Dog Breed Review

Russian Toy




There are sandwiches that weigh more than the elegant, eventful and always entertaining Russian Toy. This small breed with medium energy is still rare around the world but is sure to catch on soon.

Whether you call them the Russkiy Toy, the Russian Toy Terrier or just Russian Toy, this friendly breed would rather you just call them a friend.

Heavily devout to their people, even the Russian Aristocrats couldn’t get enough of this little bugger.

What’s their story and where do they come? Will they be the right dog for your home?

Here is what you need to know about the Russian Toy.


The story of this breed is like the Beatle’s classic, “The Long and Winding Road.” As in, it took quite a while, for this breed to come full circle. In fact, this breed had two brushes with extinction but enthusiasts kept hammering away for a uniform standard and came up with one after much effort.

The Russian Toy descends from the ultimate ratters, the English Terrier. The first evidence of an English Terrier entering Russia appears to be as far back as the beginning of the 18th century. English Terriers are said to appear at a Saint Petersburg zoology museum. The dog in the description was a pet of the Russian emperor, Peter the Great, by the name of “Lizetta.”  Lizetta was a short hair terrier variety. 

Many believe the first time the breed would appear at a dog was back in 1874 at a exhibition in St. Petersburg. During the 19th century, the Russian Toy was a favorite among aristocrats and elites. Of course, much like today, the breed was more for companionship than anything. Although, some of the Russkiy could be ratters.

While others contend that the real first appearance of the Russian Toy took place in 1907, as eleven Russkiy Toys would appear at a Saint Petersburg exhibition. Thanks to the prestige of owning this breed, their popularity would grow at the turn of the 20th century.

But not for long. Around 1917, the fall of the Russian Toy was due to their association with the ruling elites and aristocrats. And since there was a revolution underway and regime change, the breed would fall out of favor.

Yet, the bred wouldn’t go down easily. Not even the first time. Although very few would show up at dog shows around the 1940’s, there was promise and encouragement ahead for the Russian Toy. At that time, two varieties of the same breed would be shown at shows. Breeders would go to work during the 1950’s working on a new standard and description for the breed. The changes was so much, that the new Russian Toy was unrecognizable to the older English Terrier type. 

The first standard for a smooth haired Russkiy Toy in print was back in 1960, while the first standard for the longer hair variety would occur in 1966. 

Unbelievably, the breed would yet again face a near extinction during the 1980’s. Most of this may have had something to do with the fall of “Iron Curtain.” However, the Russian Kynological Federation had other ideas and came to the rescue. In 1988, the Moscow, or the long coat version and the Russian Toy or the smooth coat version, would unify as one breed with two varieties.

Meanwhile, the United States was a bit slower to give recognition to the breed. To this day, the AKC still hasn’t given official approval, although the breed is able to compete in certain events. Moreover, in 2008, the AKC would designate the Russkiy Toy into the Foundation Stock Services. Since 2010, the breed has been able to compete in companion events. Now, the breed is able to compete in Miscellaneous events. 

Today, enthusiasts and breeders are still working hard in promoting this ultimate lapdog. For certain, the breed is very much popular in its home country of Russia, while gaining a little steam in the West.


The Russian Toy is a small breed. Both male and females can stand between 8 to 11 inches.

According to the American Kennel Club, the breed should weigh up to 6.5 pounds. However, the ideal weight  is 5 pounds, according to the United Kennel Club.

Personality and Temperament

The toy breed out of Russia is a very loyal breed to their master and is the ultimate companion. Wherever there is an opening on your lap, they’ll gun for it. They enjoy and cherish close contact and embrace the close touch of their master. Strong devotion, there’s little this breed won’t do for their people. And although they are small in size, their personality is behemoth in package. Mess with their people, and the Russian Toy will come to the master’s aide.

This is a fairly active breed. Not always, however, a lot of that depends on their owner. They do enjoy romping in the backyard, playing fetch, and doing some digging. The Russian Toy is fond of running around and plays nice with other dogs when you supervise them.

The breed does respond well to training and enjoys picking up new tricks. Agreeable in nature, the Russian Toy Terrier is eager to please their owner. Although, the breed may make their owner work for it having a bit of that stubborn terrier blood in them.

This is never a shy nor aggressive breed. They shouldn’t ever be cowardly either. What makes them unique is their small size but how bold, brave and curious about the world they can be. 

