Choosing a Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier is an uncommon breed hailing from Russia that is slowing gaining popularity. This dog is a wonderful guard dog and if properly socialized can be an excellent family companion.

History and Origin

As the name implies, the Black Russian Terrier originated in Russia. It was developed in the mid 1900s as a guard dog by crossing the giant schnauzer, Airedale, Rottweiler and other large working breeds. It has been used extensively by the Russian army. The coat of the black Russian terrier was developed to allow the dog to withstand extremes in weather, especially cold Russian winters. This breed is well known and adored in Russia as a family pet and has recently started to gain popularity outside his homeland.

The Black Russian Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the working group in 2004.

Appearance and Size

The Black Russian Terrier is a compact and sturdy dog with an overall square and powerful appearance. The head is blocky with a mustache and beard. The ears are triangular, set high and hang down with the edge of the ear reaching the outside corner of the eye. The tail is set high and docked. The feet are large and bear-like.

The coat of the Black Russian is medium to long in length, 1 to 4 inches, and isn't really curly but appears more tousled. The color, as the name implies, should be black.

The adult Black Russian Terrier stands around 25 to 29 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 80 to 140 pounds.


The Black Russian Terrier is a strong and proud dog. They are intelligent and are natural protectors. Faithful to their families, this breed is hesitant around strangers and should be socialized with people and other animals early in life.

Home and Family Relations

The Black Russian Terrier can do well as a family pet if properly socialized as a puppy. They can do well with children if raised with them. They tend not to do well with other dominant type animals but can do very well with other pets that are submissive. Early socialization is crucial in this breed to reduce dominance issues later in life.

These dogs prefer large fenced yards but can do well in an apartment if taken on several long walks a day. Not an active breed, the Black Russian Terrier prefers to spend all of his time close to his family but does enjoy long runs and play time.


The Black Russian Terrier is intelligent and can be independent. If obedience trained early in life with a firm but kind and patient hand, he can be a very obedient and loving family member. Untrained Black Russian Terriers can be stubborn and dominant.

Special Concerns

Black Russian Terriers can be aggressive toward strangers, especially if not properly socialized early in life. This dog should not be allowed to roam off leash.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The Black Russian Terrier is a hardy breed that has few known diseases. The most common are:

Hip dysplasia that occurs when the hip joint develops abnormally and can result in pain, lameness and arthritis.

Elbow dysplasia abnormal development of certain parts of the elbow joint during the growing phase of a dog's life. Resulting in an uneven joint surface, inflammation, joint swelling, lameness and arthritis.

Progressive retinal atrophy is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition usually begins in older pets and can lead to blindness.

Atopy is a disease associated with allergies and ear infections.

The average life span of the Black Russian Terrier is 10 to 11 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.