Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier (BRT or Blackie) is a large, intelligent, and powerful dog breed. He was created by the Russian army for guarding and protecting purposes in the areas with extremely cold temperatures. They are known for their courage and confidence. Today they are still used as guard dogs but for family purposes.

FUN FACT: To create Black Russian Terrier seventeen dog breeds were used.

Black Russian Terrier


26-30 in (68-76 cm)

Black Russian Terrier


99-132 lb (45-60 kg)

Black Russian Terrier



Black Russian Terrier

Life Expectancy:

10-12 years

Breed History

The Black Russian Terrier was developed in Moscow after World War II for the Russian army. The development began with the establishment of the Red Star Kennel at a secret location. The Red Star Kennel was established by the Soviet government in the 1930s. Teams of scientists and breeders were given a task to create a super dog for the Russian army. Because of the Russian Revolution and World War, most of the purebred dogs were killed and because of that, the Red Star Kennel team needed to start from scratch. They wanted to create a super dog with the ability to run long distances, catch intruders, and stay warm in the areas with extremely low temperatures. They started to cross many dog breeds including Airedale Terrier, Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, Newfoundland, and many more so secure this characteristic. The result of the breeding was the Black Russian Terrier. These dogs were successfully doing their job at the border crossing, prisons, and military facilities. When the Stalin-era gulags were closing in the min 1950s the army began to sell dogs to breeders and exhibitors because they didn’t need their services. Retired officers in most cases would bring their partner home so they could live civilian life and in the late 1950s Russian people started to buy these dogs and they got the nickname for the breed „Black Pearl of Russia“. These dogs were exclusively bred by the Red Star Kennel that was located in Moscow, until 1957. After that, we already mentioned that these dogs were sold to civilian breeders. These breeders started focusing and selectively breeding for looks while trying to keep their impressive working ability.

BRT dog

Not long after that, the BRT started to take over other parts of the USSR and spread to cities like Saint Petersburg and the regions of Siberia and Ukraine. It didn’t take long for these dogs to become popular outside the borders of the USSR. The first European country outside of the USSR was Finland and shortly specimens were sold to Hungary, Poland, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. This breed was introduced to the United States, Canada, and Australia at a later time since people had an anti-Russian stance and the breeds name caused it to have some problems. The Black Russian Terrier was officially recognized as a dog breed by the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture in 1981.

FUN FACT: The American Kennel Club officially recognized Black Russian Terrier in 2004.

Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
Kid Friendly
Dog Friendly
General Health

The Russian Black Terriers are large dogs with a long body. They are very athletic and have a robust built. They are known for their hardy constitution. These dogs have massive bones and extremely powerful muscles that were selectively bred in the state-owned Red Star Kennel. This breeds standard describes them as symmetrically built dogs that have a fairly large head and compact body. Black Russian Terriers have a voluminous and deep chest. It is also stated in the standard that differences between males and females should be clearly defined and easily spotted.

Even though this is a young dog breed that was developed quite recently, they have been bred in large numbers and were registered by many of the biggest cynology associations and clubs. The two main ones we will focus on are the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard and the standard the American Kennel Club (AKC) adapted for pure-blooded BRTs in the United States of America.

FCI standard

The FCI defines these dogs as being working and guarding dogs that excel in dog sports and is a great companion.  The FCI placed this breed in Group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossoid breeds – Swiss Mountain Dogs and Cattle Dogs),  Section 1.4 (Pinscher and Schnauzer). They say that working trial optional.

They also stated that the ideal size for male dogs of this breed is 28-30 in (72 - 76 cm) but should never be shorter than 27,5 in (70 cm) and no taller than 30,7 cm (78 cm). Their ideal weight should be between 110-132 lb (50 and 60 kilograms). They have also stated that they would accept bigger specimens of this breed but only if they are proportional and exceptional breed specimens.

The FCI stated that the female Black Russian Terriers should have a height between 26-28 in (68 and 72 cm). The required minimum for females of this breed is 25,7 in (66 cm) and the required maximum is 29,1 in (74 cm). The ideal weight should be proportional to their size and should ideally be between 99-110 lb (45 and 50 kilograms).

BRT was registered by the FCI on a definitive basis on the 29th of September 1983.


