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Russian Toy Temperament Guide: Training, Socializing, and Tips

by Kimberley Lehman

I’ve always been fascinated by the diverse temperaments of dog breeds, and the Russian Toy is no exception. With their elegant appearance and spirited personality, they’re like the hidden gems of the canine world.

Delving into the world of the Russian Toy, I’ve discovered that their temperament is as unique as their history. They’re not just lapdogs; they’re companions with a vibrant personality packed into a tiny, agile body. Let’s take a closer look at what makes these little dogs so special.

History and Origin of the Russian Toy

Growing fond of the Russian Toy isn’t hard once you jump into their rich history and charming origins. Let me take you on a journey to the past, where the elegance of miniature canines was born in the heart of Russia.

The Aristocratic Beginnings

Back in the 18th century, Russian aristocracy had a penchant for petite, elegant dogs that could sit pretty on their laps. This is where the Russian Toy, originally known as the Russian Terrier, began its journey. Surprisingly, they weren’t just ornaments of the elite. These dogs were also valued companions, often seen strutting along the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg beside their wealthy owners.

A Breed Almost Lost

Fast forward to the Russian Revolution, and the scene dramatically shifts for the worse for our tiny friends. The chaos and societal upheaval brought them to the brink of extinction. It wasn’t just the political turmoil; the introduction of foreign dog breeds also pushed the Russian Toy to the sidelines. But, thanks to the dedication of breed enthusiasts in the mid-20th century, they made a remarkable comeback. These enthusiasts meticulously bred the few remaining dogs, slowly but surely reviving the breed.

The Modern Era

The effort to bring back the Russian Toy wasn’t in vain. By the 1980s, they began to gain popularity, not just within Russia but around the world. The breed was officially recognized by major canine organizations, marking their transition from the laps of Russian nobility to the hearts of dog lovers globally.

  • Originated in 18th century Russia as companions to the aristocracy.
  • Faced near extinction after the Russian Revolution.
  • Revived in the mid-20th century by dedicated breeders.
  • Gained global recognition by the 1980s.

Physical Characteristics of the Russian Toy

When I first set eyes on a Russian Toy, I couldn’t help but be enchanted by its delicate elegance. These tiny companions aren’t just small; they’re incredibly dainty with a grace that belies their playful nature. Let’s jump into what makes these little guys stand out not just in size but in looks too.

Size and Weight

  • Height: Typically, they stand a mere 8-11 inches tall.
  • Weight: They’re lightweights, tipping the scales at just about 3-6 pounds.

Even though their petite stature, the Russian Toy packs a lot of personality into a tiny frame.

Coat and Colors

Russian Toys come in two distinct varieties: the smooth coat and the long coat. Both types have their own unique charm, with the long-coated ones flaunting a bit of a showy mane around their necks, ears, and tail, giving them a particularly aristocratic look.

  • Smooth Coat: Sleek and glossy
  • Long Coat: Flowy with feathering on ears and tail

As for colors, they come in a delightful palette that includes:

  • Black and tan
  • Brown and tan
  • Blue and tan
  • Red of various shades

It’s like they’ve stepped out of a doggie fashion show, with each coat color adding to their considerable allure.

Facial Features

I’ve got to say, one glance into their expressive eyes, and you’re hooked. Russian Toys have these large, dark, almond-shaped eyes that seem to sparkle with mischief and curiosity. Pair that with their high-set, flappy ears, which can either be pointed or slightly curved, and you’ve got a face that’s impossible to ignore.

Body Structure

Even though their fragile appearance, Russian Toys have a robust little body that’s surprisingly sturdy. They boast a slender neck, a level back, and a chest that’s deep enough to underline their elegance without detracting from their athleticism. Their legs are thin but well-muscled, supporting their brisk, buoyant walk that’s so full of confidence, you’d think they were the kings and queens of the dog park.

