Russian Dog Breeds

Russia is one of the leading countries in pet ownership, with an estimated 12 million pet dogs in the country. The Russian Federal Agency for Health and Consumer Rights reports that there are more than 2,000 dog breeds recognized by the Russian Kennel Club.

Dog ownership in Russia has been growing in recent years, driven by a number of factors, including a growing middle class with more disposable income, changes in housing availability, and increased awareness of the benefits of pet ownership.

You may not have realized that some breeds, such as the Siberian Husky, Borzoi, and Samoyed, are considered exotic Russian dogs. Here are 23 more that you probably haven’t heard about.

26. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

This is also referred to as the Russian Bear Dog. One glance at this furry grandeur of 26 to 30 inches tall and you will see exactly where the name comes from.

These Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are every bit as fierce as they look and are popularly used as guard dogs in domestic settings as well as in prisons. They are also popular livestock defense dogs used in rural areas to protect farm animals from things like jackals and bears.

25. Black Russian Terrier

Image from Instagram:@allevamentoargantis

The Black Russian Terrier is not a true purebred dog and instead consists of about 17 different breeds used to create its unique aesthetic and temperament.

These dogs were initially bred for use in the Russian military and were favored for traits like their confidence, intelligence, and overall alertness.

Today, they are often kept as companion pets although they need a lot of socializing to get along with strangers as well as other pets.

24. Russkiy Toy

Image from Instagram:@zina_russiantoy

At first glance, the Russkiy Toy looks like what you would get if you combined a chihuahua and a papillon. They have the former’s apple-shaped head and large, circle eyes and the latter’s fringed ears.

These dogs need a lot of training in order to coexist peacefully as they can be very vocal and very stubborn. But once you crack through that annoying and honestly exhausting exterior, they are fantastic dogs to have around.

23. South Russian Ovcharka

Image from Instagram:@viimalife

This is yet another breed on our list that is often compared to another animal entirely. In this case, South Russian Ovcharka is sometimes referred to as the South Russian sheepdog. This is largely due to the often white, thick, wiry coat that makes it look like an actual sheep.

Despite their large and often foreboding appearance, these dogs are actually known for being very nervous. Therefore, they need to be socialized early to avoid incidences later on.

22. Central Asian Shepherd Dog

Image from

Also known as the Alabai, this breed is one of the most popular not only in Russia but also in surrounding countries including Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

These gentle giants have large, stocky bodies and broadheads. They also love the outdoors and are happiest in homes where they have free access in and out.

In terms of temperament, they are fairly even-tempered dogs that are very curious and independent and require a lot of mental stimulation.

21. East Siberian Laika

Image from Instagram:@nitrospack

The East Siberian Laika is a hunting dog that has been known to take on all sorts of opponents from squirrels to bears. Despite being so fierce and brave, humans have very little to fear from these friendly pooches which makes them worth considering as companion pets.

They are aesthetically unique when compared to other exotic Russian breeds on this list with their spitz-like aesthetic from the triangular face and perky ears to the coat appearance.

20. West Siberian Laika

Image from Pet Creations

One of the biggest differences between East and West Siberian Laikas is the fact that the latter are more prone to aggressive outbursts, especially towards strangers, they are innately untrusting of unfamiliar individuals and will require early socialization to train this personality trait.

Physically, the West Siberian Laika is very much like the Eastern alternative in terms of its spitz-like appearance. However, this variation tends to be larger with broader facial features.

19. East European Shepherd

Image from Instagram:@schaeferhundpfoten

The East European Shepherd is a breed variation of the popular German shepherd, the very same breed the 46th POTUS has. It can be traced back to the early 20th century when the dogs were specially bred to adapt to the colder weather in Russia.

Like their western alternatives in native Germany, this shepherd dog breed is known for its intelligence, confidence, and responsiveness. All these are features that have made it wildly popular as guard dogs, police dogs, and for use in the military.

18. Bolonka

Image from Holista Pet

The word ‘Bolonka’ loosely translates to “lapdog” in several Slavic languages, and this is truly the best way to describe this toy breed. The bichon-type dog has been kept as a companion pet among both nobility and civilians in Russian history for centuries.

What makes this breed so popular is its endearing personality. Bolonkas are incredibly social and are social with everyone, including complete strangers. They get along especially well with children.

