Russian Toy Terrier
- AKC recognized in 2008
- Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
- Size: Small
- Energy: Medium
- Recommended Crate Size: 18” – 22” dog crate*
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Table of Contents
This tiny toy is one of the most elegant, yet cheerful, loving little dogs you could ever hope to meet. Once exclusively seated in the aristocratic lap of luxury, the Russian Toy Terrier is neither a wimp nor a warier. In fact, pet parents of the Russian Toy claim he’s about as balanced as a dog can be.
The Russian Toy, also known as the Russiky Toy, came dangerously close to extinction...twice, actually. But he bounced back like the true trooper he is. His tenacity is amazing for such a pint-sized pup. Read on to find out more about this little package of dynamite and to find out if he might be the perfect addition to your family.
The Russian Toy was originally bred to be a ratter and a watchdog in Russia. But he was too adorably cute not to scoop up and pamper. He soon found himself a companion dog to Russian royalty where he was deemed the Russkiy Toy.
The first evidence on display of the breed is an English style Terrier displayed in the Museum of Zoology in Saint Petersburg. It belonged to Peter the Great, a Russian Emperor and is dated 1716-1726 and a sign above it reads “This dog is a short hair terrier named Lizetta.” It is believed that Russians competed in dog shows in the town back in 1874.
There were numerous showings following that but the breed’s popularity went way downhill when the October Revolution began in 1917 and the Bolshevik Party took Russia over and started the Soviet regime. Since the Russian Toy Terrier was closely associated with the aristocracy, they were practically despised and greatly frowned upon.
At this time, there were two separate kinds of Russian Toys which weren’t intentionally planned. In fact, it came about quite by accident.
The dog thought to be the original long hair version was name Chikki and was born in 1958. His parents were both smooth haired versions but had hair that was a little longer than usual.
The pup wasn’t allowed to be registered though because his hair was too long for the standards. It was commonplace for dogs with hair that was too long to be put down, sadly enough. But, the long hair pup paved the way for two different Russian Toys to exist.
By the time there was a turn of fate and the breed was to be brought back, there were only a couple of the purebreds to be found. At this time Russia was politically isolated which further complicated the issue so a new breed was created, the contemporary Russian Toy.
The new version was remarkably similar to the original except for a few minor changes. The standards were rewritten in 1966 and the new and improved Russian Toy Terrier debuted.
In 1988 the Russian Toy Terrier and the Moscow Long Haired Toy Terrier were united as the same, the Russian Toy Terrier. His name was shortened in 2006 when “Terrier” was dropped by some.
This tiny dog is a proud member of the Federation Cynologique Internationale and the Foundation Stock Service as well as the American Kennel Club he was officially accepted into in 2008. His first AKC competition was in 2010.
The back and forth didn’t end there. The Russian Kynological Federation officially combined the long and short haired versions in 1988 and named him back to the “Russian Toy Terrier”.
In 1989, however, the Iron Curtain fell and the existence of the breed almost fell as well. Thankfully, a resurgence occurred due to a few devoted breeders within the country. Even still, he was basically confined to Russia.
That all changed in the 1990s when toy breeds became so loved and were in high demand. He was introduced to the rest of the world at this time.
Now the Russian Toy is enjoying a surge in popularity all across the world. He is especially appreciated in Japan and the United States and rightly so. He’s a loveable pup who is very friendly and tends to become very attached to his people. He is often confused with the Chihuahua but the two are not even related.
Super smart and spunky, the Russian has seen his share of ups and downs but he’s proven that through courage and a bit of luck, every dog gets his day.
This dog breed’s appearance varies is based on whether he is a long or short haired type. The variety with a smooth-haired coat is called a Russian Toy Terrier, with short, shiny, and a close-lying coat.
Although the two types are officially classified as one, the Russian Toy Terrier, the long coat variety was formally known as the Moscow Toy Terrier and sometimes is still called the Moscow as well. He has profuse feathering on the ears, the back, and tail.
Whether smooth and short coated or long and shiny coated, there are 6 colors registered in American Kennel Club for this breed which are Black & Tan, Blue & Tan, Brown & Tan, Red, Red & Brown, and Red Sable with each registration code, without no marking.
Both types are known to be some of the smallest toy dogs in the world, weighing in at only 3 to 6 pounds, soaking wet. They stand just 7.5 to 10.5 and a half inches tall.
They can be quite fragile although they sure don’t think they are. Their legs are long and they sport a somewhat square shape. They have an elegant appearance overall with long necks that are carried and long sloping shoulders too.
