Russian Toys

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The Russian Toys at World Show in Paris 2011 were extraordinary. The longhairs especially were astonishing when they turned their heads to me -- those ears! They looked like a lean, russet Papillon. The smooths stripped off the fancy stuff; they resembled a Chihuahua but longer and more angular. See their photo below.

If you are looking for something small yet different, with a friendly attitude and elegant look, this breed might be right for you.

Russian Toys are fine-boned and lean. Active and cheerful, they are fine with older, well-mannered children.

They can be black and tan, brown and tan, blue and tan or red of any shade, the richer the better. The smooths should have close lying, shiny hair without undercoat. The long-hairs should be covered with 1 to 2 inch hair, close lying and slightly wavy. They have feathers on their legs and the ears are covered with a thick fringe.


The breed was developed from English Toy Terriers. The first evidence of these in Russia was Czar Peter the Great’s pet “Lisetta” who lived from 1716 to 1725.

Russian nobles were attracted to all things English so soon no drawing room was complete without its English Toy Terrier. Owning the breed became a matter of prestige and by the start of the 20th century the country took the breed to its own, calling it the Russian Toy Terrier.

The Communist Revolution almost exterminated the breed. Any non-combat dog was considered bourgeois. The breed was forbidden in “official” breeding programs. However a tiny group of dedicated breeders kept a small gene pool alive. They scoured the country for specimens, even ones that lacked a pedigree, and slowly built back a solid basis for the breed.

Then in 1958, the first long-coat was born to two short-coated parents. He had ear fringing and feathering on his tail and legs. The breed was accepted into the ranks of the European show system in 2006 and the “terrier” was dropped from his name. It is currently in the AKC Miscellaneous Class.

By the Numbers

Size: up to 7 pounds
Coat Care: smooths – 1, low; long-hairs, 5 -- medium. Smooths need an occasional rub down; long-hairs benefit from a bath and a brush once a week.

Trainability: 6 – medium. Russians are quite independent but very loving. If training means they can hang out with you, they are all for it. 
Energy level: 6.They are sturdier than they look, and enjoy a good walk.
Good with Children: 5 - medium Russians do well with older well mannered children.
Hypoallergenic: 3 – not hypoallergenic Smooths are lower shedding than the long-coats, but neither are particularly hypoallergenic.
Noise level: medium – 5: Will bark vigorously to defend their home.

To find out what kind of breeder to look for check out: What Makes a Responsible Breeder. To find out if YOU have what it takes look at: What Makes a Responsible Pet Owner. To get more information or to find a puppy, contact the Russian Toy Club.

Remember, as with all rare breeds, to be patient if you are looking for a puppy. Good breeders can be few and far between. But if you have chosen carefully, it will be worth it!

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