Black Russian Terrier [A Full Breed Guide - History, Personality, & Care]

Black Russian Terrier [A Full Breed Guide - History, Personality, & Care]
Shop our solutions →

There is no denying how lovable and amazing dogs are. These furry companions can bring us happiness and laughter while also providing protection and loyalty. Any breed is capable of achieving this, but few are as amazing as the Black Russian Terrier.


The Black Russian Terrier, or BRT for short, is a majestic dog that dog owners admire for its intelligence, kindness, and protection. If you have not seen a picture of this breed yet, be prepared to be amazed!


If you plan to adopt a Black Russian Terrier or are just curious to learn about this rare breed, this guide has you covered. This guide will highlight everything to know about this dog breed, such as its physical characteristics, size, personality, history, grooming tips, and more!



Black Russian Terrier Characteristics (Physical)

The Black Russian Terrier may seem intimidating at first, but this large canine breed is gentle and physically beautiful in reality. When you think of dog breeds from the terrier group, you might have certain physical traits in mind. The Black Russian Terrier is not technically a terrier, so its appearance may be a little different.


One of the main reasons Black Russian Terriers have remarkable appearances is its broad, deep chest and sturdy frame. The breed displays an imposing figure, but they are quite agile. They have a straight, firm back with strong forelegs. The paws on BRTs are big and round with black nails.


The head is big but perfectly proportioned to the neck and body. This dog has medium-sized oval black eyes that may appear covered by its fur. It has a large black nose that looks stylish with a mustache and a fancy beard to match.


The Black Russian Terrier has a thick tail set high and at a 45-degree angle from its body. It curls upward near the end of the tail. It is also common for their tails to be docked but not too short.



Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed Size

Black Russian Terriers are large, robust dogs, but they are gentle giants like most larger breeds. Male Black Russian Terriers can grow between 27 to 30 inches at shoulder length. The females are slightly smaller and can grow from 26 to 29 inches. While standing on its hind legs, this dog can be as tall as five feet!


These dogs can get heavy, but it is normal for their breed. Males can weigh 100 to 140 pounds. The female Black Russian Terriers have a weight ranging from 80 to 120 pounds. Its size makes it an excellent guard dog but also a family-friendly pet as well!



dark dog against blue sky



Black Russian Terrier Personality

Every puppy is capable of developing its unique personality as it matures into a grown dog. Not all Black Russian Terriers have the same personality, but the breed shares a few similar traits.


Part of what makes canines so lovable are their temperaments. Here are the main character traits the Black Russian Terrier breed is known for.


Alert But Calm

The AKC recognizes this breed as a guard dog in the working dog breed group. This dog may be aloof to friends and family members visiting you, but it is alert for any unwanted intruders trespassing your home.


These dogs know how to keep their cool, and they radiate tranquility. Early training helps further mold their calm personas. Black Russian Terriers are known for being able to co-exist peacefully with other pets.


Protective and Loyal

As excellent guard dogs, the Black Russian Terrier will defend you and your family when the situation calls for it. This dog is so devoted to its owner, and it will remain by their side or follow them around the house.


This dog thrives on its attachment to its owner and their families. The Black Russian Terrier may not seek out a potential threat but will instead wait for it to be approached before it alerts its owners.



A common trait in working dogs is high intelligence. BRTs are smart enough to determine when to respond to a house guest or an intruder.


Dog owners can stimulate their dog's minds by having it test its intelligence through dog sports. The Black Russian Terrier's brainpower makes them quick learners, which may make doggy training a little easier.



Black Russian Terriers are not only strong, smart, and gorgeous but also very kind. They can be gentle with children and other pets. This dog is so friendly, and it prefers being inside to keep its family company. They love playtime and do not mind receiving plenty of pats and affection from houseguests.


Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed Exercise

Despite its large size, Black Russian Terriers have moderate energy levels. This dog breed is physically capable of running with you, playing catch with your kids, or participating in dog sports. In general, this dog breed requires at least 30 to 40 minutes of physical activity every day.