All in all, children will adore them, although the breed likely will take to someone older. They enjoy cuddling, being affectionate, being the center of attention by clowning around. Stubborn here and there, the Russian Toy will come around thanks to their eager nature to please. A great family companion, an even better lap warmer.


In general, the Russian Toy is a healthy breed with very few major issues plaguing them. The average life expectancy for the breed is between 12 to 14 years. 

When you buy a Russkiy, you should always make a purchase from a reputable breeder. The breeder should be able to provide you with the proper documents and health clearances. In addition, you should always schedule regular veterinarian visits to ensure that your Russkiy maintains a proper bill of health.

One of the leading problems for the breed is Legg Calves Perthes Disease. This disease is common among miniature and toy breed between the ages of 5 to 8 months. This is the abnormal development of the hip joint, when the femoral head bone dies off causing cracks and deformities. This will result in the inflammation of the joint, arthritis, lameness and pain.

Patellar Luxation is when the kneecap slips out of place causing a great deal of pain for the breed. This condition has been seen in a few Russkiy’s in the past. This is common among Chihuahuas and Boston Terriers as well.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy may present itself in this breed. This genetic retinal disease is a gradual deterioration of the photoreceptor cells that will eventually lead to vision loss or blindness. 

Additionally, since the breed is fragile and small, they may easily suffer from bone factures. You’ll want to teach smaller children the proper way in handling the breed. Also, you may want to prevent the breed from jumping up and down high platforms. Also, the breed sometimes suffers as puppies with deciduous teeth. Deciduous teeth or baby teeth may require the help of a veterinarian to forcibly remove them. Because the teeth refuse to fall out on their own, it can cause tartar deposits, decay and gum disease by result.


A Russian Toy needs at least thirty minutes outside each day. This is an active breed. Luckily, they thrive on outdoor romps in the backyard, fetch, and other canine activities that are easy to do or provide. Plenty of mental and physical stimulation will really prevent boredom and keep this breed happy.

This is a breed that should have a fair and consistent hand. They may be stubborn at times, with that terrier nature, so firm training and early socialization will help prevent a dog that grows aggressive or shy. The breed should do fine in apartments as they only bark whenever it is necessary. 

You shouldn’t leave this breed alone for long periods of time. They should be a part of the family endeavor. A Russian Toy is happiest when they are the center of attention and have close contact with their hand. 

While the breed is fine with other dogs, supervision is always the best key. That goes for children, although the breed ostensibly gets along great with the kiddos.

The breed does have a prey drive and may see something they will want to chase. You should always have this dog on a leash especially during walks. 


A Russian Toy will do just fine with a high quality kibble. Meat should be the first ingredient and quality proteins, carbs, crude fat and calorie intake should be at the center of your focus.

How much your Russkiy eats will differ from other dogs. Things like age, activity rate and that breed’s metabolism can all play into consideration on how much your dog will eat.

Most owners seem content with feeding 1/4 cup to 1/2 cups per day. To avoid Bloat, a deadly and painful disorder, you should break that up into two smaller meals. Puppies will eat more as they grow and mature. Most puppies between 8 to 12 weeks will require four bowls in a day. As the age, from 3 to 6 months, then you can reduce it to 2-3 bowls per day. From six months and up, then two bowls should suffice.

As always, you should provide your Russian Toy with fresh drinking water.


A Russian Toy is a seasonal shedder and sheds infrequently. However, occasional grooming will help maintain a great appearance for your toy. There are two types for this breed’s coat:  long coat, which should 1 to 3 inches, straight or slightly wavy and lying close to the body. There is also feathering on the hind legs and tail. The other type is a short or smooth coat. This is obviously smooth, short and lies close to the body with a shiny look to it. The long coat will need a brushing 2 to 3 times per week.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Russian Toy has 11 coat colors options: Black and tan, brown and tan, blue and tan, lilac and tan, red with black, red with blue, red with brown, red with lilac, red, fawn, and cream.

White spots on the chest and toes is the only acceptable marking for this breed.

Fun Russian Toy Facts

  • According to To Discover Russia, the Russian Toy is the smallest terrier breed in the world.
  • In 2006, the FCI made the decision to grant recognition to the breed and also to drop the word terrier from the breed’s name.

Closing Words

They may be small, but this big personality is easy to fall head over heels for. It is their spirit, their love for people and their overall friendliness that dog lovers around the world can’t get enough of.

The Russian Toy is relatively rare for most countries but that appears to be changing thanks to acceptance from the FCI, the UKC and soon to be the AKC. 



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