Which animal comes to your mind when you hear of Russia? The bear, right? It is natural because Russia has the largest population of brown bears in the world, and the bear was chosen as an official mascot of the famous 1980 Moscow Olympics.

But what your mind might be missing is the dogs of this land. Besides bears, Russian dog breeds are also very popular owing to their intelligence, protective nature, loyalty, and obedience. Most of them, evolving for thousands of years, can withstand the freezing temperatures of their native land.

Continue reading to learn more about Russian dog breeds. Below, we have compiled a list of 15 amazing Russian dog breeds arranged according to their popularity.

Russian Dog Breeds

15. Russian Harlequin Hound

Canarian, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Russian Harlequin Hound Breed Overview

Size (inches): Up to 27

Weight (pounds): Up to 70

Colors: White with tricolor patches

Suitable For: Families with children and other dogs

Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

The Russian Harlequin Hound breed’s origin can be traced back to the 18th century. The breed came as a result of a cross between the Russian Hound and the English Foxhound. These rare Russian dogs have a great scent and were traditionally used for tracking red game – fox and wolves – in Russian forests.

In appearance, Russian Harlequin Hounds are very similar to other hunting canines. They have a short but dense coat which makes them well-equipped for hunting grounds in Russia. They are good for families with children. Furthermore, due to their pack tendencies, they get along with other dogs also very well.

14. Russian Watchdog

Russian dog breeds-Russian Watchdog
Moscow watch dog near his owner close up while walking in the park

Russian Watchdog Breed Overview

Size (inches): 25 to 27

Weight (pounds): 100 to 150

Colors: White and red

Suitable For: Families, households with other dogs

Lifespan: Nine to 11 years

The Russian Watchdog, also known as Moscow Watchdog, is a hybrid of the Caucasian Shepherd and the Saint Bernard breeds. Russian Watchdogs were bred in the Soviet Union during World War II. Due to their gentleness and guarding instincts, these dogs are among the top choices for families.

Russian Watchdog is a large dog breed, standing tall at around 25 to 27 inches, with their males being a bit larger than their female counterparts are. They have bulky heads and strong legs. Their coat is of medium length. Their distinctiveness is in their chest, which is well-arched and thus gives off an impression of confidence.

As indicated by their names, Russian Watchdogs are great watchdogging; they know how to differentiate between friendly strangers and potential threats. With a ferocious bite force of 259 psi, Moscow Watchdogs are one of the dog breeds with the strongest bites force. So no stranger would dare trespass, not after they hear them growl. That said, you must provide them with proper guard dog training to prevent any mishap.

These dogs are gentle giants: they are loving, caring, and very protective of their families. However, they need early socialization training and an assertive leader.

13. East Siberian Laika

Russian dog breeds-East Siberian Laika

The East Siberian Laika Breed Overview

Size (inches): 21.5 to 25

Weight (pounds): 40 to 50

Colors: Tan and white, black and white, black, and white

Suitable For: Experienced dog owners

Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Relative to wolves, the East Siberian Dog breed originated in the region east of the Yenisei River. They were originally bred for hunting, but they also specialize in herding and pulling sleds. Historians believe that they developed many centuries ago under the influence of the breeds from the Far East.

The appearance of the East Siberian Laikas is like a part husky and part wolves. These pooches have lighter, and longer legs than Huskies but have a thick coat and an alert expression. In the field, they are great hunters, but at home, they are very affectionate and loving. Moreover, they are very vigilant and have strong guarding instincts.

12. East European Shepherd

Russian dog breeds-East European Shepherd
The East European shepherd dog in red collar lying on the grass in the Park at sunset. careful look.the concept of Pets .

The East Siberian Laika Breed Overview

Size (inches): 24 to 30

Weight (pounds): 66 to 130

Colors: Black and tan, sable, and solid black

Suitable For: Families, children, and the elderly

Lifespan: 10 to 14 years

The East European Shepherd Dog breed was developed in the erstwhile Soviet Union during the first half of the last century to help police and for guarding purposes. They are like the Russian version of the German Shepherd dogs as they were modeled after them.

