Black Russian Terrier

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black russian terrier portrait
Meet the Black Russian Terrier, an extraordinary blend of strength, intelligence, and affection! Boasting a captivating history, a unique fur coat that's a sight to behold, and a personality full of charm, they are indeed a breed apart.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

If you’re a fan of big, intelligent dogs with a protective streak, the Black Russian Terrier is your perfect match! They’re best for active families who can provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. With their love for human companionship and a natural instinct to guard, they’ll fit right into a loving, adventurous home.


OFFICIAL NAMEBlack Russian Terrier
OTHER NAMESBRT, Tchornyi Terrier
BREED GROUPWorking Group
HEIGHT25-30 inches
WEIGHT80-130 lbs
LIFESPAN10-12 years
black russian terrier at a park
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The Black Russian Terrier is a breed that’s as robust as it is regal. Standing tall at 26 to 30 inches for males and 25 to 28 inches for females, these dogs are a sight to behold. You’ll find them tipping the scales anywhere between 80 to 130 pounds, with males generally larger than their female counterparts.

Their bodies are sturdy and strong, designed to endure Russia’s harsh climate. Their muscles ripple beneath their coat, a testament to their strength and power. Despite their size, they exude an air of grace and elegance, moving with a confident stride that demands attention.

Take a closer look, and you’ll be drawn to their heads, large and blocky. They sport a powerful set of jaws, perfect for those playful tug-of-war sessions. Don’t be fooled by their serious expression; there’s a glint of mischievousness hiding in their dark, oval-shaped eyes.

Their ears? They’re triangular, high-set, and hang close to the cheek, always alert to the sounds around them. And let’s not forget their tails! They’re thick at the base, set high, and carried at an upward angle, adding to their majestic appearance.

Now, let’s talk about their crowning glory – their coats. The Black Russian Terrier sports a double coat, with a dense, soft undercoat and a coarse, protective outer coat. As the name suggests, their coat is predominantly black, sometimes sprinkled with a few gray hairs. It’s a coat that commands a fair bit of grooming, but when it’s freshly brushed, it’s a sight to behold!

The Black Russian Terrier’s expression is often described as ‘serious and self-assured’. They carry an air of nobility, yet there’s a hint of playfulness that peeks through, especially when they’re around their favorite humans.

In a nutshell, the Black Russian Terrier combines strength, agility, and beauty in a way few breeds can match. They are truly a magnificent breed, each one a unique embodiment of grace and power.

black russian terrier's face
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The Black Russian Terrier, or BRT as they’re affectionately known, is a breed like no other. With a personality that’s as striking as their physical appearance, they are an absolute joy to be around. They’re not just dogs, they’re companions, protectors, and members of the family.

BRTs are often described as ‘serious’ dogs, and it’s true to some extent – there’s a certain air of dignity about them. They carry themselves with grace and confidence, always aware of their surroundings, always ready to protect their loved ones.

Despite their serious exterior, BRTs are incredibly loving and loyal. They form deep bonds with their human families and are happiest when they’re included in family activities. Whether it’s lounging on the couch during movie nights or accompanying you on weekend trips, they’re always up for some quality family time.

One of the things that make BRTs stand out is their intelligence. These dogs are quick learners, with a keen sense of understanding and impressive problem-solving skills. They have a knack for figuring things out and love engaging in activities that challenge their minds.

But don’t be fooled by their intellectual prowess; BRTs are also known for their playful side. They love to play fetch, chase after balls, and indulge in a good old game of tug-of-war. Their playful nature coupled with their gentle temperament makes them great companions for children.

BRTs can be quite reserved when it comes to strangers. They’re naturally wary of people they don’t know and will take their time to warm up to new faces. However, once they’ve decided that you’re a friend, they’re incredibly welcoming and affectionate.

BRTs are also known for their protective instinct. They’re fiercely protective of their families and will go to great lengths to ensure their safety. They’re not aggressive, but if they sense a threat, they won’t hesitate to step in and defend their loved ones.

At home, BRTs are calm and well-behaved. They’re not overly active indoors and are quite content to curl up at your feet while you’re reading a book or working on your computer. But remember, they’re always alert and always watching over their family.

