This particular page started January 1 1998
Last update September 1 2001


My Borzoi died at 18 months in the middle of a leap

I sent some posts to various mail-lists about 7 tragic deaths in Borzoi that has occurred in Sweden during the last 18 months. All 7 had died in what is commonly known as "Sudden Death". The dog is seemingly healthy in one minute and gone the next.
Of these 7 dogs, 3 had necropsies and they all show the same thing. Streptococci in the tonsils. And of course the always present and mysterious "circulation failure".

I had no idea I would get such a response when I sent my posts about the Sudden Deaths. My mailbox almost burst with the influx of questions.

So many questions, I find it impossible to answer each and everyone. I make this webpage instead, and try to get as many answers to all those questions in, as far as I know how to answer.

Why all this interest in Sudden Death?

On October 9, 1996 my Shêtan died in the middle of a leap at the age of 18 months.

Before I got to work at 9 in the morning, Shêtan was jumping up and down, playing tug-o-war with my coatbelt, as we returned from our morning walk . At 10 my grandfather took Shêtan out to the dogpark. After playing and running around all by himself for awhile, Shêtan was resting at my grandfathers feet in the authumn sun. On the other side of the fence came Bamse, Shêtans Akita Inu friend. Shêtan got up and started to trot towards the gate, stopped halfway and fell over with straight legs. He twitched twice and was gone, without a sound. Approximately one hour later, Shêtan was admitted into coldstore at the vetclinic and necropsy was done the next day. It showed

  • Toxin producing streptococci in the tonsils. The streptococci was of type Lancefield group G
  • No heart damage whatsoever, no congenital heart problems, no infections, no cardiomypathy
  • Haemorrhage in tonsils, throat, intestines, chestcavity and at the back part of the eyeballs.
  • Badly coagulated blood found in the brain, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys which indicates circulation failure

They say he died from the toxines, when they leaked out of the tonsills, his system went into shock and collapsed. You could say he was poisoned by his own tonsills.

The other 2 Borzoi were not poisoned, it is more likely that their infected hearts gave up. But those infections were probably a result of the streptococci in their tonsills.

Now, why would this make me cry WOLF?
Because we now have 3 dogs dead in sudden death that can be related to infection! Not bad hearts, not anything congenital - but infections!

Out of 7 dead dogs, 3 had necropsies and this is what they say

  • All three Borzoi had tonsilitis
  • All three Borzoi had toxin producing streptococci
  • Two of the Borzoi had streptococci infections in their hearts as well as in tonsils.
  • All of these Borzoi were 3 years old or younger
  • Only one had shown symptoms like irritated eyes, and occasional coughing sounds, the rest appeared healthy as can be to their owners
  • The direct cause for death was circulation failure caused by the streptococci, one way or another

None of these Borzoi had any heart damage that could be proven to be hereditary or congenital, only such as could be expected from the assault of streptococci.

So, 3 out of 3... Toxin producing streptococci!

I know, it doesn't prove anything, 3 dogs are much too few to able to say anything for certain. And I am not saying EVERY Sudden Death is caused by streptococci or tonsillitis. But the thing is, we may be on to something here. And if you just will stay with me for a while yet, I will show you more.

Added May 2 1999

Read about
Canine Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome

Read about it at



All text and photos on the section "Sudden Death in Sighthounds" on my homepage (Starcastle Hounds) is copyright 1997-2001 to

All text and photos on the section "Sudden Death in Sighthounds" on my homepage (Starcastle) is copyright 1997-1999 t