Due to their history, East European Shepherds resemble German Shepherd Dogs a lot in appearance. However, the former is larger and heavier built than the latter. They are versatile, hardy, and protective of their owners. Their dietary requirements are also quite similar to German Shepherds, so you can take a look at the best dog foods for German Shepherds to get an idea about what kind of you must be buying for your East European Shepherd.

11. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka

Russian dog breeds- Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka

Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka Breed Overview

Size (inches): Up to 11

Weight (pounds): Six to nine

Colors: Black, brown, cream, fawn, gray, red, silver, and wolf gray

Suitable For: Families with children, multi-pet households

Lifespan: 14 to 20 years

The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka is a short-member breed of the Bichon family and is among the small Russian dog breeds. The origin of these dogs can be traced back to the 18th century in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In the Russian language, Tsvetnaya Bolonka means “the colored lapdog.”

Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka dogs have a long wavy coat over a small toy-sized compact body. They are very affectionate with everyone, especially children. Even strangers are no strangers for them! Furthermore, they are not too vocal and adapt well to the apartment lifestyle.

Dog of the 21st Century!

Due to the increasing popularity of the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka breed, these pooches are also referred to as the dogs of the 21st century.

10. South Russian Shepherd

Russian dog breeds- South Russian Shepherd
user:Przykuta, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

South Russian Shepherd Breed Overview

Size (inches): 24 to 26

Weight (pounds): 100 to 110

Colors: Gray and white, white and yellow, gray, white, and dead grass

Suitable For: Families

Lifespan: Nine to 11 years

The South Russian Shepherd Dog, also known as South Russian Ovcharka, and Ukraine Shepherd Dog, is an agile medium-sized breed that is a descendent of wolves and is native to Russia. They are utilized for herding and guarding. However, they are more popular because of their undemanding nature.

South Russian Shepherd Dogs are strong and sturdy with well-developed muscles. They have a dense and weather-proof coat that can reach up to 15 centimeters in thickness. Their fur is typically white.

These dogs are quite easygoing and protective of the people they are friendly with. Due to their protective and territorial instincts, they can be aggressive towards other dogs. However, good training can make them friendlier.

9. Central Asian Shepherd

Russian dog breeds-Central Asian Shepherd
Friendly Central Asian Shepherd dog playing with stick

Central Asian Shepherd Breed Overview

Size (inches): 25.5 to 27.5

Weight (pounds): 88 to 110

Colors: Black, brindle, fawn, gray, and white

Suitable For: Families with children and other pets

Lifespan: 11 to 15 years

The Central Asian Shepherd is a balanced, self-assured, and quiet dog breed. Dating back to over 5,000 years, it is among the oldest dog breeds in the world. Their occupation is herding and guarding.

Central Asian Shepherd Dogs are related to the Tibetan Mastiff breed very closely. They are quite strong and healthy. They bond well with their family and children, but still, socialization is important for them. Conversely, they are aloof with strangers.

Central Asian Shepherd Dogs Are Getting Larger!

Evidence suggests that Central Asian Shepherd Dogs are not done evolving. In fact, there are no maximum height and weight for these dogs as they are getting larger.

8. Karelian Bear Dog

Russian dog breeds- Karelian Bear Dog

Karelian Bear Dog Breed Overview

Size (inches): 19 to 23.5

Weight (pounds): 44 to 49

Colors: Black with white markings

Suitable For: Only for experienced owners

Lifespan: 11 to 13 years

The Karelian Bear Dog is an eager and independent hunting dog breed. More than two millennia-old, Karelian Bear Dogs originated in the northwestern European region of Karelia. They were also used in the development of other breeds such as the Siberian Husky and the Russian Spitz.

