HOME ASIA Russia

23 Russian Dog Breeds

There is an interesting and diverse ground of Russian dog breeds coming from this country that is the biggest in the whole world.

Terrain can be rough and weather harsh in Russia so many of these dogs are sturdy and strong.

1. Anglo-Russian Hound

23 Russian Dog Breeds 1

The Anglo-Russian Hound, officially known as the Russian Harlequin Hound is a rare breed of dog that is usually only seen in Russia.

A mix of Russian hounds and the English Foxhound, this scent hound is known for its skill tracking game including fox and wolves.

This pack dog is friendly, full of energy and loves being outside. It is strong-minded so needs a firm trainer to be in control.

Did You Know?

  • This dog howls and isn’t suited for apartment living.
  • The Anglo-Russian Hound likes being around people and other dogs.
  • The dog is mostly white so the huntsmen could tell them apart from the quarry they were hunting.

2. Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terrier in the forest

The Black Russian Terrier, or almost commonly called the Chornyi Terrier, is a breed of dog created in Russia during the late 1940s and the early 1950s for use as military and working dogs.

This strong, lively and energetic dog can is a big dog that can weight up to 60 kg at full size.

It’s strength and stamina will put to great use in Siberia where the weather is extremely cold and harsh. It has a double coat and can be vicious if threatened or attacked.

Did You Know?

  • The Black Russian Terrier doesn’t bark.
  • It has a nickname of The Black Pearl of Russia.
  • This dog needs to be kept busy with tasks or a job to be happy and content.

3. Bolonka

Bolonka puppy on white background

The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka, also simply called the Bolonka, is a rare toy breed of the Bichon type, developed in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, from the ancestors of smaller dogs including the Bichon Frise, Toy Poodle, Shih Tzu, Pekingese and French Bolognese.

A playful, curious and charming dog, the Bolonka is a small dog bred to be a loving pet. It has a friendly and comical nature and bright spirit.

Did You Know?

  • The Bolonka was almost extinct until after the Cold War.
  • Russkaya Tsvetnaya Bolonka translates to “Russian Colored Lapdog.”
  • Some are excellent mimics.

4. Borzoi

Borzoi in the forest

The Borzoi, also called the Russian wolfhound, is a breed of domestic dog. They descended from the sighthound working dogs of people who migrated from Central Asian countries to Russia prior to the 17th century.

They were used as a coursing and hunting dog and hunted in teams of 3 seeking out rabbit, fox and wolves. At one time they were a popular companion for members of royal families in Europe.

They are beautiful to look at and similar in appearance to greyhounds. This dog has a calm and agreeable temperament.

Did You Know?

  • In full stride it can reach speeds of 36 miles per hour – one of the fastest in the world.
  • They shouldn’t be exercised to soon before or after feeding or can suffer from bloat.
  • Borzoi means swift in Russian which relates to how fast it can run.

5. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd Dog standing on the lawn

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a big, strong dog that will protect it’s owner, family and territory with all its might.

They were bred to watch flocks and protect the home against wild animals in the Caucasus Mountain area.

They are also known as Caucasian Mountain Dogs, Russian Bear Dogs, and Caucasian Ovcharka Dogs. They are the oldest group of dogs known with a history dating back 500 years.

Did You Know?

  • The Caucasian Shepherd dog will fight for his territory even against a bear or wolf.
  • They are difficult to train.
  • Females only give birth once a year.

6. Central Asian Shepherd Dog

Central Asian Shepherd Dog

The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is an ancient livestock guardian dog breed. Traditionally, the large dog was used for protecting sheep and goat herds and for guard duty. It is confident and intelligent and makes a fearless guard dog.

Did You Know?

  • The Central Asian Shepherd Dog has a long life span and can live to 17 years or more.
  • Nomadic tribes use this dog these days to protect their family and livelihood.
  • Evidence supporting their long history is proven on old artifacts.

7. East Siberian Laika

East Siberian Laika

The East Siberian Laika is a hunting dog originating in parts of Siberia east of the Yenisei River.