Temperament and Personality Traits

Diving into the unique personality of the Russian Toy, I’ve discovered they’re not just cute faces; there’s depth to these pint-sized pups. Known for their vibrant personality, they embody a blend of charisma and charm that’s hard to find in other breeds.

Main Traits:

  • Loyal: Russian Toys form deep connections with their families. They’re more than pets; they’re full-fledged family members who’ll stick by your side through thick and thin.
  • Energetic: Don’t let their size fool you. These dogs have energy to spare. They love to play and need daily activities to keep them happy and healthy.
  • Alert: Their keen senses make them excellent watchdogs. They’re always on guard, ready to alert you to anything amiss.
  • Adaptable: Whether you live in a spacious house or a cozy apartment, a Russian Toy will make themselves right at home. They’re pretty flexible when it comes to their living environment.
  • Intelligent: Training them is a breeze. They’re quick learners and eager to please, making obedience training both fun and rewarding.

In contrast to their positive attributes, Russian Toys have a few quirks. First and foremost, their loyalty can translate into a shadow-like presence. They really don’t like being alone and can develop separation anxiety if left to their own devices for too long. Socialization is key from an early age to help them become well-rounded dogs. They need to meet various people, pets, and experience different surroundings to build their confidence.

Their energy and intelligence mean they require mental stimulation to keep from getting bored. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and regular play sessions are essential. Without these, they might resort to mischief to entertain themselves.

Even though these considerations, their size and temperament make them excellent companions for a wide variety of people, including seniors and those in smaller living situations. They don’t require a backyard to burn off energy; a playful romp around the living room or a brisk walk will do.

  • Positives include loyalty, energy, alertness, adaptability, and intelligence.
  • Challenges involve their need for companionship, propensity for separation anxiety, and the requirement for mental and physical stimulation.

Training and Socialization Needs

Training and socializing a Russian Toy isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential. These vivacious little canines have brains that soak up new skills like sponges. They’re eager to please, making them fast learners but there’s a catch. Their intelligence means they can get bored with repetition. To keep their attention, I mix up their lessons with fun, engaging activities. This approach works wonders, keeping their little tails wagging and their brains buzzing with enthusiasm.

Let’s talk about what specific training and socialization they need:

  • Potty Training: Start as soon as they trot through your door. Since Russian Toys are small, they can be a bit more challenging to housebreak. Consistency and patience are your best friends here.
  • Obedience Training: Basic commands like sit, stay, and come are crucial. They not only promote good behavior but also strengthen our bond.
  • Socialization: Introducing them to new faces, places, and experiences early on is key. It helps them develop into well-rounded, confident dogs.

Even though their size, Russian Toys have a surprising amount of energy. Regular play sessions and walks are non-negotiable. They love to explore and can be quite adventurous. Their high energy levels mean they’re always up for a game or a training session.

It’s also worth noting that Russian Toys can be somewhat reserved around strangers. Early socialization can help manage this trait, ensuring they grow into sociable, friendly dogs. Introductions to new people and animals should be gradual and positive.

Finally, I’ve learned that Russian Toys thrive on positive reinforcement. Harsh methods just don’t work with them. Cheering, clapping, and of course, treats, go a long way in teaching them new tricks. Remember, patience and consistency are your best tools in shaping their behavior.

Training and socializing a Russian Toy requires a solid strategy, patience, and a handful of treats. Armed with the right approach, training becomes a rewarding journey that strengthens the bond between me and my petite companion. Together, we navigate the challenges and celebrate the triumphs, each step of the way further enriching our unique friendship.


I’ve found that understanding and nurturing the unique temperament of the Russian Toy not only brings out the best in these charming little dogs but also deepens the bond between us. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make every training session a joy rather than a chore. Remember, patience and consistency are key. With the right approach, you’ll have a loyal and loving companion who’s always ready for the next adventure. So, don’t shy away from the challenge. Embrace it and watch as your Russian Toy blossoms into the confident and joyful friend you know they can be.


Kimberley Lehman

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