A country as big as Russia, with 11 different time zones, surely has numerous dog breeds that you can imagine. The country has somewhat of a harsh climate. Hence, you can trust just how rugged and resilient these breeds will be. Russian dog breeds are adapted to whatever you train them to be. From security dogs to those that cuddle all day in your sofa or ransack your laundry, Russia has them all. 

All Russian bred dogs are trained to work. Just as there are pure Russian bred dogs, there are also those that have mixed race with other country’s dogs. Forget your ‘military perspective’ of Russia as a country, they have an amazing set of dogs, which we will take closer look at in this article. 

There are several Russian dog breeds out there. Each breed comes with different personalities and are trained to do different things. Hence, you need to be sure of what you need the dog for before making a purchase. Some are not advisable for families new to dog ownership or with little children. You should do an ample research before settling for anyone of them. This guide will be your introduction into the world of the various Russian dog breeds. 

Russian dog breed Borzoi


The Borzoi dog was developed in Russia. Initially, it had the primary function of coursing and hunting for game. Their lifestyle is such that they like walking and working in teams. They mostly go in teams of three, frantically chasing down rabbits, foxes and wolves. However, soon enough, they became the companion of royal people across Europe. 

The Borzoi are purebred dogs, but you can find them in shelters, and rescue groups. They have evolved to be adapted as laid-back family dogs, and ready to move in with you irrespective of what your apartment looks like.  As you would have suspected from their team-like movement, these dogs want incessant companionship. This Russian dog breeds don’t fare well if you leave them for too long during the day. If you are looking at this breed, you must be there for them most of the time. 

Though they don’t mind a small environment, but they tend to do better in homes with larger spaces. These are the best dogs to get if you are a novice owner. Once you do the basic training, they won’t give you much problem. They are resilient to either cold or hot weather.

Temperament & Traits

These dogs are intelligent, but they are not the easiest to train. They don’t bark much, but when they lock their focus on a prey, it’s hard to get them to back off. They have a lower energy level when compared to others, and have little need for exercises. On an average, they weigh about 55 to 105 pounds, and can live for about 10 to 12 years. At the shoulder, they are about 26 to 32 inches tall. Thanks to the tall, lean, narrow and long body it possesses, this is one of the most elegant and well-refined Russian dog breeds you’ll find. They carry themselves proudly, which makes it no surprise that they were mainly companions of royals in court houses and palaces back in the day.

They possess a beautiful coat and shed a lot. You'll to do lots of maintenance to keep it clean and free from germs/dirt. While it may not always be interested in exercising to keep fit, it can hold its own in dog sports thanks to the athleticism. These sight hounds will help you chase anything that moves. 

Russian Dog Breeds Central Asian Shepherd

Central Asian Shepherd Dog

This dog breed is very sure of itself. It is balanced, quiet and very independent. The Central Asian Shepherd Dog has a mind of its own, and you’ll know it almost immediately. This breed of dogs reeks of courage and works at a high level. It can endure harsh conditions, and has a natural disposition to mark out territory. No matter how large its predator is, you’ll most likely not notice any ounce of fear in this dog. 

Owning this dog, you should be continually observant their behavior. If you are a first time owner of a dog, you may want to steer clear of this Russian dog breed. Their history can be traced to four thousand years ago, where they had been bred from natural selection. 

The best home for them is one with a large yard. This is the best dog if you exercise regularly outside your home. The Central Asian Shepherd dog loves to go on regular walks. They can be difficult to train. When indoors, they can be awfully quiet, but come to life once they step out. Don’t be fooled by their indoor gentleness and take them out without a leash. To be safe, as they are very intelligent and independent, they should always be walked on leash.

This Russian dog breed requires regular visits to the vet for checkups, as they are prone to genetic diseases. 

Temperament & Traits

What you feed them is unique. They are know to require different food according to the maturity of their digestive tract. The different phases of their lives require different types of meals. Size also matters in the determination of their meals.  You'll probably want to work closely with a vet to make sure they are getting the right food and nutrition. 

Their well-developed undercoat requires just minor grooming. However, when it’s time to shed their furs, it more like a storm. Little wonder it’s called the “fur storm.” They also require proper bath. Their nails also grow out very fast, so you should take time to trimming.  The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is known for the buildup of wax in their ears, so they should be clean regularly.  Keeping their teeth healthy with daily brushing is important too.

