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Russkiy Toy

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021
The Russkiy Toy is a Russian small toy sized breed, re-born in the 1950s to be companion dogs and are so called lap dogs. It is also called the Russian Toy Terrier, Russian Terrier, Moscow Toy Terrier, Moscovian Miniature Terrier and it has a life span of 12 to 14 years. It is an intelligent and playful dog and is thought to be one of the smallest breeds in the world. It can do well in agility trials and has two coat types the long and the smooth.
The Russkiy Toy at a Glance
Name Russkiy Toy
Other names Russian Toy Terrier, Russian Terrier, Moscow Toy Terrier, Moscovian Miniature Terrier, Русский той, Тойчик
Nicknames Russkiy, RT
Origin Russia
Average size Toy
Average weight 3 to 6 pounds
Average height 8 to 10 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Long or smooth
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black and tan, brown and tan, blue and tan, and solid red in various shades
Popularity Not recognized by the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Good to very good
Tolerance to cold Good to very good
Shedding Low to moderate – some hair around the home
Drooling Low – not prone
Obesity Low – not prone but can still make sure you avoid it by measuring food, tracking treats and exercising it
Grooming/brushing Average – brush twice a week
Barking Frequent – is a yappy dog, training it to stop on command is a good idea
Exercise needs Fairly active but easy to meet due to size
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Good to very good
Good first dog Good to very good
Good family pet Yes – requires training and socialization
Good with children Very good with training and socialization
Good with other dogs Good with training and socialization
Good with other pets Very good with training and socialization
Good with strangers Good but needs training and socialization wary at first
Good apartment dog Size means it is very good but the barking would be an issue without training
Handles alone time well Low – does not like to be alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but there are several issues it can be prone to including patellar luxation and other musculoskeletal issues, allergies and dental problems
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic medical needs and pet insurance or savings
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $460 a year for toys, license, grooming, basic training and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $970 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics Attack Doing Bodily Harm: 1 Maiming: 1 Child Victims: 0 Deaths: 0

The Russkiy Toy’s Beginnings

The Russkiy Toy may look like the Chihuahua from Mexico but it is a purely Russian breed. The first actual reference to the Russkiy Toy dates to 1874 when one appeared in a dog show in St.Petersburg, but in fact it was likely around much earlier than that. It may have been used back then as a vermin catcher and watchdog. English style terriers were highly loved companions of Russian nobility including Peter the Great. It was developed to be purely a companion and lap dog.

It continued to appear in dog shows into the early 20th century, in May 1907, then in 1923 and in 1924 but with the October Revolution its popularity and its numbers dropped dramatically when anything to do with Russian nobility was rejected and communism rose in Russia. By 1947 only one of this breed was shown in Saint Petersburg and there were few dogs left that were purebred.

New Lease on Life

In the 1950s attempts were made to revive the breed which led to the evolution of two types the smooth haired original and the long haired. The former was called the Russian Toy Terrier and the latter the Moscow Longhaired Toy. By the 1960s many more were appearing in exhibitions and dog shows and in 1966 the first standard was written and it was recognized in Russia and accepted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Up until the late 1980s though several small toy Russian breeds were called Russian Toy Terriers. When the FCI recognized the two coat types were brought together under the one name. In the late 1980s the breed again went through difficulty with the fall of the Iron Curtain which allowed other dogs to come in. But breeders worked again to revive interest in it and it became more known elsewhere in the world at the same time. In 2006 the terrier word was dropped from its name. It is not recognized by the AKC but is in their FSS. In 2008 it was accepted by the UKC.

Russkiy Toy

The Dog You See Today

The Russkiy Toy is a small toy sized dog weighing 3 to 6 pounds and standing 8 to 10 inches tall. It may be small but it has a powerful body, long legs and a long slim neck. The chest is somewhat deep and its tail is docked in countries that allow that but when natural is in a sickle curve and carried slightly over its back. There are two types, smooth coated and long. The short coat came first and is smooth, short and shiny and lies close to its body. The long coated has a longer coat and feathering on its tail, legs and ears. The fringe on its ears can be 3 to 5 cm long and can be a little wavy or straight.

If crossed the litter can have smooth and long coated puppies. Two smooth coats can also sometimes produce puppies that have a long coat. As of yet there is no record of two long coated dogs producing any smooth coated puppies. Common colors are black, tan, red, sable, brown, blue and a tiny amount of white. The Russkiy has a small head with a lean muzzle that comes to a point and a small nose that is black or a color that matches its coat. Its lips are dark, thin and tight and the eyelids are a matching color. Its eyes are large, round and set apart and its triangular ears are large, erect, set high on the head and thin.

The Inner Russkiy Toy


The RT is intelligent, loving, social and playful in nature. While it makes a great lap dog it is quite lively and energetic so needs play and activity in between relaxation time on your lap. With socialization and good breeding it should never be overly aggressive or too timid. It is loyal and affectionate with its family and loves to be with them, sometimes forming very close attachments. It does not like to be left alone. With strangers they need socialization as it may be wary at first, but with it and a good introduction it will make friends with them.

