Ever wished Greyhounds came with a long coat? Stop wishing, and marvel at the Borzoi dog — a sighthound with Border Collie’s coat and posh character that can run as fast as a car.
Part of the appeal of this dog breed is the array of coat colors and patterns that it comes in. Making a choice was never more difficult than with the so-called Russian Wolfhound. An animal of exceptional grace and character, the Borzoi is a dog you have to know.
Reading about the Borzoi color options will be like scrolling through Pinterest and deciding which fall outfit is better — you simply want to have them all.
Let Us Play A Game Of Rating Borzoi Colors
Why just make a list when you can make it a fun game? We all have preferences, so let me give you mine. You can always tell us your favorite Borzoi color on the Pupvine Facebook page. No hard feelings for any clash of opinions!
For all of you who are already aware of the aristocratic looks of the Borzoi dog, you will be delighted to know that the Borzoi colors are plentiful, and the majority are recognized by the American Kennel Club as standard colors.
Going quickly through some of the colors and patterns of this breed reveals that not only are there options, but the variety of colors and combinations you get is equally astounding.
You can choose one of the eighteen standard colors or, if conformation shows are not your thing, settle on a color from the dozen non-standard options.
The Russian Wolfhound’s silky coat never ceases to impress. There are nine standard markings that genetics have blessed the Borzois with, so here are the possible combinations:
- white markings
- white trim
- white markings with a black mask
- white trim with a black mask
- white markings with ticks
Coats with a black mask, spots on white, spots on white with a black mask, and spots on white with ticks are also possible and can add that topping of uniqueness to your dog’s appearance.
As I said, there are so many you will probably need to have four cups of coffee to keep focus. In the long run, however, you will be glad to have chosen the right color because you cannot paint them if you change your mind.
If you find yourself wondering about some genetic terms like loci, alleles, dilutes, etc., there is a short “glossary of terms” before the FAQ, so make sure you check it out for more clarity.
Breed Standard Borzoi Colors
One of the classics for a dog’s coat color looks really good on the Borzois and can be achieved by either both dog parents carrying a recessive (a) gene on the A locus or by a single parent with the dominant allele on the K locus.
Either way, no other lighter color should be present on the paws, ears, tail, or shoulders on a black Borzois. Chest and forehead white markings can be present.
2. Black And Brindle
Sometimes brindle dogs do not develop the trademark brindle stripes until several months after birth, and even then, it might be tough to know whether your Borzoi is black or black and brindle.
On dogs that have clearly visible brindle markings, the intermittent lines are dark brown, with a base coat of black. The side and lower part of the muzzle and neck, the bottom of the chest, and a portion of the legs, including the paws, will be tan.
Keep in mind that the brindle lines can be very dark and almost indiscernible from the base solid black coat. Fortunately, many Borzoi dogs have tan brindle striping, so the pattern on the coat is nice and clear.
3. Black And Cream
Do you like your black coffee with cream? That is not black coffee anymore, is it? Anyways, the black and cream Borzoi has a mostly black base coat, with most of the muzzle, part of the neck and lower chest, and two-thirds of the legs in a cream color.
The paws and the tip of the tail can have cream pigmentation, but in most cases, the tail is solid black, with the toes following the cream esthetic.
4. Black And Tan
A black and tan Borzoi looks the same as the black and cream one in terms of the tan color distribution, but the color this time is tan.
This look is very reminiscent of Lassie, the Collie, and if you watched the TV show, you are definitely going to feel nostalgic with a black and tan Borzoi.
A fully brindle Borzoi dog is something to behold. The phaeomelanin and eumelanin did their best job on this pattern, turning the Kbr allele into a work of art.
The reddish hue of brown brindle stripes elongates the dog’s body even more, elevating its elegance to a whole new level. Your friends who own dogs will be jealous. I guarantee it.
The facial expression of the Borzoi is already very pleasing, and the mild-mannered demeanor is intensified by a full base coat of cream-colored hair.
However, the puppy will sport a gray coat when born. It takes around two and a half months for the coat to gradually turn into a cream color.
