If you’re looking for a dog that is powerful, protective, loyal and trustworthy, the Black Russian Terrier may be the right dog for you. But are you the right owner for a Blackie? The material that follows will help you to make the right decision for you and your family.
Black Russian Terrier Overview
The Black Russian Terrier is a fairly new breed, and not all that common. They are big, solid dogs that are often used to guard businesses, but their temperament is such that they can also be good family dogs (more later on temperament).
What does a Black Russian Terrier look like? Large-boned and solid, Blackies are impressive-looking dogs, and as you might suspect from the name, they only come in one color. Hint: it’s black!
During the Cold War, Soviet Scientists bred these black beauties in an attempt of develop the ideal working dog. Breeding took place at the Red Star Kennel, under the auspices of the Red Army, and at the time there was quite a bit of government assistance with the breeding program. The biggest problem was finding quality breeding stock. There hadn’t been a lot of purebred dog breeding going on in years past, given the poor economy following the Russian Revolution and the Second World War.
To say the least, the breeding program was a success. By crossing various large Russian breeds with Airedales, Giant Schnauzers and Rottweilers, the Soviets created dogs that were able to withstand harsh conditions and do a variety of jobs. Blackies were used in the military, in prisons and at rail crossings – anywhere, in short, where powerful guard dogs were needed. At this time, Black Russian Terriers were not considered to be family pets.
That changed, though, with the closing of the gulags in the 1950s. The army, at that point, had too many dogs, so they made Black Russian Terrier puppies available to the public. A few changes were made to the breeding program, though – Newfoundland dogs were added to the breed mix in order to make for a more stable temperament.
By 1958, the Soviet Army had a breed standard in place for the Blackie. It wasn’t until much later, though, that the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture recognized the breed – that didn’t happen until 1981. Between 1989 and 1990, Black Russian Terriers found their way to the United States, thanks to Russian Immigrants who started a kennel in Mississippi. The AKC recognized the breed in 2001, admitting it into the miscellaneous class. Later, in 2004, they changed the Blackies classification, placing it in the working group.
Black Russian Terrier Puppies
Once your Black Russian Terrier puppy is fully grown, he’s going to be a considerably sizable dog, and if not properly trained, he will be much more dog than you’re able to control. In fact, by the time he reaches the age of 6 months, he’ll be big enough to be a handful. The Blackie’s size and basic temperament are reasons why you absolutely must begin training at a very young age. Ideally, get your puppy settled in and used to his surrounding, and then begin training right away.
There are many, many things you can train your Blackie to do – more than we could possibly cover in this article. Below are the basics – the things you need to teach your puppy long before he reaches adulthood.
A dog that is going to attain the size and tenacity of the typical Black Russian Terrier can be a menace if he’s not accustomed to humans other than his family. That’s where socialization comes in, and it’s not difficult to do. Take your puppy places where he’s going to encounter a variety of people – hang around parking lots, invite friends over, and go for walks. You’ll encounter all kinds of people who just love puppies, and will be more than happy to spend some time getting to know yours.
Once your Blackie’s shots are fully up to date, you might also consider taking him to the dog park, or enrolling him puppy kindergarten. Keep in mind that some puppy kindergartens don’t accept large breeds, so you might have to shop around a bit.
We consider house training to be essential, not from a handling perspective, but simply because nobody in their right mind wants to be cleaning up pee and poop over the entire course of their dog’s life. We’re not going to tell you that house training is easy, because often it’s not, especially with large breeds.
If you had a small breed of dog, you could conceivably allow him to do his thing indoors, provided that you trained him to use papers or puppy pads. With a Blackie, though, even the biggest, most heavy-duty pad isn’t going to cut it, so you’ll have to train him to go outdoors.
When house training, many people like to begin by getting their puppy used to a crate. This can prevent “accidents” overnight, because even if you put your puppy out last thing at night and first thing in the morning, 8 or so hours is a long time to go without a potty break. Since dogs don’t like to do their business in their sleeping area, as long as you keep the crate close to your bed, there’s a good chance your Blackie will wake you by whimpering when he needs to go out.
Don’t think of the crate as a jail cell – your Blackie won’t see it that way. Set it up so that it’s a comfortable, safe space for him, with a blanket and toys. Then don’t use it as a jail cell. No puppy should be crated and left alone for long periods, but you do want him to have a safe place to be when you can’t be with him, and at night while you’re sleeping.
You can feed and water in the crate if you like. About half an hour after mealtime, take your puppy outside, and wait until he’s peed and pooped. Then you can bring him back indoors.
Keep in mind that accidents are inevitable – nobody ever gets through the process of house training without a single accident. When they occur, don’t get bent out of shape. Just do a thorough cleaning, and move on. Scolding isn’t going to help, and could, in fact, lead your Blackie to try to find creative ways of hiding his doings when he can’t hold it in. Remember, patience is the key – you’ll get through it eventually.
