There are very few internationally known dog breeds that come to mind when you first think about Russian dog breeds. In fact, only a small handful of Russian dogs have managed to gain international traction outside its native country isolated in the northeast.
But even so, many popular dog breeds, like the Siberian Husky and Samoyed, all originated from the freezing trans-continental country. And despite popular belief, Russia is home to some of the coolest (no pun intended) breeds in the canine kingdom.
That said, let’s examine all 25 Russian dog breeds, their wonderful temperaments and why you should consider bringing home one next. After all, they can be just as affectionate as any other dog breed, while bringing a special uniqueness only found in Russian breeds.
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Table of Contents
- Russian Dog Breeds List
- 1. Siberian Husky
- 2. Samoyed
- 3. Borzoi
- 4. Black Russian Terrier
- 5. Caucasian Shepherd
- 6. Central Asian Shepherd
- 7. East European Shepherd
- 8. East Siberian Laika
- 9. Franzuskaya Bolonka
- 10. Moscow Watchdog
- 11. Moscow Water Dog
- 12. Russian Harlequin Hound
- 13. Russian Hound
- 14. South Russian Ovcharka
- 15. Russian Spaniel
- 16. Russian Toy Terrier
- 17. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
- 18. Russo European Laika
- 19. West Siberian Laika
- 20. Yakutian Laika
- 21. Taigan
- 22. Karelo Finnish Laika (Finnish Spitz)
- 23. Hortaya Borzaya
- 24. Shalaika
- 25. Volkosob
Russian Dog Breeds List
Though there are famous Russian breeds, most of these dogs are not well known outside of Russia. And in western countries, they’re even less popular. Let’s examine each Russian breed’s temperament, what makes them special, and why they make great pets!
The most famous and popular Russian dog breeds include the Husky, Samoyed, Borzoi, Black Russian Terrier, Caucasian Shepherd, Central Asian Shepherd, Tsvetnaya Bolonka, Finnish Spitz, Russian Toy Terrier and the Russian Harlequin Hound.
However, there’s lesser known dogs like the East European Shepherd, East Siberian Laika, Franzuskaya, Moscow Watchdog, Moscow Waterdog, Russian Hound, South Russian Ovcharka, Russian Spaniel, European Laika, West Siberian Laika, Yakutian Laika, Taigan, Hortaya Borzaya, Shalaika, and the Volkosob.
1. Siberian Husky
Highlights: Playful, Energetic, Lively
The Siberian Husky is without a doubt the most popular dog breed to originate in Russia (or Siberia). They’ve come a long way from their sleigh-pulling days, although many still work this job. In fact, Huskies may be one of the few dogs that can run 100-mile days for emergency deliveries.
These dogs don’t mess around when it comes to work. Not only do they love work, but they pretty much need it! But as energetic as they are, Huskies also have a playful and sometimes mischievous side that’ll tug on the hearts of new owners and families.
They’re the perfect dog breed for owners that enjoy an active lifestyle. If given the opportunity, they’ll run with you all day. However, they’ll need training for long distance running. Either way, make sure you’re not forcing a Husky to be your big lap dog. They’ll thank you for it!
- In 1925, a pack of Huskies saved a small Alaskan town’s kids from Diphtheria by delivering the anti-toxin from 700 miles away.
- DNA studies show that Huskies share a large amount of DNA with the grey wolf (along with Shiba Inus and Chow Chows).
- Huskies are one of the only breeds to have blue eyes without the merle gene, such as with the Australian Shepherd.
Siberian Husky Temperament
As mentioned, Huskies are energetic dogs (seriously, we do mean it!) And while most Huskies are sweet and loving dogs and wouldn’t intentionally hurt a child, they often do by accident. Their excitement often gets the best of them and a simple swipe can send a child into tears.
In terms of working and obedience intelligence, Huskies don’t rank very high. However, they’re more intelligent than you think. The problem is that they’re a little stubborn and don’t always like to follow the rules. Training may take up a bit more time than you’d want.
Siberian Huskies are naturally pack dogs, so giving them a canine friend is the most ideal. If not, they’ll treat your kids and family like their very own. However, their instincts may cause them to chase down your cat. These dogs are not great watchdogs because simply put, they’re too friendly.
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Highlights: Loving, Calm, Adaptable
Samoyeds, affectionately nicknamed Sammies, are some of the brightest and most graceful dogs we have – and it’s all thanks to Russia. They always look like they’re happy with a “perpetual smile” (that actually helps protect their mouths from forming icicles).
Like the Husky, Sammies are fierce and loyal workers. Keeping them locked in the house for the day is like being in a prison for these energetic dogs. Give them some work, a job or a physical activity to do, and they’ll thrive in just about any home!
It’s worth noting that they originated from the Siberian town of Oymyakon, where temperatures can reach negative 60 degrees! For this reason, the Sammy’s thick white coat (that sheds a lot!) was bred into the dogs to protect them from the harsh climate conditions of rural Russia.