Despite phaeomelanin being a red pigment, it yields a yellow or gold color in the most basic, unaltered phenotypes.
So, a gold color on your Borzoi is much more than the breed standard — it is the gold standard. Even the Borzoi Club of America agrees with me.
The phaeomelanin really loves the Borzoi breed. Though not quite red, the coat of a red Borzoi will have an orange hue. If you have ever seen a fox, that is the color I am talking about.
This is one of the cleanest-looking coat colors for the breed, and it does not have a single black hair. Only a genetic anomaly could disrupt the red and white by introducing black.
9. Red Brindle
Other than a few white markings, the red-brindle Borzoi will look like the mythical creature Gryphon. No, the Borzoi is not half eagle, half lion, but the colors match the myth perfectly.
A fox-colored base coat with brindle stripes in a darker shade of red or brown is a tough look to carry properly, so make sure you dress to match the dog’s coat.
Sable is most well-known because of the German shepherd. The tip of the hair is darker because more melanin reaches it, but the remaining length of the hair keeps getting lighter.
Keep in mind that a sable Borzois naturally does not have a black mask. The face should be mostly white for it to count as a breed standard.
This is my favorite coloring or pattern, but that could be because I am a Belgian Malinois owner. I might be a little bit biased, so take it with a pinch of salt.
An all-white Borzoi is not something you see every day. Even among avid breed connoisseurs, the lack of pigment engineered by the S locus is high on the list of Borzoi fashion.
Despite being considered a white dog, the color is not snow-white, it is a very diluted shade of cream. Side-by-side with another pure white dog will make this more pronounced but will not affect the visual impact of the long feathering on the legs and lower chest.
12. Silver Sable
No matter the coat color, this breed of dog gives off an impression of class, and a neutral shade such as silver sable can raise the odds of your dog being the star of a fashion week.
Since the A locus is responsible for the sable gradient template, the grayish-cream base color is produced by the recessive allele on the D locus.
This combination can sometimes look surreal because of the long hairs having a perfect transition from light-colored roots and darker opaque cream tips.
13. Silver Brindle
Much like the silver sable, the nuance of color is closer to a milky cream hue, but the coat is brindled.
Why are silver colors on a Borzoi called silver if they are closer to cream? Well, because there is a particular sheen to the hair when a cream color is mixed with a subtle gray. The brindle striping is brownish with some dark gray on a “silver cream” base coat color.
14. Gold Brindle
The basic phenotype of phaeomelanin on a dog’s coat is expressed as gold. With the help of the K locus and a gene that controls eumelanin levels, a gold base coat is striped with a brownish or chocolate color.
15. Gold Sable
This is my second favorite color or pattern. The hairs are gold at the roots, with a darkening pattern towards the tip. The soft transition from gold to brown creates the illusion of highlights.
Not only that, the gold color has enough phaeomelanin to pop, but the dilution from the D locus puts it in between the foxy red and cream colors.
16. Brindled Sable
Now we are already in the domain of combining patterns. If you are having a hard time imagining a brindled sable, let me tell you, they are hard to describe with words.
The brindle pattern is less visible here since there is a gradient effect that makes the dark brown color of the brindle stripes become a cream color at the tip.
You would think that a sable pattern would be compromised with contrasting lines, but the coat has an unexpected color smoothness to it.
17. Sabled Gold
A sabled gold pattern has the base coat color the same as a gold sable Borzoi, but the root of the hairs is not creamy but pure gold.
The gradient from gold to brown is more impressive for a lean dog such as the Borzoi because the figure is accented at the shoulders and hips.
18. Sabled Red
An Olympic sprinter’s body frame with long strands of hair in a fox-red color makes for an eye feast. The base coat made out of almost pure phaeomelanin intensifies towards the rust-like shade at the tips of the hairs.
This combination is very flattering for the dog’s long, silky coat and makes your sabled red Borzoi a prime candidate for conformation champion title.
