Vadim Gorbatov's art Gallery
Russian Spaniel
First After War Years
Russian Spaniels.
The following is quoted from
Russian Spaniel is the youngest breed among Russian gun dogs. It is included in the larger group of spaniel breeds, and is originated mostly from English cocker spaniels and English Springer spaniels.

History of spaniels in Russia begins in the end of the nineteenth century, when a black English cocker spaniel, named Dash, was brought to Russia for the Great Knyaz Nikolai Nikolaevich, and was shown at the 1st Dog Show of the Neva Huntclub in 1885, and at the 1st Show of the "Lovers of Purebred Dogs Organisation" in 1888 in St. Petersburg. Later, more spaniels of this and other breeds were imported into St. Petersburg and Moscow. Even though some of them were used for hunting, these rather small stocky dogs had very little use in the Russian bird hunting conditions. Already in the beginning of the 20th century, lovers of spaniels started selecting more long-legged and active dogs for breeding. They were also importing the Springer spaniels to mix their blood with that of the existing "mixed spaniel" breed.

By the end of the 1930's, there already existed a large number of spaniels in Russia not fitting the description of any know spaniel breed, but with a set of common characteristics. They were mostly located in Leningrad, Moscow, and some in Sverdlovsk. These were no longer the cocker spaniels or the springers, but not the Russian spaniels yet either. Spaniels were getting more and more popular in Russia. Then, as it is today, the popularity was mainly due to their small size, allowing people to keep them in the city and easily transport to the hunt site, as well as the ease of training, and inborn willingness to retrieve game. However, using an existing breed was very difficult because of a very small number of dogs of each breed present in the country. Besides, the hunting conditions in Russian territories created new requirements for a gun dog. All of this stimulated creation of the new spaniel breed, the Russian Spaniel, differing from its parent breeds by stronger build, stamina, and less decorativeness. Stories are being told about how hard people worked on saving their spaniels during the Great Patriotic War (WWII), sending them out of the Leningrad blockade across the Ladoga lake along with their own children. The forming of the new Russian Spaniel continued after the end of the war, when many different types of spaniels were brought into the Soviet Union from abroad. It is possible that pointers were also brought in to improve speed, although this is questionable. Purposeful breeding work allowed to create, based on the saved during the war stock and the imported specimens, the breed type later named the Russian Spaniel. The difficulty of work on the new breed began with high variety of the existing stock. For example, only 14 cocker spaniels, 5 Sussex spaniels, 4 Field spaniels, and 2 Springer spaniels were displayed on the Moscow dog show of 1945. At first the Russian Spaniel stock varied externally and was mostly a mix of cocker, Sussex and Springer spaniels. Slowly, resulting from careful selection of individual dogs with qualities necessary for domestic hunting, the dogs began to look like the Russian Spaniel of today. Already at the 1949 Dog Show, dog expert V. Dmitrievsky stated, “Most dogs no longer look like the small pre-war spaniels, and are good specimens for the difficult conditions of the Russian hunt. They are a separate type of the Russian spaniel different from the small English cocker spaniel.”

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