The Black Russian Terrier as the name suggests has a double black coat. The undercoat is thick and soft and it's covered by a coarse and protective outer coat. Grooming needs to be done regularly if you want your Black Russian Terrier to look the best. Also, regular brushing will prevent the forming of mats, so be sure to brush your beautiful black dog at least once or twice a week. You will need to trim his beard and mustache and if you don't have time to learn how to, hire a professional groomer to do the job. The rest is basic care. Bath him and trim his nails when needed (if he doesn’t wear them down naturally), brush his teeth to prevent the buildup of tartar and bacteria, and to secure healthy gums and teeth.

BRT on snow

Training a BRT

The Black Russian Terrier is a very active dog breed that requires daily exercise and mental stimulation during the day. They need at least 40 minutes of daily exercise which can include long runs, swimming, hiking, bike rides, etc. If you don’t train your dog enough he can become bored, unhappy, and destructive. The Black Russian Terrier achieves great results in agility, obedience, and rally competitions.

These dogs are historically bred as a working dog and it is no surprise that they have a very strong “work ethic”. In order for these dogs to truly be happy, they will need to have a job to do and the feeling of completing tasks that are given to them. They are known for their strong will and eagerness to please their owner and their human family. They are extremely versatile and are capable of successfully performing any dog “job” that has historically been entrusted to them. Because of their fairly recent beginnings and their diverse ancestors, they can learn to be excellent hunting dogs, herders, protectors, and companions, and indoor pets. Since this breed isn’t even 100 years old, the original qualities of their ancestors have been preserved and that is most likely why they can adapt so well to any job. Even though they are versatile and adaptable, you should start training your Black Russian Terrier as soon as possible. They have been known to exploit any owner who hasn’t clearly shown and established their clear dominance and pack position. The second reason is that they are fairly huge and untrained big dogs can do a lot of damage and cause you all sorts of difficulties. To achieve the best possible results try using positive reinforcement training methods and always avoid using harsh methods and fear. It is also great advice to establish a good relationship with your dog since it will be a lot easier for you to train them after you have bonded. Try praising them after all the times they successfully obey a command and remember that giving them little treats can go a long way.


The Black Russian Terrier was bred to be a guard dog and because of that socialization is a must. If you don’t socialize your dog from puppy age you can end up with an aggressive dog and get in a lot of trouble later in life. Start with socialization and obedience training as soon as possible. Training must be consistent and firm and always reward the dog with positive reinforcement. They are an intelligent dog breed and will quickly learn what you expecting from them. Expose your dog to a lot of different sounds, people, and sights while they are young and that will secure that you end up with a well-raised dog.

black russian terrier dog

Are Black Russian Terriers good family dogs?

This dog is very confident, courageous, and very protective of their family. They will always stick close to their owner. The Black Russian Terrier dogs can be good with other dogs or pets if raised together but also can be aggressive toward unknown dominant dogs. They are very reserved with strangers but if you raise them right they can get along with anybody.

The Black Russian Terrier and kids

The Black Russian Terrier is a great choice for a household with children. They get along well with them and will protect them in any situation. Females of the breed are more willing to play with the kids than the males, but both sexes treat children great. Make sure that you always monitor when the kids and the dog are playing because of his massive size he can accidentally hurt the child.

BRT puppies

Health problems

The Black Russian Terrier is generally a healthy breed with a life expectancy of 10 -12 years, but like any other dog breed, they are prone to some health issues. Not all dogs will get any of these diseases, but if you considering this breed you need to be aware of them. These dogs are prone to allergies, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA - eye diseases that involve the gradual deterioration of the retina).

There are a few recommended health tests you should perform to ensure that your BRT is healthy: hip and elbow evaluation, ophthalmologist evaluation, cardiac exam, and JLPP DNA test.

Black Russian Terrier breeders

If you are interested in buying this dog breed first you need to do some research to find out if he is the right breed for you. The Black Russian Terrier demands a firm and experienced owner who will know how to train them properly. The other main thing you need to do before buying a BRT puppy is to find a responsible breeder to make sure you don’t end up with a puppy who will develop some genetic problems later in his life. Good BRT breeders will test their breeding dogs for that particular reason – to make sure you end up with a healthy puppy. The Black Russian Terrier dogs can be very expensive and can cost you to 2500 dollars.


World Dog Finder team


Updated at25.06.2020.