The Russian Toy is a relatively new breed to the United States although they
have been in Russia since the 1800's. There are approximately 700 of this rare
breed in the US.
Both the Long Coat and the Smooth Coat Russian Toys will be recognized by
AKC in January 2022.
Russian Toy Club of America (AKC)
Russkiy Toy Dog Club of America (UKC)
The history of the Russian Toy Terrier as with most terriers began with English stock. This history can be divided into two periods. The first was the introduction of the English Toy Terrier in the 18th century to the true Russification in Czarist Russia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The second period was the refinement and cultivation during the Soviet control of Russia.
How did early Black and Tan Terriers arrive in Russia? The first evidence of the presence of English terriers in Russia can be seen in an exhibit in Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg. Here on exhibit is a preserved specimen of a small black and tan terrier from 1716-1725. The specimen stands approximately 35 cm at the withers the inscription, “Dog of the sleek haired terrier breed named Lisetta, belonged personally to Peter the Great.”
The aristocracy of Russia was drawn to the English way of life at the time. They viewed the English lifestyle as progressive and prestigious. At the end of the 18th century popularity of English clubs grew which were centers of entertainment, political debate, and formal events. The practice of attending “English Tea” became quite popular in aristocratic houses. During this period, it became popular to import English Toy Terriers. Socialites adored the English Toy Terrier due to their small size and lively temperament. It became quite stylish to appear in public with a well-behaved small terrier at social events and the opera. The toy terrier became a kind of “living accessory” to those of the upper crust.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the numbers of English Toy Terriers had grown. The breed was no longer a rarity, but had become a symbol of prestige. However, the breed was no longer referred to as the English Toy Terrier. In Russia, it was simply referred to as the Russian Toy Terrier. During an exhibition in St. Petersburg in May of 1907 there we 46 Terriers presented of different breeds, 11 of which were Russian Toy Terriers.
Each of the breeds was described by name. For example, № 801 was labeled Dwarf Pinscher, № 808 named Mexican Toy (Chihuahua), and № 821 and № 822 were White English Terriers.
The communist revolution of 1917 nearly exterminated the Russian / Russkiy Toy Terrier. In the upheaval of the new government in Russia a dedicated group of breeders maintained small kennels of Russian Toy Terriers, with a small population still being exhibited prior to World War II. In December 1923 two Russian Toy Terriers and a single Manchester Terrier participated in a show in Moscow. After World War II the breed was virtually unheard of, with only a single Russian Toy Terrier being seen at a Leningrad exhibition in 1947.
Further militarization of Russian canine husbandry led to the breeding of dogs for military and defense applications. Breeding of dogs for companionship was brought to a halt and the fate of the Russian Toy Terrier was uncertain. The breed was forbidden in “official” breeding programs. Many dedicated breeders, who were passionate about the breed, continued breeding Russian Toy Terriers covertly to preserve the future of the breed. These committed breeders searched for any surviving specimen, many of which lacked pedigrees or perhaps crossed with other toy dogs of the region. Importation of stock of any kind was strictly forbidden and it was determined to continue with any dog available that looked like the dogs of old. Specimens were carefully selected to maintain the true character and appearance of the Russian Toy Terrier. Through careful selection breeders were able to solidify and maintain a toy dog of true Russian type.
A concentrated effort was made in several regions of the Soviet Union, including Moscow, Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, and Irkutsk to restore the Russian Toy Terrier to prominence. Whether a mutation or the introduction of other unknown small breeds into various lines, a unique puppy was born in 1958. Born to a pair of smooth coated parents the progenitor of the modern day long coat was born.
This specimen, named Chicky, had ear fringing and feathering on his tail and the backs of his legs. Through the effort of Yevgueniya Fominichna Zharova, the long coated Russian Toy Terrier was born in Moscow. Through careful breeding Ms. Zharova produced the first litter of three long coated Russian Toy Terriers. She was able to retain the look of the original Russian Toy Terrier with the silky feathering and fringing of the variety progenitor. In 1966 a separate standard was created for the long coat and the variety became known as the Moscow Long Haired Toy Terrier.
In the 1980s with the fall of the “Iron Curtain” the rest of Europe was exposed to the Russian Toy Terrier and Moscow Long Hair Toy Terrier for the first time.
However, with the fall of the “Iron Curtain” the two varieties faced near extinction yet again in their native homeland. It became popular to import rare and exotic breeds into Russia and the numbers of the native toy terriers suffered greatly. With the advent of a new breed standard with the Russian Kynological Federation in 1988, the future of the breed was secured. The new standard declared that the Moscow Long Haired Toy Terrier and the Russian Toy Terrier were in fact two varieties of a single breed. However, the long coated variety was by far the more popular of the two varieties.
While the breed has been exhibited in Russia and the former Soviet Union for decades the breed was only recently added to the FCI roster of acceptable breeds in 2006. With the Russian Toy Terrier’s addition to the FCI list of recognized breeds the “Terrier” was dropped from the breed’s name and is now called the Russian Toy with both long and smooth coat varieties. The number and quality of the Russian Toy has improved since the fall of the “Iron Curtain” and the globalization of dog breeding. With recent exportation several top winning Russian Toy kennels have been established in Finland, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Czech Republic. A great interest in the importation of Russian Toys by breeders in the USA and Japan is on the rise.