Non-Standard Borzoi Colors
Eighteen options to choose from if you are planning on showing your dog, and perhaps even breeding is not bad. For those who simply want a beautiful companion dog, there are another dozen of colors to choose from. Off we go.
It seems like phaeomelanin is taking over the contest. Apricot is created on a gold base coat, but the dilution from the D locus creates parts that are less melanin-rich, which means a deeper gold base color on the back that dilutes into cream on the sides and front.
The effect is similar to that of a sable pattern, except the hairs do not darken towards the tip. Instead, segments of the coat become gradually lighter in color until watered into a cream.
There are countless examples of the dilute allele on the D locus that end up in the mention of blue dilutes. Eumelanin alleles on the K (black dominant) locus are diluted by the dilute allele from the D locus, and the cooperation creates what is commonly known as blue coat color.
The blue is essentially a black that becomes gray, but the addition of secondary color, such as cream in the case of the Borzoi, produces a shade that is referred to as blue.
3. Blue Brindle
Blue Borzois are rare enough, but finding one with some brindle stripes on top can be a daunting task. The stripes on a blue brindle actually resemble the blue color, but the pattern is often confined to the side of the body.
Still, it is quite an impressive look with stripes that range in length and sometimes look like hefty dotted lines.
If rarity is your thing, a brown Borzoi will be the jackpot. While it is not an intense, high-opacity brown color like a chocolate retriever, it is equally impressive.
The phaeomelanin is diluted by the recessive allele on the D locus, creating the famous liver color. It is very hard to find a liver Borzoi in Europe and near impossible in the US.
Finally, we get some more variation in loci. Welcoming back the creator of the fawn coat color, the A locus, I can tell you it is a lush color that has some tasteful decoration in the form of black tips on the hair.
The black tips in a fawn Borzoi do not follow a template like sable but are randomly spread across the rich fox-like coat color.
6. Red Sable
A red sable Borzoi puppy is going to look brown right after birth but will gradually start becoming ginger or a more vivid version of cream.
The brown tips will not stay, and the overall dark tone will become lighter with each week of your dog’s life. There is a lot of age-related coat metamorphosis in this dog breed, so make sure you take that into consideration.
Despite being considered a “single” color, silver will manifest itself on a Borzoi’s coat in many shades of gray. The marking on the face, legs, and smaller areas of the torso will be a darker gray, with lighter gray highlighted tips.
This happens thanks to the D locus black dilution. The feathering that is usually a solid color can have some hair with darker tips, which makes it a non-standard breed coat color. It is very similar to the wolf’s gray color and affected by the Aw allele on the A locus.
8. Blue And Cream
Yet again, we are looking at a blue dilute that is the result of the D locus interacting with the black dominant (B) allele on the K locus. The diluted blue usually makes the dog’s mask black, while the lower part (bar extremities and feathering on the hind legs) is of a cream color.
Do not worry about an abrupt change in color, as the blue-to-cream gradient resembles a “blanket” coat pattern without clear color delineation.
9. Cream Sable
A cream base coat embellished with darker cream or reddish hair tips adds another beautiful blend to the Borzoi’s coat portfolio.
I find the mixture of colors and darker tips very reminiscent of an Afghan hound, especially with a similarly athletic build and long, silky coat.
10. Mahogany Brindle
While a mahogany color is usually described as a very rich and deep brown with a red hue, the Borzoi naturally tones it down with the presence of phaeomelanin’s phenotype of yellow color.
The brindle striping contains darker lines that fit the deep brown with a red hue and stripes closer to the medial line of the dog’s body that develop into a dark cream color. The base coat color is cream.
11. Sabled Cream
An apricot Borzoi is more extravagant than a sabled cream in terms of coat color, but the subtle pattern of lines makes for a more interesting appearance.
The A locus creates the pattern in a rare but close-knit joint effort with phaeomelanin and the recessive gene on the D locus. The base coat’s cream color is softly darkened along the length of the hair until reaching a dark cream or even gold tip.
