Borzois — long-nosed, tall, wispy sighthounds — can be found almost anywhere if you look hard enough. They can be found in a pizza slice, a pencil, the clouds, and, most recently, on your For You page.
For years, the dog breed has piqued the interest of internet users, with their distinct features capturing the hearts of viewers. “Memes using borzois as an exploitable began in October 2020, most notably on Instagram, inspired by dog influencers on the platform,” according to meme database Know Your Meme. In the last two months, videos of Borzois and inanimate objects that resemble them have taken over TikTok. The videos, set to a Miss Piggy cover of FKA Twigs’ “Cellophane,” capture a sadness and silliness that many online users relate to.
Borzois, according to Jacob Chattman, a longtime Borzoi owner and content creator, “embodie the existential crisis of being way too aware of everything.”
“I think it fits the internet age, too, because we’re all kind of alone behind our phones and behind our computers, just kind of contemplating existence through these little windows and we’re all like, ‘Ugh, what’s going on?'” Chattman commented on Borzois’ TikTok appeal.
Borzois, according to Chattman, frequently “appear to be reminiscing about something terribly embarrassing.” Memes depicting them capture a common mood for Extremely Online people, who are constantly bombarded with too much information about themselves and others.
Since 2015, Chattman has been posting amusing and educational videos of his Borzois, including a viral Vine of Esper, his “little Russian lady” who died last March. His Borzoi TikTok account, esperborzoi, has 1.8 million followers. He’s created several viral videos using the “Cellophane” cover, which he claims he was made aware of around Christmas last month. People have always commented on his Borzois’ all-knowing looks during his years of posting his dogs.
“They appear to be fairy creatures or magical beings that shouldn’t exist in our world right now, but they do, and they’re trying to find their place,” he explained.
Lily Kambourian, who participated in the trend by posting a TikTok of her Borzoi Eris, stated that while Borzois appear “forlorn and wistful,” they also have a “happiness” in their face. Borzois, according to Kambourian, “just bring joy to people,” even in the context of a sad meme. Sad Borzois, according to Kambourian, have repurposed “Cellophane,” a devastating song in its original form, for many people.
“People have said to us, ‘Oh God, last year when the sound was on my page, I was deep in my emotions, and now this year, I just see it everywhere and I can’t stop laughing because it’s just being used so differently,'” Kambourian said.
Although sad-looking Borzois have received millions of views on TikTok, the trend began with a different sighthound, the Silken Windhound.