Moscow Water Dog: Breed Features And Facts You Need To Know

As their name implies, the Moscow Water Dogs are basically water dogs. They thrive well in very cold weather and can withstand arctic temperatures and freezing water. This special dog breed, although now extinct, was produced by crossing two Shepherd dogs and Newfoundland dogs. They were specially produced by the Red Star Kennels who operated an organization tasked with strictly producing working dogs for the Soviet Union’s armed services.

This dog breed came out successful in many ways but not in the way that counts. They were excellent swimmers, vigilant, intelligent shoreline sentry, and trainable to a large extent but would attack instead of saving a drowning person. After several attempts at correcting this nature proved abortive, their development was stopped for good. Even though they no longer exist today, they were used in the development and production of the Black Russian Terrier which gained international recognition in 1984.

Origin Of The Moscow Water Dog Breed

A large number of dogs lost their lives during the Second World War. After the war, some dogs were imported but it was soon realized they weren’t sufficient to establish the dedicated breeding program breeders had in mind. The Central Military School of Working Dogs then began to work on developing specialized breeds by crossing the stock available. All these measures were carried out under the supervision of Colonel G.P. Medvedev.

The Moscow Water Dog was developed in an effort to create the ultimate rescue dog, especially in the case of drowning. To achieve their aim, they combined the Caucasian Shepherd, Newfoundland, and the East European Shepherd. They succeeded in creating a large breed that had a heavy double coat that could withstand any rough and extreme weather.

Sadly, the dog never lived up to expectations and was discontinued around the 1980s. Though they were developed with the aim of rescuing people from drowning, it was reported that the breed was more inclined to bite drowning victims than rescue them. The Russian Navy was then forced to scrap the breeding program which made the breed go extinct. Just like many other dog breeds that have gone into extinction, the Moscow Water Dog became useless to mankind, thus gradually phasing out due to lack of attention.

Giant Newfoundland dogs – source

Important Things To Know About the Moscow Water Dog

While they are no longer in existence, there are many dog breeds connected to the Moscow Water Dog breed. A few important things to know about this breed would help you understand its predecessors and descendants more.


The breed appeared very agile and strong but not with some inherent health issues that popped up every now and then. Considering their pedigree, they are likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems, heart problems, Addison’s disease, bloat, hypothyroidism, obesity, and musculoskeletal issues due to their large size.


From all indications, these dogs are not easy to train as it appears that even the Navy found it difficult to totally break them. The breed was developed from intelligent breeds but they also inherited an aggressive nature and tended towards dominance and independence. All this put together can make training very difficult.

However, it is possible to achieve a level of training with lots of consistency. According to history, they were a very intelligent breed and were said to memorize and understand new commands between 25 to 40 repetitions. But it appears that the ‘rescue mission training’ for which they were developed just never did stick.


While feeding them, it’s important to watch their diet closely as they have the tendency to gain weight easily. At the same time, they need to be fed well with adequate nutrients. Due to their giant/large size, a Moscow Water Dog requires, between four to seven cups of high-quality dry food shared in two meals.


This is one dog that requires lots of grooming due to the nature of its coat. To keep them healthy, regular professional grooming goes a long way. The long fur should be brushed regularly as well, to avoid matting and to maintain hygiene. Their eyes and ears also need to be cleaned often to avoid infection. They also require regular bathing and nail trimmings.


Their exercise needs are mostly on average because they were developed for rescue. They would need to have a degree of stamina to perform their tasks well.


One of the disadvantages of cross-breeding dogs with different temperaments is that one cannot predict which of the breeds’ temperaments will become dominant in the new dog. While Newfoundland is a very gentle and friendly dog, the European Shepherds used in the crossing are known to be aggressive.

Since these dogs no longer exist, there isn’t enough evidence to validate what side of the pendulum they fell on but according to history, they tended towards aggressiveness and dominance. It is also possible that some came out with the gentleness, calmness, and protective nature of Newfoundland. That notwithstanding, this aggressive nature was one of the reasons the Russian Navy halted its development. Apparently, the Shepherd’s side of the family dominated the breed’s temperament.

Do They Make Good Family Pets?

Even though they were bred to retrieve people from drowning, and sometimes tend towards aggressiveness, they could be very playful and affectionate when they choose to. Due to this instability in their temperament, they might not be the best dog to have around children. new dog parents may not find them conducive as well.

However, if well trained, they are said to be quite social and enjoy being around people and other animals. Basically, a family might have to weigh the pros and cons before adding this kind to the household.

Read Also: Hypoallergenic Dogs: 15 Dog Breeds That Don’t Shed

Quick Facts About The Breed

  • Shedding

This particular dog breed sometimes sheds above average so if you are the type that do not enjoy vacuum cleaning or are allergic to fur, this might not be the right dog for you.

  • Life Expectancy

They can live for between 9 to 12 years.

  • High Maintenance

If you don’t have the time to dedicate to taking care of your dog in terms of grooming, the Moscow Water Dog would be a bad choice as it needs attentive care always.

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