The Black Russian Terrier is strong of body and mind. This is a large-boned and well-muscled dog, strong and agile 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 outer coat repels water while the undercoat insulates the dog from the cold. Length of coat should vary from 1.5″ to 4″ with longer coats detracting from the dog’s working ability.
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 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.
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 the Black Russian Terrier became a regular member of the Working Group.
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.
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. They are quiet inside. They do not bark frivolously. The BRT doesn’t shed much, but the coat needs thorough combing once or twice a week, and trimming every six to eight weeks. The coat should appear tousled.