In terms of adaptability, BRTs are quite versatile. They can acclimate to different living conditions and climates, thanks to their Russian heritage. Whether it’s a city apartment or a country home, they can make themselves comfortable as long as they’re with their family.

black russian terrier sitting in front of a tree
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Ideal Environment

The Black Russian Terrier can thrive in a variety of environments. But let’s delve into what constitutes an ideal setting for these noble creatures.

Ideal Owner

At the heart of their happiness, BRTs crave human companionship. They’re not the kind of dogs that are content with being left alone in the backyard. They need to be part of the family’s daily life, so pet parents who are home often or can include their BRT in their day-to-day activities are a perfect match.

Other Pets

As for other pets, BRTs can get along well with dogs and cats they’ve been raised with. However, their strong protective instinct means they may not be as welcoming to unfamiliar animals. Early socialization is key to promoting a friendly disposition.

Physical Environment

While they are large in size, Black Russian Terriers can adapt well to apartment living, provided they get enough exercise and mental stimulation. However, a house with a securely fenced yard where they can safely explore and play would be their paradise.

Climate Adaptability

When it comes to climate, the Black Russian Terrier is a hardy breed thanks to their Russian roots. Their dense double coat provides excellent insulation against cold weather, making them quite comfortable in chillier climates. In fact, don’t be surprised if your BRT seems to enjoy frolicking in the snow!

That said, their thick coat also means they can struggle in hot weather. During warm months, it’s crucial to provide plenty of shade and fresh water, and limit exercise to cooler parts of the day. Air conditioning or fans indoors can also help keep your BRT comfortable.

two black russian terriers up close
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The Black Russian Terrier requires a bit more grooming than your average breed. But don’t fret! With the right tools, a little patience, and a whole lot of love, you can keep your BRT looking their best.

Coat Care

Let’s start with that glorious coat. The outer layer is coarse and protective, while the undercoat is soft and dense. To keep it healthy and tangle-free, regular brushing is a must. Aim for at least two to three times a week using a slicker brush or a rake designed for long-coated breeds. This will help remove loose hair and prevent matting.

Bathing your BRT isn’t something you need to do often – once every two to three months should suffice unless they’ve decided to roll in something particularly smelly. Use a gentle dog shampoo to protect their skin and coat. After bathing, make sure to thoroughly dry your BRT to prevent any skin issues.

Now, let’s talk about their facial hair. BRTs sport a gorgeous ‘beard’ and ‘eyebrows’, which add to their distinctive look. These areas can get dirty quickly, especially after meals, so daily cleaning with a damp cloth is recommended.

Dental Care

Next up is dental care. Just like us, BRTs can suffer from gum disease and bad breath if their teeth aren’t regularly cared for. Daily brushing with a canine toothpaste and toothbrush is ideal. Dental chews and a balanced diet can also contribute to oral health.

Nail Trimming

Don’t forget those nails! Depending on how active your BRT is, their nails may need trimming anywhere from every few weeks to every couple of months. If you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. Use a good quality nail clipper or grinder designed for large breeds. Always be careful not to cut into the quick – the sensitive part of the nail that can bleed if cut.

Ear Care

Lastly, regular checks of their ears are important to prevent infections. Use a vet-recommended cleaner and gently wipe out any dirt or wax build-up once a week.

Additional Grooming Tips

Grooming your Black Russian Terrier can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a wonderful opportunity to bond with your furry friend. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing your BRT look their best!

Remember, every BRT is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Always consult with your vet or a professional groomer if you’re unsure. Above all, make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and treats and your BRT will come to enjoy their grooming sessions. After all, who doesn’t love a good spa day?

black russian terrier sitting on green grass
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Keeping up with a Black Russian Terrier’s exercise needs can be quite the workout, but it’s also a whole lot of fun! These are large, energetic dogs who love to stay active. They’ve got an abundance of energy to burn, and they rely on their favorite humans to help them do just that.

Exercise Amount & Types

So, what exactly does ‘exercise’ mean for a BRT? Well, a leisurely stroll around the block won’t cut it. They need at least an hour of vigorous exercise every day. This can be broken down into a couple of walks, play sessions, or training exercises.

Your BRT would absolutely love a good game of fetch in a secure area, a hike through nature, or even a swim if they’re comfortable with water. Mixing up their activities not only keeps them physically fit but also provides much-needed mental stimulation.

