How to Identify a Russian Toy Terrier

Written by john albers
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The Russian toy terrier is the smallest dog in the world and comes in two types: long haired and smooth haired. Prior to the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian toy terrier looked no different than the English toy terrier despite their separate bloodlines. It was one of the most popular decorative dogs in Russia. Between the 1920s and '50s the Russian populace lost interest in the breed thanks to long term pre and post war strife. The breed was reborn in the mid-'50s, having been bred from non pedigree specimens to a distinctly different appearance than its English counterpart. Though their numbers have since risen to prewar levels, this dog is still mostly found in Russia. As such most people would not recognise this breed is they saw it, so here’s how to identify a Russian toy terrier.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Begin by assessing the dog’s size, weight, and taking note of any bodily characteristics. The Russian toy is typically between 8 and 10 inches high at the shoulder and weighs a feather-light 1.36 to 2.72 Kilogram. Despite this you should not get the impression of frailty from this dog. It is built very lightly but has long sturdy limbs and good muscle tone. The body should resemble that of a Doberman in miniature.

  2. 2

    Look at the tail. The tail is most often docked short to within an inch or two long, which is held energetically upward. When left naturally the tail is roughly four inches in length, slightly curved, and held level with the ground.

  3. 3

    Examine the dog’s coat. The only difference between the longhair and smooth varieties of this breed is the ears. Both breeds will have short, smooth, glossy, skin tight fur across the entire body. But the longhair variety will have expansive plumes of fur which are said to resemble a butterfly’s wings extending from the ears. A smooth haired breed lacks this feature. The two most common colour combinations are black and tan, and red and sable (a silvery grey). This breed can also have solid black, tan, or blue grey colouring as well. All Russian toy terriers can also have spots of white on the chest and paws in addition to any fur colour.

  4. 4

    Finish by looking at the dog’s head. Its neck should be long, lean, and slightly curved. The skull is small compared to the body. Though narrow, it should be very tall. It should have a button nose and a very lean and pointed muzzle slightly shorter than the length of the skull. The eyes are round and set widely apart. The ears should be thin, tall, and always standing high on the skull. If the dog matches this description, then it’s a Russian toy terrier.

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