- Their smiles are famous. We call it the “Sammy Smile” because of their upturned mouths that make them look like they’re always smiling.
- There are only 14 dog breeds with a genetic footprint that closely resembles the grey wolf. The Samoyed is one of the 14.
- These dogs can sing…well, kind of. They’ll howl and yodel to a melodic tune, often harmonizing with it.
The Samoyed is a very intelligent dog that loves to work. Because of this, plenty of mental and physical stimulation is needed to keep them mentally happy and physically healthy. Remember that they were accustomed to all kinds of work in Siberia.
However, there is some bad to come with all the good. For example, they can be stubborn and mischievous, which tends to make obedience training a little difficult for new owners. But as long as you establish dominance in the home and lead with consistency, you should be fine.
The Samoyed is all about love and affection. They need a lot of attention and in return, they’ll reciprocate with love. If you’re a busy person, I don’t suggest owning a Samoyed. And sure, while they are highly adaptable dogs, I don’t think they’d appreciate you bringing them to a region with warm climate.
Highlights: Proud, Affectionate, Friendly
The Borzoi is a large sighthound known for its majestic gait, stunning beauty and calm temperament. And although they’re considered Russian dogs by many, there is a small camp that believes they actually originated from other central Asian countries.
They’re lightning-fast dogs. And when charging in full stride, a Borzoi can reach astonishing speeds of up to 40 miles per hour! These dogs are so fast that I Heart Dogs claims they’re one of the 5 fastest dog breeds in the world. I can’t say that i’m surprised.
Borzois are not small dogs. A male Borzoi can stand nearly 28 inches tall and weight just over 100 pounds with their Greyhound-like build. Most Borzois will have a white flat coat with patches of brown/tan. However, they can come in all many colors, though the coat will be silky, wavy or curly.
- Borzois excel in a dog sport called Lure Coursing. This sport mimics exactly what these dogs were bred for – to chase down a target.
- Before 1936, Americans called Borzois the Russian Wolfhound.
- It takes three years for a Borzoi’s head to fully reach maturity. They don’t develop their hound-like head shape until then.
Borzois are quiet and calm dogs with a very agreeable demeanor. Owners describe them as feline-like, which may explain why they can make great friends with them. Though they don’t rank high on the 100 smartest dogs list, the Borzoi is very adaptable – just a little stubborn at times.
On the other hand, they are affectionate and love the family members like any other dog. You’ll need to remember that training these dogs require patience and consistency. With their independent nature and stubbornness, they won’t do your bidding for the sake of obeying.
Like with most sighthounds, Borzois need a lot of physical activity to keep them in check. But when you’re walking these dogs, make sure to keep them on a leash. The sight of a squirrel or raccoon will send them running. And trust me, you won’t catch this dog.
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4. Black Russian Terrier
Highlights: Smart, Docile, Powerful
The Black Russian Terrier is one of the fiercest working dogs to originate out of Russia. They were bred to work and their powerful body and frame shows they’re more than capable of completing the toughest tasks. They’ll grow up to 30 inches tall and weigh 80 to 130 pounds.
These big dogs are not all about the brawn, but they have the brains too! It’s fairly easy to train Black Russians to do complex working tasks and jobs, which explains why they’re a popular choice for canine work. But that’s not all – the work ethic of the breed is superb too.
Thanks to their waterproof double coat, these dogs are able to work in the harshest conditions of Russia. Rain, snow or shine – the Black Russian is up for the challenge. But despite their massive size, they’re nimble dogs that seem to be surprisingly agile. It’s why they’re reliable work and guard dogs.
- Although they’re called the Black Russian Terrier, they’re not actually terriers. Rather, they’re part of the working group.
- It took the Soviet Union nearly 20 years to develop and finalize the Black Russian Terrier standard.
- Black Russian Terriers were developed by the Red Star Kennel for the sole purpose of military use. They don’t develop their hound-like head shape until then.
Black Russian Terrier Temperament
The Black Russian is a hard-working dog breed – there’s no denying this. They know they’re highly capable of many jobs, so they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get things done.
These dogs are make fantastic guard dogs because of their innate instinct to protect and guard. In fact, plenty of Black Russians still serve as guard dogs in their home country. Plus, I don’t know many people that would want to mess with this 100-pound dog!
When they’re not on the field working, Black Russians are calm and affectionate dogs in the home. They love the family and do especially well with children. On the other hand, you will need to provide these dogs with the physical demand that they require.
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5. Caucasian Shepherd
Highlights: Courageous, Spirited, Friendly
The Caucasian Shepherd is a mastiff-type Russian dog that originates from the most southern point of Russia – the Caucasus Mountains. Hence, the name. They’re also referred to as the Caucasian Ovcharka with many believing they’re actually native to other nearby Caucasus-region countries.
These dogs are huge, weighing up to 170 pounds and standing 30 inches tall. As one may expect, they were bred to be brave guardians. And with their thick frame and muscular build, it would be a shame if they weren’t bred to protect farms and livestock in the mountainous region.