The East Siberian Laika, a spitz-type of dog, is believed to have been developed many years ago with influence from Chinese and Japanese dogs that arrived to the area by immigrants.

This skilled hunter is calm, territorial, fearless and intelligent. It also can be stubborn and independent.

Did You Know?

  • The East Siberian Laika has many of the traits inherited from it’s wild ancestor the wolf.
  • There are four different types of Russian Laikas – the Karelo-Finnish Laika, the Russo-European Laika, the West Siberian Laika and the East Siberian Laika.
  • Litter size is quite large at 6 – 12 puppies.

8. East-European Shepherd

East-European Shepherd on the lawn near the house

The East European Shepherd, also called Vostochno Evropeiskaya Ovcharka, is a Russian breed of shepherd dog.

It was selectively bred from the German Shepherd Dog to create a larger dog guard. The Russian Army and police wanted a guard dog and sniffer dog that could cope with the harsh climatic conditions.

Did You Know?

  • The East-European Shepherd is a rare breed outside of its native Russia.
  • The breed’s strong prey drive means they are prone to chasing other animals, so is best kept as a lone pet.
  • East-European Shepherd is not good for a pet.

9. Hortaya Borzaya

Hortaya Borzaya running in the field

The Hortaya borzaya is an old Asian sighthound breed originating in the former Kievan Rus, later Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russian Empire.

It is a large, lean dog but also robustly built with considerably elongated proportions. It’s nature is calm and even-tempered.

All breed standards for Hortaya are performance based, not appearance based, but because certain characteristics make for skilled hunting dogs, most Hortaya are very similar in shape and build.

The legs are long, the spine flexible, and the chest disproportionately deep in comparison to the waist, to accommodate large, powerful lungs. They normally have small ears and a long, narrow skull.

Did You Know?

  • It has great eyesight and can spot moving objects from far away.
  • The breed has five distinct types, with at least as many subtypes to each main type.
  • It is usually heavier than it looks.

10. Laika (dog breed)

2 Laika dog breeds in the forest

Laika is a type of hunting dog of Northern Russia and Russian Siberia, and is a generic name for several breeds. Laika is the given name for the canine that was the first dog in space.

Did You Know?

  • Laika is the name of the canine that was the first dog in space.
  • Laika translates to “bark” in Russian.

11. Moscow Watchdog

Moscow Watchdog standing on the footpath

The Moscow Watchdog is a breed of dog that was bred in the Soviet Union. It descends from crosses between the St Bernard and Caucasian Shepherd breed.

It contains the physical size, attractiveness and intelligence of a St Bernard and the awareness and assertive traits of a Caucasian Ovtcharka.

Did You Know?

  • The Moscow Watchdog is red and white.
  • It’s well-known in Russia but not known much in other countries.
  • This is not an affectionate dog but is calm and patient.

12. Moscow Water Dog

Moscow Water Dog walking looking at his right side

The Moscow Water Dog, also known as the Moscow Diver, Moscow Retriever or Moskovsky Vodolaz, is a little-known dog breed derived from the Newfoundland, Caucasian Shepherd Dog and East European Shepherd.

It is now extinct, but was used in the development of the Black Russian Terrier.

The breed was commissioned by the Russian government and developed by the Russian Navy trying to make the ultimate rescue dog.

By combining the Newfoundland, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog and the East European Shepherd, the Russian Navy succeeded in creating a large breed with a heavy double coat that could withstand rough weather and cold water.

Sadly, the dog also had an aggressive nature and was more inclined to bite drowning victims than to rescue them. So the Russian Navy cancelled the breeding program.

Did You Know?

  • There were never many bred.
  • It was last seen around the 1980s.
  • The average lifespan for the Moscow Water Dog was probably between 8 and 12 years.

13. Russian Spaniel

Russian Spaniel on a green grass

The Russian Spaniel is a type of spaniel first standardised in 1951 in the Soviet Union after World War II by cross breeding English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels and other spaniel breeds.

Physically it is similar to a Cocker Spaniel, but has a shorter, tighter coat and a longer body.