Karelian Bear Dogs are classified as Spitz dogs with erect ears, small eyes, a thick plushy coat, and a curled tail.

With innate alertness and loud barks, Karelian Bear Dogs excel in guarding. Moreover, they have a high exercise tolerance and perform best when outdoors. However, they are not suitable for families with children and multi-pet households due to their hunting instincts.

7. Yakutian Laika

Russian dog breeds-Yakutian Laika
Yakutian Laika in front of white background

Yakutian Laika Breed Overview

Size (inches): 21 to 23

Weight (pounds): 40 to 55

Colors: Solid white and in combination with black, brown, gray, red

Suitable For: Families and children

Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

The Yakutian Laika is an ancient breed bred by aboriginals in northeastern Russia thousands of years ago. Yakutian Laikas are good at herding and hunting. They are somewhat related to Huskies, and just like them, Yakutian Laikas also pull sleds. They have an excellent sense of smell, hearing, and vision.

Yakutian Laika dogs have a double coat that comes in many colors. They are very sociable and highly energetic dogs. However, owing to their prey drive, it is not suitable for them to interact with other pets without supervision.

6. Samoyed

Russian dog breeds- Samoyed
Cute samoyed dog outdoors on winter day

The Samoyed Breed Overview

Size (inches): 19 to 23.5

Weight (pounds): 35 to 65

Colors: White and biscuit, white, cream, and biscuit

Suitable For: Families with children, people with allergies

Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

The Samoyed is a sizeable yet very graceful dog breed. Although they seem to have the sole purpose of being show dogs, they were originally bred for excelling in various tasks, including hunting, herding, and pulling weight.

Also known as ‘Smiling Sammies,’ they have iconic smiles. They have a solid and warm double coat and shed very little, making them one of the hypoallergenic dog breeds that don’t shed. They make a perfect choice for outgoing dog lovers who want a big hypoallergenic dog.  

Samoyeds are quite personable and friendly. Besides, they are intelligent and independent. The only problem in their personality is their digging instinct.

There Is a Reason Behind the Famous Samoyed Smile!

Evolution is responsible for their smile. Samoyeds’ mouth does not let them drool out of the corner, which eventually averts saliva icicles from forming in freezing zones.  

5. Russian Toy Dog or Russkiy Toy

Russian dog breeds-Russian Toy Dog or Russkiy Toy

The Russian Toy Dog Breed Overview

Size (inches): Eight to 11

Weight (pounds): Up to 6.5

Colors: Red and brown, black and tan, blue and tan, brown and tan, red, red, and sable

Suitable For: Families with children, apartment dwellers

Lifespan: 12 to 13 years

Also known as Russkiy toy, Russian Toy dogs were bred for fun and companionship for the Russian elites. As a result of the 1917 Russian Revolution, these dogs had nearly gone extinct, but some concerted efforts brought them back.

Russian Toy dogs are among the smallest dog breeds in the world according to size. Having a small body, small head, long neck, big eyes, and large triangular ears, they are often mistaken for the Chihuahua breed.

Russian toy dogs are full of terrier personalities: they are very friendly, cheerful, bold, and loyal – but only with human beings and not with other pets. Moreover, these dogs are quite energetic as well.

4. Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound

Russian dog breeds-Borzoi or Russian Wolfhound
Russian Wolfhound Dog, Borzoi walk, Sighthound, Russkaya Psovaya Borzaya, Psovi. Hunter, Killer of wolves. One of the fastest hunting dogs in the world. Springtime, Outdoors

Borzoi Breed Overview

Size (inches): 28 and up in males, 26 and up in females

Weight (pounds): 75 to 105 in males, 60 to 85 in females

Colors: Variety of colors and color combinations, including black, brindle, cream, tan, etc.