For centuries, Caucasian Shepherds were premier companions for local farmers. They really did everything, from guarding livestock to other various farm jobs. However, they are very different dogs in the home compared to when they’re on the field. They know when to turn their intensity up and down.
Caucasian Shepherd Temperament
Caucasian Shepherds have all the qualities of a great guard dog. They’re bold, brave, fierce and highly confident in themselves – as they should. But when they’re at home in a loving environment, Caucasian Shepherds can be very different dogs.
They’re loyal, sweet, calm and affectionate towards the family members. And yes, this includes children and other pets too! Like with most guard dogs, they’ll be wary of strangers and may take a while to warm up to them. But that is expected from most guard dogs.
As for training, these giant dogs need a dominant leader for the pack. Establish dominance early on when they’re still relative small. Be consistent while using only positive reinforcement for training. Socialization would be a huge plus for these dogs, as with all dominant breeds.
6. Central Asian Shepherd
Highlights: Independent, Confident, Brave
One of the most ancient breeds, the Central Asian Shepherd can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago. And like a Caucasian Shepherd, these Shepherd dogs have been guarding local farmer livestock and properties for thousands of years.
Though they were believed to have originated from somewhere in Central Asia, Russia (Soviet Union) was credited for standardizing this breed in the 1920’s. After the fall of the USSR, a new variation of these dogs were bred, called the Central Asian Ovcharka.
They differ in size, coat color and personality, though both breeds are fairly similar in appearance. And in the early 2000’s, the Central Asian Shepherds became immensely popular due to their protective instincts. At one point, they were the most popular dog in Russia.
Central Asian Shepherd Temperament
Because they are guard dogs by nature, the Central Asian Shepherd is inherently protective. Not very many things can get past a Central Asian Shepherd. Plus, they take their guarding tasks very seriously and require socialization and obedience training to keep them in check.
Needless to say, these shepherds are not for novice dog owners. These dogs are still relatively primitive, having been bred through thousands of years of natural selection. Plus, their over-powering size and dominance can be a nightmare for some owners.
However with enough socialization and a firm hand in obedience training, they can make great family dogs. Just make sure you establish dominance early on with these dogs. If you wait until they grow into their full 150 pound frame, things will be a lot more difficult.
7. East European Shepherd
Highlights: Courageous, Athletic, Smart
The East European Shepherd was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1930s to help with police work and guard dog duties. Essentially, they’re like the Russian version of the German Shepherd – and it’s easy to see why. In fact, these dogs were modeled after the German Shepherd.
So why didn’t they just import German Shepherds into Russia? Well, because of the harsh winter climates of Russia, they needed to breed a fierce police dog that could withstand the freezing temperatures. These dogs have many of the same qualities as the German Shepherd: the braveness, loyalty and work ethic.
However, they are slightly larger, weighing up to 110 pounds and sitting 30 inches tall. In Russia, along with other ex-Soviet Union states, these dogs are widely popular. But in western countries, not so much. Regardless, they are beasts that rival the GSD. Enough said.
East European Shepherd Temperament
The East Europeans are hard working dogs, just like with their cousin German Shepherd. But just because they love to work doesn’t mean they can’t be great family dogs. They have a relatively balanced temperament and show high marks with all aspects of dog intelligence.
Confident by nature, the East European Shepherds are fearless. Because they were bred specifically for police work and guard duties, they needed to be brave and confident in whatever task is handed to them. For this reason, they’ll make formidable guard dogs in homes.
As with all working dogs, the East European Shepherd needs a lot of exercise. Plus, mental stimulation is crucial due to their high IQ. Their obedience and working intelligence is off the charts. In other words, they’re very obedient and quick learners.
8. East Siberian Laika
Highlights: Loyal, Protective, Energetic
The East Siberian Laika is a spitz-type Russian dog that originated from the region that’s east of the Yenisei River in Siberia. Though they were originally bred for hunting, they’ve turned out to be very versatile dogs that can do it all. In fact, some specialize in herding or sled-pulling!
Even after domestication for so many years, the East Siberian Laika still retain the wolf-like qualities they inherited from their ancient ancestors. Historians speculate that they were actually developed many years ago with influence of Chinese and Japanese breeds.
The standard for this dog, along with other Laikas, were established in 1947. However, they have yet to be officially recognized by any major kennel clubs. In the western part of the world, dog owners seem to prefer their cousin – the Siberian Husky instead.
East Siberian Laika Temperament
The East Siberian Laika can be a fierce hunter on the field. But off the field, they’re actually affectionate and loving dogs. They’ll rarely show excessive aggression towards humans, but you may not want to push their limits. They’re far from being pushovers too.
They can be a little protective and vigilant in their home. However, these are the qualities that also make excellent guard or watch dogs for the family. With their sharp instincts, it’s hard to imagine a sneaky thief getting past these dogs without being noticed.
East Siberian Laikas have a passion for hunting and it shows. They are not to be trusted with smaller animals in the home! Also, they need to be active. Sitting at home and lounging with the family cannot be their only thing. Only with a stimulating role or job, can you ensure their happiness.