It wants to be a part of family activities and is a happy and cheerful dog. It is alert and will bark to let you know of any stranger or intruder but that bark is frequent and will need training to stop it on command. It will be dedicated to you and brings a lot of life to the home. These spirited dogs do need a firm and confident owner so that you avoid them developing small dog syndrome where it gets spoiled and becomes hard to live with.

Russkiy Toy

Living with a Russkiy Toy

What will training look like?

This is a smart dog and is easy to train when you stay firm and consistent with it. Use positive training methods by reinforcing its successes, reward it, praise it and encourage it. Treats are a great motivator and remember to include in its training a command to stop its barking. Remember to treat it like a dog not a pampered princess – or prince! Be patient and confident in your role as its boss. AS well as starting basic obedience training early you also need to start socialization early. Let it learn how to judge situations, people, places and animals and what an appropriate response is.

How active is the Russkiy Toy?

These dogs are active, they love to play, they are lively and energetic but being small these needs are easy to meet by any owner, even ones who are not that active. A couple of short walks a day along with play time with you, and then it will also have some fun running around and playing in the home. Make sure it has plenty of toys to alternate through too. It is good as an apartment dog with its size but the barking can be an issue with close neighbors without a command to control it. Avoid letting it become bored as then it can get hard to live with. It should also have chances for off leash time somewhere safe. It does well at agility events if you want to train it that way.

Caring for the Russkiy Toy

Grooming needs

The Russkiy Toy comes in two coats so each one will have its own needs and different amounts of time needed in its upkeep. Smooth coats tends to need less grooming, the coats are easy to brush and look after and should be brushed two to three times a week. The long coated dogs should be brushed daily as the feathering tangles easily and needs more care. Only give it a bath when it needs one and only use a shampoo made for dogs otherwise you could strip its coat of its natural oils. They do shed a low to moderate amount so there may be some hair in the home to deal with.

Give the RT’s nails a trim when needed be sure to take care not to cut too much off as there are live vessels and nerves and should you cut too low down it will hurt the dog and bleed. Give the ears a wipe clean with a damp cloth or dog ear cleanser and check once a week for infection. Signs of that would include your dog rubbing at them, a lot of wax, perhaps a bad smell and redness. Its teeth should also be kept clean by giving a good brush twice or even three times a week.

Feeding Time

The Russkiy will eat about ½ to 1 cup of a high quality dry dog food a day and this should be eaten in two meals. There are special foods for smaller dogs and avoid ones that are full of fillers. The dog’s size, health, level of activity and metabolism will decide how much food it will need. Make sure it has water and that it is changed fairly regularly.

How is the Russkiy Toy with other animals and children?

The RT does get along well with children with socialization and especially if raised with them. It is a very small dog though and that means being treated too roughly or mishandled can lead to serious injuries so it is best not in homes with young children, and if any come around it should be supervised with them. It gets along well with socialization with other pets but can be overly bold with other dogs even if its is considerably larger than it.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Russkiy Toy has a life span of 12 to 14 years and is fairly healthy but some issues can include patellar luxation, allergies, bone fractures and other musculoskeletal issues and dental problems.

Biting Statistics

The Russkiy Toy has been involved in 1 attack on people over the last three and a half decades in North America. That attack was classed as a maiming meaning that disfigurement, scarring or loss of limb occured. There have been no child victims and no deaths though. 1 attack in 35 years is quite a good result, it is not an aggressive breed. Of course no dog can be promised to be always 100% safe but things like proper care, good socialization and training, proper feeding, exercise and attention can help reduce the chances.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Russkiy Toy price for a pup from a decent breeder of pet quality standards is probably going to cost about $800. Top breeders are going to charge more than that though. If you can find one at a shelter there is the option of adoption for $50 to $400. The chances are though that it will be a mixed dog rather than a purebred and most often are older than the puppy stage. Please avoid backyard breeders, puppy mills or pet stores.

The next step once you found your dog is having it neutered or spayed, vaccinated, blood tests, a physical exam, dewormed and micro chipped for about $260. Then there are the usual items a dog will need like a crate, carrier, leash and collar, bowls, bedding and such for another estimated cost of $120.

After that there are just the usual costs a pet will cost you on an ongoing basis. Feeding a small dog is less expensive than a larger one that is for sure. A good quality dry dog food will cost somewhere around $75 a year and that should cover some dog treats too. $460 a year should cover the costs of miscellaneous costs like basic training, toys, grooming, license and random items that might be needed. Another $435 a year will then be needed for emergency medical savings or insurance and basic health needs like check ups, flea and tick prevention and vaccinations. This gives an annual starting figure of $970.


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The Russkiy Toy was once a pampered pet of Russian nobility and has had a couple of times over its existence where it nearly became extinct. Thankfully breeders have saved it each time and it is a popular lap dog companion in Russia today and is spreading its love to other countries too. It is a typical terrier type dog though being yappy, spirited, energetic, fiercely loyal and demanding. Make sure it gets that socialization, supervise with young children and take care where you step to avoid it getting hurt.

Featured Image Credit: dien, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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