Russian Toy

Table of Contents

russian toy portait
Brace yourself for the Russian Toy, a small dog breed with a big heart and an even bigger personality! These endearing canines, known for their soulful eyes, elegant feathered ears, and unwavering loyalty, have become beloved companions among dog enthusiasts.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Russian Toy dog breed is a perfect match for individuals and families seeking a loving, devoted, and spirited companion. With their affectionate nature and adaptability, these small canines thrive in various living situations, making them ideal for both city dwellers and suburbanites.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMERussian Toy
OTHER NAMESRusskiy Toy, Russian Toy Terrier, Russian Terrier, Moscow Toy Terrier, Moscovian Miniature Terrier
ORIGINRussia
BREED GROUPToy Group
BREED SIZESmall
HEIGHT8-11 inches
WEIGHT3-6.5 lbs
LIFESPAN12-14 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK144th
two russian toys on a summer day
Photo: TaynaPanova/Getty Images

Appearance

The Russian Toy is a small, elegant, and finely boned canine that boasts a unique and charming appearance. Their height typically ranges from 8 to 11 inches, while their weight varies between 3 to 6.5 pounds, making them a truly petite breed. Despite their small size, these dogs possess a well-balanced, harmonious build with a sturdy and slightly elongated body that gives them an air of grace and agility.

Their head is small and proportional to the body, featuring a slightly rounded skull and a moderate stop. Their muzzle is lean and moderately short, ending in a neat little nose that can be black or match the color of their coat.

The eyes are one of the breed’s most striking features – they are large, dark, and expressive, set well apart and slightly rounded in shape. This gives the Russian Toy an alert and intelligent expression that is sure to melt hearts.

The ears of the Russian Toy are another distinctive feature that sets them apart from other small breeds. They come in two variations: erect and long-coated. Erect ears are large, triangular-shaped, and stand upright, while long-coated ears are also large but covered with soft feathering and hang gracefully to the sides. Both ear types contribute to the breed’s endearing appearance.

The Russian Toy has a slender, slightly arched neck that flows smoothly into its level topline. Its chest is moderately wide and deep, reaching the elbows, while the abdomen is tucked up. The tail is usually docked, but if left natural, it is carried high and curved over the back.

There are two coat varieties in the Russian Toy breed: smooth-coated and long-coated. The smooth-coated Russian Toy has a short, sleek, and shiny coat that lies close to the body, requiring minimal grooming.

On the other hand, the long-coated Russian Toy has a slightly wavy or straight coat with distinctive feathering on the ears, tail, and limbs. The long-coated variety requires more grooming to maintain its elegant appearance.

The Russian Toy comes in a variety of colors, including black and tan, blue and tan, brown and tan, red, and red sable. Some may also have small white markings on their chest and toes. Overall, the Russian Toy’s combination of petite size, graceful build, expressive eyes, and unique ears creates a captivating and endearing appearance that is hard to resist.

russian toy dog walking in the forest
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Temperament

The Russian Toy, or Russkiy Toy as it’s sometimes known, is like your most vibrant friend – the one who’s always up for fun, whose enthusiasm is contagious, and who never fails to put a smile on your face. They’re full of life, always ready to explore and experience new things.

These dogs are not just active and lively; they’re also incredibly loving. Their small size makes them perfect lap dogs, and they absolutely love snuggles. They’re happiest when they’re around their human family, whether that’s playing a game of fetch or simply curling up on your lap.

Despite their size, these dogs have a big heart. They form strong bonds with their families and are extremely loyal. It’s like they’ve taken an oath to stick by your side, through thick and thin. They’re the kind of friend who will always be there for you, no matter what.

But don’t be fooled by their adorable looks and loving nature. Russian Toys also have a bold streak. They’re fearless and confident, ready to stand their ground when needed. It’s like they have the heart of a lion in the body of a small dog. They’re proof that courage isn’t about size; it’s about spirit.

Russian Toys are also very intelligent. They have a keen understanding of their surroundings and are quick to pick up on things. It’s like they’re always learning, always curious, and always ready to explore the world around them.

