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scratched my head for a long time before I came up with "Belashka Dina". Belashka is not a real word in the Russian language, but if you asked a Russian to explain what it means, people would say something like "white cutie" or maybe "little white one".

I learned a lot about the Russian Spaniel breed during those three months of waiting. It is the youngest breed among Russian gun dogs. Russian Spaniels are a part of the larger group of spaniel breeds, and is originated mostly from English Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels. They are relatively small dogs with height in withers of 38 - 45 cm, i.e. 15" - 17 3/4". However, the small size does not affect the ability of this dog with a strong, well built, slightly elongated croup and long muscular legs, to work as well in the field as other much larger gun dogs. The popularity of these dogs in Russia is mainly due to their small size, allowing people to keep them in the city and to easily transport to the hunt site - as well as ease of training, and their inborn willingness to retrieve game. A Russian Spaniel's coat is skintight, not too long, with wavy fringes on the back of the legs and on the ears. Colors are usually white with dark - black, liver, or tan - spots and speckles. The head and ears are usually dark in color, as well. Other coloring is allowed - and can vary from solids to tricolors. The Russian Spaniel has all the field qualities necessary for a gun dog: stamina, great sense of smell, energy during the search, persistence, and inborn retrieving abilities. These dogs start to work early in life and do not require a lot of training. The goal of a Russian Spaniel during the hunt, as for most spaniels, is to seek out the bird, bring it up into the air, and, after the shot and on command, to retrieve the game. They are well equipped for hunting in marsh, field, woodland, arid land birds and waterfowl - as well as rabbits and other small game. Aside from the Russian Spaniels' hunting abilities, these dogs are great family pets. They are playful, loyal, great with children, and can even perform the duty of a guard dog, when necessary.

The first breed standard was established in 1951. It was followed by revisions in 1966, and later in 2000. Russian Spaniels have not been crossbred with other spaniel breeds since 1972. Large kynological centers across Russia have been working on improving the breed. The selection of specimens and pairing is done based on the results of the annual shows and field trials, considering all positive and negative qualities. Use of only those dogs with proven hunting abilities avoids the division of the breeding stock into show and working dogs. As a result, these dogs have both, beauty and great hunting instincts. Today, special attention is paid to stabilizing the height and hereditary qualities of the hair coat, selecting pairs based on the pedigree, hunting and exterior qualities. This is my Belashka Dina's heritage.

I heard barking coming from loading dock, and I started pacing even faster. Finally, I pushed the "employees only" door open - ignoring the lady behind the counter - and went to find my new friend. It was not hard since my sweet Belashka Dina's bark was echoing across the dock. There she was, even more beautiful than the pictures Sergey sent me, wagging her little tail. She was twisting and turning, trying to get out of the crate. I ran to the first man I saw on the loading dock to ask if I could already take her. He smiled, looked through my paperwork and said the words I was waiting for "All yours!" I grabbed the crate, climbed down the ramp, set it on the ground and let Dina out. It was misting rain, but all I could feel on my cheeks were Dina's kisses. She was so precious! Our journey together has begun and we're going to live happily ever after.

Russian Spaniel Information
  • Visit our Russian Spaniel Club website or email:
    If you own a Russian Spaniel, please register him or her with the club.

Anna F. Schroeder is a Russian Spaniel enthusiast residing in Houston, TX. She moved to the United States in 1990 from Moscow, Russia . Anna works as a Biostatistician in prostate cancer research at Baylor College of Medicine. Anna, her husband Anthony and their 2.5 year old daughter Vera share their home with four year old lab-mix Daisy, ten month old russian spaniel Belashka Dina, cats Leo and Dax, and a cockatiel named Oscar. Anna Schroeder and Elizabeth Kaplan from Maryland are the co-founders of the Russian Spaniel Club. Anna is also the webmaster for the club's website.

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