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Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed Information & Characteristics Full Guide of 2024

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black russian terrierAs a veterinarian who specializes in terriers, I’m fascinated by the Black Russian Terrier.

Did you know this relatively new breed was only recognized by the AKC in 2004?

With their large, muscular build and protective instincts, these dogs need plenty of exercise and training.

Their thick coats also require significant grooming.

But if you’re ready to put in the work, the loyal and lively Black Russian Terrier can make a wonderful companion for the right owner.

Key Takeaways

  • Imposing yet gentle companion dog that is loyal and protective of family members
  • Requires substantial daily physical and mental exercise to prevent destructive behaviors
  • Easy to train using positive reinforcement methods started in puppyhood
  • Large dog with special grooming needs due to weather-resistant double coat

Breed Overview

Breed Overview
The Black Russian Terrier possesses a striking appearance, loyal nature, and protective instincts.

As a veterinarian who frequently interacts with this magnificent breed, I am consistently impressed by their bold presence and unwavering devotion to their human family.

Proper socialization and training from puppyhood are essential for ensuring their success in family life. Their high intelligence makes them receptive to positive reinforcement methods when teaching basic commands and social skills.

Daily vigorous exercise satisfies their working heritage and prevents boredom or destructive tendencies.

Adopters should consider their substantial size, exercise requirements, grooming needs, and tendency toward wariness with strangers.

Overall, the Black Russian Terrier’s beauty, trainability, and steadfast loyalty make them a top choice for those desiring an imposing yet gentle companion.

Health clearances, early socialization, and an active lifestyle enable this breed to reach their full potential as steadfast protectors and affectionate family members.

Physical Traits

Physical Traits
As you know, the Black Russian Terrier is a large, sturdy dog with a distinguished appearance.

Let’s focus our discussion on two key physical traits:

  • Size: Standing 26-30 inches tall and weighing 80-150 pounds, these big dogs have a commanding presence.
  • Coat: Their weather-resistant, double black coat is wiry and thick, providing excellent protection from the elements.


You’re looking at a large breed dog that typically stands 26 to 30 inches tall and weighs 80 to 150 pounds when fully grown.

At birth, puppies may weigh just a pound.

Around 5 months of age, they reach 50% adult weight.

You’ll need to monitor weight, as obesity risks joint issues.

This large size requires strength to jump hurdles in agility yet nimbleness to excel at the sport.

Managing growth rate through diet optimizes bone development and athleticism.

While quite tall, their moderate bone density makes them lighter than appearance suggests.


Although you’ll find its coat is most strikingly all-black and thick, the Black Russian Terrier has a dual coat comprised of a dense undercoat and harsh outer coat that offers protection.

Weekly brushing helps reduce shedding and keeps the coat clean.

Grooming techniques like handstripping can help maintain the harsh outer coat.

Despite heavy shedding periods in the spring and fall, their coat is considered hypoallergenic.


You’ve got a loyal and brave dog with a Black Russian Terrier.

Its strong protective instincts make it a superb guard dog that’s suspicious of strangers yet gentle with its family.

The breed is also intelligent and eager to please, so it’s easy to train.

As experts in Black Russian Terriers, we understand the loyalty dynamics and protective nature of this breed.

With proper socialization and training from puppyhood, the dog’s suspicions of strangers can be managed while enhancing its unwavering devotion to family.

Intelligent and eager to please, this breed responds very well to positive reinforcement training techniques focused on establishing you as the confident pack leader.

Daily mental stimulation through play, exercise, and engaging activities satisfies the breed’s high drive and need for purpose.

Proper care and training helps ensure your Black Russian Terrier’s loyalty and devotion translates into a gentle, affectionate family companion you can count on.

Exercise Needs

Exercise Needs
You’ll want to provide this energetic breed with plenty of daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

As a working dog, Black Russian Terriers need plenty of opportunities to vent their energy. Take them on long, brisk walks, hikes, or jogs where they can explore new sights and sounds. Interactive games like fetch, frisbee, or flirt pole are great to engage their bodies and minds.

