Black Russian Terrier Overview

Dog Breed:
Black Russian Terrier
Breed Group:
Working Group
Courageous. confident, aloof, intelligent and powerful
26-30 inches
80-130 pounds
Life Span:
10-12 years
Coat Colors:
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Experienced dog owners/Strong interest in training/Securely fenced garden

Black Russian Terrier Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Black Russian Terrier

  • For experienced owners only

  • Requires a lifelong commitment to training

  • Less tolerant of heat than other breeds


An imposing breed, the Black Russian Terrier, was designed for protection tasks and to go into combat situations. Although breeders now also consider the need for their dogs to be a good companion, the BRT still maintains its protective nature. If it’s important for you to have a dog that greets everyone like a long-lost friend, you should consider another breed.

When this is combined with the BRTs’ large stature, then it’s clear to see that this is not a dog for a first-time owner, nor is it likely to be a good fit for a busy young family.

This is a breed that needs training throughout their life. They will thrive when provided with the opportunity to exercise both their bodies and their brains. With an owner who also enjoys long walks, hill climbing, or daily runs, then the BRT can be an excellent companion. 

Having been bred initially to tolerate harsh winter conditions, the BRT is less tolerant of heat than other breeds. They can adapt but will want to be near air conditioning during hot summer months. 

Black Russian Terrier Breed History

  • Developed by the Russian Military

  • A combination of over 17 breeds

  • Arrived in the US in the 1980s


In the 1930’s, the Russian military began to develop a working breed that would be capable of becoming part of the security forces. However, the lack of purebred dogs following the Russian Revolution and subsequent World War created challenges for the project.

So, it was not until after World War II that the program really began to make developments when Giant Schnauzers and Rottweilers were imported into Russia. Combining these breeds with over 17 others, including the Newfoundland and the Airedale, the development of the Black Russian Terrier began. It was highly important that the dogs were trainable, very reliable, and could cope with the extreme Russian winters. 

By 1956 the breeding had reached the point whereby they were able to consistently breed the RBT to type so that puppies all had a very similar appearance and personality traits. At this point, the military began to release dogs to private breeders, and in 1981 the breed was formally recognized by Russia, and this followed by Europe in 1984.

BRTs finally arrived in the US in the 1980s and was admitted to the Working Group by the American Kennel Club in 2004

Black Russian Terrier Size & Weight

  • Imposing powerful breed

  • Measuring up to 30 inches high

  • Weighing up to 130pounds


This is an imposing breed with males being between 27-30 inches high at the shoulder and weighing up to 130 pounds. Females measure between 26-29 inches and can also weigh up to 130lbs.

Not only is this a large breed in height, but their full stature is about their powerful presence. Large boned with well-developed muscles, this is a dog designed for strength.

When combined with the BRTs’ protective nature, it’s clear that this is a breed that is only suitable for experienced owners and handlers

Black Russian Terrier Personality & Temperament

  • Calm and courageous

  • Naturally protective

  • Can be territorial towards other dogs


Calm and courageous, the Russian Black Terrier has an air of confidence, which can mean that they can be aloof towards people they don’t know.

This is a highly intelligent breed with strong guarding instincts and protective nature. The BRT is a very loyal companion who takes their responsibilities seriously. So, early socialization and training are essential to prevent them from becoming overprotective of family members.

The BRT should be even-tempered, and should they feel the need for defensive behavior, they should then quickly relax again once the situation has passed. 

Careful integration with the family is needed, and they should always be supervised around young children; their sheer size means they can accidentally knock toddlers to the floor.

This can be a territorial breed, but they can be good with other dogs and with cats as long as there are careful introductions. However, this is not guaranteed, and there may be challenges in introducing a BRT to an existing group of dogs. 

While the BRT can tolerate all weather conditions, they do not thrive when living away from the family. They can adapt to apartment living as long as they have good walks every day and the opportunity to play. 

Black Russian Terrier Health & Grooming

  • Some genetic conditions which breeders should test their dogs for

  • A double coat which will need twice weekly grooming

  • Trimming around the mustache and beard is needed


The Black Russian Terrier is generally a healthy breed. There are some genetic conditions that responsible breeders will screen their dogs for before breeding – 

  1. Hip and elbow dysplasia which can cause joint problems resulting in lameness and pain
  2. Eye problems including Progressive Retinal Atrophy which leads to blindness
  3. Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy. A condition that can cause the dog’s airway only to open partially, making it difficult for the BRT to get enough air. 

The Black Russian Terrier has a double coat, so that’s a thick, soft undercoat covered by a coarse, weatherproof outer coat. A thorough groom is needed twice a week to prevent mats from forming. 

Some trimming may be needed around the beard and mustache, and a trim with clippers every few months will keep the coat tidy. Many owners do this themselves unless they are showing their dog when they may call on the assistance of a professional groomer.

The BRT doesn’t tend to shed too much hair, but the double coat does mean that there will be more hair around the house than if you were to have a single coated dog. 

Black Russian Terrier Training

  • Training is essential throughout a BRTs life

  • Highly intelligent breed

  • High prey drive


Training is an essential part of owning a Black Russian Terrier. This is a lifetime commitment that commences at puppyhood with attending socialization classes. Training always needs to be reward-based, this is a partnership, and the BRT will not respond well to physical punishment.

The BRT is a highly intelligent breed, and they will thrive with the challenge of training for a wide range of dog sports. The greater the control you have and the higher the standard of obedience, then the more enjoyable it becomes to own this breed. 

The Black Russian Terrier can be both intimidating and pushy, and this requires an owner who can be consistent in their expectations and a trainer who is experienced in working with guarding breeds. 

The breed does have a high prey drive, and so this can mean that they may chase cats and other animals if given the opportunity. This makes training a reliable recall essential for off-leash exercise. 

Black Russian Terrier Exercise Requirements

  • Training is essential throughout a BRTs life

  • Highly intelligent breed

  • High prey drive


The BRT will happily take as much exercise as you can offer but will be content with an hour a day with the opportunity for free running. These are great companions for owners who enjoy trekking mountain trails, and they’ll happily trot alongside you on your morning run. 

Care is needed with exercise levels for both pups and young dogs while their bones are still growing. Advice from your veterinarian is essential to ensure that you don’t over exercise youngsters. 

The BRT can be playful within their family and will a game of frisbee or retrieving a ball. Combining exercise with training is an excellent way of tiring a dog’s brain and body. Hide and seek games and searching for favorite toys can be great options. 

Black Russian Terrier Diet & Feeding

  • Speak to your veterinarian or pet nutritionist for expert advice on nutrition

  • Look for food which matches your dog's age, exercise levels, and breed

  • Incorrect feeding and supplementing can cause medical problems


There are now many different types of feed that take into account your dogs breed, age, and exercise level, but for advice on the correct nutrition for your BRT, speak to your veterinarian or pet nutritionist. 

There are two conditions BRT are affected by and which can be caused by incorrect nutrition. Firstly, there is Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD), which can cause structural problems, resulting in the dog being unable to stand. It’s thought that this is caused by the dog receiving too much calcium in their diet.

Then there is Panosteitis (Pano or Wandering Lameness), which is associated with the BRT growing too quickly. It causes lameness but it does tend to disappear as the dog matures at around two years old. 

Black Russian Terrier Rescue Groups

The BRT is a rare breed in the US and so not too many dogs find themselves needing a new home. However, there are times when this does become necessary, and then the following breed rescue group can help both with finding new homes and helping those who would like to adopt.

Black Russian Terrier Rescue –

For further information on this breed check out the website for the Black Russian Terrier Club of America at