  • Walks: You can take your BRT on a brisk walk around your neighborhood or a half-day hike at a scenic trail. Walking your BRT will help meet its daily activity requirements. You can even challenge yourself and have your BRT join you for a run.
  • Dog Games: One of the easiest games to play with dogs is fetch. Whether you use a ball or frisbee, you or your children can throw something and watch your Black Russian Terrier chase after it. If you have spare rope lying around, you can play tug-o-war with your pet pulling one end and you pulling the other.
  • Dog Sports: Having your Black Russian Terrier participate in sports for dogs and competitions helps keep them active and mentally stimulated. BRTs are known to engage in sports involving obedience, agility, and rally.


If you cannot keep up or provide a Black Russian Terrier with its exercise needs, it may lead to unwanted or destructive behavior. Any enthusiastic dog that cannot release its energy may become destructive and damage things within your home in an attempt to save itself from boredom.


Training a Black Russian Terrier

It would be like heaven if any dog that adopted were trained to its max potential instantly. In reality, for something like that to happen will require a lot of patience and hard work between dog owner and pet. Training a Black Russian Terrier should not be seen as a burden but an opportunity to create fun memories and bond with it further.


Training sessions are essential and should be set up scheduled the moment you bring your BRT puppy home. You should start training your Black Russian Terrier when they are a few months old and continue throughout their adult life. Puppies tend to absorb more, so it's essential to lock in desired behaviors as early as possible, or it may be much harder to train later on.


Always use positive reinforcement techniques, so your dog feels more confident and motivated to follow your commands. Associating rewards and praise with commands is one of the most successful ways to train your dog.


The BRT breed is very intelligent and is not shy to impose itself to have its way. Being firm yet kind during training sessions will help establish you as the alpha. Whether you decide to do it on your own or invest in training classes, your Black Russian Terrier should be participating in the following training sessions.



Your dog should be gently exposed to different dogs, pets, children, and people so that they can get used to different stimuli. The more exposure your Black Russian Terrier has to new experiences, sights, and sounds, the better they will adapt to the world.


Socialization is key in ensuring your BRT can live along with other dogs and cats, for example. They will not only make good companions with your family but will also never feel lonely if they house other pet roommates to play with.


Obedience Training

You can try getting your puppy to perform a basic command such as "sit" on the first multiple attempts and fail each time. Obedience training should take time and patience to master, but it will make all the difference.


Since Black Russian Terriers are intelligent, they can eventually learn advanced tricks and commands. Here are some of the neat things your dog is capable of.

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Stay
  • Wait
  • Heel
  • Come
  • Off
  • Rolling Over


You can also try enrolling your dog in puppy kindergarten to learn basic commands and behaviors and socialize with other puppies.


Crate Training

Your Black Russian Terrier is not meant for staying isolated outdoors and would prefer staying inside lying down next to you on a comfortable couch. Although there is nothing wrong with your dog cuddling up next to you, it helps to have a crate for them to sleep in and find refuge in.


Crate training is also a helpful way to introduce potty training. A house-trained Black Russian Terrier will be less likely to have accidents around the house and running nice carpet or furniture. This kind of training will help your dog breed get used to temporary confinement while healing from an injury or hiding from fireworks.


Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed History

The origins of the Black Russian Terrier can be traced back to the Red Star Kennel in Russia. The Red Star Kennel began as the first breeding grounds for the breed.


At the time, Russia was recovering from a revolution, the First World War, economic struggles, and then World War II. Despite decades of struggle, the Soviet Union became a world power. The nation needed an extra companion to help its soldiers and police patrol its different territories.


The Red Star Kennel was located in a hidden location, and the dog breeders did not have a lot of resources due to shortages. They started by mixing different breeds until they bred the perfect dog they were content with. The final result was a firm and consistent working dog with an outer coat capable of surviving freezing winters, intelligent enough to follow commands, and with enough endurance to chase potential enemies for miles.


Dog researchers have discovered 17 traces of different dog bred within the Black Russian Terrier. Some of the breeds are Airedale Terrier, Giant Schnauzer, and Great Danes.



Take a look at the Black Russian Terrier's historical timeline.

  • The 1940s: An earlier version of the Black Russian Terrier is successfully bred by a Soviet kennel, the Red Star.
  • 1958: The first Black Russian Terrier breed standard is published by the Soviet army.
  • 1981: The BRT breed is established by the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture.
  • 2004: After slowly being introduced to the United States for over a decade, the AKC recognizes Black Russian Terriers and categorizes them in the working group.


