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Black Russian Terrier: Breed Info, Pictures, Care & Traits

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

Black Russian Terrier dog standing on grass

Black Russian Terrier: Breed Info, Pictures, Care & Traits

As you may have gathered from the name, this breed is black and from Russia. The Black Russian Terrier is a large and powerful dog that was bred to protect and guard their people. They are not the most suitable dog for just anyone, so we’ll get into the reasons that this is the case and what you can expect if you bring one of these dogs into your family.

Breed Overview

Height: 26–30 inches
Weight: 80–130 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Colors: Black, salt and pepper, black and tan, sable, blue
Suitable for: Experienced owners with a house and yard
Temperament: Loyal, aloof, calm, courageous, intelligent, affectionate, protective

The Black Russian Terrier (also called the BRT) is considered a relatively new breed, having only reached North American shores in the 1980s. But in the 1930s, they were bred in Russia by the Soviet government, which was attempting to create a “super dog” for the Russian army. The BRT was used successfully at border crossings and in prisons and military outposts.

This imposing breed can weigh up to 130 pounds and sports a medium to long double coat with black curls. However, they are also seen in variations of black, like salt and pepper, sable, and blue, in addition to black and tan.

Black Russian Terrier Characteristics


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Black Russian Terrier Puppies

Black Russian Terrier puppy in a studio
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

While Black Russian Terriers are not the most well-known breed, you should be able to find a BRT breeder in your country. While searching for one, be careful that you’re only dealing with an ethical breeder, not a puppy mill or backyard breeder. A good breeder will welcome all your questions, and you’ll bring home a healthy and well-adjusted puppy.

You can also think about adopting a BRT from a rescue organization or animal shelter. However, since they aren’t a common breed, you might not have much luck and will need to look for quite a while.

Temperament and Intelligence of the Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terrier dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Degtyaryov Andrey, Shutterstock

BRTs are quiet, calm dogs that can come across as aloof, particularly around strangers. They are highly intelligent and are happiest when they have a job to do. It’s no coincidence that they belong in the working dog category!

This breed is confident and courageous, which makes them the ultimate guard dog because they are also highly protective of their family.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Black Russian Terriers are gentle with children and can make excellent family pets. But they aren’t always the most playful dogs, and their sheer size can lead to accidentally knocking little ones down. As puppies, BRTs must be socialized often and well, and they are known to be extraordinarily loyal to everyone in the family.

You should also teach your children how to respect the dog. Part of this can be accomplished through the children helping to look after the dog.

black russian terrier dogs running on grass
Image Credit: Brezhneva.od, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Black Russian Terriers must be well-socialized from puppyhood if you have any other pets in the household. They should get along fine with smaller pets like cats or rabbits if raised alongside them. But if you have a dominant dog in the home, this won’t be a good fit, particularly if you have a male BRT.

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Things to Know When Owning a Black Russian Terrier

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

You’ll be purchasing a large amount of dog food for the BRT, due to their size. The food that you choose should be high quality and formulated for your dog’s current age and weight. It should also reflect their activity level.

How much you feed them depends on these factors, but if you need help, you can follow the guidelines on the food’s packaging and speak to your vet about how much you should be feeding your BRT.

Dog treats should be occasional and not make up more than 10% of their diet, and you’ll need to ensure that they have constant access to clean and fresh water.

black russian terrier puppies eating food from feeding bowl
Image Credit: Anna Tronova, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

While Black Russian Terriers are quite large, they don’t need as much exercise as some smaller breeds. That said, they need roughly 30 to 60 minutes of exercise spread out to two or three times a day. Due to their size and exercise requirements, they will do best in a house with a yard.

You can take them jogging, hiking, and swimming and enroll them in classes like Schutzhund (protection), obedience, and agility competitions. This will all help with their physical and mental exercises and strengthen the bond between you.

Training 🎾

Since BRTs are highly intelligent and can learn quickly, they can be relatively easy to train. However, this breed tends to be rather dominant, so experienced dog owners are recommended.

They require firm and consistent training using positive reinforcement only. As long as you are patient and treat the BRT with kindness, they are quick learners.

Grooming ✂️

Black Russian Terriers have double coats, so they need brushing at least once or twice a week to remove and prevent tangles and mats. Brushing seasons will take a while, given the thickness of their coats and just the sheer size of the breed.

They will additionally need to have their beards and eyebrows trimmed on occasion, which you can do yourself or take them to a groomer every few months.

BRTs only need a bath when necessary but no more than once a month using a good dog shampoo. You should brush their teeth daily, clean their ears roughly once a month, and trim their nails every 3 to 4 weeks.

groomer cutting the hair of Black Russian Terrier dog
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

Black Russian Terriers are a hardy and healthy breed, but like all purebreds, they can inherit genetic conditions from their parents. The following are conditions that might affect a BRT.

Minor Conditions
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Allergies
  • Bladder stones
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Gastric dilatation volvulus, which can lead to bloat

Male vs. Female

Male Black Russian Terriers are bigger and heavier than the females, with males being 27 to 30 inches in height and females 26 to 29 inches.

Beyond this, you’ll need to get your dog neutered. If you choose a female BRT, you’ll need to have her spayed, which can prevent pregnancy and behavioral and health issues. Males need to be neutered for the same reason, but this is a less invasive procedure than spaying.

If you’re wondering about temperament differences, it’s thought that males stay puppies at heart longer than females but might be more challenging to train. But what really forms a dog’s temperament is how they were socialized and trained from puppyhood to adulthood, along with how they have been treated.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Black Russian Terrier

1. The Black Russian Terrier Is Not Really a Terrier

These dogs were given the name “terrier,” but they aren’t actually terriers. This is also why they are in the working group rather than the terrier group. Many breeds went into the making of this dog, and some were terriers but not all.

2. Seventeen Breeds Went Into Creating the BRT

This is where the terrier part comes in. Four main breeds created the BRT: the Giant Schnauzer (likely not a surprise, since the BRT looks similar to them), the Airedale Terrier, the Rottweiler, and the Newfoundland. But the search for the perfect dog meant incorporating a total of 17 dog breeds. The traits that the breeders were looking for were from dogs that were large, highly trainable, hardworking, adaptable, and able to live and work in the cold.

3. The Black Russian Terrier Is Known by More Than One Name

They are known as the BRT, but you can add the Black Pearl of Russia, Blackie, Stalin’s Dog, and Chornyi Terrier to their nickname list.

black russian terrier dog standing in the meadow
Image Credit: Yan Yanovsky, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Black Russian Terriers are incredible dogs that can make fantastic pets but only for the right family. They are wary and aloof with other dogs and strangers but are loving companions with their families.

They need an experienced owner because while they are super intelligent, they are also dominant dogs and need a firm yet gentle hand to train them.

So, if you’re looking for a calm and affectionate dog that will go to the ends of the earth to protect you and your family, you can’t go wrong with the gorgeous and powerful Black Russian Terrier.

Featured Image Credit: Tikhomirov Sergey, Shutterstock

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