Russian Spaniel: The Gentle Gun Dog

Russian Spaniel running
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

City and apartment dwellers, as well as families with kids, are always on the lookout for a sweet-natured dog that can play with kids and live happily inside small spaces. We know that there are many dogs that fit this description, but perhaps you can consider a rather underrated choice—the Russian Spaniel.

This is a small-sized dog so they will do well in small homes and apartments. Their friendly and playful nature make them good companions for children.

Originally developed to hunt small game like birds and rabbits, the Russian Spaniel is a smart and athletic dog. They bear a close resemblance to the English Cocker Spaniel. Owners of this breed are surprised by their devotion and abilities. They form close bonds with their families and are reliable watchdogs.

If you are thinking about getting a Russian Spaniel, this article will talk about the dog’s traits, history, temperament, and care. Learning about these things before adopting one will help you make the right choice for you and your family.

Breed Characteristics

Russian Spaniel hunting

  • Adaptability: Good; will do well in an apartment provided that they are exercised, very good and gentle with kids

  • Trainability: Good; they like pleasing their owners, making them very trainable

  • Health and Grooming: Moderate; prone to overeating; moderate shedder

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; friendly towards other animals and kids, wary around strangers

  • Exercise Needs: High Maintenance; they require long daily walks or jogs

Dog Breed GroupGun Dogs
Height15 - 17 ¾ inches (38 - 45 cm)
Weight28 - 35 pounds (13 - 16 kg)
Lifespan9 - 11 years

The Russian Spaniel looks like an English Cocker Spaniel except for small differences like longer and sleeker ears, shorter fur, and a longer body. They are small, robust dogs with muscular limbs. Most working Russian Spaniels have docked tails.

This is a sweet and friendly breed and is known to be very patient towards children. These dogs make good loyal pets and bond very well with their family. Because they are small in size, Russian Spaniels do well inside small apartments and homes, provided they are exercised.

This breed was originally developed by Russian hunters to hunt small game. The hunters wanted a dog that can easily be transported, hence their small size. But don’t discount the Russian Spaniel’s size because they are an active breed.

They were bred to hunt and have lots of stamina. This means that they require one or two vigorous walks or jogs per day. They also like mental stimulation like puzzles and games.

Russian Spaniels are devoted to their families and are inherently smart. This makes them very trainable. They want to please their owners and will do anything to make them happy. They respond well to praises and treats. However, they do require early training with a firm and patient trainer.

They are basically low maintenance dogs. Their coat naturally repels water, but they do need the occasional bath. They are moderate shedders, but regular brushing will help. Brush at least once a week to take care of tangles and to keep their coats clean.

Main Highlights

Russian Spaniel's head

  • Also called Rosyjski Spaniel.

  • Originally developed in Russia over 100 years ago.

  • Very good hunters originally bred to hunt waterfowl, rabbits, and birds.

  • Russian Spaniels have good scenting abilities.

  • Very agile and athletic.

  • Look very similar to the English Springer Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel.

  • High-spirited, joyful, devoted, and affectionate towards children.

  • Adapt well in small homes especially if well exercised.

  • They are a high energy, high stamina breed that requires long daily walks and jogs.

  • They also like games and puzzles for mental stimulation.

  • Russian Spaniels are generally friendly and are also friendly towards other dogs.

  • Wary around strangers.

  • They make good watchdogs.

  • They are very trainable and require early training with a firm and patient trainer.

  • Respond very well to treats and praises.

  • This breed has the tendency to become obese due to overeating.

  • Other health issues include ear infections and skin allergies.

  • They have a natural prey drive, so training is needed especially if kept with small pets and children.

  • This breed is low maintenance and sheds moderately. However, once weekly brushing is needed to keep the coat clean.

  • Can be hyperactive if poorly trained or untrained.

  • They need a calm and consistent pack leader to keep them stable.

Breed History

Russian Spaniel staying on wood

The Russian Spaniel is considered as a fairly new breed. They originated from English Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels that were imported into St. Petersburg and Moscow. However, these dogs were not suitable for hunting in harsh Russian winter. Avid hunters began to selectively breed dogs with longer legs, and the result is the present day Russian Spaniel.

Breed standards for the Russian Spaniel were finalized after World War II. It was revised again in 1966 and 2000.

The breed gained popularity during the 1990s, and the Russian Spaniel Club was formed in 2002 to help raise awareness of the breed. This breed is not recognized by any major kennel clubs, but it is recognized by the FIC and RSC. This breed is popular in Russia.


This breed is considered as a small dog with a height of approximately 15 — 17 ¾ inches (38 — 45 cm) at the withers. But don’t let their small size fool you because they are a strong breed with well-muscled legs and can work the field as good as any other larger gun dogs.

They have the abilities hunters love such as a great sense of smell, stamina, persistence, and the willingness to retrieve.

They have a lifespan of around 12-14 years and are a generally healthy breed. However, potential owners should be aware of their propensity towards obesity, ear infections, and skin allergies.