In a nutshell, a Russian Toy is like a firecracker – small, bright, and full of life. They’re more than just pets; they’re companions who bring joy, laughter and love into your life. If you’re looking for a dog that’s active, affectionate, and full of personality, a Russian Toy could be the perfect fit for you.

long-coated russian toy's face up close
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Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

The Russian Toy is highly adaptable and can thrive in various environments, making them a versatile companion for different types of pet parents.

Their small size and minimal exercise requirements make them well-suited for apartment living, as they can comfortably navigate smaller spaces and do not require a yard to be content. However, they also enjoy suburban homes with a fenced-in yard where they can safely explore and play.

Climate Adaptability

The Russian Toy’s adaptability extends to various climates, but there are a few precautions to consider when it comes to extreme weather conditions.

In colder climates, these small dogs may be more sensitive to low temperatures due to their thin coat and lack of body fat. To keep them warm and comfortable, owners should invest in a dog sweater or coat for outdoor walks during winter months. Additionally, it’s essential to limit their time outside in icy or snowy conditions, as their delicate paws can easily become injured or frostbitten.

In hot climates, Russian Toys can be prone to overheating and dehydration due to their small size. Owners should ensure that their canine companion has access to plenty of fresh water and shade during hot summer days. Avoid taking them for walks during the hottest parts of the day, and consider using cooling mats or vests to help regulate their body temperature.

Ideal Owner

These petite canines are ideal for seniors, singles, and families with older children who can handle them gently and responsibly.

They crave companionship, so they are best suited for homes where someone is available most of the time to provide attention, love, and mental stimulation. Working professionals who can take their Russian Toy to the office or arrange for a pet sitter during the day will also find this breed to be an excellent fit.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Russian Toys can coexist peacefully with other dogs, cats, and small animals, provided they have been properly socialized from a young age. It is essential to monitor their interactions, especially with smaller pets, as their playful nature may sometimes be overwhelming for more timid animals.

russian toy walking on grass
Photo: vladimirvasil/Getty Images

Grooming

The grooming needs of the Russian Toy dog breed vary depending on their coat type: smooth-coated and long-coated. Regardless of the coat variety, it’s essential to establish a regular grooming routine to keep these charming canines looking and feeling their best.

Smooth-Coated Grooming

For smooth-coated Russian Toys, their short, sleek coat requires minimal grooming. A weekly brushing session using a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt is generally sufficient to remove loose hair and distribute natural oils across their coat.

This helps maintain a healthy shine and reduces shedding. Smooth-coated Russian Toys don’t require frequent baths; a monthly bath or as needed should be enough to keep them clean and fresh-smelling.

Long-Coated Grooming

Long-coated Russian Toys have slightly more demanding grooming requirements due to their longer, wavy or straight coat with feathering on the ears, tail, and limbs.

It’s crucial to brush their coat at least two to three times a week using a slicker brush or a comb with both wide and narrow teeth. This helps prevent tangles and mats from forming, especially in the feathered areas. Pay particular attention to the hair behind the ears, as this area is particularly prone to matting.

Bathing a long-coated Russian Toy should be done every four to six weeks or as needed, depending on their activity level and the condition of their coat. Use a gentle dog shampoo specifically designed for long-haired breeds to avoid stripping their coat of essential oils. After bathing, towel-dry their coat and use a hairdryer on low heat to dry them completely, while gently brushing to prevent tangles.

Dental Care

Regardless of coat type, dental care is an essential aspect of grooming for Russian Toys. Their small mouths can be prone to dental issues such as plaque buildup, tartar, and gum disease. To maintain good oral health, brush their teeth daily using dog-specific toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush or finger brush.

In addition to daily brushing, provide dental chews and toys to help keep their teeth clean and strong. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian will ensure that any dental issues are addressed promptly.

Nail Care

Nail care is another important aspect of grooming for the Russian Toy breed. Their nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks using dog nail clippers or a grinder.

