Russian boy names Putin's new puppy "Buffy"

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has named his new male puppy Buffy, picking a name suggested by a five-year old boy in a nationwide competition.

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The large, cream and caramel colored Karakachan pup was given to Putin as a gift by his Bulgarian counterpart in November, after Moscow and Sofia signed a series of natural gas accords.

“I really liked your suggestion,” Putin told Muscovite Dima Sokolov late on Thursday.

Though a male puppy, Buffy shares his name with a sexy vampire slayer on the eponymous U.S. television show starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, which is broadcast in Russia.

Putin, cast as Russia’s “alpha-dog” ruler in U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, signed a football for the boy.

The Karakachan breed originates in Bulgaria and can grow to 55 kg (121 pounds). Traditionally it was used to guard sheep and goat herds.

With a black belt in judo, Putin has cultivated a macho image but also styles himself as having a softer side by being a passionate animal lover.

Last month he hosted government heads from wild tiger nations at a major summit to save the cat from extinction.

Buffy will have to share the canine spotlight with Putin’s beloved aging black Labrador Connie, who is 11.

“He drags her by the ears and tail non-stop,” Putin said of Buffy’s affection for Connie.

Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Amie Ferris-Rotman