With a Black Russian Terrier, obedience training has to begin as soon as possible. You can keep the sessions brief so that you don’t overwhelm your Blackie puppy, but you should do several sessions each day. When your Blackie is a puppy, he’s going to be easy to handle, and he’s going to look to you for leadership. As he gets older, if you haven’t been working on obedience training, he might decide that obeying you is optional. You don’t want to go there with a large dog.
Start early. Be kind but firm. And make sure to use lots of praise and lots of treats! The five commands that follow are what you need to teach your Blackie, in the order that they should be taught.
This is the biggie. It’s the command from which all others flow. If you don’t teach your Blackie to sit right off, you’ll never be able to teach him anything else.
The good news is, there’s no easier command to teach. All you have to do is reach you’re your pocket, take out a treat, and wave the treat slowly over your Blackie’s head. His eyes are going to follow the motion of your hand, and his butt is going to hit the floor almost automatically. Then give him the treat and praise him. Repeat until he’s sitting on command, without the need for a treat.
This command also depends on treats and gestures, but your Blackie puppy has to know how to sit before you can progress to “Down.” Place him in the sit, and then, with the hand holding the treat, make a sweeping gesture toward your feet while saying “Down.”
Most dogs don’t like to lie down on command, so if your Blackie does it for even a second or two, tell him what an amazing dog he is, and give him the treat. As with “Sit,” repeat until he’ll do it without the treat.
Please don’t be impatient when teaching this command. Black Russian Terrier puppies want to be with their humans, and their natural inclination is to follow those humans. That’s why Stay” is so difficult to teach.
Put your Blackie puppy in the sit or down position. Leave the treats in your pocket for now. Hold out your hand, with your palm facing outward, at about neck level, and say “Stay.” Then back away, just a step or two. If your puppy holds the position while you back away, praise him and give him a treat.
The key here is repetition and persistence. Each time you repeat the exercise, back away a little farther. If your dog breaks the sit or down, don’t give him the treat. Put him back in position and try again. Each time, make the distance a little farther and the “wait time” a little longer.
So, does he just have to stay there forever? No. You need a way of releasing your dog from the “stay” position, and that’s one of the reasons you’re going to teach him to come on command.
Of course this isn’t just important when it comes to taking your dog out of “Stay.” It’s actually one of the most important commands you’ll ever teach your Blackie. If he’ll come to you every single time you call, he won’t be at any risk of running into dangerous situations.
“Come” is a command that’s best taught outdoors, with your Black Russian Terrier on a 40-foot training leash. You’ve already taught him to sit or lie down, and stay, so place him in the stay. Walk away, holding your end of the leash and feeding it out a bit.
Now, take a treat out of your pocket. With the hand not holding the treat, pat your shoulder vigorously and say “Come.” He might hold back a bit, since you told him to stay. Just repeat the gesture and the command until he gets the idea.
When he breaks the stay and comes to you, immediately tell him to sit. Then give him a treat and tell him what a wonderful dog he is. If he’s reluctant to come, tug gently on the leash to let him know that it’s okay.
A great way to ensure that your dog will come to you every time is to employ a friend to help with training. The friend’s job is to provide distractions – invite your dog to play, offer treats, and so on. Meanwhile, you’re holding the end of the training leash, tugging gently, and saying “Come” every time your helper distracts your dog. You want your dog to ignore everything else when you call him – “Come” is the most important word in his vocabulary.
It will probably take a bit of time for your Blackie to learn this command. Don’t get discouraged; just keep at it. You have a smart dog, and he’ll get it eventually.
Big, powerful dogs like Russian Black Terriers can be pretty scary to people who don’t know them. When you’re walking around the neighborhood with your Blackie, the last thing you want is for him to lunge toward a human, or another dog, and scare the living bejabbers out of them.
That’s why you need to teach your Blackie to heel. Fortunately, we’re easing back into easy training with the “heel” command. We’re back to treats and hand gestures.
Take your Blackie for a walk, and let him have his head for a bit – he wants to explore, leave “pee mail” for other dogs, and just generally find out what’s going on around him. Once he’s settled down a bit, pull a treat out of your pocket, and use a sweeping motion to bring it close to your knee on the side that you’d like your dog to walk. Once he’s close, say “Heel,” give him the treat, and tell him that he’s just the best dog in the whole world.
Rinse and repeat. Pretty soon, you’ll have a dog that will walk at heel on command.
The most important thing to remember when you’re training your Black Russian Terrier puppy is simply this – be firm, but be kind. Never yell at your Blackie or scold him – he won’t respond well to that. Blackies can be stubborn, but never react with anger. There’s never a good outcome when you’re mad at your dog.
Black Russian Terrier Breeders
When looking for any breed of dog, it’s very important to be careful. That’s because there are so many scam artists out there who just want to take your money. This is especially true with rare breeds – you’ve decided that you have to have a Black Russian Terrier, and lo and behold, here’s someone online who’s just had a litter! And they can send you a puppy overnight, anywhere in the world!
