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Russian Toy

As its name suggests, the Russian Toy, also known as the Russkiy Toy, is a small dog breed originating from Russia. This breed is fairly new to dog fanciers outside of its country of origin, and has just recently been recognized by the AKC. This is one of the smallest dog breeds in the world. They are also found in two varieties: short-haired and long-haired. Long-haired individuals are known for the feathered fur on their ears and tail. This breed has four possible coat colors: solid red, black and tan, blue and tan, and brown and tan. 

Russian Toys can make excellent family pets for active dog parents. Although often reserved with strangers, Russian Toys quickly bond with family members and are known as loyal companions. However, they aren’t suitable for every home. They can be noisy, and their strong prey drive makes them an unlikely fit for a home with small animals. 

While rescuing a pup is always a great option given the overpopulation of pets in shelters, you’re unlikely to find a Russian Toy up for adoption. A fairly rare breed, the Russian Toy almost became extinct in the 19th century. If you’re looking to rescue, you may want to try joining groups dedicated to the breed and asking if anyone is rehoming. Otherwise, you may want to look for breeds similar in appearance. Rat Terriers, Chihuahuas, and Papillons have many of the same characteristics as this rarer breed. 


Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog. And you can find an awesome crate for your dog here to give them a little more personal space in your apartment.

Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.

Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!

Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks. You can find a great jacket for your dog here!

Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

All Around Friendliness

Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.

**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash in public!

Health And Grooming Needs

If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool

Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.

If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.

Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!


Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.

Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.

Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.

Physical Needs

High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.

Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.

Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group:Companion DogsHeight:7 to 11 inchesWeight:3 to 6 lbsLife Span:10-12 years

bark rotating


More About This Breed


  • The Russian Toy is a loyal, intelligent family member that might be difficult to find.
  • Though small, their proclivity to noisemaking makes them often unsuitable for apartment living.
  • Originally bred as rat-fighting dogs, they are equipped with a strong prey drive — making them great for some outdoor dog sports.


The Russian Toy originated from the similar English Toy Terrier; the breed originated, as their name implies, in Russia. The primary purpose of the breed originally was hunting & fighting rats. This means that today, your Russian Toy is likely to love games of chase, engaging in hands-on play, and puzzle toys. Another purpose for the breed was as a watchdog — this can be seen in the breed’s wariness of strangers and vocalizations. 

This breed was almost wiped out in the 1920s due to the rise of Communism and the breed’s original links to aristocracy. In the 1990s, the breed was once again almost lost due to an influx of foreign breeds. At the time, the breed was almost entirely found in its country of origin. 


The Russian Toy is one of the smallest dog breeds in existence. They are often mistaken for the Chihuahua or Papillon, and are quite similar to the untrained eye. However, what they lack in stature they make up for in playful personality.


The Russian Toy is a great family pet for dog parents who can dedicate time and energy towards exercise and stimulation. Easily bored, this energetic breed still needs regular exercise despite their small size. They are known for their high trainability and eagerness to please. Dog parents may want to consider working on sports like agility with this breed in order to keep their minds and bodies active. 


Unfortunately, the Russian Toy does have some common ailments that new dog parents need to keep in mind. The most common afflictions to impact this breed are:

  • Impacted baby teeth. In almost all cases, puppy teeth will need to be removed by a veterinarian.
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Bone fractures. Due to their small size, harsh injuries due to drops or falls can be common.


Russian Toys need engaged, active dog parents who are familiar with methods of stimulating both the body and mind of a dog. Some small breeds are considered incompatible for families with children due to nippiness, but Russian Toys are often great fits for respectful and gentle children. If you plan on adding a Russian Toy to a home with pre-existing canine siblings, be sure that they don’t play roughly enough to accidentally injure the smaller breed.


The Russian Toy should be fed a diet consistent with that of a small dog with medium to high energy levels.

Be sure not to overfeed the Russian Toy when training; while many Russian Toy dog parents love the easy trainability of the breed, it’s easy to overdo training treats with the breed’s small size.

Because all dogs are unique in their diet requirements, it’s best to consult your veterinarian to determine the best food to feed your pup.

Coat Color And Grooming

The Russian Toy comes in two coat variations; short and longhaired. For the shorthaired variation of the breed, grooming is fairly minimal; occasional brushing and bathing when necessary is appropriate. Some more dedication is needed to maintain the coat of the longhaired variant. Brushing should ideally be done at least every few days, as well as keeping an eye on trimming for maintenance. As with all dogs, nail clipping should also be monitored, particularly for dogs who are rarely exercised on hard surfaces that maintain the nail.

Children And Other Pets

The Russian Toy’s history of rat-fighting means that this strong-willed little dog is rarely a good fit for a house with small animals such as rodents, and likely shouldn’t be left unsupervised around such animals. However, they do not typically have issues acclimating to other dogs and cats, and their temperament with children is outstanding. As always, dogs need to be properly introduced to children and other animals in the house to ensure a safe environment for all.

Rescue Groups

Due to the scarcity of this breed outside of its home country, you’re unlikely to find many available Russian Toys for adoption. However, that doesn’t mean that finding a rescue dog of this breed is impossible. Consider adopting a Russian Toy who is being rehomed by checking groups dedicated to the breed, or expanding your range to Russian Toy mixes or similar breeds.

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