Their front legs are especially long, lean, and straight and their elbow height is just over half of that to their withers. Their chests are deep but not very wide.
Their small backs are quite strong for dogs their size and his medium length tail is curved and usually carried in a way that is typically shaped like a sickle and is carried proud and high. It can be docked or not docked.
The head of a Russian Toy is a bit small in comparison to the rest of his body and there’s a definite distinction between his muzzle and his head which ends in a point. His teeth are small and it is not uncommon for him to be missing two incisors from each of his jaws, oddly enough.
His eyes are wide set, round, large and very expressive. His ears are comically large which adds character to his looks and fits right along with his perky personality too. They are high set and always alert.
The movement of the Russian Toy is fast and effortless and he’s so graceful, his back seems to remain still even when he’s in motion. And, this little guy is in motion much of the time.
It is highly recommended that you feed your Russian Toy Terrier food that is specifically formulated for small, Toy breeds. It is also advised that you consult with his veterinarian and/or breeder to find out exactly what his nutritional needs are and how you can provide them.
For sure you will want to give him top-quality food. When he’s a young puppy, your vet will probably ask you to feed him small, frequent meals because he’s so tiny, he can’t hold that much. The meal quantity and frequency may change as he grows.
A quarter to a half cup of kibbles is usually the norm for an adult Russian Toy but your vet or breeder can confirm that or may suggest a different amount.
This dog actually has the capability to become obese. It doesn’t take much overeating to get overweight when you weigh in at only six pounds or so. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure he eats right and doesn’t get too many in between meal snacks or treats.
As with all pets, you’ll need to make sure he has plenty of fresh, clean water available to him at all times and you’ll also want to encourage him to drink it.
This breed does shed though not an extreme amount, just average. Brushing him once or twice a week will help cut down the amount he sheds. You’ll want to bump his brushing up in the spring and fall because he will shed more then.
He’ll need regular baths too in order to keep him clean and looking (and smelling) his best. Once every few weeks should be frequent enough. Use a gentle dog shampoo so his skin and coat don’t dry out and a hypoallergenic one will help prevent allergic reactions or sensitivity issues.
The Russian’s nails grow super-fast so keep them trimmed and free of cracks, chips, and splits. He is an inside dog so he’ll doubtfully be outdoors long enough to wear them down naturally.
Since the Russkiy Toy has longhaired ears, make sure to check them regularly to remove any wax or debris to avoid infection. Even shorthaired versions have erect ears that can easily collect dirt, debris, and bacteria.
Brushing his teeth is imperative in order to keep his dental hygiene up. You can brush his teeth at least once a week with a doggie toothbrush and doggie toothpaste to help ensure he stays cavity free and doesn’t get gum disease.
Don’t worry. The Russian loves to please his family members so with a good bit of praise, he’ll be as proud of his great dental habits as you are.
Grooming is the best way to create a bonding experience between you and your dog. You can always take him to a groomer, though, if you are not comfortable with tending to his needs yourself.
Taking your Russian Toy Terrier for daily walks is the easiest recommended exercise. He will need at least 30 minutes of formal, fast-paced walking per day but twice a day is even better.
Do remember that a fast pace for him is advised which may not be a fast 1pace for you. His legs are not very long so keep them moving but don’t make him run the entire time.
If you have kids, play time with them in your backyard is also a wonderful idea. Plenty of activity between his walks is awesome for him because he has a lot of energy as a rule.
In the event that you are going for a hike or to the park, why not take him with you? He loves to be anywhere you are and it gives him a chance to romp about. Do keep in mind though that he’s more fragile than he lets on.
Be prepared to intercept if a big dog or unruly child crosses his path. He will love the dog park but the same rule applies. He needs to be supervised at all times.
Be careful not to pull on his leash because his neck is fragile. Don’t allow him to tug either. Great harm can come about in doing so.
Even when he’s indoors, you can keep him active by tossing him toys to chase or playing ball with him. This breed won’t be healthy or happy without a good amount of exercise each and every day.
He’s not one to get into trouble but if you leave him with too much pent up energy, he’s apt to chew a shoe or a bit of your sofa. If you aren’t up to exercising him or your schedule doesn’t allow for it, consider hiring someone to do it for you. It’s that important with this little dog!
Pet Crates Direct recommends 18” to 22” dog crates for most adult Russian Toy Terriers.
* Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page.
