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Opening ceremonies for this year's Winter Olympics commence tomorrow night, giving the world a glimpse into the coastal city of Sochi, Russia. And while your pets may be napping next to you in front of a toasty fireplace, breeds like the Siberian cat and the Black Russian Terrier were built to handle the bitter cold of their native land.
Check out our gallery to learn more about the cat and dog breeds that originated from this year's host country.
Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography
The beautiful Siberian's claim to fame is being the national cat of Russia, and with one look at his thick coat and neck ruff, you'll understand why. His fur, which is perfect for surviving those cold winters in northern Russia, requires brushing twice a week — and even more often during his spring and fall “molts.” This adventurous feline has a muscular and agile form, with males weighing up to 25 pounds.
Sam Clark, Animal Photography
Historically employed by the Russian army as a guard dog, the Black Russian Terrier is best suited for experienced dog owners. He's a giant breed (weighing between 80 and 145 pounds) and is an independent thinker with a high prey drive. That means it takes lots of socialization and training from the get-go to make sure your dog grows up to be a calm, sensible companion who can discriminate between situations that call for protective action and those that don’t.
Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
The elegant Borzoi may look like he has stepped straight out of a fashion magazine, but don't let his looks fool you — he was developed to hunt hare and wolves in the harsh Russian climate. He's an expert lure-coursing competitor who, like his Greyhound cousin, prefers a quick sprint to long-distance running — and then a nice nap on the couch.
Developed south of the Arctic Circle in the Russian port city of Archangel (Arkhangelsk), the Russian Blue typically sports a temperament that's affectionate yet reserved. Don't expect this silvery-blue feline to toddle behind you throughout the house and participate in all your hobbies — he'll make you work to earn his love. And here's a bonus: Russian folklore credits him with healing abilities and bringing good luck.
The Caucasian Ovcharka is a livestock-guarding breed that hails from the Caucasus Mountain region between Europe and Asia. The Ovcharka is fiercely protective of his family and is suspicious of strangers and other dogs. For novice dog owners, the independent-minded breed can be a challenge to train. On the upside, the breed isn’t very active and can comfortably live in apartments and condos.
Anna Pozzi, Animal Photography
Developed about 500,000 years ago by the semi-nomadic Chukchi people in Siberia, the Siberian Husky is a working dog bred to pull heavy sleds over long distances. As a family pet, the people-loving and devoted Husky requires daily vigorous exercise and can’t be trusted to be left alone in a yard. He’s both a digging machine and expert escape artist.
Vidar Skauen, Animal Photography
Known for his unique bald coat that feels like a fuzzy peach, the Peterbald is affectionate, friendly and intelligent. The bald cat was first discovered in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, in 1988 and was called the Don Sphynx. In 1993, breeders crossed a Don Sphynx with an Oriental Shorthair, and one of their offspring became the foundation stud for the Peterbald breed.
Robin Burkett, Animal Photography
Legend has it that the Samoyed people of Siberia and their dogs were driven to the farthest reaches of the north by other tribes. Thankfully, the Samoyed dog has the fur and stamina to withstand cold Arctic weather. His thick, white double coat protects him from the elements, and with his muscular body and natural athleticism, he’s a star in dog sports such as agility, herding, obedience and rally.
Eva-Maria Kramer, Animal Photography
The curly-tailed Laika is a hunting dog native to Russia. While the AKC does not recognize Laikas, three Laika breeds are included in the Fédération Cynologique Internationale: the Russian-European Laika (pictured above), East-Siberian Laika and West-Siberian Laika.
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