9. Franzuskaya Bolonka
Highlights: Lively, Cheerful, Sociable
There are two varieties of the Russian Bolonka breeds. One of which, is the Franszuskaya Bolonka – a white-coated lap dog that’s full of joy and positive energy. Their name is a misnomer. Though the word “Franszuskaya” translates to french, these dogs are actually of Russian origin.
But the name is not completely random. The development of these dogs were inspired by popular French dogs, such as the Toy Poodle and the Bichon Frise. But in reality, they’re a variation of an Italian lapdog breed called the Bolognese.
As a matter of fact, the word bolonka means “bolognese” in Russian. So in a nutshell, the Russians used an Italian dog to develop their version of the French toy dogs. Well, it worked because they’re sweet lapdogs that are very much similar to any of the worlds’ popular lap dog breeds.
Franzuskaya Bolonka Temperament
Believe it or not, these dogs are a lot more intelligent than they look. Plus, they tend to have an attractive balanced temper that meshes well with all types of people. However with the people they truly love, these toy Bolonkas are going to stick by their side and shower them with love.
Though small in size, they’re not at all shy. Typically very cheerful and curious, these Bolonkas love to play and will entertain their people for the sake of getting their attention. They love to be the center of attention. And as a result, there’s never a dull moment with one.
Because of their territorial instincts, they can become great watchdogs. They’ll alert you of any intruders, but they will make terrible guard dogs. Franzuskaya Bolonkas perceive almost all people as potential playmates. It doesn’t take them long to warm up to a stranger.
10. Moscow Watchdog
Highlights: Gentle, Protective, Confident
The Moscow Watchdog is like the Russian cousin of the Saint Bernard. As a matter of fact, these dogs are actually a hybrid of the Saint Bernard and Caucasian Shepherd. These massive dogs were developed in the Soviet Union and can weigh up to 150 pounds.
But unlike the Saint Bernard, Moscow Watchdogs are active dogs that require a lot of physical activity. They were bred during World War II, when Russia needed help in managing domestic crime. So, they were assigned as guard dogs around government warehouses, railroads and labor camps.
Though they were once considered rare outside of Russia, they have been slowly gaining popularity within Europe. Even today, the Moscow Watchdog isn’t the easiest Russian dog to find. Furthermore, they’ve managed to make it to the United States, though not very prevalent.
Moscow Watchdog Temperament
The Moscow Watchdog has a similar temperament to that of the Saint Bernard. In other words, they’re loving gentle giants that have high tolerance and patience. However, for this to happen, they need socialization early on. They’ll get along great with people and dogs only if properly trained.
As with most guard and watchdogs, the Moscow Watchdog has strong protective instincts. They’re great for those that need an extra eye watching their kids. And when the situation calls for it, such as their family being threatened, a Moscow Watchdog will have your back.
To raise an excellent family dog, you’ll need to establish dominance early with this huge canine. I can’t stress how important this is, as with all big dogs that can easily hurt people. That being, they’re not recommended for most first-time owners.
11. Moscow Water Dog
Highlights: Brave, Confident, Independent
Also known as the Russian Newfoundland, the Moscow Water Dog was another dog breed developed by the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Though they were first intended as Navy companions, Moscow Water Dogs were ultimately not suitable because of their aggressive temperaments.
Funny enough, instead of saving, they would sometimes attack sailors. Obviously, that was a big problem. Today, the purebred Moscow Water Dogs are nearly extinct. Because there was no use for these dogs anymore, breeding had stopped early on.
However, the role of the Moscow Water Dog did not go to waste. They did serve a purpose in the development of the Black Russian Terrier. Along with 13 other breeds, the Moscow Water Dog was used to breed one of Russia’s most successful “army dogs.”
Moscow Water Dog Temperament
Although they’re called the Russian Newfoundland, this Water Dog’s temperament is much different. While the cousin Newfoundland is gentle and calm, these waterdogs were vicious. In the end, the aggressive nature of the dog led to their downfall and extinction.
On the other hand, they were highly capable swimmers – as all waterdogs should be. However the Moscow Water Dog was an exceptional swimmer. Even in the rough seas with freezing temperatures, these dogs excelled at their jobs (sometimes).
They were confident and courageous, which is what the Russian army had intended. It’s just unfortunate they weren’t bred with a more docile temperament when off the field. If you can find a hybrid of these dogs, they will need plenty of socialization.
12. Russian Harlequin Hound
Highlights: Active, Good-natured, Sociable
The Russian Harlequin Hound, also known as the Anglo-Russian, is one of the two most popular scent hounds to originate out of Russia. Even then, they’re still an extremely rare dog breed and are difficult to find outside of their home country.
Despite being a relatively rare breed, they’re still used as hunting companions in Russia today. They were developed by crossbreeding the Russian Hound with the English Foxhound. As a result, they’re superbly skilled in tracking “red game,” namely, foxes and wolves.