Training exercises are another excellent way to keep your BRT active. They’re intelligent dogs with a knack for problem-solving, so activities like agility courses or obedience training can be great fun for them. Plus, it strengthens the bond between you and your furry friend.

Dog Sports

For those with a competitive streak, why not consider dog sports? The Black Russian Terrier excels in various canine competitions such as obedience, agility, and rally trials. Their strength and intelligence, coupled with their eagerness to please, make them outstanding contenders.

Remember, exercise isn’t just about keeping your BRT physically fit. It’s also an essential part of their mental well-being. Regular exercise prevents boredom, which can lead to destructive behaviors. It also helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes overall good health.

black russian terrier sitting behind tall grass
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Training a Black Russian Terrier can be an absolute joy! These intelligent dogs are quick learners, eager to please, and have a natural inclination towards obedience. But don’t be fooled by their impressive intellect – training a BRT still requires patience, consistency, and a dash of creativity.

Start training your BRT from a young age. Early socialization is crucial for this breed. Expose them to different environments, people, and animals to help them grow into well-rounded, confident adults.

When it comes to obedience training, positive reinforcement is the way to go. BRTs respond well to rewards-based methods. Treats, praises, or a favorite toy can work wonders in motivating your furry friend. Remember, these dogs are sensitive souls, harsh correction methods will do more harm than good.

BRTs are excellent problem solvers, so don’t shy away from challenging them. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for this breed. Training sessions that engage their minds, like learning new commands or tricks, can be incredibly fulfilling for them.

One specific aspect to consider while training a BRT is their protective instinct. They’re naturally wary of strangers and can be protective of their family. It’s essential to teach them how to differentiate between a threat and a friendly visitor.

Consistency is key when training your BRT. Make sure all family members are on the same page regarding rules and commands. Mixed signals can confuse your dog and hinder their progress.

Lastly, remember that training should be fun for both you and your BRT. Keep sessions short and engaging to maintain their interest. And don’t forget to heap on the praise when they do well. A little encouragement goes a long way in boosting their confidence.

black russian terrier running
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Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding a Black Russian Terrier is about more than just filling their bowl. These large, active dogs have specific dietary needs that need to be met to keep them healthy and happy.

What to Feed & How Much

When choosing the right food for your BRT, quality is key. Look for premium dog foods that follow the AAFCO guidelines. Whether you opt for dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet will depend on your BRT’s specific needs and preferences. Some dogs do well on a mix of wet and dry food, while others prefer one over the other.

The amount of food your BRT requires will depend on their age, size, and activity level. Puppies generally require more frequent feedings – about three to four times a day. As they grow into adults, you can reduce this to two meals a day. Always refer to the feeding guidelines on the food packaging and adjust as necessary based on your vet’s advice.


Treats are an excellent training aid, but remember, they should make up no more than 10% of your BRT’s daily calories. Opt for healthy treats like pieces of fruits or vegetables, or specially formulated dog treats.


Hydration is crucial for your BRT. Ensure they always have access to fresh, clean water, especially during hot weather or after exercise. Regularly clean their water bowl to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Additional Feeding Tips

One thing to watch out for in BRTs is rapid eating. These dogs have a tendency to gobble down their food quickly, which can lead to digestive issues. Using a slow-feeder bowl can help pace their eating.

Lastly, regular check-ups with your vet are essential to monitor your BRT’s weight and overall health. They can provide personalized dietary advice based on your dog’s specific needs.

black russian terrier with its tongue out
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Black Russian Terriers, with their robust build and hearty heritage, generally enjoy a healthy life. They have a life expectancy of around 10-12 years, which they tend to live out in good health, provided they receive the right care and attention.

However, like all breeds, BRTs can be prone to certain health issues. Here are of some common concerns to keep an eye on:

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These are common conditions in larger breeds, where the joints don’t develop correctly. Regular vet checks can help detect these early.

Eye Problems: BRTs can be susceptible to various eye conditions like cataracts or progressive retinal atrophy. Regular eye checks are recommended.

Heart Conditions: Some BRTs may suffer from heart diseases such as cardiomyopathy. Regular heart screenings can help catch any issues early.

Allergies: BRTs can sometimes suffer from food or environmental allergies. Symptoms can include itching, redness, and digestive issues.

Bloat: This is a serious condition where the stomach twists on itself, often seen in large, deep-chested breeds. Feeding smaller meals throughout the day and avoiding heavy exercise after eating can help prevent this.

