The Black Russian Terrier must be strong of body and mind to perform its duties as a reliable guard and military dog. This is a large-boned and well-muscled dog, capable of pulling a heavy load, yet having the agility to traverse rocky terrain or overtake an adversary. The head and neck are powerful. A reliable, intelligent temperament is essential in a dog that also has strong protective instincts; courage is also a must. The weatherproof outercoat repels water while the undercoat insulates the dog from the cold. Length of coat should vary from 1.5 inches to 4 inches with longer coats detracting from the dog's working ability.
Calm, confident and courageous sums up the Black Russian Terrier. Reserved with strangers, BRTs are very attached to and protective of their family. They are fast learners, but also independent thinkers, and they can be stubborn if pushed to do something they don't want to do. BRTs are affectionate and social. They tend to stick close to their people, even inside the house. They are gentle and playful with children. They may not be good with strange or dominant dogs, but are fine with other pets and smaller canine housemates.
AKC RANKING n/a
AREA OF ORIGIN Soviet Union
DATE OF ORIGIN 1950s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION Military
TODAY'S FUNCTION Personal protection, search and rescue
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 27 - 30 Weight: 80 - 145
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 26 - 29 Weight: 80 - 145
OTHER NAME Chornyi, Terrier Noir Russem, Schwarzer Russicher Terrier, Tchiorny Terrier, Mustaterrieri
Energy level Low energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Not very playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
BRTs need social interaction as well as mental and physical exercise. Obedience or agility training is helpful in channeling the breed's need for work. BRTs do not do well as kennel dogs because they seek and need human contact. They are quiet inside. They do not bark frivolously. The BRT doesn't shed much, but its coat needs thorough combing once or twice a week, and it needs trimming every six to eight weeks. A show trim is carefully done to highlight the dog's conformation without giving it a sculpted look. The coat should appear tousled. Major concerns: CHD
Minor concerns: elbow dysplasia
Occasionally seen: PRA, dwarfism
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye
Life span: 10 - 11 years
In the 1940s, the Soviets faced the task of populating their military with suitable working dogs. With a dearth of qualified canines, they imported breeds from their occupied countries, mainly German breeds, into their state-owned Red Star Kennels. The most impressive of their imports was a Giant Schnauzer named Roy, born in 1947. Roy was bred extensively with females from various breeds, with the most successful coming from Airedale Terrier, Rottweiler and Moscow Water Dog crosses. They were all black, and were distinguished from the others as the "Black Terrier" group. The best were bred among themselves, and by 1957, second- and third-generation dogs were presented to the public and the first puppies went to family breeding situations to continue the project. The main criteria were working ability and versatility, but care was also taken to improve conformation. Besides sharing border guard duty with soldiers, military tasks included detecting mines and explosives, transporting supplies, pulling sledges, and finding wounded soldiers, all done independently and in the harshest of climates. Black Russian Terriers served in military operations in Afghanistan and Bosnia.
In 1968, a breed standard was registered with the international FCI, which officially recognized the breed in 1984. As BRT breeders emigrated to other countries, the dogs' value as companions became more obvious, and their popularity spread. In 2001, the AKC admitted the breed into its Miscellaneous class, and, in 2004, it became a regular member of the Working Group.