Vladimir Putin has sent a Black Russian Terrier puppy to his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, who joked the Russian strongman would receive a capybara, the world's largest rodent, in return.
The three-month-old puppy was given to Chavez by Igor Sechin, one of Putin's most trusted lieutenants and chief executive of Rosneft, Russia's largest oil company.
"I passed a message from Vladimir Vladimirovich -- it's a Black Russian Terrier. It's three months old," said Sechin during a visit to the energy-rich Latin American nation.
"He liked it very much," Sechin said in quotes published by mass-circulation Komsomolskaya Pravda on Friday.
The Black Russian Terrier dog is the result of a cross-breeding experiment conducted in the Soviet Union in mid-50s-early 60s.
In the West, it is sometimes referred to as Stalin's dog although the Soviet tyrant died before the animal was bred.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian tabloid the puppy was born in Moscow.
Chavez said he would call his new dog "el Ruso" (The Russian) and would give Putin a capybara, the world's largest rodent living in South America, an AFP correspondent reported from Caracas.
"He called him el Ruso, (and) told me that the dog is very energetic and cheerful," Sechin said, quoted by the Interfax news agency from Caracas.
Chavez' leftist regime is Russia's chief ally in Latin America.
Russia supplies Venezuela with military aircraft and other advanced weaponry and helps the South American country with its plans for nuclear energy development.