There are more than twenty known Russian dog breeds. Russia is one of the countries that have produced a large variety of dogs. Some of them like Borzoi, Black Russian Terrier, and Samoyed are popular worldwide. Other Russian dogs like Caucasian Ovcharka or Russian Toy are only gaining popularity outside their native country. There are also a few Russian breeds of dogs that are not yet recognized internationally.
Russian dog breeds have a lot in common. Most of them are highly intelligent, obedient, protective, and loyal. They are generally strong built, healthy and hardy, and have a warm coat to withstand the Russian climate. They usually need a lot of space, early obedience training, and early socialization. And still, almost every Russian dog breed has very distinct features that make it unique.
Russian dogs are generally good in herding, guarding, and hunting, though many of them are eager to become just family pets.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Russian Shepherds
- Russian Guard Dogs
- Russian Hunting Dogs
- Small Russian Dogs
- Soviet Dogs
- General FAQ
- Russian Dog Breeds List in ABC Order
Types of Russian Dogs
Russian Shepherd Dogs
The best Russian shepherds are those very old Russian breeds of dogs that were designed for working and herding sheep many centuries ago, i.e. the Caucasian Ovcharka, the Central Asian Ovcharka, and the Russian Sheepdog (South Russian Shepherd). Because of their strength, intelligence, and loyalty they became very useful in other tasks too.
Dog Breed: Caucasian Shepherd
The CAUCASIAN SHEPHERD or Caucasian Ovcharka is the most brutal Russian dog breed. It is a large, even-tempered dog with a powerful and muscular body, bear-look face, deeply set oval dark eyes, round-shaped cropped ears and low carried long tail.
Caucasian Ovcharka is one of the oldest mastiff-type breeds, originating from the Caucasus Mountains where it was used to guard flocks, kill wolves, hunt bears, and protect properties. The strength and dedication of this dog have made it a popular working, police, and guard dog throughout Europe and the former Soviet Union states. During the communist era, this severe dog guarded prisoners of the Gulag camps and served as a border patrol dog along the Berlin wall.
Being a fearless fighting dog, the Caucasian Ovcharka is still employed in some former Soviet republics for dogfighting. If not properly trained and socialized, this Russian Bear dog may show fierce and uncontrollable reactions. On the other hand, it can be extremely loyal to its owner and will stand by and defend him to the very end.
Caucasian Shepherd’s height: 26 to 30 ins (66-76 cm), weight: 100 to 220 lbs (45-100 kg).
Russian Guard Dogs
The Caucasian Ovcharka and the Central Asian Shepherd are among the world's top guard dogs. They are not easy to deal with and they may be too savage in their nature but if properly trained they become obedient and very effective.
Dog Breed: Black Russian Terrier
The BLACK RUSSIAN TERRIER (BRT) is one of the best choices in a search for a perfect working dog. This Stalin’s dog was created after the WWII by Soviet Army’s Red Star breeding kennel for police and military purposes. The military wanted to have a large and trainable dog that could withstand Siberian frosts and didn't require any special treatment and grooming.
The Black Russian Terrier unites the energy and mobility of Giant Schnauzer, cleverness, and upbeat nature of Airedale Terrier, strength and courage of Rottweiler, and firmness of Newfoundland. BRT is extremely efficient and reliable and makes an excellent watch and guard dog.
Civilians were allowed to own some of the Blackies in the late 1950s when the commercialization of the new breed started. Nowadays, the Black Russian Terrier is known and popular worldwide.
BRT’s height: 25 to 28 ins (64-71 cm), weight: 80 to 150 lbs (36 – 68 kg).
Both the Caucasian Ovcharka and the Central Asian Shepherd were traditionally employed in the Southern regions of Russia as fighting dogs. Until now they are occasionally taking part in illegal dogfighting.
Russian Hunting Dogs
Russian hunting dogs include the famous sighthound Borzoi, several Russian scenthounds like the Russian Hound and the Russian Harlequin Hound, the flushing and retrieving Russian Spaniel, and the versatile Laikas.
Dog Breed: Borzoi Hunting Sighthound
The BORZOI is the most elegant and aristocratic Russian dog. This beautiful Russian wolfhound often accompanies celebrities and participates in luxury commercials. Borzoi can be easily recognized for its long, narrow head and tall, slender body covered in soft and silky, wavy, and a little curly coat of white, tan, bronze, and gray combination of colors.
Often seen as a glamour pet, Borzoi, actually, is a large, strong, and healthy dog with great hunting and sporting abilities. For several centuries the Borzois were bred by Russian nobility to hunt wolves. A pair or trio of Borzois would chase a sighted wolf, force it down and hold until the hunters arrive.
Borzoi’s height: 26 to 32 ins (66-81 cm), weight: 55 to 105 lbs (25-48 kg), speed: up to 37 mph (60 km/h).