17. Franzuskaya Bolonka

Image from Instagram:@riotkind

This is a pure white variation of the Russian Bolonka. It is known for its white, medium to long, wavy coat comparable to other white versions of popular lapdogs like the Yorkie terrier.

Despite being so popular in Russia, this breed is originally from France, where it was kept almost exclusively as a companion dog.

Like the standard Russian Bolonka, this snow-white variation is popular for its friendly personality and affectionate predisposition. It is, therefore, a fantastic family pet.

16. Sulimov Dog

Image from Reddit:@AlpineCorbett

This is a unique dog not only on our list but among exotic breeds in general with its jackal bloodline, whereas most other dogs were bred from wolves. This gives the Sulimov Dog a special set of skills, including their excellent sense of smell.

For this, they are ideal hunting partners, especially where tracking is needed. They are also popularly used in law enforcement, including baggage inspection at ports and bomb detection in the police force.

15. Moscow Water Dog

Image from Reddit:@Grantbob

This exotic Russian dog breed is unfortunately extinct, which is a shame considering how cool they seem based on their physical and personality traits.

The Moscow Water Dog could grow up to 150 pounds with its thick, fluffy fur, further contributing to the giant dog aesthetic and its defense against the harsh winters of Russia. Personality-wise, they were known for being gentle and protective while being very fearless and dominant.

Fortunately, a lot of these traits have been passed down to other mixed breeds, including the Black Russian Terrier.

14. Russo European Laika

Image from Instagram:@rel_lubimova74

The Russo European Laika has a strong hunting past and was used to track and alert hunters. They also make for excellent companion pets. This is due to their friendly nature and their tendency to show affection, especially to close family members.

However, they tend to be very vocal and require early obedience training to get this under control. They also need a lot of outdoor time and will become difficult to handle, especially when not adequately physically stimulated.

13. Moscow Watchdog

Image from Instagram:@_vieeerocka_

This lovable Moscow Watchdog can be traced back to large breeds in the regions and elsewhere, including St. Bernard and the Caucasian Shepherd Dog.

Like most other large breeds on this list, this red and white pooch is not as scary as it looks. In fact, it is one of the friendliest and most even-tempered breeds on our list. They are also very protective of their human friends.

However, they can be a little stubborn and will need a lot of patience, especially when training.

12. Yakutian Laika

This is one of the oldest exotic Russian dog breeds and can be traced back to its use as a companion, guard, and general work dog among native settlers in northeastern European regions.

They originate from the Yakutia Republic (also known as the Sakha Republic), whose capital Yakutsk is officially the world’s coldest city, averaging around -8.8 °C (16.2 °F) and a minimum of -64.4 °C (-83.9 °F).

Today Yakutian Laikas are known for their unique aesthetic features with single, bicolor, or tricolor combinations featuring white as well as light-colored eyes being the most popular.

These dogs are known for being reserved at first with strangers but very quickly warm up.

11. Russian Spaniel

Image from Instagram:@icy_09.11.19

This may be a Russian breed but it is not as exotic as other options we have already mentioned. It is a crossbreed between western Spaniel options, including the English Cocker Spaniel and English Springer Spaniel.

These Russian Spaniels are super energetic and friendly and need a lot of outdoor time for both physical and mental stimulation. They also need early socialization unless you want to tap into their watchdog capabilities.

10. Sakhalin Husky

Image from Instagram:@live.pawesome

Technically speaking, the Sakhalin Husky is a Japanese exotic breed. However, with all the years of history in Russia, it has been adopted as a major national dog breed.

Unfortunately, this acceptance may not be long-lived as these dogs are critically endangered with less than 10 in existence around the world.

The rugged pups were popular for their resilience and diligence which made them fantastic sled dogs for long expeditions, especially in snowy areas.

9. Hortaya Borzaya

This is a far cry from the stocky and fluffy aesthetic that most exotic Russian breeds are known for. The Hortaya Borzaya has a lean frame with very long limbs and a disproportionately small and elongated head. They also tend to have very short fur.

These dogs are very athletic and love to spend time outdoors. While their calm and friendly temperament makes them awesome companion pets, they should not be left cooped up indoors for too long.