Without sufficient exercise, these intelligent dogs may get bored and engage in destructive behaviors. However, with appropriate outlets for their energy and prey drive, Black Russian Terriers can thrive in apartments or smaller living spaces.

Just be prepared to commit to providing them with at least 60-90 minutes of vigorous activity per day. Consistency and routine are key to channeling their playful nature in positive ways.

With the proper exercise regimen, this adaptable breed can flourish.

Training Requirements

Training Requirements
You must provide this intelligent breed with consistent, firm training and socialization starting as a pup to shape them into obedient, calm companions.

As an observant working breed with protective instincts, Black Russian Terriers need structured outlets for their mental and physical energy to prevent boredom and unwanted behaviors.

Use interactive commands, positive reinforcement, and varied activities that engage their high working drive and intelligence.

Expose them to new sights, sounds, people, and other dogs starting early to ensure proper socialization and build confidence.

Ongoing obedience training, agility, or advanced tricks provide vital mental stimulation while reinforcing the human-canine bond.

With the proper commitment to early socialization and consistent training, the Black Russian Terrier’s stable temperament and eagerness to please make them a joy to own.

Their low-maintenance coat simply requires weekly brushing to stay looking sharp.

Grooming Needs

Grooming Needs
How regularly must you groom a Black Russian Terrier?

While this breed has a wired double coat that doesn’t shed much, weekly brushing is essential to minimize any loose hairs and promote healthy skin and a shiny topcoat.

Use a medium stiff bristle brush and metal comb to lift debris and distribute natural oils throughout the harsh outer hairs and soft undercoat.

Pay special attention to the longer fringe hairs on the chest, tail, backs of legs, and behind the ears.

Checking for mats or tangles in these featherings should be part of every grooming session.

An occasional trim to tidy the feet, ears, and hocks will neaten appearance, along with regularly washing facial hair to prevent buildup in the signature beard and mustache.

Consistent coat care prevents excessive shedding and keeps this magnificent working terrier looking tidy in between professional grooming appointments every four to six weeks.

Health Issues

Health Issues
Several health problems plague your Black Russian Terrier, including hip and elbow dysplasia, ear infections, and eye issues.

As a veterinarian who cares deeply about canine health, I recommend being proactive to catch issues early.

  • Schedule annual exams, bloodwork, and radiographs to monitor joints and screen for genetic disease.
  • Clean ears weekly using a gentle cleanser to prevent infection. Discharge or odor indicates infection – consult your veterinarian promptly.
  • Wipe eyes daily with warm water and cotton to prevent irritation and discharge. Redness, swelling, or squinting warrants a veterinary visit.
  • Feed a high-quality diet and avoid excess treats. Obesity strains joints.
  • Socialize extensively as a puppy to prevent fear, reactivity, or aggression issues.

Prioritizing preventative care and early intervention helps your Black Russian Terrier live their healthiest, happiest life as your beloved companion. Partnering with your veterinarian provides the care and guidance needed for their optimal well-being.

Origin and History

Origin and History
After learning about the health issues they can face, you’re probably wondering where these striking dogs came from.

As a breed developed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the Black Russian Terrier has a fascinating history.

Military scientists crossed several breeds like Giant Schnauzers, Airedales, and Rottweilers to create a robust, versatile working dog for military and police applications.

Initially used to guard gulags and borders, their courage and protectiveness made them excel.

By the 1980s, these dogs started gaining popularity as family pets and companions too.

Their winning personality, trainability, and striking good looks captivated people worldwide.

After years of development and fine-tuning by dedicated breeders, the Black Russian Terrier earned AKC recognition in 2004.

Today, this versatile breed continues gaining fans across the globe – proof of their exceptional qualities as steadfast protectors and delightful companions.