If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance. Regular nail trims will prevent overgrown nails that can cause discomfort and potential injury.

Ear Care

Ear care is vital for Russian Toys, especially for those with long-coated ears. Check their ears weekly for signs of redness, irritation, or foul odor, which may indicate an infection.

Gently clean the outer part of their ears using a cotton ball or soft cloth dampened with a veterinarian-approved ear-cleaning solution. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal, as this can cause damage.

long-coated russian toy outdoors
Photo: Garosha/Getty Images

Exercise

The Russian Toy has moderate exercise needs, which makes them suitable for a wide range of pet parents. While they are small and can often get a decent amount of physical activity indoors, it’s essential to provide them with regular outdoor exercise to maintain their overall health, mental well-being, and prevent boredom-related behavioral issues.

Exercise Amount & Types

A daily walk of around 30 minutes is usually sufficient to meet the exercise needs of most Russian Toys. These walks not only provide physical activity but also offer mental stimulation through exposure to new sights, sounds, and smells. Be mindful of their small size and delicate build when walking; avoid rough terrain or situations that may cause injury or strain.

In addition to daily walks, engage your Russian Toy in interactive play sessions using toys such as balls or rope tugs. These activities help strengthen the bond between you and your dog while providing both mental and physical stimulation. Short training sessions, incorporating tricks and obedience commands, can also serve as a form of exercise and mental engagement.

Dog Sports

Russian Toys may also enjoy participating in dog sports, such as agility, obedience trials, and rally. These activities provide an excellent outlet for their energy and intelligence while reinforcing training and socialization. Always ensure that any competitive activities are tailored to their size and physical abilities to prevent injury.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Russian Toy, be aware of their sensitivity to extreme temperatures. In hot weather, avoid walking or playing during the hottest parts of the day, and ensure they have access to shade and water. In cold weather, consider providing a sweater or coat to keep them warm and limit their time outdoors in icy or snowy conditions.

It’s important to monitor your Russian Toy’s energy levels and adjust their exercise routine accordingly. Some dogs may require more or less physical activity depending on their individual needs and preferences.

russian toy lying on a blanket
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Training

Training the Russian Toy can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, as they are intelligent, eager to please, and quick learners. However, it’s essential to approach their training with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques to achieve the best results.

Russian Toys are generally responsive to training and can learn a variety of commands, tricks, and behaviors with proper guidance. They tend to form strong bonds with their owners, which can serve as motivation for them to learn and perform well during training sessions.

However, be aware that these small dogs can sometimes display a stubborn streak, so remaining patient and consistent in your approach is crucial.

Positive reinforcement methods, such as praise, treats, and play, are the most effective way to train your Russian Toy. These techniques help build a strong bond between you and your dog while encouraging desired behaviors. Avoid harsh training methods or punishment, as this can lead to fear and mistrust, ultimately hindering the training process.

Start training your Russian Toy from a young age, ideally as soon as they arrive in your home. Early socialization is a vital aspect of their training, as it helps them become confident and well-adjusted adults. Expose your Russian Toy to various people, animals, environments, and situations to develop their social skills and adaptability.

Consistent, short training sessions are more effective than long, infrequent ones for this breed. Aim for 10-15 minute sessions two to three times per day, focusing on one command or behavior at a time. This approach helps keep your Russian Toy engaged and prevents them from becoming overwhelmed or bored.

While Russian Toys are generally easy to housebreak, crate training can be a beneficial tool to ensure success. A properly sized crate provides a safe, comfortable space for your dog and helps establish a routine for bathroom breaks.

In addition to basic obedience commands, consider enrolling your Russian Toy in advanced training classes or dog sports, such as agility or rally. These activities provide mental and physical stimulation while reinforcing their training and socialization.

russian toy sitting on the bed
Photo: Stanislav Sablin/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

The diet and nutrition of the Russian Toy dog breed play a crucial role in maintaining their overall health, energy levels, and longevity. A well-balanced diet tailored to their specific needs is essential to keep these petite canines in optimal shape.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Russian Toy, look for high-quality dry, wet, or raw food that follows the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the minimum nutritional requirements for dogs.

