sighthound running

anonymous asked:

What about long nosed breeds? The Borzoi especifically seem to have extreme anatomy

Dolichocephalic is the term we use to describe dogs bred to have noses/faces that are longer, and Dolichocephaly is the name of the condition. Borzoi do have extremely long faces, but greyhounds are the most common example and while issues with this type of anatomy are relatively rare, they are the breed I see most of the issues in. I suspect this is just a numbers game, as I see a lot of greyhounds through work.

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Why have we ended up with dogs that have such long faces in the first place? Most of these breeds are sighthounds, they’re bred to run fast and consequently also have long legs. While some breeds are dolichocephalic for the ‘look’ many of them, including the obvious greyhound, were raced where the long face was an advantage.

Have you ever heard the phrase won by a nose?

This is a thing that really happens. If dogs are neck-and-neck, it’s the dog with the longest nose that wins.

In the case of racing greyhounds they’re not being bred specifically for a longer nose. They’re breeding the dogs that win the most race money, and often that favors dogs with a longer nose. They’re not being bred for conformation they’re being bred for winning ability. Other breeds often have this in their history, but more attention has been paid to confomation over recent decades.

Parrot mouth, overbite or Mandibular Brachygnathism is the result of this. The degree of overbite varies between individuals, and often causes little issue in mild cases. More extreme cases can have difficulty picking up food or with dental maloclusion, but sloping bowls and dental care often mitigate this.

This overbite can force the dog to be a picky eater, as they need to pick up each piece of food and prehend it more delicately  They are more likely to be slow eaters due to this anatomy, but they manage.

An extreme overbite does leave the dog at increased risk of maxillary fracture. This is a traumatic fracture of the bone of the upper jaw, usually just in front of the canine teeth, as a result of the dog colliding with something, or tripping and slamming its muzzle into the ground. This forces the front part of the upper jaw upwards, causing the fracture.

They typically present with a blood nose and painful face with bruising on the gums. Some require surgery (inter-dental wiring) and some don’t. They usually heal very well but do require a very sloppy diet for a few weeks. Even working with racing greyhounds, I only see one of these fractures every few years.

They are also at a slightly increased risk of nasal foreign bodies, usually blades of grass that they have inhaled, and there is some suggestion that certain breeds are more prone to fungal infections in the nose. I’m not totally convinced that this is a true anatomical predisposition and not a genetic one, and fungal infections of the nose are very rare in the first place, but it gets on the list anyway.

They are also not very good chewers in the majority of cases when it comes to bones and other dental prophylaxis, so they often need some dental attention, but this is still better than brachycephalic dogs on the whole.

So there are a few issues with long-nosed dogs, but they are on the whole either relatively minor, rare, secondary to trauma or related to an overbite defect.

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Last Saturday we did our first ever Survival Run! It was loads of fun, tough I thought the climbing trough tires and crawling trough the mud were kind of ok when I could follow Human, it was still a very new experience for us both! We jumped into muddy watery ditches, climbed hills with loose stones rolling down (the way back down was way more challenging tough!) and overall got really dirty!