The Black Russian Terrier (BRT) was bred by the Soviets after World War II at Red Star Kennel (Krasnaya Zvezda). The breeders’ mission was to produce a perfect working dog for the military. The BRT is a cross between the Giant Schnauzer, Causasian Shepherd Dog, Rottweiler, Airedale Terrier, Newfoundland and several other breeds to boot.
Originally, the BRT was bred solely for the state by Red Star Kennel, but in 1957 some BRT puppies were sold to civilian breeders. The breed spread to the former East Bloc states and ultimately to the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Sometimes called “Blackies” and the “Black Pearls of Russia,” BRTs are a large-boned, muscular dog. They have a rough, dense coat over a softer undercoat. Their outer coat is black or black with some gray. The good news is that they are not big shedders. It is interesting to note that the original Blackies were bred purely for function, so they did not look entirely like the contemporary Blackie, which are also bred for looks.
The Black Russian Terrier is a highly intelligent, confident, independent-minded breed that can form a very deep bond with members of its human family. Some owners report that they almost seem to prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs. Despite their deep devotion to their families, they usually need time to warm up to new people and strange pets.
Perhaps the BRT’s most outstanding characteristic is his strong protective instinct. They make excellent guard dogs but they can also be excellent playmates for children. Because they love to please their humans, they can be easily trained. Like most large dogs, they mature more slowly than smaller breeds. However, they are generally not difficult to “potty train” and do not need to be leash trained. Not surprisingly, they do well in obedience trials and other dog sports. Like much smaller dogs such as the pug or the Boston terrier, the BRT is a natural performer who knows how to entertain a crowd.
Just now, I said that the BRT is easy to train. I say that with one reservation. Like any highly intelligent, independent dog breed, the Black Russian Terrier responds best to firm but consistent training. Your relationship with the dog must be based on mutual respect. Without this, he will never follow your commands. Failing to train you BRT properly can have negative consequences: A Blackie that has never received proper training can become a really destructive force in the home.
I cannot emphasize enough that the BRT is not a dog for a first-time dog owner. Regardless of your experience level, if you don’t think you can handle the breed, then the Blackie is not the right dog for you.
Points to consider before buying a BRT
- Like all working breeds, the BRT gets bored if he doesn’t have something to do. They were bred for work, so sitting around twiddling their paws will not make them happy. If you cannot give them something to do, they will find something to do – and you may not like the results. So please consider exposing them to dog sports, including agility, obedience or Schutzhund.
- The breed is highly active and will not be truly happy without a considerable amount of exercise. Thus, the ideal home for a Blackie should include ample space for them to run and to engage in a variety of physical activities.
- They usually prefer to be with their humans more than anything else.
- By nature, the Blackie is aloof around strangers. Unless they have regular exposure to different people starting when they are puppies, they may end up being overly protective of you around strangers.