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Black Russian Terriers

Black Russian Terriers, also known as Tchiorny Terrier, or Stalin's dog, are classified under the working dog group of the AKC. Most likely this is due to the fact that it is not considered to be a hundred percent terrier owing to the fact that other breeds were involved in its development.

Courtesy Carlyleshl

While terriers are a popular group of dogs consisting of many specific breeds, some people have never heard of Black Russian Terriers.

This type of terrier was first developed more than 70 years ago in Russia’s military kennel known as Red Star.

There, breeders were able to produce a unique type of dog, one that had many of the same characteristics of other terriers but on a larger scale physically. As a result, a dog was developed to be a dedicated workhorse capable of handling the harsh climate of Russia.

This breed is sometimes referred to as a Russian Black Terrier and was first developed back in the 1940s, though it was not until the 1950s when imperfections were bred out.

For years, this dog was used solely by the Russian military but with public interest, breeding tactics changed to where the Black Russian Terrier of today is not only a working dog with great agility but also a breed with a stately body, gorgeous coat, and amazing personality.


black russian terrier image Just as the name implies, this particular breed of terrier is 100% black. However, if a person were interested in showing or professionally breeding a Black Russian, the American Kennel Club does allow for small gray markings.

As far as height, males reach 27 to 30 inches around 18 months of age while females are between 26 and 29 inches to the withers. Average weight is from 80 to 145 pounds with females being on the lower end of the scale. When properly cared for, this breed lives to approximately 11 years old.

Coat and Care:

One advantage of Black Russian Terriers over other groups and terrier breeds is that the coat does not shed. However, this breed does need to be brushed several times a week and trimmed three or four times a year.

All dogs accumulate dead hair especially if they don't shed. Using a grooming tool such as anatolian shepherd dogs, furminator grooming toolthe FurMinator is a good way to remove the dead hair that doesn't fall out on its own.

The coat is hard, wiry, and weatherproof with growth being longer around the neck, giving the appearance of a lion’s mane. This type of terrier also has thick eyebrows and a distinctive beard.

Health Concerns:

The primary health concern of Black Russian Terriers is dysplasia, which can affect the hip and/or elbow. Although some reputable breeders have puppies x-rayed as a way of detecting this and other bone diseases, most do not.

Additionally, this breed of dog is prone to otitis, otherwise known as ear infections so regular cleaning and removal of excess hair would be essential.

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Personality and Traits

black russian terrier image As seen in most terrier breeds, the Black Russian is brave and sometimes overly protective of its owner and other family members, although also calm. Interestingly, while still a puppy, this dog is actually more on the shy, sensitive side but with age, a strong personality emerges.

Because this terrier breed is naturally curious, special attention should be given to indoor and outdoor spaces to keep the dog safe.

Often, Black Russian Terriers are quite clingy. Because of this, a lot more emphasis should be geared toward socialization of the breed to prevent the animal from becoming anxious and hyperactive.

Overall, Black Russians are extremely smart and due to their agility, they are sometimes used in sporting events. With a moderate energy level and great need for attention, obedience training is mandatory while young.

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Activity Level

As mentioned, this type of terrier has a moderate amount of energy so a tremendous amount of exercise is not necessary.

But, as a large breed, the BRT does need regular walks and playtime just like all dogs do. Socialization at a local dog park would be an ideal way to provide some of both.

Space Needs

Most people think this breed needs to be outside because of size but in truth the Black Russian is quite calm when kept inside. In Fact, this type of dog makes an excellent choice for homeowners, as well as apartment dwellers although adequate space to move around and play would be appropriate.

One important note, due to the need for human interaction, keeping Black Russian Terriers outdoors full-time is not recommended. In fact, this dog should never be kenneled outdoors to prevent it becoming overly protective or possessive of the confined space, even against the beloved owner.


Without doubt, these terriers are excellent around children of all ages although supervision should be provided around younger ones simply because of the dog’s large size.

With complete obedience training, this breed offers protection to all family members, without being overly protective. In addition, because this is an extremely intelligence dog, commands and tricks taught by children are learned quickly.

Seniors or Less Active

There is no reason senior people cannot own Black Russian Terriers provided they have the experience to handle a strong and powerful dog. That being said, they can and have been trained for therapy situations.

While this breed of dog is gentle, calm, and very loving, some degree of exercise would be needed. Even though this dog is friendly toward other animals, in most cases, a confident handler is always recommended during walks.

Photo and License: Carlyleshl [CC BY-SA]

Book Resource

Black Russian TerrierBlack Russian Terrier: Special Rare-Breed Edition : A Comprehensive Owner's Guide

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