Though a relatively new breed, the Black Russian Terrier has certainly left its mark thanks to its rich Russian roots and Cold War evolution into a treasured breed.

Living Conditions

Living Conditions
You’ll find this breed can adapt to apartment living, provided their considerable exercise needs are met.

As a reputable breeder and terrier group judge, I often recommend Black Russian Terriers as great family pets for urban dwellers since they:

  • Can adapt to smaller spaces with enough daily walks
  • Bond closely with their owners, wanting to be near them
  • Are relatively inactive when indoors compared to outside
  • Require close human contact and don’t do well isolated
  • Love activities like long walks, romping and playing
  • Have low wanderlust potential so won’t roam far

While their protective guarding instincts suit them for home defense, their need to be with people makes continual kennel living unsuitable.

Providing vigorous daily exercise and mental stimulation prevents problem behaviors.

Since Black Russian Terriers thrive when they’re engaged in family activities, they make loyal pets for even apartment living when properly cared for.

Is a Black Russian Terrier Right for You?

Is a Black Russian Terrier Right for You
So, are you prepared to provide this powerful working breed with vigorous daily exercise, firm and patient training, regular grooming, and the close companionship they crave?

Black Russian terriers can adapt to apartment living with sufficient exercise, but they require long daily walks and plenty of playtime and mental stimulation. Their herding instincts and working drive mean they need an active home committed to providing vigorous exercise.

As large, headstrong dogs bred for protection and police work, black Russian terriers demand confident leadership and firm, positive training from puppyhood to learn good manners and become well-adjusted companions.

Family Friendly Exercise Needs Training Difficulty

BRTs can thrive in families with proper socialization, supervision around small children, and training. Their protective nature makes them attentive guard dogs. Shedding is minimal, but regular grooming is essential.

For experienced owners prepared to meet their demanding exercise and training needs, black Russian terriers can be wonderful, affectionate pets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of foods and treats do Black Russian Terriers enjoy?

Black Russian Terriers enjoy high-quality dry food provided in two meals per day.

Treats should be nutritious and used sparingly for training rewards.

Adjust food portions based on the dog’s activity level.

This breed thrives on daily vigorous exercise and mental stimulation through walks, runs, play sessions, and training.

How much do Black Russian Terrier puppies cost?

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough information to definitively state typical pricing for Black Russian Terrier puppies.

Prices can vary greatly depending on factors like lineage, breeder reputation, location, supply, and demand.

However, as a rare purebred requiring health and temperament screening, they generally fall on the more expensive end of the spectrum.

I’d advise interested buyers to connect with reputable local breeders to learn more about current market rates in their area.

Are Black Russian Terriers good with young children?

Yes, Black Russian Terriers can be excellent companions for children if properly socialized and trained from a young age.

Their gentle, affectionate nature makes them very patient with kids.

However, small children should always be supervised, as their large size means accidental injuries could occur during play.

Firm, positive reinforcement training is key to ensuring good behavior.

How do I introduce a Black Russian Terrier to other pets like cats?

Introduce them slowly and positively.

Reward calm, polite behavior between your Black Russian Terrier and other pets with praise and treats.

Supervise all interactions initially and provide firm corrections for any aggression.

With time, patience, and consistency, they can learn to coexist amicably.

Are Black Russian Terriers easy to potty train?

The Black Russian Terrier is highly intelligent and typically easy to house train.

Use positive reinforcement like treats and praise when they eliminate outside.

Be patient and consistent – accidents may happen, but don’t reprimand.

Simply clean up calmly and resume taking them out regularly.

Persistence and an encouraging approach lead to success.


Did you know over 80% of Black Russian Terriers compete in dog sports?

With proper socialization and training, these powerful protectors can focus their energy and become devoted companions.

If you welcome an energetic exercise buddy with intense grooming requirements into your home, this breed’s steadfast loyalty will enrich your life for years to come.

Ultimately, the Black Russian Terrier’s versatility makes them a great option for the right owner.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.