Russian Harlequins are known for their square build with a signature tri-colored coat (patches over white coat). In many ways, these hounds are similar to the smaller tri-color Beagle. Many people still have a difficult time telling the two breeds apart.
Russian Harlequin Temperament
Though these dogs are friendly and social with most people, they can have a high prey drive. Most hunting dogs, especially those bred to hunt “red game,” will have these instincts. That said, they need a lot of socialization early on if they’re going to live with cats or other small pets.
As you may have guessed, Russian Harlequins are extremely loyal dogs and will stick by your side while at home. On the field, they love to hunt. However in the home, they just love to spend time with family and would be prefer to participate in family activities too!
They’re very energetic and active dogs, requiring a generous amount of exercise daily. And depending on your dog, most Russian Harlequins may not be suitable for apartment life. Not only do they need to run (a lot) but most tend to be highly vocal dogs.
13. Russian Hound
Highlights: Obedient, Loyal, Energetic
The Russian Hound is another popular scent hound that was developed in Russia. However, they were developed much earlier than Harlequin Hound (sometime around the late 18th century). It’s why this particular dog was given the simplified namesake.
These dogs have a specialized hunting job, and would often work in conjunction with Russian Borzois to get the job done. Russian Hounds would flush game out to where the hunters and Borzois would be waiting to chase them in the open.
Russian Hounds are medium to large dogs, weighing anywhere up to 70 pounds and standing as tall as 27 inches. With their short and dense coat, these dogs are more than well-equipped for the rough hunting grounds of Russia and surrounding regions.
Russian Hound Temperament
Russian Hounds are very energetic and lively dogs that love to work. They could spend all day hunting with their owner if allowed to. In fact, we think the human hunter would get tired of hunting before these hounds (typical of many hound dog breeds).
They’re fairly easy to train because they’re eager to please and highly obedient dogs. As long as their handler is in charge, they’ll do what they can to impress. In the home, they’re as loyal as they are on the field. Whatever need or want, they’ll have your back and follow.
A Russian Hound will do great around other dogs and people. Because they hunt in packs and alongside other dogs, they tend to get along very well with other dogs. However, with small pets, the high prey-instincts may show. Make sure socialization is introduced early on.
14. South Russian Ovcharka
Highlights: Strong, Lively, Confident
The South Russian Ovcharka, or Russian Sheepdog for short, was developed in Ukraine (when it was still part of the Soviet Union). As such, it’s not uncommon to hear true enthusiasts call them the Ukrainian Shepherd dog.
They are primarily found along the massive grasslands between the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. In the region, they serve primarily as herding dogs, but sometimes as multi-purpose workers and guard dogs. These dogs are highly adaptable dogs, capable of living in a wide range of temperatures.
With a strong body and thick coat, they’re some of the best multi-purpose dogs to originate from Russia. However, these dogs are hard to come by unfortunately. It’s extremely difficult to find one even in their home countries of Russia and Ukraine.
Russian Sheepdog Temperament
These dogs need a lot of leadership. If you plan to bring one home, you’ll need to establish authority with firm and consistent training. With that said, they should not be for the novice trainer or first-time owner. Their instincts may be a little overwhelming.
They thrive serving as herding dogs, as that was their intended purpose. However, you’ll need to exhibit strong dominance over the “ownership” of the livestock. Otherwise, the Russian Sheepdog may become possessive of the animals around other people.
These sheepdogs have strong protective instincts, which needs to be kept in check. Although they would serve as formidable family guardians, they can be aggressive with strangers. Needless to say, early socialization is more crucial in this dog than any other Russian breed.
15. Russian Spaniel
Highlights: Carefree, Cheerful, Energetic
The Russian Spaniel was first developed in 1951 through the crossbreeding of various spaniel breeds, such as the English Cocker and Springer Spaniels. And although they may look very similar to the Cocker Spaniel, they have an elongated body and a denser coat.
Coat color on the Russian Spaniel tends to vary (with spots and freckles), however they have will always have the signature spaniel feathering on the ears and legs. The long spaniel ears is another obvious physical trait that may get them confused with other spaniels.
Russian Spaniels may be relatively small dogs, but they’re excellent hunting and gun dogs. Don’t let their size or friendly personality fool you, they’re some of the best. They come with the full gun dog package – keen sense of smell, excellent stamina, perseverance and a strong desire to retrieve.
Russian Spaniel Temperament
A Russian Spaniel is bold, lively and spirited – much like the English Spaniel. They’re great companions with a workers’ mentality on the field but an easy-going attitude at home. That said, Russian Spaniels are fan-favorites due to their adaptability.
Loyal as they come, Russian Spaniels are completely devoted to the task given at hand. It’s why they’re such great gun dogs and watchdogs. But without an assigned task or job, your Russian Spaniel may become depressed and or unpredictable in the home.
In addition, these spaniels are highly obedient and trainable. Descending from intelligent spaniels, they’re just as smart with a pleasant eagerness to learn. Russian Spaniels thrive around kids. Not only are they great playmates, but can also be a second pair of eyes.
