Russian Domesticated Foxes (Novosibirsk, RU)

Russian domesticated foxes are red foxes (vulpes vulpes) from the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk Russia.   They are the only scientifically defined domesticated foxes; domesticated for tameness.  The Russian domesticated foxes are the result of over 50+ years of selective breeding for tameness.  The program started in 1959 by Soviet geneticist Dr. Dmitri Belyaev and after his death taken over by Dr. Lyudmila Trut.  The program was initiated to understand the process of domestication and how wolves became man's best friend. Belyaev believed that the key factor for domestication was behavior, and thus by using a controlled scientific method for selecting foxes based upon tameness or friendliness towards humans, physiological changes would occur.  He believed that this behavior governed the physiological changes that occur with the hormones and neurochemicals seen in domesticated dogs.

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Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails and floppy ears that are as docile and friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs—they are foxes. They are the result of the most astonishing experiment in breeding ever undertaken—imagine speeding up thousands of years of evolution into a few decades. In 1959, biologists Dmitri Belyaev and Lyudmila Trut set out to do just that, by starting with a few dozen silver foxes from fox farms in the USSR and attempting to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs in real time in order to witness the process of domestication. This is the extraordinary, untold story of this remarkable undertaking.

Most accounts of the natural evolution of wolves place it over a span of about 15,000 years, but within a decade, Belyaev and Trut’s fox breeding experiments had resulted in puppy-like foxes with floppy ears, piebald spots, and curly tails. Along with these physical changes came genetic and behavioral changes, as well. The foxes were bred using selection criteria for tameness, and with each generation, they became increasingly interested in human companionship. Trut has been there the whole time, and has been the lead scientist on this work since Belyaev’s death in 1985, and with Lee Dugatkin, biologist and science writer, she tells the story of the adventure, science, politics, and love behind it all.  In How to Tame a Fox, Dugatkin and Trut take us inside this path-breaking experiment in the midst of the brutal winters of Siberia to reveal how scientific history is made and continues to be made today.

To date, fifty-six generations of foxes have been domesticated, and we continue to learn significant lessons from them about the genetic and behavioral evolution of domesticated animals. How to Tame a Fox offers an incredible tale of scientists at work, while also celebrating the deep attachments that have brought humans and animals together throughout time.


All the cute and none of the calories!


What is a Siberian cupcake

A Siberian Cupcake is a very rare and unique animal. 

Siberian Cupcakes are Russian Domesticated foxes (RDF) that are imported into the US from the Institute of Cytology and Genetics (ICG) in Novosibirsk, RU. The Siberian Cupcakes were obtained to better understand the use of the RDF for utility work, in particular search and rescue work. Foxes have a keen sense of smell and very acute hearing, much like dogs.  Foxes also have additional physiological and  behavioral adaptations that allow them to locate potential prey items under many feet of snow with pinpoint accuracy, unlike dogs.  These unique abilities would enable them, if trained appropriately, to locate people who were unfortunate enough to be caught in an avalanche and trapped under the snow.   The problem was that no one had ever attempted to train a fox to the degree necessary to accomplish this sort of utility work.  The consensus was that while foxes were certainly intelligent enough to do many useful things, foxes were not capable of forming the deep human/animal bond that is required to be successful in such activities.  This is where the Russian Domesticated foxes come in.  The ICG was leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else in breeding animals that had an intrinsic desire to interact with humans and form deep bonds, but the question was would it be enough?  Thus commenced a quest to import a few of these animals and see what their abilities actually were.  After many months and countless hours of effort, two Russian domesticated foxes were on a plane speeding toward America to begin their new lives as Americans.   When they were first met them at the airport their human family were, no doubt, more nervous then them, as they really did not know what to expect.  They were certainly not wild foxes, certainly not dogs, not cats, extremely intelligent, friendly, independent, and adorable. But how trainable are they? Well, with proper motivation, they would pick up new behaviors quicker than a dog.  They learned to sit, come, down, stay, and give me your paw. Of course, they were a bit more clever than a dog and certainly more independent, so without a treat, they would only perform the command if they "felt like it". And don't try to trick them and pretend you have a treat in your hand- as they would just give you a dirty look and walk away.  The work continued with them to fully understand their abilities and limitations.  Unfortunately these Russian domesticated foxes were not able to be brought to the America until they were over 6 months old.  Beginning their training much earlier would be helpful in achieving success in utility work.  In addition, incorporating the sufficient amount of nurture (socialization) at the appropriate time in development is critical to understanding the true potential of the RDFs.  The Founders of JABCECC decided to work with the ICG to implement socialization with the kits within their socialization window.  Two additional foxes were selected and additional socialization applied.  These two foxes were selected for our center (Viktor and Maks).  Prior to coming to their new American home, the Founders heard about another fox at the ICF that needed a home and they elected to purchase the third fox (Mikhail). All three foxes were not imported until they were about 10 months of age, and thus the JABCECC still has significant obstacles to truly understanding the effect of both the nature and nurture combination in the RDF. That being said, you will certainly fall in love with these three gorgeous foxes.

The JABCECC is incorporating the RDFs in their interactive educational programs, animal assisted therapy programs, and efforts to eliminate the use of them as fur bearing animals.  Siberian Cupcakes are the best Russian import since vodka.  They are all the cute and none of the calories of cupcakes!! 


Maksa, Viktor, Mikhail:

Mikhail, Viktor, and Maksa

Mikhail, Viktor, and Maksa


Their Foxy Friends

Boris and Sophia (Belyaev foxes)



Russian domesticated fox, Georgian White



Russian domesticated fox, Georgian White


Ishka (Ishy Squishy): US Captive Bred Fox



US Captive Bred Fox, Marble Color