Opt for a product formulated for small breeds with a blend of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that cater to their unique dietary needs.

The amount and frequency of feeding depend on your Russian Toy’s age, weight, and activity level. Puppies generally require more frequent meals to support their rapid growth and development. It’s recommended to feed them three to four small meals per day until they reach six months of age. After six months, you can transition to two meals per day.

For adult Russian Toys, the daily food intake should be divided into two meals – one in the morning and one in the evening. The exact amount will vary depending on the specific brand and formula you choose, so it’s essential to follow the feeding guidelines provided on the packaging. However, always monitor your dog’s weight and adjust the portions accordingly to prevent overfeeding and obesity.

It’s important to consult with your veterinarian when determining the best diet and feeding plan for your Russian Toy. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs, age, weight, and activity level. By providing a balanced diet and monitoring their food intake, you can help ensure that your Russian Toy remains happy, healthy, and energetic throughout their life.

Treats

Treats are a valuable tool for training and bonding with your Russian Toy but should be given in moderation. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats to avoid contributing to weight gain or affecting their balanced diet. Treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Water is an essential component of your Russian Toy’s diet. Ensure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times to stay hydrated and maintain proper bodily functions. Regularly clean and refill their water bowl to encourage adequate water intake.

russian toy sleeping in a dog bed
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Health

The Russian Toy is generally a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can help maintain their overall health and well-being.

Here are common health issues associated with the Russian Toy:

Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap (patella) slips out of its normal position, causing discomfort and potential lameness. Patellar luxation is relatively common in small breeds like the Russian Toy. Mild cases may require minimal intervention, while severe cases may need surgical correction.

Dental Issues: Due to their small size and compact facial structure, Russian Toys can be prone to dental problems, such as overcrowding, plaque buildup, and gum disease. Regular dental care, including daily tooth brushing and providing dental chews, can help prevent these issues.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease: This condition affects the hip joint, causing the head of the femur bone to degenerate. Symptoms include limping, pain, and muscle atrophy. Treatment often involves surgery to remove the affected part of the bone, followed by physical therapy.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disorder that progressively leads to blindness due to the degeneration of the retina. Regular eye exams and genetic testing can help identify carriers of the gene and prevent its spread within the breed.

Allergies: Russian Toys can be susceptible to various allergies, including food, environmental, and contact allergies. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and skin irritation. Identifying the allergen and eliminating it from the dog’s environment or diet is essential for managing this condition.

While these health issues are common among the Russian Toy breed, it’s essential to remember that not all individuals will develop these conditions. Regular veterinary care, including routine check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive measures, can help detect and address potential health issues early on, ensuring your Russian Toy remains a happy, healthy companion.

Additionally, choosing a reputable breeder who conducts health screenings and adheres to responsible breeding practices can significantly reduce the likelihood of genetic health issues within the breed.

russian toy on a walk
Photo: Mariana Mikhailova/Getty Images

History

The history of the Russian Toy dates back to the early 20th century in Russia. Originally known as the Russkiy Toy, this charming breed has an intriguing past that reflects its development into the delightful companion it is today.

The Russian Toy’s ancestors were English Toy Terriers, also known as the Black and Tan Terrier or Manchester Terrier, which were brought to Russia during the 18th and 19th centuries.

These small dogs were highly popular among Russian aristocracy as beloved companions and lapdogs. Over time, selective breeding resulted in the development of a distinctly Russian variety of the toy terrier, exhibiting unique physical characteristics and temperament traits.

The Russian Revolution in 1917 had a significant impact on the breed’s development, as the social upheaval and economic hardships led to a decline in the popularity and numbers of these dogs. Many Russian Toy breeders faced difficulties during this period, and the breed’s survival was uncertain.

However, dedicated breeders managed to preserve the Russian Toy throughout these challenging times, and by the 1950s, the breed began to regain its popularity. During this resurgence, two distinct coat types emerged: the smooth-coated and the long-coated Russian Toy.