16. Russian Toy Terrier
Highlights: Intelligent, Devoted, Delightful
Small yet elegant, the Russian Toy was intended to be the ultimate Russian lapdog. They were originally developed in Russia from the English Toy Terrier. As for looks, Russian Toys are some of the smallest dog breeds. Standing just below 28cm, they’re almost as tiny as the Chihuahua.
It’s worth noting that there are two coat variations for these dogs: smooth and long coated. And although they were called different dogs at one point, the two breeds were combined into one in 1988.
Russian Toys were originally bred for companionship, exclusively for the Russian elite and aristocrats. However, the breed has come a long way since their “royal” days. In fact, they’ve become great companion lap dogs enjoyed by numerous families across the world today.
Russian Toy Temperament
There’s nothing the Russian Toy enjoys more than to lounge on your lap. In fact, that’s exactly what they were bred to do. These sweet-natured dogs are playful and love to have fun. Whether they’re playing with their favorite toys or hide-n-seek, they’re happy as long as the owner is there.
Human companionship is the most important thing with these toy dogs. They need it to thrive and remain happy. In some cases, they will let you know when they want your attention. Likewise, they’ll come by your side when they sense you’re feeling down.
The human-to-pet bond developed with these dogs is truly something special. They will be inseparable. However, they can be aloof or cautious around strangers. Unlike other lap dogs, they won’t wag their tail at everyone. With that, they make decent watchdogs despite their size.
17. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
Highlights: Charming, Curious, Lively
The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka is very similar to the Franzuskaya Bolonka. In fact, the only difference is that the latter comes in a white coat. But even so, that doesn’t stop casual dog owners from confusing the two due to their similar temperaments and physical traits.
Bred to be the ultimate Russian apartment dog, the Bolonka is a relatively rare breed developed from some of the world’s most famous toy dogs. With that said, the Tsvetnaya Bolonkas were developed using the Bichon Frise, Pekingese, Shih Tzu and Bolognese.
However, they’re most similar to the Bolognese. They’re so similar that their name, Bolonka, actually translates to “Bolognese” in many Slavic languages. The best part is that they’re hypoallergenic dogs. In other words, these toy dogs are perfect for owners sensitive to dog allergens.
Tsvetnaya Bolonka Temperament
Easy-going and outgoing, the Tsvetnaya Bolonka is a companion lap dog that gets along with nearly anyone. This Bolonka loves people and people seem to adore them back. And as you may have guessed, they’re quick to make friends and easy to fall in love with.
On the other hand, the Tsvetnaya Bolonkas are alert and vigilant, making them great watchdogs. However, they aren’t like typical small dogs. For instance, they don’t bark as much as a Chihuahua, which makes them great for households with small children.
Despite being a toy dog, they can be independent-minded. For them to get along with all people, they require plenty of socialization. The Bolonkas are as intelligent as any breed. They’re fairly easy to train and do well with obedience training if positive reinforcement is used.
18. Russo European Laika
Highlights: Lively, Alert, Territorial
Russo European Laikas are one of the few dog breeds developed from Russian landrace dogs. These spitz-type dogs were bred in the 1940’s for a program aiming to produce top hunting dogs. And sure enough, these Russo Europeans are some of the best dogs when it comes to duck hunting.
But unlike other hunting dogs, they’re very vocal, which helps with communication during hunts. These dogs are typically trained to use their voices to alert the human hunter on the location of the prey. The vocal isn’t a full-on bark, though more similar to a howl.
Currently, these dogs are recognized by the FCI. In addition, they haven’t been picked up by any major kennel clubs other than the United Kennel Club. Even so, the popularity of the Russo European Laikas seem to be trending up in Russia and surrounding countries.
Russo European Laika Temperament
This energetic hunting dog loves nothing more than being outdoors in the wilderness. It’s partly why they thrive as duck hunters. Russo Europeans were bred to be outdoors and keeping them in an enclosure or small apartment will not end well for the active dog.
They’re very loyal dogs and once you’ve developed a bond with them, they won’t ever stray. Plus, they’re fantastic with children due to their patience. But because they’re vocal on the field, expect that they’ll let you know if they’re happy or sad with their wide range of vocals.
Russo Europeans can be a little territorial and excellent guard dogs too. And with other people and dogs, they may react aggressively. These dogs love to work and do best when they have a sense of purpose. Whether it’s hunting, guarding or companionship, they need some meaningful role in the family.
19. West Siberian Laika
Highlights: Loyal, Affectionate, Vigilant
The West Siberian Laika is another spitz breed developed from Russia’s very own Laika dogs. Although their history isn’t clear, we know they originated as hunting companions for the Ural people in West Siberia. And like the other Laika variations, the West Siberian is also an adept hunting dog.
In fact, they may be the most versatile of the bunch. These versatile Laika hunters are great at hunting squirrels and raccoons, though they can also hunt bears, moose and boars. All Laikas are vocal dogs that use their barks to help hunters locate the game. The West Siberian Laika is no exception.
