History of the Russian Toy

The first evidence of English style terriers in Russia can be seen in the Museum of Zoology in Saint Petersburg. On display is an English style terrier dated 1716–1726 with a sign that reads "This dog is a short hair terrier named Lizetta. It personally belonged to the Russian Emperor Peter the Great. Indeed, the breed was developed as a companion dog for Russian nobility.

According to some accounts, records indicate that eight smooth haired Russian Toys competed in a dog show in St. Petersburg as far back as 1874. The more generally accepted first reference to the breed appears in May 1907 when 11 Russian Toys were shown at an exhibition in St. Petersburg.

As a result of the October Revolution 1917, the Russian Toy diminished in popularity and in numbers as these types of dogs were closely linked to the aristocracy and therefore frowned upon. The lack of numbers and political isolation of the country at the time caused the creation of a new breed and a breed standard was drawn up which was quite distinct from the former English style toy dog as breeders sought to stabilise the remaining toy sized terriers into a standard breed. Since the mid 1950’s the resulting contemporary Russian Toy differed significantly from the classic toy terrier, from that moment on the development of the breed moved forward.  In 1958 the first recorded long haired Russian toy litter was born – a long haired male from this litter was in the course of time mated to a bitch which also had slightly longer hair – over years of selection and development the Russian Toy has its two varieties: Long haired and Smooth haired.

Chikki, the first Russkiy Toy

In 1960 the first printed breed standard was for the Smooth Haired variety; and by this standard at the All Russian exhibition 34 males and 43 females were examined. The first official standard for the Long Haired was written in 1966 and so the standard for both varieties were authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Nellie, Chikki's mate

In 1988, the Russian Kynological Federation published a new breed standard, at this time the Russian Toy was classified under Group 3 Terriers. Section 4. Miniature terriers. In 2003 the breed standard was revisited in conjunction with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale and the new standard was approved by the Breeding Commission of RKF. In 2006 the FCI approved the breed and published the breed standard under the classification of Group: No. 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs.  Section:  Continental Toy Spaniel and Russian Toy. 

The National Club of Breed “Russian Toy” (NKP), Moscow, Russia was formed in 1996 and works closely with the Russian Kynological Federation on all aspects of the breed including exhibitions, registrations and health and welfare.

The Russian Toy continues to grow in popularity in many countries around the world under the guidance of Breed Clubs and enthusiasts with a stable growth of litter registrations and exhibition entries. The first Russian Toys crossed the water into the UK in 2008 and have enjoyed a steady increase of popularity including the formation of a Breed Club and breed programme.