Moscow’s Stray Subway Riding Dogs

What’s a dog to do when you don’t have a roof over your head and times are lean? If you’re a hound in Moscow the answer is an easy one: head underground.

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Below the hustle and bustle of Moscow’s busy streets lies the city’s massive and complex subway system, packed tight with commuters trying to get from A to B. But, if you look closely, you’ll notice that some of these commuters have four legs and a wagging tail.

These commuters are some of Moscow’s famous metro dogs – a collection of strays that have figured out how to navigate the inner workings of the subway lines to commute across the city. But who are these dogs and why are they riding the subway?


In Soviet Russia, teams of dog catchers would round up strays and use them for fur caps or as subjects in scientific experiments.

Belka the space dog, at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics. Source: Wiki Commons

The most famous of the Soviet stray dogs – Belka and Strelka – lived near the space-medicine institute and were eventually caught and launched into orbit!

Strelka the space dog. Image source: Wiki Commons

After the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the animal control squads that impounded and killed Moscow’s strays, the city’s dog population grew rapidly without regulation. Plus, as oil money started to roll into Russia in the late nineties, the quality of life in Moscow started to rise, too. This meant more wealth, more consumption, and ultimately, more garbage, which is great food for stray dogs.


The increase in the dog population meant that the dogs needed to develop more survival strategies to get the food and resources they need.

Eventually, these smart pups learned to associate the underground with shelter from Moscow’s harsh winters, free meals, and human companionship.


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