Still, these dogs remain relatively primitive to preserve the natural hunting instincts that make them such valuable dogs to hunters. With that in mind, the West Siberian Laikas can maintain both appearance and behaviors from their ancestors, the Siberian wolves.
West Siberian Laika Temperament
Loyal and loving, the West Siberian Laika is entirely devoted to the owner and family. In addition to being versatile hunters, these dogs make great guard dogs as they’re alert and protective. They’re cautious but non-aggressive around strangers.
West Siberian Laikas will likely show aggressive tendencies when around unfamiliar dogs, especially of the same sex. Their high prey instincts make them unsuitable for households with small pets like cats. However, with enough socialization, family cats can be tolerated.
They’ll eventually learn and accept other animals as part of the pack with proper training, patience and consistency. On the other hand, the West Siberian is a very obedient dog. Thanks to their unwavering loyalty, they’re willing to please their owner, even if that means obedience training.
20. Yakutian Laika
Highlights: Loving, Lively, Smart
The Yakutian Laika is a Russian dog breed originating from the northernmost part of Russia. Specifically, they’re from the region bordering the Arctic, called the Sakha Republic. In this ice-cold region of Russia, the Yakutians served many jobs.
Not only do they pull sleigh, but also herd reindeers and hunt wild game. They do it all! But a huge part of why they can do it all is because of their many gifted traits. Yakutian Laikas are known for their sharp sense of smell, superb hearing, outstanding stamina and great vision.
All of which, are qualities of an excellent hunting dog. But even with these gifts, not all dogs are suited to hunt in this icy region. Thanks to their thick double coat, they’re able to tirelessly work in the harshest winter conditions. They have been known to work all day with relative ease.
Yakutian Laika Temperament
Yakutian Laikas are some of the most faithful companion dogs among the Russian breeds. They demand respect from their handlers, but also give it back in return. When both human and dog are in sync, Yakutians will stick by your side no matter what.
They’re quite energetic dogs, as needed to work long hours all day. So a good amount of mental and physical stimulation is needed for a Yakutian on a daily basis. It’s best to keep them in an enclosed large yard where they get to freely run in the open.
In the home, these dogs are gentle and docile. They’ll get along with children and other dogs if given the proper socialization training. The earlier you start, the better. Plus, they’re quite obedient and easy to train – partly because of their people-pleasing mentality.
Highlights: Patient, Affectionate, Docile
The Taigan dog, also formerly known as the Kyrgyzdyn Taighany, is an extremely rare sighthound developed in Kyrgyzstan when it was still part of the Soviet Union. Some refer to these dogs as the Russian Greyhound due to their uncanny resemblance.
Both the Russian Taigan and Greyhound are medium height and sport a medium-length coat with slight curls. Plus, the shape is also quite similar. However the main difference is that Taigans were bred to hunt in the extreme regions of the Tian Shan mountain range.
Taigans are capable of tracking down deer, foxes, wolves and even marmots. We’re uncertain about the true origins of these dogs, but researchers speculate they’re related to the Saluki, Afghan Hound, Sloughi, among other popular and skilled sighthound breeds.
These Russian dogs are patient and gentle in the home, for the most part. On the hunting field, they’re a different animal. With that said, these dogs don’t deal well with rough play. So, make sure children are old enough to learn to respect these dogs.
Like other sighthounds, the Taigan is perfectly fine living with other, familiar dogs. They’re pack dogs and actually prefer the companionship of other dogs in their family. However, their strong prey instincts may kick in if you have a cat (or other small pet) around.
In order for you to have an even-tempered Taigan, socialization is a must. They were bred to be extreme hunters so it’s expected that some of those instincts will linger even in domestication. But when given proper training, they’re some of the best Russian breeds to have in the home.
22. Karelo Finnish Laika (Finnish Spitz)
Highlights: Sweet, Loving, Lively
Despite being called the “Finnish” spitz, the true origins of this dog breed is actually from Russia, according to most historians. It’s believed that ancient migrants from central Russia arrived in Finland several thousands of years ago with their spitz dogs. Those dogs are believed to be today’s Finnish Spitz.
Another popular name for this breed is the Karelo-Finnish Laika because they were likely developed in the Karelia region of Russia for hunting. And like the other Laika types, these dogs have a similar spitz look with a rich thick fur and slight red coloration of the coat.
These dogs are versatile hunters too. In the past, they were primarily used to hunt capercaillie and the black goose. But in some cases, they were trained to hunt the much larger and more aggressive elk or bear. No matter what the job was, they were up for it.
Karelo Finnish Laika Temperament
The Finnish Laikas are widely known for their devotion to their owners. Not only are they loving and loyal, but they’ll have a tendency to be aloof of strangers and protective of their loved ones. If your Finnish Laika frequently barks at strangers, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Despite their distrust for strangers, the Finnish Laika is a relatively sensitive dog. They need plenty of praises and attention to keep them happy dogs. For this reason, we suggest you only use positive reinforcement with this dog. If physically punished, they may hold grudges.