Companion Little Dogs
Most of the Russian dogs are large and heavy. Only two Soviet breeds, the Russian Bolonka, and the Russian Toy are little dogs. The Russian Toy is so tiny that it became the main competitor of Chihuahua.
Dog Breed: Russian Toy Terrier
The RUSSIAN TOY TERRIER is the smallest Russian dog, and one of the tiniest dogs in the world. This miniature terrier with brittle, delicate legs, short bobbed tail, and swan neck resembles a little fawn. It is not allergenic and doesn't have any odor, except for the perfume of its owner.
The Russian Toy Terrier is a loving, obedient, and affectionate dog, a loyal and tender companion. It is generally easy to train and very sensitive to criticism. This cute dog is very cheerful, active, and playful.
There are two varieties of this breed: Russian Longhaired Toy Terrier and Shorthaired Russian Toy Terrier.
Russian Toy Terrier’s height: 8 to 10 ins (20-25 cm), weight: 3 to 6 lbs (1,4-2,7 kg).
History of Russian Dogs
The history of Russian dog breeds is closely associated with the Russian communist revolution and other dramatic events that took place in Russia in the last century.
Old Russian Dog Breeds
Before the communists came to power in 1917 Russia was best known for its herding and hunting dogs, and the Russian wolfhound, Borzoi, became the oldest registered dog breed in the world. Apart from Borzois, Russian nobility was breeding a number of scent hounds for traditional Russian hunt which was very popular at that time.
Ordinary people living in northern regions of the Russian Empire were using Laikas for hunting and sledding, while flocks in the Southern regions were guarded by the ancient Caucasian dog and Central Asian dog, as well as the Russian Sheepdog.
Dog Breed: Samoyed
There's no other dog that can smile like the SAMOYED, or Sammy, with its always upturned mouth corners. The Smiling Sammy doesn't lose its childish jolly when it grows up, and almost never becomes angry, belligerent, or harmful. Samoyed is active and playful, ready to make friends with everyone, and willing to help with any task.
Originally bred by the Samoyede people of Siberia, the Samoyed dog was used to hunt, haul sleds, and herd reindeer.
Being today mostly a family pet, the Samoyed still belongs to the working kind of dog. Sammy is not for those owners who prefer calm and quiet sofa pets. It is an excellent companion for farmers and ranchers, especially people living in a cold climate.
Samoyed dog’s height: 19 to 24 ins (48-61 cm), weight: 45 to 66 lbs (21-30 kg).
After the communist revolution, the Borzois and small dogs like Bolonkas were denounced as aristocratic playthings and were ousted from the new Soviet life. Instead, the Soviet authorities concentrated on the creation of new working breeds, best suited for their needs. As a result of a crossing of some Western and local Russian breeds of dogs, a number of so-called Soviet dogs appeared, including the Russian German Shepherd (East European Shepherd), the Moscow dog (Moscow Watchdog), and the Russian Newfoundland. Among them, the Russian Black Terrier, often called the Russian Pearl, became a real breeding success.
In the post-war period Russian civilian dog lovers have supplemented this list with several small dog breeds like the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka and the Russian Toy. Russian hunters, in their turn, have added the Russian Spaniel to it.
Rare Dog Breeds
Most Soviet dog breeds, except for the Russian Black Terrier and the Russian Toy, are still considered rare dog breeds. They are not standardized by the majority of kennel clubs and can be rarely met outside their native country.
Some of the Russian pre-revolutionary breeds like the Russian Mastiff have gone forever and are referred to now as extinct dogs. Among Soviet dogs, the Russian Newfoundland, also known as the Russian water dog, was considered to become an extinct dog in the 1980s. Thanks to British and other Western breeders the Borzoi and the Samoyed didn't suffer the same fate.
What is the biggest Russian dog?
The tallest Russian dog is Borzoi whereas the heaviest is Moscow Watchdog.
What is Russia's national dog?
Traditionally, the Borzoi Hunting Sighthound is considered to be Russia’s national dog.
Are Siberian Huskies from Russia?
Siberian Huskies originated from Russian Siberia but were first officially bred and recognized in the U.S.
Are there any new Russian dog breeds?
In December 2018, a jackal-dog hybrid known as Sulimov Dog was officially registered in Russia under the name Shalaika. This detection dog is believed to be the best sniffer in the world.
Russian Dog Breeds List in ABC Order
Black Russian Terrier
Central Asian Shepherd
East European Shepherd
East Siberian Laika
Moscow Water Dog
Russian Harlequin Hound
Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
Russo European Laika
West Siberian Laika
Please browse this Russian dog site to learn more about dogs of Russian origin, including the types of dogs, dog kinds, and dog behavior.