Despite being admired around the world for their intelligence, size, and hardiness, Black Russian Terriers are extremely difficult to obtain. Even if you were to find one, this breed is usually not recommended to first-time dog owners by breeders. This dog breed is also known as the "Black Pearl of Russia," thanks partly to its brawns and beauty.



two dogs enjoying each other's company



Common Health Problems Found in Black Russian Terriers 

Although Black Russian Terriers are generally pretty healthy, they may still be prone to a few common health problems.


When healthy, the BRTs have an average life span of about 10 to 12 years. Like with any health condition or illness, early detection is critical for a full recovery or to prevent more serious issues. Knowing the most common conditions may help your dog stay healthy and happy for as long as possible.


Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a defect where a dog's thigh bone does not fit properly with the hip joint. Elbow Dysplasia is similar, and only it affects the joints near the elbows or front limbs.


It can feel uncomfortable for your Black Russian Terrier to perform basic activities such as running and jumping. They are prone to lameness if these conditions are not treated early enough.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an eye disease that involves the deterioration of the retina. You may notice your dog struggling to walk or bumping into things constantly.


Eventually, your dog will become completely blind. Dogs, especially Black Russian Terriers, are smart animals and can adapt to their new settings by relying on their other heightened senses.


Urinary Tract Stones

Dogs are susceptible to bladder stones, which can cause painful urination. Serious health risks may occur if the urinary tract stones are left unchecked by a vet. Bladder stones may be treated once they are discovered quickly. A vet might prescribe medicine or perform surgery on your BRT.



Obesity is often regarded as the most common problem in dogs, regardless of breed. Dog owners often overfeed their dogs, which leads to a number of health and weight issues.


Obese dogs are more prone to serious health conditions that may be fatal. One of the easiest ways to prevent it is by cutting back on your dog's food and increasing its exercise time.


Besides honest breeders, another way to ensure your Black Russian Terrier enjoys a long life is to know how to properly care for them. Luckily, the next section contains tips on how to become the ultimate pet parent.



How to Care for a Black Russian Terrier

One of the first things many new dog owners do is make a checklist of things your dog will require to feel more at home. Proper dog care requires the right resources and a willingness to pamper your Black Russian Terrier to the best of your capabilities. Want to feel like the best pet parent in the world? Here are some tips to help get you started.


Safe Place to Retreat

Dogs become scared of loud noises such as fireworks and retreat somewhere to feel more at ease. A comfortable crate is a perfect spot for your Black Russian Terrier to relax. You can decorate it and make it more inviting as well! The crate is also useful for holding a sleeping mat for your BRT. It is a great place to store your dog's toys as well.


Doggy Toys

A tennis ball or frisbee are great toys to have outside for a fun game of catch. It helps to have a chewing toy for puppies with growing teeth, or else your Black Russian Terrier might chew up your shoe!


For smart dogs like Black Russian Terriers, puzzles and treat-dispensing toys are a great way to receive mental stimulation. These types of toys keep your dog entertained and gives it the fulfillment of achieving a task.


Routine Veterinary Visits

Checking in with a veterinarian may help address potential health conditions you might not have noticed the symptoms for. It is also a great opportunity to ask your vet any questions, comments, or concerns about your Black Russian Terrier's health. If you have questions about certain dog products, vet visits are a way to get a medical animal professional's opinion.



Nutrition and Feeding for a Black Russian Terrier

Feeding your Black Russian terrier can be an activity you can share with your family. It is a good way to get your kids involved in feeding their dogs. Proper nutrition and adequate feeding help ensure your BRT leads a healthy life.


Each Black Russian Terrier feeding requirement depends on different factors. A dog's size, age, and weight can determine how much food your dog should consume. A Black Russian Terrier should consume 3 to 4.5 cups of high-quality dog food in two feedings daily.


Dog food should not be something to cut corners on. It is best to invest in top-quality dog food made out of all-natural ingredients and free of any harmful byproducts or preservatives.


Dogs can also tolerate a home-cooked meal with the assistance of a veterinary nutritionist. When it comes to treats, some snacks can offer nutritional value to a dog's diet.


Certain fruits and vegetables, such as bite-sized carrots and blueberries, are great dogs. Unseasoned cooked salmon and eggs are also a great source of protein for Black Russian Terriers.


