it's getting way more hits than it should.

I suggest people take note what I said above, re: these being my own "weird" and "anecdotal" feelings, and that "real" borzoi was in scare quotes because I do know that there's a muddled difference between them and "tazi" "taigan" etc. I'm not an expert in sighthounds, but I know enough to know that the second dog is close enough to what the show borzoi should be, but isn't. It's just, like, my opinion, man. (Except for the roach back being non-functional. That's not opinion, that's just fact).