Trotting gait in borzoi




The dog in the pictures, Argos (Sokoloff) born I Russia in 1886, sold to America and renamed Argoss. He comes from a litter that has influenced the borzoi breed ever since.

He looks like a very strongly built dog, slightly longer than high. Broad in front but even broader in hindquarters.

Are the proportions of this dog desirable? The litter, where he was one of a number of known descendants is to day behind all living borzoi. The breeders in Russia, including Perchino and those in Europe and America must all have thought so.

We can assume that it was the breed characteristics that was important to the breeders in both the West and in Russia, they were not selected for trotting ability.

Its not even remotely possible to know how dogs built like Argos would move but we can try to connect to experience and to what the modern standards say. Gait has been described when being examined?

The borzoi has several gaits besides walking.

  • A normal slow trot. Head carried horizontal or low. Uses as little energy as possible.
  • An alert head held high trot, short hackney like strides, seeking for prey
  • An artificial, head forced high, high speed show trot.

The gallop also has several phases not covered here!

At the normal transport trot the strides are relatively short. The dog moves at a straight line. The front foot is lifted and hindfoot is placed just behind. Both front legs and rear legs moves at about same with as the quarters or sometimes slightly closer.

The alert gait is very individual and cannot be described!

The show trot shows a number of different characteristics based at least partly on the shape of the dog. As the trotting speed goes faster the dog lengthen the strides and the hind foot can no longer be placed at the same place as the front foot, unless the dog is quite long compared to height. A square dog or of normal proportions must compensate for this.

1              The dog can singletrack with the hindlegs moving towards a centreline with the hindfeet on a line  between the front feet.

2              The dog crabs, with one foot between the front feet and one outside the front feet.

3              The dog can also choose to move both legs outside the front legs at the fast trot.

In the showrings we see many dogs either Singletracks or Crabs. To me personally, the first looks unstable, the second looks unpleasant and both looks awkward. Moving at a trot with hindlegs outside of the front legs gives an impression of power! It uses, to some degree, the same muscles and bears a certain resemblance to the gallop.

The FCI standard and the American standard mention hindlegs moving closer to the centre as trotting speed increases while the English standard mention hindlegs moving outside of the front.

This could be observed by videofilming a significant number of dogs. The result would be an average of the observed dogs but would not say anything about what is desired or what is correct.

Perhaps here is a moment where there is room for personal choice. We sometimes see sighthounds compared to trotting dogs, the African wild dog and the Gepard. None of these comparisons are valid.

The borzoi is not a trotting dog, it is supposed to be fast on relatively short distances but also be able follow the hunter on his horse, perhaps on a hunting party over several days.


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Arvid Andersen