The Black Russian Terrier is a large and powerful breed with well-developed muscles and large bones. These dogs have a tousled double coat that is coal black. The outer coat is coarse but not wiry or curly, and the undercoat is softer. The hair is slightly wavy. These dogs have thick and muscular necks and large, black noses. Their wide-set eyes are oval and dark. Black Russian Terriers measure 26 to 30 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 80 to 145 pounds. With proper care, this breed lives up to 11 years.
Black Russian Terriers were developed in Russia as guard dogs by the Red Star Kennel, which was the state-operated organization that provided working dogs to the military.
These are very intelligent dogs that are known for being alert, responsive, friendly, and loving. They make great companion animals and excellent watchdogs, but they need a lot of physical activity. They are ideally suited for active families with large yards.
One of the reasons these dogs are so popular is because of their cute, unique appearance. The hair on their face forms a black beard and mustache that many people find adorable.
A highly intelligent, self-assured, and determined breed, Black Russian Terriers make good companions for calm, but active, families. These dogs are very loving toward human family members, but they are generally reserved around strangers. These fearless and protective dogs are not shy or excitable. They are very territorial and make great watchdogs; in fact, they were bred for this purpose.
Black Russian Terriers are affectionate and get along decently with other dogs, cats, and children. They are adaptable animals and can be playful when in the mood. Their large size makes them dangerous to toddlers, but they are gentle with kids and may follow them around like a shadow.
These dogs need to be outdoors. They are athletic and active and enjoy long walks, hiking, and jogging. Additionally, they excel at dogs sports such as obedience, tracking, agility, and rally. Black Russian Terriers must be kept on a leash or in a securely fenced yard. These dogs should sleep inside with their human family. They will become aggressive if ignored and neglected.
Black Russian Terriers are a healthy breed with few genetic conditions. However, this is no guarantee that any individual dog will be free of disease or other problems. Reviewing the family line of any puppy being considered for purchase or adoption is an essential part of reducing the risk of health problems.
This breed is more prone to certain health conditions than some other breeds, including congenital hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, ear infections, and urinary tract stones. Rarely, these dogs may develop progressive retinal atrophy, a genetic retinal disease that causes simultaneous blindness in both eyes. Although there is no treatment for this condition, it is not associated with pain and early diagnosis may provide an opportunity to delay progression of the disease. Dwarfism is another risk with this breed, and growth abnormalities should be reported to a veterinarian as soon as they are noticed. Dwarfism may affect mobility as well as quality and length of life. With routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, proper nutrition, and regular exercise, Black Russian Terriers generally live 10 to 11 years.
Black Russian Terriers are highly intelligent dogs with a superior ability to learn and remember. They adapt well to training, but they are independent thinkers and may be difficult for first-time dog owners or inexperienced trainers to handle. Training these dogs is essential, though, to teach them to distinguish between situations that require protective actions and those that don't. Training can also help with barking and other problem behaviors. Because these dogs bore easily, overly repetitive training methods are rarely successful.
Socialization helps these dogs grow into lovely, tolerant companion animals. Without training, this breed may become overly suspicious and fearful. Acquiring Black Russian Terriers from a breeder who exposes puppies to a variety of sights and sounds helps ensure confident, tolerant, and independent animals. Puppy kindergarten is also beneficial.
Black Russian Terriers have high exercise needs and benefit from regular activity and attention. Exercising these dogs can significantly improve behavior. Ignoring this breed for long periods can trigger destructive behavior.
Although Black Russian Terriers require minimal daily coat care, they benefit from professional grooming every 6 weeks. Because this breed is uncommon and requires hand stripping, it's important to find a groomer with experience performing this task.
The coat must be brushed out at least once each week to prevent mats and tangles. Brushing more frequently helps ensure shed hairs do not end up on clothing or furniture, but Black Russian Terriers are only light shedders and this is not usually a problem. These dogs are messy eaters and drinkers, however, and their beard gets wet and drips after using a water bowl. They may need a quick cleaning and drying after meals, and their coat requires frequent inspection to look for dirt, leaves, and other debris that may become stuck in their double coat while outdoors.
Bathing is only necessary every couple of months, unless these dogs roll around in something sticky or harmful. The nails need trimming every few weeks, and the teeth should be brushed regularly to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease.
Black Russian Terriers were developed in Russia as guard dogs by the Red Star Kennel, which was the state-operated organization that provided working dogs to the military. Because there were not enough suitable military guard dogs in Russia during the 1940s, dogs were imported from occupied countries for breeding. Crossing the Giant Schnauzer breed with the Airedale, Moscow Retriever, Rottweiler, and other breeds resulted in the breed now known as the Black Russian Terrier.
Black Russian Terriers were ideally suited for police and military work in freezing climates, which made them instantly popular. The breed's primary tasks included guarding borders with soldiers, transporting supplies, detecting explosives and mines, pulling sledges, and finding the wounded. These dogs served in both Bosnia and Afghanistan.
Today, these dogs are still beloved for their guarding skills, but they are also becoming increasingly popular as companion animals. The number of Black Russian Terriers in the United States is growing.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Black Russian Terrier in 2004.