The Black Russian Terrier is larger than most mid-sized dogs and is a robust high-spirit pet. They are a breed that loves to exercise and work, they love to please, and have energy to burn. With an outstanding ability to withstand climatic changes, they love nothing better than a good snowfall or the chance to get out in the rain or play in the lake. The Black Russian Terrier likes close human contact and is devoted to his owners, following them around. Because of this characteristic, they don’t like being outside in a kennel away from their family but adapt well to inside living, being clean and obedient when trained correctly. Once you assert your dominance as the pack leader, they will listen and respect your wishes. Puppies are sensitive, playful and are very quick to learn. It is vital at this stage in their lives for them to see the owner as pack leader, and they will be easier to train. This breed needs firm leadership and needs daily exercising – being a big working dog they need to burn off any excess energy; if they don’t then you could have behavioral problems. The Black Russian Terrier adapts well to living with smaller dogs, cats and rabbits but finds it difficult to live with other large dominant males. Gentle and playful with children, they make ideal family dogs. They are easy to train, adjust well to the leash, but need to be taught to walk slightly behind or in step with the owner, never ahead as in a dog’s mind, the dominant leader walks in front. These gentle robust, vibrant dogs are easy to groom with their soft, thick hair and for overall care but do need exercise to keep them happy.
It was in the early 1940s that the Russian army decided to use its red star kennels to breed a dog designed for their tough climatic conditions as well as one that was both alert and obedient. Working within a breeding program that was developed by a Soviet breeder and specialists, they produced a dog that was massive, robust and intelligent, as well as a willing worker and a dog who could withstand harsh wintry conditions. It was a challenge to acquire purebred stock due to the slaughter of much of the purebred stock during the Russian revolution, the war, and economic decline. After the end of the second world war, their breeding program finally took off as the quality stock of the Giant Schnauzer and Rottweiler breeds were returned to Russia. They experimented with many breeds to produce the exact characteristics they required and bred from only the best dogs they managed to acquire, soon developing a dog that fitted their needs. The army bred a dog that had all the ability of the German Shepherd without the unnecessary aggression. These dogs were used by the national security force and were ideal because of their size and the fact that they were highly trainable. Military police used them at border crossings, prisons and military installations. Years later after the Russian breeder’s association (DOSAAF) bought dogs from the red star kennel, they started to standardise the characteristics and appearance of the breed while still maintaining its excellent qualities. It was in May 1984 that the breed was finally recognised as the Black Russian Terrier. On July 1st, 2004, the breed was admitted to full membership in the AKC Working Group.
The Black Russian Terrier is larger than a medium dog and is robust and strong. The length of the body is proportionate with its height at the withers, giving it a square appearance, with a high set tail. The back is level but not appearing flat. Forelegs should be set straight and well formed with large muscular sloping shoulders. The legs and feet are well covered with 2 to 4 inches of coarse hair, and the legs should be parallel to each other. The Black Russian Terrier has awesome bear like feet with tough black thick pads and long dark nails. They have a wedge-shaped head with a broad skull and a long head. The moustache and beard add to the square appearance of the muzzle. The nose is large and black, and they possess full rounded lips and large jaws which are powerful. Their dark eyes are medium sized and set apart with almond shaped rims. The ears are triangular and pendulous in shape. The head sits on a thick muscular neck. The hind quarters are well boned and muscular, and the hocks are large and developed allowing for the Terrier’s spring and drive. With a waterproof coat that is slightly coarse, they are an attractive dog. They have a strong well-coordinated gait and appear to be light on their feet.
The Black Russian Terrier has a weatherproof coat that is hard, coarse, wavy and close lying and is about 1.5 to 4 inches long. This breed sports eyebrows and a beard which make it an aristocratic looking dog. Brushing is required twice a week to prevent matting, and regular trimming may be needed twice a year. The undercoat is tight and well developed. Stripping is sometimes needed if the coat is soft. These dogs love the snow and will roll around in it almost as though they were self-cleaning! They also love the water and are very adaptable to the colder weather. They respond well to training and have a calm and self-assured demeanor. They are bred to guard though, and will guard their family with their life. They can be reserved around strangers, but they are highly intelligent and respond to firm consistent training. The Black Russian Terrier is best suited to an experienced dog owner who will return companionship. They adapt well to city or country living as well as they get loads of exercise.