It is a strong hunter and capable of seeking out the bird, bringing it up into the air and after the shot and on command to retrieve the game. They can also hunt rabbits and other small game.

Did You Know?

  • This dog is small but very strong.
  • They make great pets as well as hunters.
  • The Russian Spaniel needs lots of exercise

14. Russian Tracker

Russian tarcker old photo

Russian Tracker dog in 1915

The Russian Tracker or Russian Retriever is an extinct breed of domestic dog. It is uncertain exactly when the breed became extinct. It could still be found in the late 1800s.

The Tracker was of Asiatic Russian origin. The large dog was used for hundreds of years to protect and herd the flocks of the Indo-Aryan people in the harsh area of the Caucasus Mountains.

Did You Know?

  • Legend says it could stay alive with a flock without human contact for many months.
  • It could defend flocks of sheep from wolves and other predators very well.
  • It’s closest surviving descendent is the Golden Retriever.

15. Russkiy Toy

Russkiy Toy inside the house

The Russian Toy is a tiny breed of dog originally bred in Russia from the English Toy Terrier.

There are two types of coats in the breed: smooth and long. The smooth-coated kind was previously known as the Russian Toy Terrier and long-coated as the Moscow Long Haired Toy Terrier.

Did You Know?

  • This elegant dog love to snuggle and please their owner.
  • They can be standoffish to strangers.
  • The Russian Toy dog has a lineage that dates back to Russian aristocracy.

16. Russo-European Laika

Russo-European Laika standing on the footpath

The medium-sized Russo-European Laika is the name of a breed of hunting dog that originated in northern Europe and Russia.

The Russo-European Laika dates back to a breeding program which was started in 1944. This devoted dog is an impressive hunter and guard dog as well as pet for many people.

Did You Know?

  • It is often mistaken for a Karelian Bear Dog as they look so similar.
  • It is very willing to learn and flexible to train.
  • As dogs go this breed is very healthy and not prone to disease.

17. Sakhalin Husky

jiro, the sakhalin husky

The Sakhalin Husky, also known by the name of the Karafuto Ken, is a breed of dog previously used as a sled dog, but now almost extinct.

As of 2015, there were only 7 of these huskies left on their native Sakhalin island. In 2011, there were only two surviving purebred members of the breed in Japan.

Did You Know?

  • They have large paws to help them run in the snow.
  • They are strong enough to pull 70 kg of weight through the snow.
  • Groups are working hard to prevent its extinction.

18. Samoyed

Samoyed standing at the park during autumn

The Samoyed comes from a line of large herding dogs with thick, white, double-layer coats. It takes its name from the Samoyedic people of Siberia. The nomadic reindeer herders bred the fluffy white dogs to help with herding.

The Samoyed is a friendly and loyal dog with a strong will and determination. It makes a wonderful family dog.

It has a very thick coat. Samoyed “wool” is in demand by weavers who make the wool into beautiful clothing. With this comes a lot of shedding, grooming and cleaning up of hair.

Did You Know?

  • The Samoyed is hypoallergenic.
  • In Siberia they would keep their owners warm by sleeping on top of them.
  • Sammy Smile is it’s nickname due to its upturned mouth resembling a smile.

19. Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky standing against a white background

The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized working dog breed.

The breed belongs to the Spitz genetic family. It is known by its bright blue eyes, thick double coat, erect triangular ears and distinctive markings.

Did You Know?

  • They like to escape home to explore and are experts at getting away.
  • They are hard to handle and need a strong master to be in control.
  • Siberian Huskies can be destructive if left alone.

20. South Russian Ovcharka

South Russian Ovcharka standing on the cemented floor

The South Russian Ovcharka, also known as a Ukrainian Shepherd Dog or South Russian Sheepdog, is from the Ukrainian steppes between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

This is an undemanding dog which can adapt to most weather conditions and has a woolly coat to help keep it warm.