Personality and Character

Russian spaniel playing in grass

The Russian Spaniel is an avid hunter. Their primary job was to bring birds into the air and then to retrieve them after the shot. They can hunt in many different terrains like marshland, woodland, fields, and arid lands. They were bred to hunt rabbits, birds, and waterfowl.

Their inborn instinct to hunt means they have great sniffing abilities. They also have lots of stamina and energy, so expect to give them long daily walks or jogs. However, they won’t say no to playing in the backyard with your kids.

The Russian Spaniel is a good choice for families with children because this breed loves kids. They are gentle, playful, and affectionate towards them. They are also devoted to their masters and love being around them.

Make sure to give them lots of exercises if you live in a small house or apartment. Unexercised Russian Spaniels become destructive.

See Also: Exciting Games to Play with Your Dog

They are known to be decent watchdogs. They are generally friendly but wary towards strangers. They will alert you with barking should strangers approach your doorstep.

This breed likes making friends. They do well with other pets in the household especially if they were raised together.

Health and Potential Problems

Russian Spaniel sitting in grass

Before adopting a Russian Spaniel, always make sure to research the breeders first. You want to adopt a healthy dog to avoid costly vet bills.

While generally healthy, this dog is prone to developing health problems like obesity because they have a tendency to overeat. Obesity can lead to many problems like heart disease and diabetes.

Russian Spaniels can also develop ear infections due to their pendulous ears. Make sure to check their ears regularly and to make sure that they are dry especially after your exercise. Ear infections can also develop due to the shape of their ear canal. Regular visits to the vet should help you monitor this issue.

Skin allergies should also be monitored. This is usually manifested by itching. Allergies are usually caused by environmental factors. Blood and allergy tests can help determine which allergens your dog is susceptible to.

Care Features

Russian Spaniel puppy

They are high-energy, high-stamina dogs, so it is best to feed them dog foods specially formulated for high energy breeds. They need a good amount of exercise, preferably long daily walks or jogs. Aside from exercise they also love mental stimulation through puzzles and games.

Another consequence of not exercising your Russian Spaniel is obesity. This breed has the tendency to overeat, so make sure that they are exercised and put on a strict diet too. Treats should be given sparingly and should be earned.

See Also: Weight Loss Dog Food

Speaking of treats, this is a very trainable dog thanks to their intelligence. They respond very well to praises too. However, they do need early training with a firm and patient trainer. Early training will result in a well behaved and well-adjusted dog.

It is also important to note that untrained Russian Spaniels become hyperactive and prone to over-exuberance.

This breed is a moderate shedder. Once weekly brushing of the coat is also recommended keep coat clean.

Feeding Schedule

Russian Spaniel eating bone

The Russian Spaniel might be a small dog, but they have a lot of energy. They require high-quality dog food specially formulated for a high energy dog or an active breed. Follow instructions to know how much and how often to feed your dog. Dog food should also be applicable to the age of your dog.

This dog is prone to overeating so make sure not to overfeed them and to stick to a strict feeding schedule and diet.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Russian Spaniels of different colors

A Russian Spaniel’s fur is soft but longer and ruffled on the ears and the back of their legs. Their coat is usually white with markings and spots while all the ears tend to be dark in color. Acceptable coat colors are:

  • White and black

  • White and red

  • White and brown

  • Tri-colored

Their water-resistant coat does not require a lot of grooming. However, once weekly brushing will keep it clean and take care of any shedding.

Take care not to bathe your Russian Spaniel too often. Overbathing will cause your dog to lose the water resistant-qualities of their coats. Bathe your Russian Spaniel only when needed.

Pay attention to their hanging ears and make sure that they are clean and dry to prevent infections. Clean the ear canal 1-2 weeks to get rid of excess wax.

See Also: Best Dog Ear Cleaner

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

The Russian Spaniel is very popular with families with children because of their friendly and playful nature. They love playing and running with kids and are very affectionate towards them.

This breed is also very friendly towards other dogs and pets especially if they were raised together. However, they do have a strong prey instinct, so it’s best to train them early to curb this instinct. They generally like to make friends but will be wary of strangers and new animals or pets at first.

Wrap Up

Russian Spaniel in the wood

If you’re looking for a dog that’s small and easy to train, the Russian Spaniel is a good choice for you. They are very friendly, devoted, and smart; they like being with kids too.

They are also a good choice for people who like to spend time outdoors—especially hunters because they were bred to hunt rabbits, birds, and other small animals. If you live in an apartment and want a pet dog, this breed is also a good choice. Their small size makes them good apartment dwellers.

Just make sure to give your Russian Spaniel lots of exercises no matter where you live. They are high-stamina high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise. Make sure to give them a long daily walk or jog to keep them happy.

Does it sound like the Russian Spaniel is a good choice for you and your family? Will you be able to keep up with their need for exercise? If you’re already living with a Russian Spaniel, do you have any information that we didn’t mention in this article? Tell us what you think by leaving comments below.

If you need a name for your newly-adopted Russian Spaniel, check out our list of cool Russian dog names.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.