Russian Spaniels (Russkij Spaniel) sit somewhere between the Cocker and Springer Spaniels in size; at first glance, you can forgive yourself for thinking a Russian Spaniel was a Cocker. Russian Spaniels are a pretty new dog breed. Russian breeders developed the Spaniel less than a hundred years ago; the thinking behind the dog’s creation was to produce a gundog with longer legs and a softer personality. Russian Spaniels are a friendly breed with a happy personality and make an excellent family dog.
However, they are primarily hunting dogs and retain their prey drive. When working, the dog possesses impressive stamina levels and is highly capable of flushing and retrieving waterfowl, ducks, and rabbits. Russian Spaniels are not an easy breed to find if you want to adopt or purchase a puppy, but they are becoming more popular.
Everything You Need To Know About The Russian Spaniel:
1. Russian Spaniel History
Russian Spaniels are the latest in a line of Russian gun dogs, and they originated from the Cocker Spaniel. However, The breeders introduced the Springer Spaniel attempting to breed spaniels with longer legs and high stamina levels.
The first spaniel brought to Russia was a Cocker Spaniel given to Count Nikolai Nikolaevich. By the early 20th century, breeders imported more and more spaniels to Russia. Owners employed some as hunting dogs, but overall there was a lot of dissatisfaction with small short-legged dogs when hunting in Russian conditions. In an attempt to increase the height of spaniels, breeders began importing Springer Spaniels.
By the end of the 30s, there were several spaniels in Russia, none of which matched any spaniel breed standards. Spaniels were popular in Russia because of their small size and the ease with which the dogs could cope with small apartment living.
There was a growing call for creating a Russian Spaniel suitable for the rough terrain and harsh climate. However, the Second World War saw a setback in the plans to produce a home-grown spaniel. After the war, different spaniels came into Russia, and the work to create a Russian Spaniel began again. Even then, the mix of spaniels was mainly Cocker and Springer Spaniels. But using careful and selective breeding, the Russian Spaniel began to emerge, and by 1949 the Russian Spaniel no longer had the short, stocky look of pre-war spaniels.
In 1951 breeders created the first breed standard for the Russian Spaniel, and the breed met the prerequisites of a Russian hunting dog. From 1972 Russian Spaniels were no longer being allowed to breed with other spaniels. As a result of years of patient work and breeding, the Russian Spaniel is perfectly capable of hunting in marshland, fields, woodland, and waterfowl conditions in Russia. Russian Spaniels are now extremely popular in Russia and have been taken to the States by Russians moving there to live. However, the AKC does not recognize the breed as yet.
2. Russian Spaniel Characteristics
If not for the longer legs, shorter and smoother fur, and narrower ears, you could easily mistake the Russian for a Cocker Spaniel.
Typically they are muscular dogs, robustly built with a medium-sized head, a strong muzzle in proportion to the head, and pretty large oval eyes; they tend to have a short docked tail. They can reach a height of 18 inches and weigh up to 35 pounds. Russian Spaniels have a life expectancy of 14 years. Females are usually the same size as males.
Their coats are soft, sleek, and close to their bodies. They tend to have lovely feathering down the chest, under the body, along the legs and tail. The Russian Spaniel’s ears are folded close to the head with an abundance of fur, giving them the appearance of being much more significant than they are.
3. Russian Spaniel Coat Colors
A Russian Spaniel’s coat is typically white with colored spots and markings. However, their ears and part of the head tend to be only one dark color. Coat colors are tri-colored, white with tan, white with black, and white with red.
Russian Spaniels shed moderately, more during seasonal changes. You’ll need to brush the dog’s coat at least once a week, more during spring and fall. Russian Spaniels are not hypoallergenic, and they will shed dander along with their coat hairs. If you suffer acutely from dog allergies, you would be better off choosing another breed. But for non-allergy sufferers, Russian Spaniels are low to medium maintenance dogs.
