The Russian Toy is a small, elegant, lively dog with long legs, fine bones and lean muscles. They are active and cheerful, possessing keen intelligence and a desire to please. This breed loves to snuggle and be close to their human companions, although sometimes slightly aloof to strangers. They are neither cowardly nor aggressive.
The Russian Toy is a toy breed with a lineage that dates back to the Russian aristocracy. In general, he is a good-natured imp that loves to run and play. They will dash through the house or yard chasing toys as long as you can keep up, while many others are willing to do nothing more than lounge in your lap all day long, content in knowing that they are the prize jewel in your home. They thrive on human companionship and will let you know if they are feeling neglected. Their coat is either semi-long or smooth. The longhaired variety carries a nice ruff on the chest and unique feathering on the extremities, tail and ears. Long-coated Russian Toys will not have an adult coat until it is more than a year old and full fringing not until three years of age. The smooth-coated variety is sleek and smooth to the touch. There is also a slight attitude difference between the two varieties. Smooth Coats tend to be a little more terrier-like than Long Coats. However, both share a larger-than-life personality.
The history of the Russian Toy began with English stock and dates back as early as the 18th century when the English Toy Terrier arrived in Russia. Evidence of this can be seen at the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg, where a preserved specimen of a small black and tan terrier from 1716-1725, stands on exhibit. The specimen stands approximately 14 inches at the withers with the inscription: “Dog of the sleek haired terrier breed named Lisetta, belonged personally to Peter the Great.”
During the 18th century in Russia, it became popular to import English Toy Terriers. Socialites adored these dogs due to their small size and lively temperament. It became quite stylish to appear in public with a well-behaved small terrier at social events and the opera. The Toy Terrier became a kind of “living accessory” to those of the upper class.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the numbers of these toy dogs had grown and the breed was no longer a rarity, but had become a symbol of prestige. However, the breed was no longer referred to as the English Toy Terrier. In Russia, it was simply referred to as the Russian (Russkiy) Toy Terrier.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 nearly exterminated the Russkiy Toy. The breeding of dogs for companionship was brought to a halt and the fate of the Russian Toy was uncertain. After the death of Stalin, a concentrated effort was made in several regions of the Soviet Union, including Moscow, Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, and Irkutsk to restore the Russian Toy to prominence. Whether by a mutation or the introduction of other unknown small breeds into various lines, a unique puppy was born in 1958. This son of a pair of smooth-coated parents became the foundation of the modern-day Long Coat (called the Moscow Long Haired Toy Terrier in the early years). The first official standard for the two breed varieties was written in 1966. In the 1980s, a new breed standard declared that the Moscow Long Haired Toy Terrier and the Russian Toy Terrier were in fact two varieties of a single breed. In 2006, with the Russian Toy’s addition to the FCI list of recognized breeds, the “Terrier” was dropped from the breed’s name and is now called the Russian Toy, with both long and smooth coat varieties.
Temperament: Loyal / Smart / Charming
Height: 8 to 11 inches
Weight: 6.5 pounds
Life expectancy: 12-14 years
The Russian Toy is an overall healthy breed; like many toy breeds, their primary health concern is their teeth. Most puppies do not lose all of their deciduous (puppy) teeth and require surgical removal of the remaining deciduous teeth by nine months of age. Periodontal disease, the build-up of tooth tartar, can begin by one year of age. Regular dental care such as teeth brushing can reduce plaque and prevent surgical dental cleaning or teeth removal. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and patellar luxation, and owners should be aware of the risk for eye injuries, such as ulcers.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Patella Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Periodontal Disease Evaluation
The Russian Toy is considered to have moderately high energy. They need regular exercise, but because of their small size, a regular yard or long run is usually sufficient. They love going for walks with their humans and love to run and play until they collapse in your lap for a long snuggle. Because small dogs have more fragile necks and tracheas than large dogs, it is recommended that a leash be attached to a harness instead of a collar when walking your Russian Toy. It is also recommended that you do not leave a collar or harness on your Russian while in your home. Many times a collar or harness can get caught on things around the house and injure your little imp.