To keep your BRT in tip-top health, a balanced diet is crucial. Quality dog food that meets AAFCO guidelines, along with occasional healthy treats, will provide them with the nutrients they need.

Regular veterinary check-ups are also key in maintaining your BRT’s health. These check-ups allow for early detection and treatment of any potential health issues.

Keeping your BRT up-to-date with vaccinations is another important aspect of their healthcare. Vaccinations protect them from various diseases and help ensure they live a long, healthy life.

black russian terrier's face up close
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The Black Russian Terrier, often referred to as the “Black Pearl of Russia,” has a history as fascinating as the breed itself. Born out of necessity and carefully crafted over time, the BRT’s story is one of resilience, ingenuity, and ultimately, success.

The tale begins in the aftermath of World War II, when the Soviet Red Army was in desperate need of working dogs for military and police work. The ideal dog needed to be robust, intelligent, and adaptable to the harsh Russian climate. With these requirements in mind, the army’s Central School of Military Kynology, based in Moscow, embarked on a mission to create the perfect breed.

Over the course of two decades, they crossed about 17 different breeds, including the Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, Airedale Terrier, and Newfoundland, among others. The result? The versatile, hardy, and incredibly intelligent Black Russian Terrier.

The BRT quickly proved to be an invaluable asset to the Soviet forces, excelling in various roles such as border patrol, search and rescue, and guard duty. However, it wasn’t until the late 1950s that the breed was available to civilian breeders, and they quickly gained popularity across Russia and Eastern Europe.

Despite their impressive heritage and growing popularity, it took a while for the BRT to make its way to the United States. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the first BRTs were imported into America, and even then, they remained relatively unknown for some time.

However, their charm and versatility couldn’t be ignored for long. In 2001, the American Kennel Club (AKC) added the Black Russian Terrier to its Miscellaneous Class, and in 2004, they became a recognized breed in the Working Group.

Parent Club

The Black Russian Terrier Club of America (BRTCA) is the official parent club for Black Russian Terriers in the United States. Established in 1996, BRTCA is dedicated to promoting and preserving the breed through education, events, and breed-specific programs.

You can visit their website for more information about the club, their activities, and resources on Black Russian Terriers.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check the Black Russian Terrier’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

black russian terrier puppy sleeping
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If you’re considering welcoming a Black Russian Terrier into your life, there are a few things you should prepare for. These dogs are large, active, and require regular mental stimulation. Make sure you have the space, time, and energy to meet their needs.

If you choose to buy, always opt for reputable breeders who prioritize health and temperament over appearance. However, consider opening your heart to a BRT in need of a home.

Rescuing a dog is a rewarding experience and gives a second chance to a deserving pet. The AKC and the BRTCA can assist with rescuing efforts and help guide you through the process. Remember, the love of a rescued dog is a priceless reward!


Is the Black Russian Terrier a good family dog?

Absolutely! Black Russian Terriers are known for their loyalty and affection towards their families. They’re great with children and can be protective, making them excellent family dogs. However, their large size and high energy levels mean they’re better suited to families with a spacious living environment and an active lifestyle.

Is the Black Russian Terrier the same as a Giant Schnauzer?

No, they’re different breeds. While the Giant Schnauzer is one of the many breeds used to create the Black Russian Terrier, they have distinct characteristics and temperaments.

Are Black Russian Terriers rare?

In some areas, yes. They’re not as commonly seen as some other breeds. In the United States, they’ve been growing in popularity since being recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2004.

How big do Black Russian Terriers get?

Black Russian Terriers are a large breed. Males can reach up to 30 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 80-145 pounds, while females are slightly smaller.

Are Black Russian Terriers hypoallergenic?

Black Russian Terriers are considered a hypoallergenic breed due to their low-shedding coats. However, no dog is completely hypoallergenic. Individuals with allergies should spend time with a BRT before bringing one home.

Do Black Russian Terriers require a lot of grooming?

Yes, their thick, curly coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling. Professional grooming every few months is also recommended to keep their coat in top condition.

Are Black Russian Terriers easy to train?

With their intelligence and eagerness to please, Black Russian Terriers are generally quite trainable. However, their independent nature means they benefit from consistent, positive reinforcement training methods. Early socialization and obedience training are crucial for this breed.

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