This itty bitty pup is bubbling over with personality. He’s hardier than you’d expect him to be, given his size. Don’t think you’re going to leave him out of anything. He’s right where the action is at all times, well, if he has his way, that is.
This pup loves people. He will even bond with young children which is something many dogs, especially of the Toy breeds, refuse to do. He’s good with them too as long as they are so rambunctious they are a threat to his safety or vice versa.
What the little guy doesn’t like is being left by himself. He sees no reason for it and is apt to suffer from intense separation anxiety if he’s left for long. But, the good news is that he’s so portable and adaptable, you can take him almost anywhere you’re going.
If you live in a small space dwelling, like an apartment or condo, this small dog might be just the perfect companion for you. He is a medium energy dog who sometimes even borders a bit on the high energy level side so you will definitely have to commit to taking him out for walks and doing other activities with him too so he can get his pent up energy out. Who wouldn’t want to hang out and get active with this cute little fellow though?
If ever a dog loves to play, this is him! He can play for hours upon hours with a single ball...as long as he knows you, or another trusty human, are nearby.
The Russian is such an optimistic guy, he makes an excellent therapy dog.
Where this pup might get into a little gray area is that he is super loyal. He is willing to defend his family until the end. Given that he is so tiny, that could spell trouble.
He doesn’t know he is so small and doubtfully would he even care if he did know. He’s got a touch of “small dog syndrome” but pet parents love him all the same and tend to find the humor and sweetness in the minute flaw.
If something is amiss, this dog will tell you about it. That’s why he makes a great little guard dog. The Russian Toy does bark. Even when it’s not used for purposes of protecting the family, he thinks it is.
That’s about the only time he uses his well-refined vocal cords though - when he thinks there is a danger. Unfortunately, he thinks there is danger in the mail being delivered and a family member coming to call. That can all be remedied by some good “no bark” training.
While the little guy gets along well with other dogs, due to the fact that he is small and more fragile than he will admit to being, unless the other dog or dogs in the household are very calm or small, it may not be a great idea.
When he’s raised alongside other pets, he usually does wonderfully with the pack and surprisingly, often turns out to be the top dog.
The Russian Terrier has been adored throughout the course of hundreds of years. He was once a stowaway from much of the world but when he was finally introduced, it was much to the delight of all.
He’s chased rats, served guard duty, sat in the laps of the aristocrats, and has almost gone into extinction twice. He has excelled at every stage of his fate (except the extinction part). He’s a pint-size pup that is loaded with what it takes to be a winner and an excellent dog.
The Russian Toy is fairly easy to train. He’s smart too. He catches on easily and loves to strut his stuff showing off new skills and tricks. The fact that he lives to please his people is a big plus for training this breed.
Anything less than complete positive methods in training class simply will not do for the Moscow Toy. He’s very, very sensitive. If spoken to harshly or scolded, his tiny heart will be crushed and he just won’t have it in him to participate any further. He rarely shows rebellion or independence, although it can happen usually, there’s an underlying reason for it...grief. When his heart is broken, he’s simply not a good student.
Housebreaking a Russian Toy is only complicated by the fact that his bladder is so small, he can’t “hold it” too long. You may want to use a kitty litter pan or indoor dog potty product (like an artificial turf set up) for a back-up plan. Other than that technicality, he’ll usually be on board for doing what you ask of him, plus, he’s not one to even want to potty in his living space so...you’re in luck.
Early on you will want to socialize your pup. That can be achieved by exposing him to all different people, places, pets, and situations. Be sure to take him to noisy, busy spots and to places of solitude too. Have him around kids, older people, loud people, and laid back people.
He’ll soon become accustomed to a wide variety of scenarios and will grow up being less nervous and timid. He’s a social fellow by nature so this task should not be difficult to pull off.
Obedience is usually a shoo-in as well. He will love pleasing you so make sure you praise him every step of the way. A few treats never hurt either but be certain to limit them because he’s a small fellow and you want to be sure the little amount his tummy can hold is nutritious and not just snacks.
Remember that obedience training is imperative. It is not optional. It’s designed for his safety and for the safety of those around him and also to establish that you are the one in control. He is a dog with a high pack mentality so it is important that you be the pack leader...all of the time.
Trick training is too funny with this character. The Russkiy is quick to learn and eager to please. He seems to get as much out of learning new tricks as you. You may even want to enroll him in advanced training classes if you don’t feel confident enough to approach it on your own. It’s a shame to let his talent go to waste.