8. Taigan

Image from Zee Dog

Aesthetically, this breed forms the middle ground between slight hounds like the Hortaya and the fluffier aesthetic of snow-friendly dogs. They have the same lean and long frame as the hounds but often have thicker and fluffier coats.

This makes them very popular in colder parts of the country.

The Taigan is known for its athletic prowess and extra-sharp senses and has secured a reputation as one of the best hunting dogs in the country with these traits.

7. Russian Tracker

Image from Instagram:@lighterdogs

The Russian Tracker or retriever was one of the oldest dog breeds native to the region. Unfortunately, it went extinct over a century ago, but its great legacy as a fantastic hunting aid lives on.

For the most part, these dogs resemble modern-day western retrievers, including Golden Retrievers and Labradors. However, the Russian variety is larger in comparison and could grow up to 28 inches in height and 90 pounds in weight.

6. Karelo-Finnish Laika

The Karelo-Finnish Laika is known for its very fox-like aesthetic. This includes the triangular skull shape, tapered snout, and perky ears. They also often have a red coat very similar to that of their fox ancestors.

Today, this very rare breed is used in hunting as a tracker and chaser. As companion pets, they require a lot of exercise, especially outdoors to avoid tantrums due to physical and mental frustration.

5. Finnish Spitz

Image from Reddit:@CGCardboardSoldier

At first glance, this breed looks a lot like the previously mentioned Karelo-Finnish Laika. However, there are several subtle differences.

The first is the build, in which the Finnish Spitz has a more square build with a broader chest. The coat is also thicker with this breed which contributes to the stronger spitz aesthetic in the Finnish Spitz than the Karelo-Finnish Laika.

However, just like the Laika, this spitz variation is known for its high-energy personality and thrives on outdoor fun.

4. Anglo-Russian Hound (Russian Harlequin Hound)

Image from Instagram:@timonthehound

This is a mixed breed dog obtained from combining a Russian Hound and an English Foxhound. It is one of the rarest breeds still in existence on this list and with almost all Anglo-Russian Hounds in the world being found in Russia.

They are known for their piebald markings that usually feature a combination of white and brown fur or a third color like black or tan in tricolor variations.

3. Siberian Husky

Image from 1-800-PetMeds

This is probably one of the most recognizable exotic Russian breeds around the world. These dogs have become incredibly popular in the last few decades with their wolf-like aesthetic and high intelligence that makes it very easy to teach them a lot of cool tricks.

However, Siberian Huskies are also very stubborn and have been known to have aggressive outbursts. They are therefore best left to seasoned dog owners and require a lot of patience and training.

2. Borzoi

Image from Pet Plate

The Borzoi may not be as well known around the world as the Husky but it is one of the most popular Russian dog breeds in the country itself. This sighthound breed is known for its unique aesthetic with the long limbs and torso and narrow, long head.

Like any other hound we have mentioned on this list, the Borzoi is very athletic and requires a lot of exercise. Otherwise, it is a calm, affectionate, and intelligent breed that is very easy to live with.

1. Samoyed

Image from WOpet

This is easily the most popular dog breed in Russia. With its fluffy white fur and endearing expression, it is really not so hard to see why.

Samoyeds are medium-sized spitz dogs known for their “cloud” aesthetic whether the fur is allowed to grow out or groomed to a teddy bear aesthetic.

The best part is that they have fantastic personalities to match their social and playful spirits. However, they can be stubborn so start obedience training early and keep them stimulated.

What Is The Most Popular Pet In Russia? 

Despite there being a huge number of dog owners, cats are statistically the most popular pet in Russia, and as of 2019, they account for about 40% of all pets in the country. Man’s best friend takes a close second in terms of popularity among Russians, whether purebred, intentionally mixed breeds, or random mutts.

What Breed Of Dog Does Putin Have? 

President Vladimir Putin of Russia is an avid supporter of dog welfare and has four pooches himself, including a Sarplaninac, Alabai, Akita, and a Karakachan, all of which were gifts from different heads of state around the world. He also had a labrador retriever which died in 2014 at the age of 15 years.

What Is The Most Dangerous Dog In The World? 

The Pitbull is considered the most dangerous dog in the world. It is statistically responsible for more dog attacks and dog-related deaths around the world. This is largely due to their powerful bite and ripping attack technique. They also tend to be innately aggressive and need both proper socialization and obedience training.

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Pete Decker