Suitable For: Families and children

Lifespan: Nine to 14 years

Descendent of a collie-like Russian sheepdog and the Arabian Greyhound, the Borzoi is a hound dog breed that originated in Russia. These tall skinny dogs have been around for centuries and were famously bred for hunting wolves in Russia.

Borzois are large greyhounds cloaked in a long and silky coat. Taking after the greyhound family, typically, they have slender legs, a narrow body with a deep chest and tucked abdomen, a long tail, and – obviously – a long nose with a great sense of smell.

3. Black Russian Terrier or Chornyi Terrier

Russian dog breeds- Black Russian Terrier or Chornyi Terrier
Seongbin Im, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Black Russian Terrier Breed Overview

Size (inches): 27 to 30 in males, 26 to 29 in females

Weight (pounds): 80 to 130

Colors: Black and tan, salt and pepper, black, blue, and sable.

Suitable For: Second-time owners

Lifespan: 10 to 12

The Black Russian Terrier is a breed of large and immensely powerful working dogs. Black Russian Terriers were bred by the Red Star Kennel in the former USSR during the 1950s to restore protection dogs in the Soviet Army that were lost in World War II. The creation involved 17 different breeds.

Black Russian Terriers are majestic, large, and very powerful. Their hard and dense double curly-haired coat allows them to withstand the harshness of extreme cold weather.

They are confident and courageous. Due to their protective nature, they are naturally aloof to strangers. They are great at companionship, but they can become aggressive when provoked.

Black Russian Terriers Are Not Terriers!

Black Russian Terrier is partly a misnomer – they are black and from Russia but are not Terries. They actually belong to the working group. However, they have some terrier blood in them.

2 –Caucasian Shepherd or Caucasian Ovcharka

Russian dog breeds-Caucasian Shepherd or Caucasian Ovcharka

Caucasian Shepherd Breed Overview

Size (inches): 23 to 30

Weight (pounds): 99 to 170

Colors: Agouti and white, black and gray, cream, fawn, gray, grizzle, red, rust, sable, and white

Suitable For: Second-time owners

Lifespan: 10 to 12

Massive and reaching up to 30 inches in height, the Caucasian Shepherd is the biggest Russian dog breed. Used for guarding and herding, Caucasian Shepherds have been around for ages. They are the oldest mastiff-type canines and have their blood in many dog breeds present today.

Caucasian Shepherds are large and well-muscled dogs. Their eyes are set deep into their face and have relatively small ears that flop forward. Their bodies are entirely covered with a dense and luxurious double-coat.

Coming to Caucasian Shepherd personality, these dogs should never be taken lightly as they are bold and ferocious when they sense any threat. However, they are usually calm and even-tempered and form a close bond with their owners.

1. Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky-Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky Breed Overview

Size (inches): 20 to 23.5

Weight (pounds): 35 to 60

Colors: black, white, agouti and white, black and white, black tan and white, brown and white, gray and white, red and white, sable and white

Suitable For: Families, children, and other pets

Lifespan: 12 to 14

The Siberian Husky is unquestionably the most popular among Russian dog breeds. They were bred by the Chukchis in present-day Russia. Secluded from the rest of the world, these people impressively maintained the purity of the breed. By the early 20th century, these dogs started increasing in fame after the heroic 1925 Alaskan “serum runs,” which saved the city of Nome from a diphtheria epidemic. Today, Husky puppies are widely sought-after across the world.

Siberian Huskies have somewhat distinctive thick ears and a sickle-shaped tail. Not to mention their mesmerizing eyes – blue, brown, or particolored. They have thick furry coats over their compact bodies, which protects them from harsh winters on the one hand and harmful ultraviolet rays on the other.

Personality-wise, these pooches are very friendly and do not take time to befriend even strangers. In addition, as an endearing part of their persona, they try to communicate with people in unique howls.

Guardians of the Gates of Heaven!

The Chukchi people believe that two huskies, guarding the gates of heaven, do not let people pass if they have been cruel to dogs during their lifetime.

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