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Black Terrier Breed Description

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Breed Organization

Black Russian Terrier Club of America

Native Country

Other Names
Black Russian Terrier, Russian Bear Schnauzer, Chornyi, Tchiorny Terrier, Terrier Noir Russe, BRT

Life Expectancy
Approximately 10-14 Years

Litter Size
Average 6-12 Puppies

Breed Group
AKC Working

General Description

The Black Russian Terrier (BRT) is a robust, large and powerful dog. The dog has large bone and well developed muscles. The breed was developed in Russia and used as guard dogs for protection. They must be balanced, have a good temperament and be reliable. The dogs have great courage and strength. They are capable of endurance. Dogs must have a large frame and heavy bone. Bitches are definitely to appear feminine but never lacking in substance.

Despite its name, the Black Russian Terrier is not a true terrier: it is believed that about seventeen breeds were used in its development, including the Airedale, the Giant Schnauzer, the Rottweiler, the Newfoundland, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog and other breeds.

The contemporary Black Russian Terrier is a working dog, guarding dog, sporting and companion dog.

Breed Standard

Head: The head must be in proportion to the body. It should give the appearance of power and strength. The head should be powerfully built with a moderately broad and blocky skull. Viewed from the side it should appear balanced. The head is made of two parallel planes. The back skull to muzzle is measured from the corner of the eye. Occiput should be well developed. The muzzle should be slightly shorter than the back skull. The length of the muzzle to the back skull is approximately a ratio of 4 to 5. The forehead must be flat with a marked but not pronounced stop. The head of the male is distinctly masculine, and that of the bitch, distinctly feminine.
Eyes: The eyes should be of medium size and dark. Eye rims are to be black without sagging or prominent haw. The eye is to be oval shaped.
Ears: The ears are set high and are rather small and triangular in shape. The front edge of the ear should lay close to the cheek. The length of the ear should reach the outside corner of the eye.
Nose: The nose must be large and black.
Lips: are full, tight and black. There are to be no flews. The gums have dark pigmentation.
Teeth: The teeth are large and white. There should be full dentition. The incisors form a straight line at the base. The bite should be scissors.
Neck: The neck should be thick, muscular and powerful. Length is not to be excessive. There should be no pendulous or excessive dewlap. The length of the neck and the length of the head should be approximately the same.
Body: The whole structure of the body should give the impression of strength. The chest is deep and wide. The shape should be oval and reach to the elbows or a little below. The withers are high, pronounced and well developed. The topline is level and straight. The loin is short. The abdomen is well tucked up and firm. Withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. Croup is wide, muscular, moderately long slightly sloping toward the high tail set. Tail is set high, thick and docked with 3 to 5 vertebrae left.
Forequarters: Shoulders should be large and muscular, well developed with blades broad and sloping. The shoulders should be well laid back. The angle between the shoulder blades and the upper arm is at a 100 to 110 degree. Shoulders are well muscled. The forelegs are straight and well boned. The elbows must turn neither in nor out while standing or moving. The forelegs are straight and muscular. Pasterns are short and almost vertical. Length of the front leg to the elbow should be about 53 to 54 percent of the dog's height. Feet are large, compact, and rounded in shape. The pads of the feet are thick and firm. Nails are short and dark.
Hindquarters: Viewed from the rear the legs are straight and parallel, set slightly wider than the forelegs. The hindquarters are well boned and muscular with good angulation. The stifle is long and sloping. The thighs are muscular. The hocks are well let down, long and vertical when standing.
Coat: Tousled, double coat. The texture of the outer coat is coarse. The undercoat is thick and soft. Length of coat should vary from 1 to 4 inches and cover the entire body. It is a pronounced tousled coat rather than wiry or curly.
Size: Dogs at maturity are between 27 inches and 30 inches. Bitches at maturity are to be between 26 and 29 inches.
Proportion: The Black Russian Terrier is slightly longer than tall. The most desired proportions are 9 to 10%. The length is measured from breastbone to rear edge of the pelvis.


In the Forties, the army-controlled kennel "Red Star" began to breed a dog for its own needs. They used a program developed by Soviet breeder-specialists and created a new breed especially suited for their special duties. The goal was a massive, robust, high-spirited all-round dog, always willing to work and able to withstand the enormous, climatic differences in the country. The breeders were the Giant Schnauzers, Rottweilers and Airedale breeds, and the Russian Water Dog. More breeds were included; in all approximately twenty breeds were involved in the creation of the Black Russian Terrier. Only the best dogs were bred. Soon they had a dog stable in character and temperament, but not in type. At that time, only character and temperament counted. Several years later, Russian "DOSAAF" Breeders (DOSAAF is a paramilitary organization) bought dogs from the Red Star kennel. They started to standardize the look of the breed without neglecting the good qualities. In May 1984 the breed was recognized by the FCI with Standard #327 "Black Russian Terrier." The Black Russian Terrier is to the Red Army what the Malinois is to the French Army. The Black Russian Terrier has all the ability of the German Shepherd Dog without the undue aggression. On July 1, 2004, the Black Russian Terrier was admitted to full membership in the AKC Working Group.


The character and temperament of the Black Russian Terrier is of utmost importance. The Black Russian Terrier is a calm, confident, courageous and self-assured dog, although they can also be stubborn and lazy. He is highly intelligent and adapts well to training. The Black Russian Terrier was initially bred to guard and protect. He is alert and responsive, instinctively protective, determined, fearless, deeply loyal to family, is aloof and therefore does not relish intrusion by strangers into his personal space. Shyness or excessive excitability is a serious fault. If you have a family with children, the Black Russian Terrier is a great fit for it. They are great companions for children since they have a strong guarding instinct towards children. Female Black Russian Terriers have more patience and will to play with children, but both sexes get along well with children.

Brush the BRT at least once a week. It is important to remove hairs from ear ducts and cut the hairs under the paws. The BRT sheds very little if it is regularly brushed.


Gaurd Dog


The Black Russian Terrier is a generally healthy and somewhat long-lived dog (lifespan of 9–14 years), however it is prone to certain hereditary diseases:

Major concerns:
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hyperuricosuria
  • Juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy

  • Minor concerns
  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD): a nutritionally based developmental disease especially in young, heavy, fast-growing puppies
  • Panosteitis (pano or wandering lameness): a nutritionally based developmental disease especially in young, heavy, fast-growing puppies
  • Heart disease: the most common heart problems are aortic stenosis, mitral valve dysplasia, cardiomyopathy
  • Eyes disease: the most common eyes problems are ectropion, entropion, conjunctivitis
  • Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, and the Black Russian Terrier is no exception. There are three main types of allergies: food allergies, contact allergies and inhalant allergies
  • Hot spots
  • Fungal infection—especially in ears and beard area
  • This is why it is extremely important to screen any potential breeders as well as their breeding stock. A well intended breeder will have all health checks on all breeding stock before making the decision to breed their dogs. While health checks on breeding stock can not guarantee a puppy will not develop any health issues later on, it is important to "do your homework" on any potential breeder.

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