Russian Toy: Fun Comes in Small Packages

Russian Toy standing
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

Are you looking for a small-sized dog? If the answer is yes, perhaps the Russian Toy Dog is a good choice for you. Standing at around 10 inches tall and approximately 6 pounds, this is one of the smallest dog breeds in the world today. However, this does not mean that the dog has a small personality.

Russian Toy Dogs have the potential to be therapy dogs, companion dogs, and service dogs. They are an active breed that loves to play, explore, and run. Also known as Russkiy, this breed can be an ideal choice for people who live in cities, apartments, and small homes. They do well with children and make excellent guard dogs.

If you’re seriously considering the Russkiy as a pet, there are many things you should know about this breed. Fortunately, this article will talk about the dog’s history, care, and other information you need to know about having a Russian Toy Dog as a member of your family.

Breed Characteristics

Russian Toy standing in grass

  • Adaptability: Very Good; will do well in an apartment provided that they are exercised

  • Trainability: Good; intelligent, but can be stubborn so early, and firm training is needed

  • Health and Grooming: Moderate; needs regular coat and teeth-brushing

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; very friendly towards other animals and kids, but are good guard dogs

  • Exercise Needs: Above Average Needs; despite their size, they require long daily walks

Dog Breed GroupToy Dogs
Height8 – 10 inches
Weight4 – 6 pounds
Lifespan10 - 12 years

The RTT is generally a good-natured dog that loves to run and play all day. They will chase everything they can and will be happy to play with your children in the yard or inside the house if you let them. They are intelligent, trustful, and make loyal companions.

Despite its size, this is actually a high energy breed. They are usually alright playing and running inside a small, enclosed yard, but they are the happiest when taken on walks.

Many people have taken a liking to the Russkiy because of their small size. Their compactness means that they can stay in small dwellings like apartments and small homes in the city. This breed is a true companion dog that you can take almost everywhere due to their size.

They also make ideal pets for families with small children. However, it is best that children be taught how to handle them due to their small size. Many young children can accidentally drop or tread on the dog and cause injury.

As a family pet, this breed is loyal and devoted. They are happiest when they are playing or bonding with their humans. They are affectionate and won’t be afraid to tell you that you’re neglecting them. They make good guard dogs. They will alert you with a bark if strangers approach them.

They are people-pleasers, making them easy to train. However, they do have a stubborn streak, so early training with a firm trainer is needed. They respond well to praises. However, avoid repetitive training with your RTT. They can get bored very easily. This breed also does well with canine sports like agility and dog tricks.

The long hair and smooth coat variety need regular grooming to keep their coats clean. Daily brushing is recommended especially during shedding season. Bathe them once a month and make sure to dry them thoroughly especially the ear fringe. Take care not to get water in their ears too.

Main Highlights

long-haired Russian Toy with its puppy

  • Come in two distinct varieties: long hair and smooth coat varieties.

  • The long hair variety has close-lying hair that is straight and slightly wavy. This type usually sports ear fringes, ruff on their chests, and feathering on their tail and extremities.

  • The smooth coat also has close-lying hair but is straight and short.

  • Russkies are usually 8-10 inches in height and weigh around 3-6 pounds.

  • They are small but have bold and daring traits.

  • This is an intelligent dog breed that is easy to train due to their eager-to-please personalities.

  • This breed is generally playful, active, affectionate, and devoted to their families.

  • This is a high-energy dog breed that loves to run and play.

  • To get rid of destructive behavior, Russkies should be exercised by going on long walks daily.

  • They do well in small dwellings, provided that they are exercised.

  • When playing outdoors, make sure to supervise if your area has aerial or terrestrial predators.

  • Their compact size means that they are travel-friendly.

  • Russian Toy Dogs are great with people of any age including children.

  • Young kids playing with Russkies should be supervised to prevent them from dropping or stepping on the dog.

  • They also do well with other pets.

  • They make good guard dogs too. They will bark and alert you when there are strangers around.

  • They are small but very brave. This dog will not hesitate to take on bigger opponents especially when they are protecting their owners.

  • Because of their bravery, you might need to protect them when they’re protecting you.

  • They are moderate shedders but are relatively easy to groom.

  • They need regular brushing to keep their hair clean and debris-free.

  • Very agile. Does well in agility training.

  • Was an unknown breed outside its country until the 1990s.

Breed History

long haired Russian Toy walking

The history of the Russian Toy Dog can be traced to the arrival of the English Toy Terrier in Russia during the 18th century. Evidence of this can be found in the specimen exhibited in the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg of the dog Lisetta, which personally belonged to Peter the Great.

The dog was a hit among the Russian aristocracy, and it was common for socialites to carry these dogs as “living accessory.” The dog soon became popular in the country, and at the beginning of the 20th century, the dog simply became known as the Russian Toy Dog or Russian Toy Terrier.

After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the dog’s population went into a decline as the breeding of the dogs were brought to a halt. After Stalin’s death, efforts were made in Russia to revive the breed.

It is not known if it is a mutation or the introduction of a new breed that produced unique-looking puppies that were born in 1958. The first official standard for the breed was written in 1966. Today, the Russian Toy Terrier recognizes two types of dogs: the long and the smooth coat varieties. This breed is recognized by the AKC-FSS, ACA, and DRA.


size of Russian Toy

One of the reasons why the Russian aristocrats and upper class favored the Russian Toy Dog was their small size. Adult dogs usually measure around 8 — 10 inches at the withers and weigh around 4-6 pounds. This tiny dog is usually mistaken for a Chihuahua.

Russkies can have a long or smooth coat which is easy to groom and maintain. A healthy RTT has long, well-muscled legs. They have a strong body, long neck, small head, and big, smart-looking eyes.

