Sunday, January 29, 2012

Unusual Breed: Russkiy Toy

A long haired Russkiy toy. The breed is also known as the Russian toy and Russian toy terrier, among other things.
Smooth coated Russkiy toy
At first glance, this breed looks a bit like a cross between a Chihuahua and a papillon. However, the breed comes from Russia and in fact the ancestry is quite different. The history is a bit convoluted, but is is believe that the breed, at least in part, came from the English toy terrier. Mixing between the English toy terriers and local dogs were the origins of what would some day become the Russkiy toy. As you can imagine, with the English toy terrier being the breed's most notable ancestor, Russkiy toys were originally only smooth coated. The long haired variety is fairly recent, with the first long-coated dogs being born in the late 1950's.

Russkiy toys have nearly become extinct on two different occasions. This breed was once popular among the Russian aristocracy, being used for various reasons, including warmth and companionship. When communism began to rise, the breed's popularity plummeted along with the popularity of aristocrats. There was a resurgence of interest in the breed around the end of the world war, partly due to the isolation of Russia from the rest of the world. Then the Iron Curtain fell, popularity dropped off again partly due to the new importation of small foreign breeds. In more recent years, the breed's popularity has been growing again. It is now provisionally recognized by the FCI and the AKC has the breed in its Foundation Stock Service.

These small dogs are prone to virtually all of the issues common in toy breeds, with the most common being patellar luxation, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy. Also, since these dogs are so small, they are at an increased risk of breaking bones. This is especially true of legs when jumping and roughhousing.

Sources are the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, American Kennel Club, Russian Toy Club of America and Russkiy Toy Dog Club of America. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses: one, two.

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