The long-coated variety is believed to have originated from a smooth-coated pair that produced a puppy with a unique longer coat. This genetic mutation caught the attention of breeders who found the new coat type appealing and began selectively breeding for the trait.

In 1958, the first official breed standard for the Russian Toy was established in the Soviet Union. The breed continued to grow in popularity within Russia but remained relatively unknown outside the country. It wasn’t until after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s that the Russian Toy began to gain international recognition.

The Russian Toy’s elegant appearance and delightful temperament have made them popular not only as companions but also in the world of dog shows and competitions. Their grace and poise have earned them a place in various dog sports, such as agility, obedience, and rally. Their small size and adaptability make them well-suited for urban living, and they are prized for their loyalty and affectionate nature.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Russian Toy in 2008 as a Foundation Stock Service (FSS) breed and later gave full recognition in 2022 as a member of the Toy Group.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Russian Toy dog breed in the United States is the Russian Toy Club of America (RTCA). Founded in 2007, the RTCA is dedicated to promoting and protecting the breed, as well as providing education and support to Russian Toy enthusiasts.

The club serves as a valuable resource for owners, breeders, and those interested in learning more about this delightful breed. Visit their webpage to learn more about the club and its activities.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Russian Toy’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

russian toy standing on a sidewalk
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Acquiring

So, you’re thinking about bringing a Russian Toy into your life? Excellent choice! These tiny dogs pack a lot of character into their petite frames. Start by preparing a cozy space and choosing toys suitable for their size.

Looking to buy? Be sure to choose a reputable breeder who focuses not just on the dog’s size and looks, but also on its health and temperament.

Alternatively, consider the rewarding path of rescue. Many Russian Toys are in need of a loving forever home. The American Kennel Club and the American Russian Toy Club can help guide you through the process of rescuing.

Whether you decide to buy or rescue, remember, you’re about to embark on a delightful journey with a loyal little companion. Enjoy the laughter, love, and licks that come with it!

FAQs

Are Russian Toys a rare breed?

While Russian Toys are not extremely rare, they are less common compared to other toy breeds, especially outside of Russia. Their growing popularity in recent years has led to an increase in their numbers, but they are still considered a somewhat uncommon breed.

Are Russian Toys hypoallergenic?

No dog breed is completely hypoallergenic, as all dogs produce allergens in their saliva, urine, and dander. However, Russian Toys are low shedders, which may make them more suitable for individuals with mild allergies. It’s essential to spend time around the breed before committing to ownership to ensure compatibility with your allergies.

Are Russian Toys good family dogs?

Yes, Russian Toys can make excellent family dogs due to their affectionate nature, adaptability, and generally friendly disposition. They typically get along well with children and other pets, especially when properly socialized from a young age. However, be mindful of their small size and supervise interactions with young children to prevent accidental injuries.

Do Russian Toys need a lot of exercise?

Russian Toys have moderate exercise needs. A daily walk of around 30 minutes, combined with interactive play sessions and mental stimulation, is usually sufficient to keep them healthy and happy. Their small size allows them to get some exercise indoors, but regular outdoor activities are still essential for their overall well-being.

Do Russian Toys bark a lot?

While individual temperaments may vary, Russian Toys can be somewhat vocal and may bark to alert their owners of potential threats or when seeking attention. With proper training and socialization, excessive barking can usually be managed effectively.

How can I tell if a Russian Toy is the right breed for me?

To determine if a Russian Toy is the right breed for you, consider factors such as their exercise needs, grooming requirements, temperament, and size. Spending time with the breed and talking to current owners or breeders can also provide valuable insights into whether a Russian Toy would be a good fit for your lifestyle and living situation.

Are Russian Toys easy to train?

Russian Toys are generally responsive to training due to their intelligence and eagerness to please. However, they can sometimes display a stubborn streak, so patience and consistency are essential when training this breed. Using positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, and play, can help ensure a successful and enjoyable training experience.

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