They are strongly protective of their home and family, so are often used as guard dogs in the Ukraine and Russia. They need plenty of exercise, and if not used as working dogs, must have access to lots of fenced-in land on to  roam around.

Did You Know?

  • It is often confused with the bigger Caucasian Ovcharka, which is a totally different breed.
  • It’s history is unclear but the South Russian Ovcharka is likely closely related to the wolf and has certainly been crossed with a number of shepherding and sight hound dogs along the way.
  • They need a very experience trainer who can handle their strong-minded nature.

21. Sulimov Dog

Sulimov Dog close up on the house front entrance

The Sulimov dog, also known as the Shalaika, is a jackal-dog hybrid originating in Russia from an initial hybrid between two Lapponian Herders and two Turkmen golden jackals.

The breed was developed by Klim Sulimov for Aeroflot airline.The breed has mainly been used for airport security as sniffer dogs.

Their breeding program can be traced back to 1975. At the start of the breeding process, male jackal pups had to be fostered on a Lapponian Herder bitch to imprint the jackals on dogs.

Female jackals accepted male dogs more easily. The half-breed jackal-dogs were difficult to train and were bred back to Huskies to make quarter-bred hybrids (quadroons).

To improve trainability, other dogs were bred into the line: a reindeer herding hound, a fox terrier, and a Spitz.

These hybrids were small, agile and trainable and had strong noses. The jackal-dog hybrids were bred together for 7 generations to establish the breed.

The result was an easily trainable dog with a superior sense of smell, named Sulimov dogs after their creator.

Did You Know?

  • 25 Sulimov dogs are used by Aeroflot at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, for functions which include bomb-sniffing. They may one day be registered as a breed of working dog, but at present only about 40 Sulimov dogs exist, and all are the property of Aeroflot.
  • Sulimov said: “My dogs combine the qualities of Arctic reindeer herding dogs, which can work in temperatures as low as −70°C and jackals which enjoy the heat up to +40°C. They’re perfect for our country.”

22. West Siberian Laika

West Siberian Laika puppy resting on the green grass

The West Siberian Laika is a sturdy, big dog with a strong wolf-like appearance.  It wears a very dense and harsh coat.

The West Siberian Laika is similar to his cousin the East Siberian Laika but has a stronger prey drive and a slightly bigger body.

Along with the East Siberian Laika, the West Siberian Laika directly descends from the wolf. The West Siberian Laika has a strong sense of direction and can track game for long distances.

There are four Laika breeds:

  • Karelo-Finnish Laika,
  • Russo-European Laika,
  • East Siberian Laika,
  • and West Siberian Laika.

The Laika actually dates back to ancient times where it has been classified as an aboriginal primitive hunting dog.

It descends from the wolf and retains much of the wolf’s appearance and hunting instinct.

Did You Know?

  • It usually can make a good family companion as long as he has plenty of time to play and has a job to perform daily.
  • They have a strong distrust of strangers.
  • They need to be well socialized from puppies.

23. Yakutian Laika

Yakutian Laika puppy walking on the cemenred floor

The Yakutian Laika is a newly-developed dog breed with a long history originating in the Yakutia region of Russian Siberia.

Native Yakute people used them for hunting, reindeer herding, draft animals and pets.  By the 1900s numbers dwindled then in 1998 a group reclaimed the breed and then it was recognized by the Russian Kynological Federation. Now they can been seen around the world.

It is an affectionate and lovable dog that is very intelligent. It has a very sensitive nose and ears so makes a great watchdog but is a bit too friendly to be a good guard dog.

Did You Know?

  • Their pelts were used in religious ceremonies in the past.
  • They have piercing blue eyes.
  • It is usually shy around people it doesn’t know.

Final Thoughts

Russian dog breeds sure do have many interesting stories surrounding their breeding and work history.

Many are mainly seen in Russia so you might not see one in real life unless you visit Russia.

You’ll find more fascinating dog breeds in the links below:

About the author: Pablo Pascua created dogbreedsfaq.com because of his interest in all the different breeds, and his desire to learn more. His inspiration comes from the many dogs he has owned throughout his life.