The word "dog" in Russian is translated as собака (suhBAHka). However, there are several more words that can be used instead, depending on the context of the sentence.
Dogs are as adored in Russia as they are in the West. The popular Russian saying Собака - лучший друг человека (suhBAHka - LOOCHshy DROOK chylaVYEka) means "a dog is a human's best friend," while animals in general are often referred to as наши братья меньшии (NAshi BRAT'ya MYEN'shyye)-"our younger brothers."
Russian dog owners often take dog breeds very seriously and sometimes know their dogs' full ancestral history, all backed up by legal paperwork, and enroll their pets into numerous competitions. However, many other dog lovers happily adopt stray or abandoned dogs and don't feel that breeds are all that important.
As dogs are such important companions, Russian idioms often feature dogs. Various Russian words for dog are used in different settings and situations. Learn how to use them correctly from the list below.
Translation: doggie, little dog, lapdog
Meaning: little dog
The word собачка is used when talking about small dogs, cute dogs, or a dog that the speaker particularly loves. Small children also use this word in relation to dogs in general. It is appropriate for any situation, from official to very casual.
- Дама с собачкой. (DAma s saBACHkay.)
- The lady with the (little) dog.
Meaning: male dog, dog
The word пёс usually means a male dog but can be used to refer to any dog whose gender is unknown or not relevant. It is appropriate for any social setting and situation.
- Такой добрый пёс! (taKOY DOBry PYOS!)
- What a nice dog!
Translation: large dog, dog's smell
Meaning: enormous dog
Псина can mean both a large dog and a dog's smell. It is fine to use in any register or setting.
- Очень пахло псиной. (Ochen' PAKHla PSEEnay.)
- There was a strong smell of dog.
Meaning: very little / cute dog
Собачушка is an affectionate term for a dog, usually small in size or cute in appearance. It can also be used in a derogatory manner to mean an insignificant and slightly annoying little dog.
- Она живет одна с собачушкой. (aNA zheeVOYT adNA s sabaCHOOSHkay.)
- She lives alone with the pooch.
Translation: doggie, pooch, pup
Meaning: little puppy / cute little dog
Another affectionate term for a little dog, this word has no negative meanings and is used to refer to a small, cute, or young dog.
- Какой пёсик, просто лапочка! (kaKOY PYOsik, PROSta LApachka!)
- What a cute puppy, so adorable!
Translation: doggie, pup, puppy
Meaning: little friend (affectionate)
Coming from the word друг (droog), meaning friend, the word дружок is used to refer to any friendly-looking dog.
- Дружок, иди сюда, не бойся! (drooZHOK, eeDEE suyDA, nye BOYsya!)
- Come here, doggie, don't be afraid!
Ищейка comes from the word искать (eesKAT'), meaning to look or to search. The word ищейка is used in reference to any search dog. The same word can also be used when talking about a sleuth. In this case, the same slightly derogatory meaning is preserved in Russian.
- Берите ищеек и за мной! (beREEtye eeSHYEyek ee za MNOY!)
- Get the search dogs and follow me!
Translation: pup, pooch, rat dog
Meaning: affectionate dog name used as a general word for cute dog or an annoying small dog
Used for referring to small dogs, моська is an affectionate or sarcastic word.
- Ай, моська, знать она сильна, коль лает на слона. (from a tale by Krylov) (ay MOS'ka, ZNAT' aNA seel'NA, KOL' LAyet na slaNA.)
- Its bark is worse than its bite.
Translation: generic name for all dogs
Meaning: a little ball
The name Шарик is most often used for grey mixed-breed or stray dogs. Although the word шарик means a little ball, the dogs who usually get this name look nothing like that. One theory says that the name comes from the Polish word for grey szary.
- А вон Шарик бежит. (a VON SHArik byeZHIT.)
- There goes Sharik.
Translation: a stray dog, a mongrel, a mixed-bread stray dog who is cute, sad, or heroic, a mutt
Meaning: a mongrel, a mixed-breed stray dog
This word comes from "двор" (DVOR), meaning yard, and is used when referring to mongrel dogs who live in communal yards or in the streets.
- Да просто дворняга. (da PROSta dvarNYAga.)
- It's just a mongrel.
Translation: a mutt, a mongrel
Meaning: mongrel, a mixed-bread stray dog (slightly dismissive)
A more affectionate term than дворняга, this word is used in the same way.
- Я приютила собачку. Дворняшка. (ya priyuTEEla saBACHkoo. dvarNYASHka.)
- I took in a dog. It's a mongrel.
Translation: a mutt, a mongrel
Meaning: terrier of the year
Another variation on дворняга, this word for a mongrel dog is an ironic reference to dog breeds.
- Какой породы? Да никакой. Двортерьер. (kaKOY paROdy? da nikaKOY. dvarterYER.)
- What breed? The breed of mongrel.
Most Popular Dog Breeds in Russia
Just like in the West, Russian dog owners pride themselves in the breed and quality of their dogs. The following list includes the most popular breeds you'll find in Russian homes:
- Boston terrier: Бостон-терьер (BOStan terYER)
- American cocker spaniel: американский кокер-спаниель (ameriCANSky KOker spaniEHL)
- Labrador retriever: лабрадор ретривер (labraDOR retRIver)
- German shepherd: немецкая овчарка (neMETSkaya avCHARka)
- French bulldog: французский бульдог (franTSUZky bool'DOG)
- Beagle: бигль (BEEgl')
- Poodle: пудель (POOdel')
- Rottweiler: ротвейлер (ratVEYler)
- Yorkshire terrier: йоркширский терьер (yorkSHIRSky terYER)
- Dobermann: доберман (daberMAN)
- Bolonka (or Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka): болонка (baLONka)
- Chihuahua: чихуахуа (chihooAAhooAA)