The Russkiy Toy is a tiny, distinctive-looking dog with a long history that stretches all the way back to Peter the Great. And yet despite its adorable looks and its aristocratic heritage, the breed is almost completely unknown outside its native Russia. Even in its homeland, it’s been pushed to the brink of extinction on two separate occasions. Find out more about this rare beauty with these ten things you didn’t know about the Russkiy Toy.
1. The breed has two coat types
The Russkiy Toy comes in two varieties: smooth coat and long coat. Originally, the breed went by two different names, depending on coat type. Those with smooth coats were called Russian Toy Terriers, and those with long coats went by Moscow Long-Haired Toy Terrier. In 1988, it was decided that regardless of coat type, the two varieties were essentially the same. The ‘terrier’ was dropped from the name and the breed became known as the Russkiy Toy.
2. They’ve been pushed to the brink of extinction
As Wikipedia outlines, the Russkiy Toy has come close to extinction on not one but two separate occasions. Its first brush with death came in the 1920s. With the rise of Communism in Russia, the breed’s association with the aristocracy was enough to make it a persona non grata. It just about managed to escape that time around, and by the 1980s, it was slowly beginning to stage a minor resurgence. But then the Iron Curtain fell, and suddenly Russia was flooded with legions of foreign breeds. Fortunately, enough people remained loyal to the Russkiy Toy to save it from being wiped out completely.
3. They’re one of the smallest breeds in the world
If small dogs are your thing, you’re going to love the Russkiy Toy. Measuring just 20 to 28 cm and weighing between 1 and 3 kg, this tiny little pooch is among the smallest breeds in the world. Other than its petiteness, the breed is noted for its small, distinctive head, its huge eyes, and its triangular ears. Depending on the variety, Russkiy Toys will either have a short, glossy, close-cut coat, or a long, silky mane with a straight or slightly wavy fringe around its ears, legs, and tail.
4. Their teeth can cause problems
Russkiy Toys, like many small breeds, can experience problems with their teeth. In most breeds, the puppy teeth will fall out easily and naturally before being replaced by permanent teeth. In Russkiy Toys, the puppy teeth tend to stick around long after the permanent teeth start growing in. As both sets of teeth will then occupy the same socket, dogs can become susceptible to tartar, decay, gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth loss, and misalignment. To prevent the problem from developing, the puppy teeth may need to be removed under anesthetic by a vet. Another common health problem to watch out for includes patellar luxation, an inherited defect in which the knee cap can move out of position when the knee bends.
5. They’re very vocal
The Russkiy Toy may be tiny, but it’s got a huge pair of lungs. As the breed was originally developed as a watch dog and anti-rat dog, they instinctively sound the alert at anything that catches their attention. While this can make them a great deterrent to intruders, it doesn’t necessarily spell good things for your relationship with neighbors. Other than being loud, Russkiy Toys are playful, affectionate, and incredibly loyal to their owners. Although they’re naturally wary around strangers, training and early socialization can help curb the worst of their shyness.
6. They’re easy to train
As Dogzone.com notes, the Russkiy Toy is extremely intelligent and very quick to learn commands. Unlike with other small breeds, housetraining shouldn’t present a problem. Teaching them basic obedience should also be a breeze. As with all breeds, the more consistent you are with training, the better the results. As Russkiy Toys can be wary around strangers, it’s important to factor in plenty of socialization, especially when they’re puppies. This will teach them to deal with a wide variety of situations, people, animals, and places without trepidation.
7. They don’t need masses of exercise
Although the Russkiy Toy is a lively, active breed that loves to play, they don’t need a huge amount of structured exercise. Because of how small they are, most of their activity needs can be met by running around the house. That said, they’ll still need a few short walks a day to keep them in peak condition. As they’re super smart and easily bored, be sure to give them plenty of games that will stimulate their minds as much as their bodies.
8. Their maintenance needs can vary
As petkee.com noteshttp://petkeen.com/russkiy-toy, the maintenance needs of the Russkiy Toy vary depending on whether they’re of the long coat variety or the short coat variety. Those with short coats need minimal grooming: their coats are easy to look after and will only need to be brushed 2 or 3 times a weak to stay smooth and tidy. Russkiy Toys with long coats tend to experience matting and tangling if they aren’t groomed regularly. To keep their coat neat and trouble-free, aim to brush them daily. Frequent bathing isn’t recommended as it can strip their skin and coats of the natural oils that keep them healthy. Only bathe them if they become smelly, and when you do, use a very gentle shampoo made specifically for dogs. Nails should be trimmed when they begin to make a clicking sound against tiled surfaces. Ears should be wiped gently once a week to prevent wax build-up and infections. Like all small breeds, dental health should be considered a priority – aim to brush their teeth at least 2-3 times a week.
9. They aren’t well known outside of Russia
Outside of its native Russia, the Russkiy Toy is barely known. Although it’s been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 2008, the breed’s numbers in the US barely register.
10. They’re great with kids
The Russkiy Toy is a friendly, affectionate breed that gets on well with children, particularly if they’ve been raised alongside them. While Russkiy Toys rarely present any kind of danger to kids, kids can sometimes pose a danger to them. Due to its small size and delicate nature, the breed injures easily. Even if your kids mean to be gentle, even the smallest amount of over-enthusiastic handling can spell misery for a Russkiy Toy. To avoid any problems, teach your children how to handle the dog carefully, and always be on hand to supervise any interactions.