Covering an expanse of over 6.6 million square miles, Russia is the world’s largest country by landmass, beating out runner-up Canada by around 2.8 million square miles. It’s big, covering 11 time zones. This gives plenty of space for plenty of different dog breeds to develop, each uniquely suited to the harsh Russian climate. From military dogs to lap dogs, let’s check out some unique Russian dog breeds.
10. Siberian Husky
You might think of Alaska when you think of the Siberian Husky, but as the name implies this is one of the most well-known Russian Dog Breeds.
When you think of cold-weather dogs, the Siberian Husky likely comes to mind. The Siberian Husky is believed to have originated with the Chukchi, an indigenous people inhabiting the Chukchi Peninsula and the shores of the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Sea region of the Arctic Ocean within the Russian Federation. DNA evidence has pointed to the Siberian being one of the oldest of all dog breeds.
Quick and nimble-footed, Siberians are known for their powerful but seemingly effortless gait and intelligence. A large working dog breed, the Siberian belongs to the Spitz family of dogs. Sibies are recognizable by their thickly furred double coat, erect triangular ears, and distinctive markings.
9. Samoyed– Russian Dog Breeds
The Samoyed, with its thick, white, double-layered coat is a breed of large herding dog, also from the Spitz group. The Sammie takes its name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia.
These nomadic reindeer herders bred the fluffy white dogs to help with herding, and to pull sleds when they moved.
The breed is characterized by an alert and happy expression which has earned the nicknames “Sammie smile” and “smiley dog.
An alternate name for the breed, especially in Europe, is Bjelkier.
8. Russian Toy
The Russian Toy is a very small breed of dog originally bred in Russia from the English Toy Terrier, known today as the Manchester Terrier, who was one of the most popular companion dogs in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. However, shipping of toy terriers into Russia all but stopped in the time between the 1920s and 1950s.
And he long isolated evolution and specific selection process have resulted in the creation of a new breed, the Russian Toy, which was bred exclusively in Russia until her political isolation diminished.
7. Russian Spaniel – Russian Dog Breeds
The energetic, free-spirited Russian Spaniel is a type of spaniel first standardized in 1951 in the Soviet Union after the Second Global Conflict by cross-breeding English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, and other spaniel breeds.
Physically it is similar to field line Cocker Spaniels but has a shorter, tighter coat and a longer body. Developed and used as hunting dogs, this breed does not suffer from any major health complaints other than those normally associated with spaniels. A popular bird-dog in its native Russia, the breed was only introduced overseas in the 1990s.
6. Laika – Russian Dog Breeds
This one is not a breed per se, but more of a group of dogs. The Laika, a generic name given to several breeds, refers to hunting dog originating in Russia and known for its method of hunting, called bark-pointing, in which it would “point” out prey by barking at it.
The Russian word Laika is a noun derived from the verb layat‘ and literally means barker.
Laika is also the name given to the mutt who was the first dog in space.
5. Central Asian Shepherd Dog
The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is an ancient breed of dog that originates from the former Soviet Union and was bred primarily as a livestock, guarding sheep and goat herds and as a property guardian.
Central Asians most likely originated more than four thousand years ago from natural selection in a geographical area between the Ural, Caspian Sea, Asia Minor, and the Northwest border of China.
Central Asians are still in demand as livestock guardians, though not nearly as much as they used to be.
4. Caucasian Shepherd Dog – Russian Dog Breeds
The Caucasus mountains are home to one of the oldest living Molosser breeds, the Caucasian Mountain Dog.
Also known as Caucasian Ovcharka, Caucasian shepherd dogs are strongly boned, muscular, and even-tempered molossers.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog was bred as a livestock and property guardian and is known for its aggressive nature. And he is big. The minimum weight for a male Caucasian is 110 pounds or 50 kilograms.
Today, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a fully standardized breed, recognized by major kennel organizations, including the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club.
They are still successfully serving in this job, especially in Georgia, and the shepherd’s life is near impossible without these dogs.
The Borzoi, whose name literally means “fast” is a sighthound similar in shape to the greyhound, although larger weighing in at more than 100 pounds.
Also called the Russian Wolfhound, this breed was bred for hunting wolves dating back to the 9th and 10th centuries. Hunting trials were held for a long period of time to determine proper breeding stock for the Borzoi until wolf hunting fell out of fashion, but he did keep working into the 20th century as a small game hunter.
Exports of borzois to other countries were extremely rare during the Soviet era. However, enough had been taken to England, Scandinavia, Western Europe, and America in the late 19th century for the breed to establish itself outside its native country.
2. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
You didn’t think we were going to make it through a video without a Bichon breed did ya?
The Bolonka Zwetnaya is a rare Russian toy dog of Bichon type, developed in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia from the ancestors of smaller dogs such as the Bichon Frise, Toy Poodle, Shih Tzu, Pekingese and French Bolognese.
The Russian Tszvetnaya Bolonka was specifically developed as a companion dog and is prized for its sociable, easy-going and affectionate temperament.
The Bolonka has recently gained fame by being the chosen breed of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
1. Black Russian Terrier
The Black Russian Terrier is a breed of dog created in the USSR’s Red Star Kennel during the late 1940s and the early 1950s for use as military/working dogs.
The breeding stock was largely imported from countries where the Red Army was active during the Second Global Conflict, especially in East Germany.
Despite its name, the Black Russian Terrier is not a true terrier: it is believed that about seventeen breeds were used in its development, including the Airedale, the Giant Schnauzer, the Rottweiler, the Newfoundland, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog and other breeds.
Today, the Black Russian Terrier is a working dog, guarding dog, sporting and companion dog.
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