The Powerful Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier is a large and very strong dog breed that can even go after a bear. They are highly intelligent and confident guard dogs who can protect homes and play with the family’s children at the same time. They are also known as the “Black Pearls of Russia” which are known to be people-oriented and want to be close to the action all the time. Let us know more about the history and characteristics of the Black Russian Terrier dog breed.


The Black Russian Terrier is a legacy of the Cold War. It was bred by Soviet Army scientists who were determined to produce the perfect working dog. They were not trying to invent a new breed but they just wanted to have a dog suited to their needs in the military. Black Russian Terriers are wonderfully adapted to the uninviting Russian winters and they were bred to patrol the borders together with soldiers.  

The breeding took place in the Red Star Kennel which was established under the Red Army. It had the full resources of the government for assistance. However, purebred dog breeding had taken a back seat during the 20th century due to the Russian Revolution, World War II, and other economic problems and the team of breeders and geneticists did not have much homebred stock with which to work.

But the breeders did an admirable job. Since they wanted a dog with endurance and which can run long fence lines, chase intruders, and stay warm to survive, they started crossing Giant Schnauzers, Airedales, and Rottweilers. But there are traces of 17 other breeds such as Great Danes and Ovcharka. It took 20 years to breed the Black Russian Terrier.

Black Russian Terriers worked at rail crossings, prisons, and different military venues like gulags and they are very good at it. However, gulags began closing in the 1950s and they had more dogs than they needed and the Army began selling the puppies to the public. Some fanciers did some changes in the breeding such as adding Newfoundlands for stability. The Soviet Army created the first breed standard for the Black Russian Terrier in 1958.

In 1981, the Black Russian Terrier officially obtained breed status from the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture. After that, it did not take long before the breed became one of the most admired breeds of the world because it possesses a lot of fine traits such as its large size, excellent working abilities, courage, elegance, sociability, and as well as its love for children.

It was between 1989 and 1990 when Black Russian Terriers came to the United States. The first American kennels to produce Black Russian Terriers was in Mississippi. In 2001, the AKC admitted the Black Russian Terrier into the Miscellaneous Class. On July 1, 2004, it became part of the AKC Working Group.

Breeders have worked to remove the health concerns and physical faults that Black Russian Terriers have and in the present time, it is a healthy and hearty breed that is just becoming popular to masses of dog lovers.


Characteristics of a Black Russian Terrier

Average height: 2 feet and 2 inches – 2 feet and 6 inches tall

Average weight: 80 – 140 pounds

Hypoallergenic: No

The Black Russian Terrier belongs to the working dogs breed group and they can live from 10 to 11 years. A powerful and well-build large breed can weigh from 80 to 140 pounds. Males can grow from 27 to 30 inches tall while females on the other hand can grow from 26 to 29 inches tall.

Black Russian Terriers have black coats but they sometimes have a sprinkling of gray hair even in puppies. They have double coats where the outer coat is coarse while the undercoat is soft and thick. Their coats can grow from 1.5 inches to 4 inches long. They also have tousled coats or wiry and curly for some.

When it comes to personality, Black Russian Terriers are confident and courageous, but they are also calm. They have stable nervous systems which can radiate confidence and tranquility. Since they are bred by the military, they are loyal, self-assured, and aloof with strangers. They are designed to guard and protect that’s why they could also become dangerous at times without their emotional stability.

Even though Black Russian Terriers are large in size, they are great with children and they can protect them very well. Female Blackies seem to be more willing to play with kids compared to males but both of them treat children gently and respectfully. However, extremely young children might get knocked over because this breed is playful and energetic.

Male Black Russian Terriers, however, do not do well with other dominant dogs that’s why a lot of them are not suited to dog parks. At home, they can live well with other canine companions they grew up with. They are also fine with smaller dogs or non-dominant dogs as well as other pets such as rabbits and cats.


Caring for Black Russian Terriers

Black Russian Terriers, as mentioned before, are very energetic that’s why they need daily exercise and mental stimulation as well. You can take them for walks, runs, and disc games at least half an hour every day. They also have the need for human contact, therefore, try to hang out with them as much as possible. When you’re not playing with them, give them some puzzle toys to keep their minds active. They can also live in an apartment as long as they get their needed daily exercise. If at home, they will need a fenced yard.

When it comes to grooming, Black Russian Terriers need a weekly brushing and frequent maintenance to prevent their coats from matting. Use a slicker brush, an undercoat rake, and a stripping comb to maintain their beautiful black coats. If you brush them regularly, they won’t be needing frequent baths and only when they are dirty.

Remember to brush their teeth two to three times a week to prevent bad breath and gum disease. You should also trim their nails as needed to prevent painful tears. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness and bad odor which indicates infection.

For their foods, the recommended daily amount for Black Russian Terriers is 3 to 4.5 cups of high quality dry food divided into two meals. This depends on your pet’s activity level, age, size, build, and metabolism.

The Black Russian Terrier is indeed a great dog breed to keep as a pet at home especially when you have children around. Not only they will have an active playmate, they will have a protector as well.