12. Mahogany Red
Wood colors like mahogany are always imposing when seen on a dog with a long coat. The Borzoi is the perfect canvas for genetics to create an autumnal landscape masterpiece.
Phaeomelanin levels are controlled by the recessive gene on the A locus in such a way that the coat is reddish in color, but the skin is darker, giving the appearance of mahogany.
This is a rare and magnificent color combination in Borzoi’s, but unfortunately considered non-standard due to the lack of standard markings and feathering.
A List Of Genetic Terms You Must Know To Understand Coloring In Dog Breeds
I know you are eager to hear about all the possible colors and pictures of these stunning dogs, but we first have to go through some genetics-related language to understand why certain colors occur and how to know what genes influence the genesis of these colors.
Melanin is a skin pigment that infuses the dog’s hair with color. No matter the diversity of colors you can find in the Borzoi, only two pigments are behind the rainbow.
One is eumelanin (black pigment), and the other is phaeomelanin (red pigment). A white coat does not indicate the presence of a third pigment but the lack of any.
The Difference Between Genes And Alleles
Another important term is allele. This is simply a variation of a gene that occurs in the same locus (place) on the chromosome, and one chromosome from each of the parents defines the physical characteristics of their offspring, such as coat color in this case.
Combined with other genes that influence coat color, among other things, eumelanin and phaeomelanin produce different shades or colors altogether. The next time you see a “blue” coat color mentioned, that would be a diluted black pigment.
Loci And Allele Dominance
Seven loci make the rules for coloring a dog’s coat, and each of them results in interesting combinations. They include the A, E, K, B, D, M, H, and S loci. Each locus has a dominant allele that has the upper hand in deciding how the coat will look.
On a dog’s genetic results page, the first letter on each side of the sequence will signify a dominant allele if uppercase or recessive if lowercase. The second or superscript letter in each of the strings marks the phenotype on the locus.
Here is an example of alleles on the A locus — ay/at or aʸ/aᵗ. The “a”, in this case, is not uppercase because the phenotype “y” determines the dominant trait. That means that the “ay” allele will override the “at” allele because the latter is recessive.
A Locus (Agouti)
This location on the chromosome is a wild card. You can get many pattern types with various color combinations because the melanin amounts produced in the dog’s body are controlled in the A locus.
Still, there is more to the A locus than meets the eye. It determines when eumelanin and phaeomelanin are produced, acting as an artistic flip-switch that creates all kinds of colors and patterns.
Four alleles can be found in this locus, the fawn (ay), sable (aw), tan (at), and recessive black (a). This list is in order of dominance, and black coat color can sometimes mean that both your dog’s parents had recessive (a) alleles at the A locus.
The E locus is also known as the extension locus, and its role is to give your dog a black mask. Another role is giving your dog a red or yellow coat color, and the alleles present on it are black (E), red (e), mask (Em), and grizzle (Eg).
Mask (Em) is the most dominant allele, followed by grizzle (Eg), black (E), and red (e). Only one Em allele is necessary for a dog to have a black mask, while two recessive e alleles will give a yellow color to the dog’s coat.
One of the main solid color-defining loci, the K locus, has three alleles that will affect your dog’s coat color: dominant black (KB), brindle (Kbr), and yellow (Ky).
If one of your dog’s parents has a KB allele, a black dog coat is guaranteed. A brindle dog will have two Kbr alleles or a Kbr and Ky allele. For a yellow coat, both parents must have the Ky allele on the K locus.
Two alleles can reside on a B locus — black (B) or brown (b). When one dog parent has the black (B) allele present, the coat will be black. The same goes for a Bb result because b is the recessive gene.
Producing a brown, liver, or chocolate coat color in a dog requires both parents to have the recessive brown (b) alleles on the B locus.
One of the most “influential” loci is the D locus. It controls how diluted the colors determined by the A, B, or E loci will be. Two alleles are present: dilute (D) and non-dilute (d).
If both parents carry the dilute gene (d), then the offspring will have a diluted variant of the color the other three loci produced. In the case of a Dd (one parent had the dilute gene) result, the offspring will carry the gene but not have a diluted coat color.
