The importance of cardiac screening for “healthy” Borzoi


Acquired cardiac disease can still be present in seemingly healthy Borzoi dogs

Malinda /

Malinda /

At the 2023 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) forum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, third year cardiology resident at Texas A&M University, Tess Sykes, DVM presented a poster on “Echocardiographic Findings and Prevalence of Heart Murmurs in Clinically Healthy Adult Borzoi Dogs.”1 Dr Sykes also received her DVM from Texas A&M University and currently practices in Texas. During her poster presentation, Sykes pointed out that echocardiographic measurements of cardiac size can differ in sighthounds compared to non-sighthound breeds. Cardiology complications are well-known in greyhounds, whippets, Irish wolfhounds, and Scottish deerhounds however little is known about Borzoi. Data suggests that this breed can still be prone to develop dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), ventricular arrhythmias, and myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD).

Sykes studied 146 clinically healthy Borzoi (86 female, 60 male) with a median age of 4 years old. Echocardiograms were performed by board-certified cardiologists on each dog. The results found that 86 of these dogs had heart murmurs (58.9%). Additionally, 119/146 Borzoi were structurally normal with 64 of that group having an “innocent” or physiologic heart murmur. Fifty-nine structurally normal dogs (50%) had trace or mild trivial atrioventricular (AV) valve regurgitation. Structural cardiac disease was found in 21 dogs, and 6 dogs had equivocal diagnoses.

Of the patients studied, 25 had longitudinal echocardiogram examinations over the study’s 2-year period. Of the 25 examined, 2 dogs had developed occult DCM, 2 other dogs developed equivocal DCM, and 2 others developed stage BI MMVD. However, 2 of the dogs diagnosed with DCM normalized 1 year later after a diet change.

From this study, Sykes concludes that cardiac screening based solely on auscultation may not be best practice because of the high prevalence of physiologic murmurs in structurally normal Borzoi. Acquired cardiac disease was identified in this study group of healthy Borzoi dogs, with DCM and MMVD present. Sykes recommends that veterinary cardiologists learn more about disease predispositions and spectrum of normal of this breed to improve cardiac breed screening.


Sykes T. Echocardiographic Findings and Prevalence of Heart Murmurs in Clinically Healthy Adult Borzoi Dogs. Presented at: American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) forum; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. June 14-16, 2023.

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