Russian dog breed Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terrier

This Russian dog breed is incredibly large and comes with immense power. They are also very courageous, confident in themselves. Intelligence is also one of their strong points. They are bred to guard and protect, and can be very harsh to strangers. They have an average weight of 140 pounds, and can stand as 30 inches tall at the shoulder. Their head is shaped like a brick, which makes them seem much taller. For a big guy, these dogs moves well. 

With high quality dog food, you don’t have to worry too much about their health.  They also do well with homemade food.  Just about any diet is good for them in moderation. Some dogs in this Russian dog breeds are prone to being overweight. Stay aware of their weight changes, making adjustments as needed.

Temperament & Traits

The Black Russian Terrier has two body coats. They have an undercoat that is actually soft.  The external coat is a coarse layer which offers protection. Their coat needs regular maintenance. With a good grooming routine you will prevent the formation of mats in their coat. Don't forget to brush their beards and mustache too, to keep it looking its best. 

This Russian dog breed needs to be engaged and kept active with about 30 to 40 minutes of exercise everyday. They are always eager to go on walks, runs, bike rides and even swimming, with their owners. They are also very good at playing catch with a discs or ball. Having a backyard as an owner of this breed is very important. Without much exercise, this dog breed has been know to get depressed and can take on destructive habits. 

The Black Russian Terrier needs good training, starting at a young age. To train them properly you may want to consider the aid of a professional.  Training needs to be firm and consistent for them, this will help to reduce their destructive tendencies. They are generally a healthy breed. Regular visits to the vet are recommended to head off any illnesses or allergies.

Russian dog breeds

Russian Toy

These Russian dog breeds are small and very lively. They are also amazingly elegant, and just like the name suggests, really like to play. Activity is a strong point for the Russian Toy, as well as high degree of intelligence. They are always looking to pleasing their owners and love to snuggle up. Sometimes, this breed can be harsh to strangers, so early socialization can be important.

This Russian dog breeds aren’t cowards, neither are they aggressive, but somewhere in between. The Russian Toy is known to love dashing around the house, after toys. They also like to simply lounge on your lap all day long. These dogs are big on human companionship, and once they start feeling neglected, they will let you know in their behavior. 

Temperament & Traits

Their coat changes after they are a year old to that of an adult. The coats get to the full fringing stage only after three years. The Russian Toy's coat can varied, between long hair and smooth variations. The smooth-coated dogs are very sleek to the touch. The smoothness of the long haired is more terrier-like, unlike other long coat dogs. In spite of the physical differences, the Russian Toy is ready for fun.  

High quality food is essential for them. This will keep them healthy, active and have a beautiful coat.  Regular vet visit will also keep any ailments or allergies in check.

South Russian Ovcharka dog breed

South Russian Ovcharka

This Russian dog breeds are more like art in motion. It comes with so many desirable traits, capped off by an astounding level of loyalty. These Russian dog breeds are also very active, don't let their cute outlook fool you. The Ovcharka are very friendly with children. They are independent, just like many of the Russian dog breeds. This breed can also get bored easily if there isn’t much activity engaging them. They should be socialized early, because without it, they can show much aggression towards strangers and other dogs. 

Temperament & Traits

The South Russian Ovcharka is a large dog with a fuzzy and shaggy appearance. They are very picturesque, sort of like painting straight out of a museum when captured by lenses. This breeds undercoat is furry, with a long topcoat. They feel more like a goat when you touch them. The predominant color they exhibit is white, but can also be found in grey or beige. This breeds coat does demand a lot of maintenance, to keep them looking their best. Shedding period normally falls during the springtime. 

They are loyal, easygoing, full or energy, and protective of their owners. Their confidence and fearlessness can make them intimidating and may get them in frequent trouble. As gentle as they may look, the Ovcharka can be aggressive with their food, toys and beds. Because of their volatile nature they need proper training starting at a very young age.

Final Take

Russian dog breeds do have something in common, if not properly trained, they can get very aggressive.  These breeds have bred to be active, working dogs. Just like any dog breed, you need get familiar with your dog breed and everything about them before making a purchase.  Hopefully this article gave you just enough information to put you in the right direction to make a good decision.

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Katherine is certified in Domestic Animal Sciences and Animal Grooming with primary focus on dogs. She has had her pet canine, Anastasia, for two years now, who is also her ESA service dog. Katherine has written multiple articles about pets and their grooming, and has knowledge on multiple specialty pet grooming products for dogs.