Don’t fall for that. It takes time to arrange a cargo shipment for a dog, and it never, ever happens overnight. Also, don’t fall for scams where you’re told that your puppy will be shipped right to your door after arriving by AAA cargo. There is no AAA cargo for pet shipping, and no airline is ever going to load your puppy onto a truck and take him to your door.
Further, don’t fall prey to people who claim to be “AKC accredited breeders” but will ship you a puppy without knowing anything at all about you. Good breeders want to know where their puppies are going, and they’ll probably ask you more questions than you even really want to answer in order to be sure that you’re a good choice for their babies. They’ll want to know if you have kids, how long you’ve been with your significant other, if you have a fenced in yard, how much money you make in the run of a year, if you’ve ever had a dog before… and on and on and on. And if you can’t answer those questions to their satisfaction, they probably won’t let you have a puppy. And rightly so.
Black Russian Terriers are rare, and you’re never going to get one by buying into those sites that tell you they have a litter, and it has to be gone overnight. If you’re looking for a Black Russian Terrier, and you don’t want to be scammed, your best resource is the Black Russian Terrier Club of America, You should probably expect to be placed on a waiting list, but at least this way you can have a hope of eventually acquiring a Black Russian Terrier, and you won’t have to worry about being scammed.
Black Russian Terrier Price
Again, avoid the scam sites. You’ll see all kinds of sites online that will, again, promise you a Black Russian Terrier overnight. They might want as much as $6,000, and you might be thinking, “Well, you get what you pay for.”
The thing is, you don’t get what you’ve paid for. What you get is $6,000 stolen from you, and no dog. Realistically, for a Black Russian Terrier, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,800 to $2,500 for a dog that actually exists.
Black Russian Terrier Size
Want a big dog? Depending on gender, Black Russian Terriers can weigh up to 140 pounds and stand 29 inches. That’s a lot of dog!
Black Russian Terrier Rescue
Sadly, powerful dogs often end up in rescue facilities because they’ve been purchased by owners who’ve discovered that they just can’t handle them. This is often the case with the Black Russian Terrier.
If you’re thinking of rescuing a Black Russian Terrier, you need to know that the dog is probably coming with issues. Maybe he hasn’t had a good handler. Maybe he hasn’t been trained. Maybe he’s an emotional mess because of bad handling and no training.
If you’re experienced with large dogs that can be aggressive, and you want to rescue a Black Russian Terrier, then all we can say is that you’re a hero. But if you’re not up for it, please back off and leave the job to someone who can handle it. If you’re wondering why we’re saying this, move on to the next section in this post.
Black Russian Terrier Temperament
Okay, let’s start off by saying this – if there’s ever a Zombie Apocalypse, and you want a dog at your side that’s going to protect you to the end, then you want a Black Russian Terrier. These dogs are beyond loyal, and beyond protective, and also utterly devoted to their humans. You want them on your side.
Black Russian Terriers are strong and courageous, and highly intelligent. They can be stubborn, though, and are not generally a good choice for first time owners. Keep in mind the history that we talked about early on – these are dogs that are bred for protection and guarding first, and for family pets second. That means that they require a firm, confident owner If they’re going to fit into a family.
If you do decide that you want a Blackie as a family pet, you’re going to have to work with him. Blackies love people, and kids, but if they’re bored, they’ll be destructive. Given that they’re big dogs, that could mean a lot of damage to your home.
Black Russian Terriers need a lot of exercise and attention, and if they don’t get it, all hell could break loose. You have to train consistently and firmly, and never forget that Blackies are very, very intelligent. Blackies are first and foremost working dogs, and secondarily family pets. They need jobs to do, and if you don’t give your Blackie a job, he’s going to be a very unhappy, very bored dog.
Here are some of the most common asked questions about Black Russian Terriers that we didn’t cover in the above material.
1. Are Black Russian Terriers hypoallergenic?
No. There’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. Black Russian Terriers are no exception.
2. Are Black Russian Terriers aggressive?
Black Russian Terriers can be very dominant. But in the right hands, they’re no more aggressive than any other breed of dog.
3. Do Black Russian Terriers shed?
Most dogs shed. Black Russian Terriers don’t shed all that much in comparison with other dog breeds. A brushing out once or twice a week will usually take care of grooming for a Black Russian Terrier.
4. Are Black Russian Terriers good family dogs?
They definitely can be. They’re good with kids, and very sociable. The main thing is that that they must have a handler who’s experienced with large, dominant dogs.
5. How long does a Black Russian Terrier live?
The average life expectancy for a Blackie is 10-12 years.
6. What breeds make up a Black Russian Terrier?
It’s not really known exactly which breeds make up the Black Russian Terrier, other than the ones mentioned in the overview. However, it’s believed that it could be as many as 17 different breeds.
Do you think that a Black Russian Terrier is right for you and your family? If you do, then we wish you all the happiness in the world! You’re choosing a wonderful breed that has a lot of love to give, but might not be right for EVERY family. Take a look at the above material again, and think about it.