Personality and Character

Russian Toy playing with a toy

The Russian Toy packs a lot of personality in a small package. They are playful, cheerful, intelligent, and are very devoted to their family. Their small and compact size makes them great travel companions since transporting them is very easy.

This breed does well with children and other pets. However, they also make good guard dogs. Don’t let their small size fool you because the Russkiy will not hesitate to protect you should they feel that you are threatened.

They were originally bred to be watchdogs and will warn you if there are strangers around with a bark or aggressive behavior. With their family, this dog is loving, playful, affectionate and devoted.

Russkies love human companionship. They like spending time with their people and snuggling. They can be quite possessive of their family and will let you know if they feel neglected. They are true companion dogs and are sometimes used as service and therapy dogs because of this trait.

Russkies are perfectly content to play around your backyard, but they are also an active and energetic breed that will benefit from daily walks. While they can play and romp indoors, they prefer to walk and run outdoors. They do not only thrive on exercise and fun but also like agility training and dog tricks.

See Also: Agility Training for Dogs

They are intelligent and are people-pleasers so training them is easy. They like attention and thrive on praises. This breed has a stubborn streak, but just shower them with affection, praises, and treats, and they should come around. However, you should also be firm and consistent because these dogs are sure of themselves and need to be shown who’s boss.

Many owners say that this dog is too big for their size. They can sometimes forget that they are small and will even pick fights with bigger dogs or dogs that try to dominate them. Be sure to include obedience in their training because Russkies can get very bold sometimes.

A Russian Toy Dog can bring a lot of happiness, fun, and action in your life. This dog can be your constant companion due to their easily-transportable size.

Health and Potential Problems

Russian Toy lying

The Russkiy is an overall healthy breed with a life expectancy of 10-12 years. However, like many toy breeds, they have problems with their teeth.

Since they don’t lose all their puppy teeth, some of them need to be taken out surgically. Periodontal diseases can also begin as early as one year. Regular teeth cleaning can help manage plaque and prevent surgical dental cleaning or teeth removal.

See Also: Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Patellar luxation is another costly problem for this breed and dogs in the toy group. This is usually hereditary in nature, so it’s best to adopt a dog from a responsible breeder.

Other problems include fractured bones and obesity. Russkies are small dogs, so it’s best to monitor their weight to prevent the latter problem.

Care Features

Russian Toy with its toys

These dogs need a good amount of exercise, preferably long daily walks. It is advised to walk them at least 30 minutes twice daily to prevent them from becoming too bored indoors.

Toy dogs like the Russkiy have fragile necks. It’s best to walk them using a harness instead of a collar. It is also recommended not to leave collars or harness on your dog when at home. Collars and harnesses can snag on things and injure your Russkiy’s neck.

See Also: Off-Leash Dog Training

Daily brushing of the teeth is recommended to prevent periodontal disease. This dog is prone to teeth problems, so everyday brushing is needed but once a week is better than nothing.

This breed is a moderate shedder. However, daily brushing will help to manage shedding and keep their coats clean. Once monthly bathing is also recommended. Nails and coats should also be trimmed regularly.

Check ears regularly for wax buildup. The ears should be kept dry to prevent infections, especially in the long-haired variety where the dogs sport fringe on their ears.

Regular visits to the vet for vaccination should be followed and will help monitor potential problems.

Feeding Schedule

Russian Toy Dogs should be fed high-quality dog food whether commercial or homemade. They are high energy, high stamina dogs, but are also small, so they need dog food that is appropriate not only for their size but their energy levels too. The amount should be carefully monitored at all the different stages of their life.

Russkies are small dogs and have the propensity to become overweight especially if they are not exercised regularly. Be sure to follow instructions on how much and how often to feed your dog to prevent this problem. A feeding schedule of three times per day would be ideal, but two times per day should suffice too.

Regular exercise will also keep your dog from becoming overweight.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Russian Toys of different colors

Russian Toy Dogs come in a variety of coats. They can be any combinations of tan, brown, black, red, and shades of blue.

Whether you choose the long-haired Russkiy or the smooth coat one, this breed is relatively easy to groom. The long-haired variety needs to be brushed daily to help manage not only their longer hair but also to keep it clean.

The same is true for the smooth-haired variety, but you can probably get away with once a week brushing with this type. However, it is best to practice daily grooming since Russkies shed around spring and fall, and daily brushing will help them get used to the sensation and routine.

Once monthly bathing is recommended for both types of dogs. Brush their teeth daily if you can and trim their nails every three weeks or so.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

puppies of Russian Toy lying on white blanket

As stated earlier, this breed is very friendly towards children. They are very playful and will be content to spend the day romping around. They are also friendly towards other dogs and household pets. You will have very little problems with your RTT when integrating them with other pets in the household.

But since they were originally bred to be watchdogs, Russkies can be protective towards their family. They will not hesitate to jump or protect you against other perceived threats. This means that they need to be trained to recognized real threats especially in your household.

Wrap Up

long haired Russian Toy's head

The Russian Toy Dog is a big dog in a tiny body. Their bravery, happiness, and zest for life can be very contagious. They will certainly bring happiness to the lives of people who want them in their household. They are a good choice for families, active individuals, and even seniors who are looking for companionship and activity.

Russkies are ideal pets for people who live in apartments, condos, or small houses in the city, provided that they are exercised regularly. Since they are small dogs, not many people understand their instinct to walk and run. Exercise your Russkiy regularly, and you will be rewarded with a content and devoted friend for life.

Do you think a Russian Toy Dog is a good choice for your lifestyle? Do you think you can keep up with the Russkie’s exercise needs? Tell us by leaving your comments below. If you need a name for your new friend, check out our article on 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.