You probably heard about the merle gene, so let me tell you that the M locus is the place to look for it. While there are only two alleles on the M locus — merle (M) and non-merle (m), the strength of the merle insertion can affect spots and markings in a dog’s coat.
When both dog parents carry the merle gene (M), then the phenotype will be inherited by their offspring. In the case that only one parent has the merle insertion, then half of the offspring will have some phenotype of the merle gene (spots and patterns).
This means that the M gene is dominant on the M locus. Merle also dilutes eumelanin, so a dog that is “blue” has at least one parent with a merle gene.
Working together exclusively with the M locus, the H locus hosts alleles that create colored spots on a merle-patterned dog coat. A dominant harlequin (H) and recessive non-harlequin (h) allele are present on the H locus.
Dog parents with the H allele will impact the merle pattern, but non-merle dogs are completely unaffected by the H locus.
The double harlequin allele is known as the embryonic lethal gene because of the negative impact melanin production in double merle dogs affects other tissues and organs.
This is the only locus directly connected to a white phenotype in dog coats. We already established that a white coat is a sign of a lack of pigment, so the S locus controls how much white will be on the coat.
Two alleles are all it takes to determine the percentage of white coats on a dog. The dominant spotting (S) and recessive non-spotting (N) allele are the only two found in the S locus.
Only one dog parent needs to have the spotting (S) allele for the offspring to have up to fifty percent white in any coat pattern, while two S parents will produce puppies that have more than half their coat in white. An NN combination means no white spots on the body.
This locus is also the home of the famous Irish white markings. Irish markings are a very particular pattern of white spots that can be found in the Borzoi, too.
In the United States, you could say it is not among the most popular breeds, so one might consider it a rarity. The demand for Borzoi dogs in Europe is much bigger, but it is not impossible to find one in the US.
Importing one from Europe is always an option, but keep in mind that the acquisition cost is around $2000-$7000, depending on the pedigree. Breeders in the US will most likely be more expensive than some European breeders due to the lower demand for the breed.
The Borzoi was the favorite dog of Russian aristocracy. As a status symbol for most of the upper class of the fifteenth century and later generations, it was mainly known as a Russian breed.
Its role was far from decorative, and it involved coursing deer, foxes, and even wolves. A male Borzoi can grow upwards of twenty-eight inches, which makes it a prime choice for wolf hunting.
Borzoi dogs in the US have been bred and improved through Thomas’ O’Valley Farm bloodline, thanks to Joseph Thomas Jr., who visited Europe in search of the best Borzoi dogs.
Russian lines of the dog breed were in poor condition due to the political turmoil of the previous centuries in Russia, so the American breeders were focused on improving the health and life expectancy of the Borzoi.
Just like other sighthounds, Borzois have problems with bloat, and congenital issues, such as canine degenerative myelopathy or cervical spondylomyelopathy. Still, the breed has a lifespan of nine to fourteen years, which will be enough for you to never think of having another breed.
This is a very athletic dog with a slim, elongated silhouette. Since it was used as a coursing dog, it had to be fast and aerodynamic, which means being overweight or overly muscular was not optimal.
An adult male Borzoi will weigh between seventy-five and one hundred and five pounds, while a female comes in lighter at sixty to eighty-five pounds. The long, silky coat with the feathering creates an even slimmer body frame.
You will rarely see a dog breed with so many coat color options with long, silky hair. Yes, its looks are stunning, but this dog breed has been used for coursing and wolf hunting for decades or even centuries.
The athletic ability means that it requires intense exercise to stay in shape and a high-calorie diet. If this is simply a matter of looks, and you do not plan on participating in agility, coursing, or AKC conformation events, then you might want to pass.
If the looks are only the cherry on top, then you better start saving some money. The expenses of such a dog are high, but nothing trumps the satisfaction of having an incredibly unique sighthound. A mild-mannered temperament makes it a good family dog too.
I hope the colors made your day brighter. Until the next one.