Among the best military and guard dog breeds in the world, the black Russian terrier is a top performer.

But despite its original purpose of multi-use dog in the armed forces of Russia. This black-bearded giant has become popular far beyond its native country.

In this article, I’m going to discuss absolutely everything that you need to know about the incredible and extremely capable black Russian terrier.

At A Glance

  • Temperament: Intelligent, Calm, Powerful
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 118 of 197
  • Height: 27-30 inches (male), 26-29 inches (female)
  • Weight: 80-130 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Working Group 


Top 10 Interesting Facts About the Black Russian Terriers

The imposing black Russian terriers were bred to intimidate people both by their size and demeanor.

The breed was developed by the Soviet government in the 1930s to protect military encampments in wartime as well as to patrol prisons.

  • Although they have a fearsome past today these striking black dogs are more devoted to their families and protect children.
  • When out in the world these dogs are watchful and brave ever so alert to any signs of danger.

But when off duty they’re lively and affectionate playmates.

Now without further ado let’s jump right into our list of top 10 interesting facts about the Black Russian terriers.

Their Origin

A legacy of the cold war, the black Russian terrier was bred by soviet army scientists who are striving for the perfect working dog.

Wonderfully adapted to the inhospitable Russian winters. These dogs were bred to patrol the borders alongside the soldiers.

The blackies as they were lovingly called worked at rail crossings, prisons, and assorted military venues including gulags. And they excelled at it.

However, when the gulags began closing in the 1950s they had more dogs than needed. And thus the army began selling the puppies to the public.

This is when fanciers got their hand on this breed and made a few changes in the breeding. Newfoundlands for instance were added for stability.

As a result in 1958, the soviet army created the first breed standard for the black Russian terrier. The breed came to the united states between 1989 and 1990 and became a part of the American kennel club’s working group on the 1st of July 2004.

Creating the Breed Was a Challenge

The red star kennel where the breeding took place had trouble finding the bucks that they needed to create the black Russian terrier. This was probably because most purebred dogs had been killed during the Russian revolution.

Additionally, the breeders wanted a lot of different traits. Such as large size, strong, work ethic, high trainability, adaptability, and the ability to withstand the cold.

As a result, there were a total of 17 breeds used to create this new dark breed. The four main breeds being the Giant Schnauzer, the Rottweiler, the Airdale Terrier, and the Newfoundland.

It was not until 1956 at least 20 years after the project started that the breed was perfected and no longer needed to be crushed with other breeds.

Their Physical Characteristics

What’s the word we’re looking for imposing massive majestic. Well, how about just plain Big.

These brawny dogs can tip the scales at 140 pounds and stand as high as 30 inches at the shoulder. And if you consider their huge brick-shaped head, well they’re even taller.

  • These are exceptionally large-boned and well-muscled bucks who exude strength, power, and agility.
  • Their abundant head has facial furnishings with a full beard and mustache.
  • And fur that falls over the eyes when untrimmed.
  • These bucks come in a solid black double coat.
  • The outer coat is wavy and ranges in length from 2 to 6 inches whereas the undercoat is soft and dense.

Their Personality and Temperament

Calm, confident and courageous.

These are just a few words used to describe the characteristics of black Russian terriers.

  • They’re also sweet loyal and affectionate.
  • And can make great companions for children and adults.

Female black Russian terriers especially have more patience and will to play with children. But both sexes get along with the kids very well.

  • However, these bucks demand human attention.

So your dog will probably wait at the back door until you join them because to your dog playing is just no fun without people.

They Are Very Smart

You gotta remember that black Russian terriers have historically been used to work for the military and police. As a result, these dogs are so smart it’s actually scary.

  • Their intelligence means that while they’re trained very quickly they also have a real stubborn streak.

You gotta show your Russian terrier that you’re the one in charge from the get-go. But at the same time, you have to respect them or they won’t tolerate your command at all.

Guys we’re warning you if you feel that you can’t live with a dog who’s smarter than you are. Well, then this breed might not be a good choice for you.

They Make Excellent Guard Dogs

If black Russian terriers were human versions of the observant guard dogs you’d want them standing guard for you and your house at all times.

You may be surprised to know that their innate protective instinct is fully developed by the time they reach one year old. This instinct when combined with their size, agility, courage, and power create an outstanding guard dog.

  • Calm and quiet these dogs are very aloof with strangers.

They’ll definitely accept an outsider you bring into your household. But they’ll take their time considering whether such a person should be a friend to you.

And if they feel the stranger is threatening then all bets are off. They won’t waste a moment hesitating to defend you and your family.

They Need Adequate Exercise

Your black terrier needs daily exercise and mental stimulation at least half an hour each day.

  • This can include walks, runs, disc games, or any obedience and agility sessions.

They have a great need for human contact. So they’re always happier when you’re also part of their exercise routine.

And when you’re not able to play with your companion puzzle toys such as buster cubes can be a great way to keep their active mind occupied.

But you gotta remember if these dogs don’t get enough exercise; they’ll become unhappy and destructive.

  • Make sure you provide them with 30 to 40 minutes of exercise every day.
  • However, keep in mind black Russian terrier puppies don’t need as much hard exercise as adults.

You should not even let Russian terrier puppies run on hard surfaces such as concrete or do a lot of jumping until they’re at least a year to 18 months old. This will stress their still developing skeletal systems which can cause joint problems in the future.

Early Training is a Must

It is highly recommended that you begin training sessions with your Black Russian terrier as early as possible.

You would not want an unruly adult companion who’s clearly bigger than you. This is why socialization classes need to start in puppyhood. And continue throughout their lifetime in order to prevent their aggressive behavior towards strangers.

Obedience training also needs to start as early as possible and should continue well into adulthood to tone down their stubborn streak.

However, these dogs are more sensitive than they look. And they crave kindness and compassion so always remember to use positive reinforcement methods. And make training sessions fun and easy.

Their Grooming Needs

The black Russian terrier’s thick soft undercoat and protective outer coat need regular maintenance.

You must brush that coat thoroughly once or twice a week. And you’ll want a slicker brush an undercoat rake and a stripping comb to do so.

They don’t shed a lot but those long coats may leave little clumps of hair everywhere unless brushed regularly.

You can leave the eyebrows mustache and beard without trimming. But if you want a neat look you’ll need to learn to scissor around the face.

A trim with clippers every few months can be done by a professional groomer. But you can also learn how to do it yourself. It takes a little practice but it’s not difficult at all.

And as with all bucks, you gotta brush your terrier’s teeth daily to prevent the tartar build-up. And trim their nails when needed.

Their Health Issues

Black Russian terriers are healthy dogs but they do have some serious health concerns.

Urinary stones are quite common in the breed. Some may also have serious eye problems such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.

Joint problems are another issue for these dogs. So make sure you don’t strain their joints too much during exercise and training sessions.

Many of these dogs will live healthy lives but even then the average lifespan for the breed is only 12 years.