You’ll need to bear in mind that Russian Spaniels are a hunting breed and that did include retrieving birds from water, so they will tend to jump in puddles and generally get covered in mud during rainy weather. If you are mainly house proud and don’t like the idea of cleaning up the muck and mire, a Russian will trek through your home; they’re probably a wrong choice for you.
4. Russian Spaniel Temperament And Personality
Don’t let their size fool you; the Russian Spaniel is a gun dog, and to perform at the level necessary, they need to be strong, have a brilliant sense of smell, and have bags of stamina. So keep this in the forefront of your mind if you think of a Russian Spaniel for a pet.
They need vigorous daily exercise to prevent them from becoming restless or hyperactive; if you love the outdoors, going on hikes, jogging, etc., this breed will be perfect for you. Russian Spaniels have a lovely temperament and enjoy being with family. If you have older kids that can play with the dog in the garden, they’ll spend many happy hours together.
Russian Spaniels are happy around other dogs, but their high prey drive makes them a menace to small creatures; even cats might feel nervous around a Russian Spaniel. While they aren’t an aggressive breed, even around strangers, they make excellent watchdogs and bark to alert you to any perceived threats. Russian Spaniels adapt well to apartments or houses without back yards; as long as they get ample daily exercise, they are small enough to be comfortable living arrangements.
5. Russian Spaniel Training
Russian Spaniels love to please their humans, and they are gun dogs, and that requires a reasonable amount of training. When they are young, Russian Spaniels can be overly boisterous and don’t like to listen to commands.
So begin training from a young age and be firm with your Russian Spaniel. There’s no necessity for a harsh or impatient attitude. As mentioned, they love to please, so positive training with consistency, calmness, and firmness are necessary. The dog will respond well to this type of training, and masses of praise with some treats thrown in will also help with the training.
They will make a good dog for first-time or novice owners as long as training starts early and the owner has the personality described above. Russian Spaniels make excellent dogs for older adults as long as they can fulfill their exercise needs; perhaps employing a dog walker would work if you are struck by owning a Russian Spaniel.
6. Russian Spaniel Health
As with any dog breed, health begins with the breeder you choose. You must research the breeders you think where you might purchase a puppy. It’s a crucial step if you want to avoid costly vet bills down the road or you don’t want the upset and pain of losing your dog well before you should.
Because of the breed’s rarity, it might be challenging to find a Russian Spaniel breeder in your local area. Typically we don’t advise buying puppies from another part of the country to be shipped to potential owners. It’s an essential step of purchasing a puppy that you meet the breeder, and you also get to meet the puppy’s parents.
Russian Spaniels are usually a healthy dog breed, but there are some concerns to watch out for; obesity can be an issue with this dog; they are prone to overeating. Piling on masses of weight can lead to severe health conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions, bone and joint problems.
Any dog with folding ears, huge ones, can develop ear infections. These can be very testing and can occur frequently. Try to avoid them at all costs by regularly cleaning and drying your Russian Spaniel’s ears. You can always tell if an ear infection is bothering your dog; he will shake his head, try to scratch his ears, sometimes so much he can make the inside ear flap red and bleeding. If there’s a fungal infection, you’ll know because there will be a pungent odor when you get close to your dog’s ears; it’s a pretty unpleasant smell. Try to use a vet-recommended doggy ear cleaner at least once or twice each week, and after each time, you bath your dog.
Final Thoughts – Russian Spaniel Pros And Cons
- Russian Spaniels adapt to apartment living easily and cope well with lifestyle changes.
- The Russian Spaniel is a low to moderate shedder and has minimal grooming needs.
- Russian Spaniels are very child-oriented dogs and are very close and affectionate with their family.
- Providing the dog gets sufficient amounts of exercise, Russian Spaniels make excellent pets for older adults.
- Russian Spaniels are not hypoallergenic dogs.
- The dog tends to overeat if given a chance and has a propensity to become overweight.
- Russian Spaniels have a high prey drive and can chase small creatures, ignoring their human’s commands.
- This dog breed does not do well when left on their own at home and can suffer from separation anxiety.
- Russian Spaniels have a stubborn nature, so they can make life difficult for first-time owners.