ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terrier dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Black Russian Terrier may not be lined up under the numerous breeds of terriers, but it possesses qualities that every aspiring dog owner can only dream about. Popular for its signature jet black coating, this breed is an all-around working dog that will protect your home and your business with all its might. Not only is it characterized by its high agility level, but it is also widely recognized for topping obedience training competitions. Whether in the home or in the ramp, this dog breed unfailingly shines because of its mesmerizing innate qualities.

Aside from being a guard dog, the Black Russian Terrier is a people-oriented dog that can add joy and warmth in a home. It may be aloof around unfamiliar people, but it is more than willing to offer unparalleled love and devotion to its human companions, making it the ideal dog breed for every family.

Breed characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health IssuesAbove Average
GroomingBelow Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Working Dogs
Height:Around 2 feet, 2 inches to 2 feet; About 6 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: Approximately 80 to 140 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 11 years on an average

The Black Russian Terrier, more popularly known as the “Black Pearl of Russia”, originally worked with police and military forces in the earlier years. Even though its days in the field are now over, this dog breed’s innate desire to guard and protect its household and its owners is still intact. While it may be playful as a puppy, it slowly becomes more defensive by the time it reaches 1 year old.

In addition to being the cream of the crop in agility and obedience competitions, this dog breed’s unswerving dedication to track danger and protect its owners is incomparable. Be it in the office or in the home, you can expect it to guard your best interests without hesitation.

Nonetheless, its capability to protect its human companions does not solely define the Black Russian Terrier. While it is a highly reliable guard dog, it is not all rough inside and out as it has a soft spot for its humans. Despite keeping its guards up around strangers, it is a loyal and devoted dog that thrives on care and affection when inside the home. Just like a soldier that’s fierce and strong on the battlefield, it longs to be in the loving arms of its human companions at the end of a long, tiring day.

In terms of training, the Blackies, as what most locals prefer to call this breed, are extremely intelligent. They necessitate firm guidance as they can be destructive once their owners fail to draw the line between acceptable and inacceptable behavior at an early phase.

Moreover, they do not respond well to negative training methods as they can be stubborn once they sense that their owners do not give them the respect and attention they deserve. As the saying goes, ‘respect begets respect’, so when training a Blackie, do not use punitive methods. Instead, devise a positive reward system that can motivate this breed to go the extra mile to learn new and challenging tricks. With firm guidance and support, this breed can effortlessly charm its way to the hearts of its audience once trained to perform on stage.

Aside from being a natural charmer, this dog breed is also people-oriented in nature. Hence, it prefers being a part of the household rather than being left outside for extended periods of time. When surrounded by unfamiliar people, they can be aloof as they spend time deciding whether to trust the stranger or not. A natural-born critical thinker that has a playful side, the Black Russian Terrier is definitely ideal for owners that are already experienced in training large dog breeds.

Main Highlights
  • The Black Russian Terriers are highly active and powerful in nature. They necessitate at least 30 minutes of daily outdoor activities so they won’t act disruptively inside the home.
  • This dog breed loves playing an active role in the household. Aside from regular play and exercise, it also requires training. When training this breed, owners must incorporate new and challenging tasks since it can easily get bored with old and repetitive routines.
  • This breed does not respond well to harsh training methods.
  • Early training is necessary for this breed to become well-rounded.
  • Blackies bark and shed minimally.
  • Early socialization is crucial so this dog breed won’t act aggressively towards unfamiliar people.
  • The Blackie was born with an instinct to guard and protect its home. Once it is left in the barn more frequently than inside the home, it has the tendency to protect the barn more than the household.
  • This dog breed is a large and energetic dog that requires guidance and supervision from experienced owners. Therefore, it is not an advisable breed for first-time owners since it has sensitive and meticulous training needs.
  • Owners of this dog breed must show that they are in full control of their household. Otherwise, the Blackie will assume leadership and take over the home.
Breed History

Since military men needed working dogs that could assist them as they parole borders, the Black Russian Terrier rose in popularity when Cold War broke out. A product of a breeding program that was led by Soviet Army scientists who were looking for the perfect military dog, this breed is physically capable of adapting to Russia’s severe weather conditions. Not to mention, it is strong, intelligent, agile and courageous.

Back then, the Red Star Kernel, a facility devoted to the breeding program, had all the resources and assistance they needed from the government. However, due to external factors that took a huge toll on the project’s funding, the breeding program which concentrated on pure breeds was put to a halt. Nonetheless, despite the lack of homebred stock, the Soviet Army scientists were still able to gain undeniable success when they started cross breeding 17 pure dog breeds that included Rottweilers, Giant Schnauzers and Airedales.

The Blackies are widely recognized for their high endurance levels. Not only are they physically and mentally capable of running along fence lines, but they can also successfully chase after intruders and survive even in harsh weather conditions. Indeed, this dog breed is proof that Russia was successful in its mission to breathe life to the perfect military dog despite big stumbling blocks.

In the year 1958, the first standard breed for the Black Russian Terrier was created. Then, the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture awarded this breed its official status in 1981. Soon after this recognition, the dog breed gained more popularity in other parts of the country because of its unique and impressive characteristics. It wasn’t only remarkable for its charcoal black coating or its incredibly large size, but it also became a household name because of its impressive working abilities, sociability, agility and elegance.

Size

The Black Russian Terrier can weigh between 80 to 140 pounds. On an average, male Blackies can stand up to 30 inches tall, while their female counterpart’s height can range from 26 to 29 inches.

Personality and Character

As the living legacy of Cold War, Black Russian Terriers possess highly advanced traits. Since they were bred and raised by the military, they are calm and assertive in nature. Aside from being confident inside and out, they are also courageous and agile dogs that are bred to protect their human companions. While they may be guarded and aloof when surrounded by strangers, they are loyal and affectionate to their caretakers. Designed with the perfect traits, this dog breed stands out not only in military camps, but in ordinary households as well.