As natural hunters, it’s expected that they’ll be territorial dogs. Any small animal that runs through your backyard will send this dog flying as he or she chases down the intruder. But don’t let this deter you. They’re great with all types of people, especially with kids.
23. Hortaya Borzaya
Highlights: Elegant, Active, Sweet
The Hortaya Borzaya is a rare sighthound developed in Ukraine and Russia. They go by several names: the Chortai, the Russian Greyhound, Eastern Greyhound and more. Why the Greyhound comparisons? Take one quick look at his build and you’ll see why.
The Greyhound resemblance in the Hortaya Borzaya is obvious. Some will also have the short feathered hair, which explains why many say they look like a cross of a Borzoi and Greyhound. However, these sighthounds are slightly larger with a heavier frame.
These dogs are rarely seen in large cities. Because they’re large dogs that need a lot of run, you’ll most likely find one in the large farms and rural areas of the country. They will need wide spaces to get their strides in, as they are indeed high-energy dogs.
Hortaya Borzaya Temperament
Let’s make this clear: Hortaya Borzayas are not easy dogs to raise. In fact, I would not recommend them to any new owners or trainers. And if you’re generally a busy person, these dogs are not ideal for you. They are too energetic and large. Without care, they can be destructive.
There is some good though. The Hortaya is a sweet and good-natured dog. Despite appearing wild and “out of control” at times, these sighthounds tend to be calm and docile in the home. And the best part? They’ll happily co-exist with other dogs, as they’re pack dogs.
If you can meet their physical needs, these robust dogs will easily integrate into any family. They’ll mesh right in from day one. They’re also known for their soft bites, which hunters particularly enjoy because it doesn’t damage the fur on the hunted prey. Parents with kids may appreciate this too.
Highlights: Agile, Trainable, Active
Also known as the Sulimov Dog, the Shalaika is the first and only jackal-dog hybrid to originate out of Russia. To be specific, they are crosses between two Siberian Huskies and two golden jackals. Why did they create this breed? To be the ultimate security dog.
In fact, Shalaikas were developed by Klim Sulimov (hence the name) for Aeroflat airline in Sheremetyevo Airport. The plan was to develop ultra versatile dogs to be sniffer dogs and airport security dogs. Currently, there are 25 Sulimov dogs (give. ortake) stationed at Moscow airport.
Needless to say, these dogs are super rare because they weren’t meant for the mass. In total, there are less than 50 dogs of this breed. And each one is trained from puppyhood to recognize and locate 12 specific components that are associated with explosives.
Shalaika (Sulimov Dog) Temperament
Because these dogs don’t live in family-oriented environments, there’s little to no data on how they fit into a family. But from handler accounts, we do know that the Shalaika is a very eager-to-please dog that’s highly trainable and wicked intelligent.
They have an excellent sense of smell and nose, which suggests they may easily get distracted with all types of odors (similar to the Beagle) constantly in the air. Without proper training, it would seem that a Shalaika is a “dumb” dog, though it’s only because their curiosity gets the best of them.
There’s evidence that suggest that they’re generally very active dogs. Plus, the jackal side give them the ability to tolerate extreme temperatures of 40 degrees celsius, all the way to -70°C. This hardy breed would likely be great hunters, should they make it out to the public one day.
Highlights: Fierce, Brave, Confident
Having a Russian dog-jackal hybrid seems cool. But have you heard of the Russian wolf-dog hybrid? Known as the Volkosob, this dog was developed to protect the borders of Russia. Given how big the country is, it’s not an easy task for Russia’s troops. So, these dogs are crucial for this purpose.
Developing a wolf-dog hybrid for help is not an easy thing to do. In fact, over 200 wolf hybrids were failures due to the extreme fear and caution they developed around humans. This wasn’t possible until scientists found Naida, a Caspian Sea Wolf that was unusually sociable and friendly.
In 2000, Russia’s Prem Institute of Internal Troops finally developed the perfect wolf hybrid for their military. Not only did they protect country borders, but they were also highly trained for a variety of tasks. For instance, the first Volkosobs tracked explosives, contraband and other illegal substances.
Like the Shalaika, there is very information on the Volkosob living in a family setting. After all, they were bred to work in the armed forces and not for companionship. But even so, there’s a lot to love about the Volkosob.
While they inherit the physical prowess of the wolf, the Volkosob’s personality is more alike a typical guard dog. The breed is highly obedient, super smart and trainable. They are fairly social and friendly around their handlers and the people they are familiar with.
However, it’s expected that they’ll retain some of the instincts of the wolf. Most notably, their sharp senses, innate territorial instincts and caution around strangers will not be ideal for most families. Volkosobs will likely need a lot of mental and physical stimulation too.
So let us know in the comments section, which was your favorite Russian dog breed and why? Do you own one of these Russian dogs? Leave some tips for potential owners!
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