Agility is nothing for this guy. With his thin legs and strong body, he’s quicker and more limber than you might think. He also loves games like Fetch, Frisbee, and chase. Keep in mind how much he loves to have fun and bump the pace up a bit for some good exercise and trick combinations.
Being so smart, you’ll want to challenge this breed mentally too. Brain games are great for keeping his mind active and are also entertaining for him.
The Russian Toy generally enjoys a healthy life with an expectancy of around 10 to 12 years. One issue with this breed is that his early years were spent in Russian in seclusion from the rest of the world so there are many things that aren’t known about the history of the breed which could be helpful to his health and the prevention of potential problems. Still, he fares pretty well, especially for a Toy.
Getting your Russian from a reputable and responsible breeder is a must. There are too many greedy ones due to the price this dog can fetch. You don’t want to take chances. If you have an opportunity to adopt from a rescue organization, that’s even better.
One of the most common medical issue with this breed is bone fractures. Due to his tiny size, he can break bones fairly easily. Keep him out of harm’s way as best you can without being too overprotective. If you suspect he has fractured a bone, take him to the veterinarian immediately.
Patellar Luxation is a condition that can be due to a birth deformity or it can be acquired environmentally over time such as from jumping off high places or running on rough terrain.
The issue involves the kneecap, or patella, becoming dislocated from the position it anatomically should fit in which is located in the thigh bone groove. Pain, limping, and lameness are symptoms of the problem. If you notice any indications your pup has this condition, have him checked by his veterinarian. There is treatment.
Allergic reactions are common in this Toy breed. They tend to be sensitive to rabies vaccinations and also to certain flea and tick preventative treatments. If your Russian shows signs of having an allergic reaction, seek medical attention for him immediately.
Your Russkiy may also have some sensitivity to things that come into contact with his skin like laundry soap residue, grass, his shampoo, carpet, and so forth. His vet can advise you on a topical ointment to put on him and you’ll want to avoid the culprit source as well.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a condition of the eye which affects the retina at the eye’s back area. The retina’s photoreceptors don’t get enough blood which causes a gradual case of diminishing vision.
It surfaces first by loss of night vision and then progresses until the dog can’t see in all types of lights. This can be a degenerative issue or a development issue and the type it is, determines how rapidly it progresses.
In the event that your dog does succumb to blindness, canines are quite resilient. They have other senses that are quite keen so they adapt remarkably well and can certainly still have a good quality of life ahead of them.
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease is a disease that has to do with the hip joint. The leg bone or femur’s end doesn’t get enough blood supply so it becomes necrotic and just dies.
This causes the end of the bone to not fit into the socket as it is supposed to. Stiffness and pain are common. Russian Toys are susceptible and usually contract it between 4 months and one year of age if they are going to get it. Surgery is required in order to relieve the pain of the condition.
This breed tends to have issues when shedding their baby, or milk, teeth and getting their permanent adult teeth. The condition is called Remaining Deciduous Teeth. They often require veterinarian assistance during this time or else their adult teeth want to go forward which can result in two rows of teeth. It is common for the vet to pull the baby teeth out to make room for the adult teeth.
Just because there are medical woes to watch out for doesn’t mean your dog will get any of them. But, if you do notice any symptoms or if he isn’t acting himself, quick attention can very well be what gets him right back on track again.
Is a Russian Toy Terrier Right for Me?
The Russian Toy Terrier is so small and so darn cute, he’s simply irresistible. That can be a good and wonderful thing...or not. You owe it to him to search your heart to make sure the two of you would be an excellent fit or it is best to let him find someone who would be.
Are you able to be with him much of the time? He’s been through a lot of hardships in his history throughout the ages. With two near-extinctions, he triumphed through.
But one thing he would never get over is being brought into your life only to be left alone for long periods of time. He has separation anxiety and would never be the dog he could be if he was your side-kick most of the day.
Do you have rowdy children or larger dogs who might be a hazard to him? He’s a social guy. Getting along would not be a problem but getting hurt might be.
This dog loves to have fun. He also loves to curl up with his people or person and feel the love. He’s the perfect cross between lively and loving, you might say.
This tiny treasure of a pint-sized pup has had a shaky past. He doesn’t need a shaky future. He deserves the best love and care. He needs someone who will nurture his needs and embrace his awesome qualities. He’s made it through a lot, it’s time to give this breed a break.
If you have thought it through and have come to the conclusion that this aristocratic, fun, friendly, and loveable little guy would be a good match, then hold onto your heart...it will never be the same. This guy is going to steal it.