While they may have played a significant role in the lives of Russian military men in the earlier years, the Blackies are now playing an even more important part in the lives of their non-military human companions. Not only are they reliable and intelligent guard dogs at home, but they are also extremely affectionate canine pals that can bring nothing but sheer joy and warmth into the household. An intelligent dog that thrives on human companionship, the Black Russian Terrier is not suited in the backyard as it looks forward to cuddling and playing with its humans after a long day.

Just like other dog breeds, it is ideal for the Russian Terrier to receive early training. Since this breed is highly intelligent in nature, it has the tendency to take control once it senses that its owner is not capable of leading the home. Hence, firm support, guidance and training are necessary to control this breed’s tendency to dominate.

In the like manner, early socialization with family members and other household pets is necessary for this dog to be well-versed. By nurturing its need to socialize at an early age, owners can greatly reduce biting tendencies, especially when it is surrounded by unfamiliar people.

By providing this dog breed affection, attention and early training, owners can guarantee their selves a well-rounded and loyal dog that will do everything to protect them and their family.

Health and Potential Problems

Bred by intelligent Soviet Army scientists, the Russian Terrier is generally healthy. But even though it is a product of an intelligently devised breeding program, it is still susceptible to hereditary disorders common to its line. If you are considering this breed, below are some of the conditions you should watch out for:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A medical condition common to large dog breeds, hip dysplasia often occurs later in life. It is basically an inherited disorder where the thigh bone does not fit into the joint. The worst part is, it could either by symptomatic or asymptomatic. Hence, owners must regularly check their dog for early detection. Also, it is highly advisable for aspiring owners to ask the breeder to show proof that the parents of the puppy were tested for hip dysplasia.
  • Allergies: Many dog breeds suffer from allergies, and the Blackies are not exempted to this vulnerability. There are mainly three types of allergies—food, contact and airborne allergies. While the first type can be avoided by prohibiting certain food substances that the dog is allergic to, contact allergies can be prevented by identifying allergens that could range from flea powders to dog soaps to furniture rags. Airborne allergens, on the other hand, may arise from the presence of pollen, mildew or dust. In this case, owners should consult a veterinarian so they can identify the cause of the allergic reaction.
Care Features

Originally bred for military purposes, the Russian Terrier is highly agile in nature. Since it has an extremely high energy level, it needs to engage in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. Aside from regular walks in the park, this breed can also become well-rounded once it is provided with obedience and agility training at an early age.

In terms of living conditions, the Blackies are also suited in an apartment setting since they have a low barking tendency. In a single-family dwelling, on the other hand, the Blackie should be surrounded by a fence for extra protection.

Lastly, while this dog breed has excellent guarding skills, it craves for human affection and companionship. Keeping it in the backyard is never ideal as it won’t be satisfied with playing on its own. Instead, it will patiently wait until its owners open the backdoor. Therefore, if you are planning to welcome this breed into your household, prepare your dog couch and beddings as this breed is well-suited indoors.

Feeding Schedule

The amount of food required for a breed greatly depends on the dog’s size and weight. Since the Black Russian Terrier is large in size, owners are advised to prepare about 3.5 to 4 cups of food a day. This amount should be divided into two equal servings per day.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Widely recognized for its black coating, the Russian Terrier can sometimes be spotted with a sprinkle of gray hair even as a puppy. Its double coating is primarily made up of a coarse external coat that protects its body from harsh weather conditions and a softer undercoat for extra warmth and comfort. On an average, the length of the coating ranges from about 1.5 to 4 inches.

Despite its long coating, the Russian Terrier sheds minimally. However, owners must never neglect the importance of providing the dog breed with optimum care and protection. Without proper grooming, the coating is prone to matting. Plus, the breed may leave clumps of hair in furniture sets and in different parts of the home unless brushed regularly.

To avoid hair lumping and excessive shedding, experts suggest owners to brush their Blackies at least once a week. When brushing the Russian Terrier, it is best to use a slicker brush, a stripping comb and an undercoat rake.

Meanwhile, when trimming the Blackies, owners can skip the mustache, beard and eyebrows for added style. Owners can also practice on clipping their dog’s coating for extra manageability.

In terms of other grooming needs, the Russian Terrier only needs to bathe as needed, especially if owners are religiously brushing its coating. To avoid tartar build up and gum problems, on the other hand, owners can brush their dog’s teeth once or twice a week.

Lastly, nail trimming and ear care and inspection should be done regularly. If owners are inexperienced in grooming dogs, they should ask advice from experts so they can establish a positive grooming ritual for their dog.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Black Russian Terrier may be a large dog breed, but its size doesn’t stop it from being the best canine pal of little children. It isn’t only playful and active, but it also has a strong desire to guard and protect young members of the household. Also, the female Russian Terrier is known to behave better around children as compared to its male counterpart. Nonetheless, either gender can be a great companion for small children who already know how to properly interact with dogs and other pets.

However, it is important to note that adult supervision is still required whenever there is child-dog interaction. Since this breed is extremely large in size and is very active in nature, it can accidentally knock children off their feet. Hence, to prevent unwanted injuries, adults must always keep an eye on their pets and children.

In terms of pet compatibility, male Blackies may not behave well around other dominant dogs. Also, early socialization with other pets is advised so that the dog would know how to interact with other animals at an early age.

Bred with a tough exterior, the Black Russian Terrier definitely deserved its spot in the military in the earlier years. With an innate instinct to protect the people close to its heart, this dog breed will go the extra mile to serve you and your household. More than being active and large, this majestic dog breed can be the loyal and devoted companion you have long been looking for.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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