For the safety of your dog, avoid feeding them chocolate, onions, chives, or garlic. Accidental ingestion may lead to stomach issues, vomiting, or diarrhea.



Coat Color And Grooming

When it comes to coat color, Black Russian Terriers keep it simple. Black is the only and acceptable coat color for this breed. Its hairy coat, however, can benefit from routine upkeep.


Be cautious of breeders attempting to sell BRT puppies in different coat colors other than black. Different colors typically mean a mixed breed or unpure bloodline. However, it isn't unusual for some Black Russian Terriers to have a small number of gray hairs throughout their coat.


The Black Russian Terrier's coat has tousled hair dense and about two to five inches in length. This large breed does not shed too much, but daily brushing may help its double coat spread healthy skin oils. It is recommended to trim your BRT's hair every two to three months to keep its coat looking good.


Grooming Tips

Besides brushing its coat, you should also include the following things during your dog's weekly grooming session.

  • Dental Hygiene: Through training, your dog should feel comfortable having its teeth cleaned weekly. It removes tartar buildup and can be done with the use of a dog-friendly toothbrush.
  • Nail Trims: If you hear a clicking sound whenever your Black Russian Terrier walks, they may have overgrown nails, which can be painful for your dog. Everyday activity should wear the nails down, but you should check their nails about once a month just to be safe.
  • Parasite Inspection: Has your dog been scratching itself more than usual? It could be lice, mites, or fleas which feed off your dog's skin and blood. Using a specialized doggy comb can help you find any unwanted pests on your dog.
  • Bath: Some dogs may react differently to bathtime, but it helps keep the coat looking wonderful. Be mindful not to bathe your dog too much, or it may develop dry skin. You should schedule a bath for your dog every two to three months (depends on the breed and coat type).
  • Debris Cleaning: Use your weekly grooming session with your dog to check its ears and eyes for dirt. Instead of using your finger, use a q-tip to clean its ears and eyes of any unwanted debris.



group of four black dogs



Children And Other Pets

Black Russian Terriers calm around children and can tolerate other pets. Despite being a large breed, this dog will guard the children of the house and enjoy playing with them.


This dog has a gentle temperament, and it is much easier for it to feel relaxed around other children if it has been through socialization training. It has the energy level to keep up with your kids all day.


Black Russian Terrier breeds can also co-live with other dogs and cats. It may be best to avoid smaller pets like rodents and hamsters around any dog.



Black Russian Terrier Dog Rescue Groups

Some dog owners cannot meet the care needs of a Black Russian Terrier for whatever reason. Fortunately for these dogs, rescue groups are available to help rehome them with a person who can care for them. Here are some Black Russian Terrier rescue groups.

  • Black Russian Terrier Rescue Association: This rescue organization can find and rehome Black Russian Terriers with the help of volunteers. This rescue group has partnerships with different adoption centers nationwide.
  • Rescue Me!: This rescue group is highly regarded for helping rehome dogs and other animals too!



Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed Organizations

If you are interested in obtaining a BRT puppy from a reputable breeder, be ready to save money. Black Russian Terriers might be pricey, but you are receiving an amazing dog from a trusted breeder.


If you are interested in a puppy, make sure to request health clearances from the breeder. They should be transparent about any potential health risks of a puppy.

  • Black Russian Terrier Club of America: The official AKC parent club for Black Russian Terriers helps connect people with certified breeders. It is a network available for dog owners to discuss the Black Russian terrier as well.
  • Guardian Bears Kennel: Based out of North Carolina, Guardian Bears Kennel is an award-winning breeding organization. Many of the dogs from this group have gone on to win awards.



More About the Black Russian Terrier

There is so much to love about the Black Russian Terrier. Although it is a rare breed and can take time to find one to adopt, the Black Russian Terrier is a dog that will bring so much joy to you and your family.


This dog's needs might be better suited for a more experienced dog owner. But after reading through this guide, you should feel confident in caring for the Black Russian Terrier on your own!

Reading next

American Foxhound: Complete Breed Information
English Shepherd Dog Breed Guide: Get To Know This Versatile Canine

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Looking for something in particular?

Stay connected & get updates on the latest pet news