≡ Menu

Black Russian Terrier Temperament: Meet the Black Pearl of Russia

The Black Russian Terrier temperament is known for its courage, strength, and confidence.

Black Russian Terriers (known as BRTs for short) were developed to be unbeatable working and protection dogs.

These massive Russian dogs also go by the names of Tchiorny (“Black” in Russian), Tchiorny Terrier, The Black Pearl of Russia, or the Blackie.

Black Russian Terriers are challenging dogs that require highly skilled handlers. They are definitely not the right breed for novice dog owners.

If you think the Black Russian Terrier temperament might be a good match for you, do as much research as you can to make sure you are prepared to handle Black Russian Terrier behaviors.

Black Russian Terrier breeders and owners can give you the best insight into the Black Russian Terrier personality.

Black Russian Terrier Temperament: Common Black Russian Terrier Traits and How to Handle Them

In this section, we will highlight some of the most typical components of the Black Russian Terrier temperament.

Of course, it is important to remember that all dogs are individuals and will, therefore, show some variability from the standard.

Not all Black Russian Terriers will display the exact same behaviors.

However, this section will give you an idea of what to expect from the Black Russian Terrier temperament.

Bred to Guard and Protect

Protectiveness is a deeply ingrained component of the Black Russian Terrier temperament.

The Black Russian Terrier is the ultimate guard dog.

These dogs are very alert and watchful. They look intimidating and they have an imposing voice. They will alert their owner to any suspicious activity on the property.

It is important not to let this trait get out of hand. Early training and socialization for this breed are imperative.


The Black Russian Terrier temperament is highly intelligent.

It is crucial for you to channel that intelligence into constructive activities such as training, brain game toys, mental stimulation and/or canine sports.

Without enough mental enrichment, your Black Russian Terrier could easily become bored and destructive.

Destructive behavior might take the form of barking, chewing, digging, hyperactivity or trying to escape.

Loyal to Family

The loyal Black Russian Terrier temperament makes this breed a good family dog.

Black Russian Terriers tend to do well with the children in their household.

This is especially true when you devote the time and effort to socialize your Black Russian Terrier with all types of people—including kids.

Even if your dog is great with kids, it is always best to supervise all interactions.

Aloof with Strangers

The Black Russian Terrier temperament can make this breed wary of strangers.

When guests come to your house, make sure they allow the dog to warm up to them at its own pace.

You can have your visitors give the dog treats to help form a positive association with new friends.

Muscular and Athletic

The Black Russian Terrier is a strong, athletic dog.

These muscular dogs require daily exercise.

Black Russian Terrier exercise can include walking, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking or a canine sport such as weight pull or carting.

Due to their size and energy level, the Black Russian Terrier is not well suited to living in an apartment.

Black Russian Terrier History:

The Black Russian Terrier dog was developed by Red Star Kennels in the 1930s. The breeding took place in a secret location near Moscow within the Soviet Union (USSR).

Black Russian Terriers were created to be a “super dog” for the Russian Army.

These dogs had to be extremely hardy to withstand conditions in one of the coldest and least hospitable places on earth—Siberian prison camps.

Black Russian Terriers were used in gulags to patrol fences and catch and hold runaway prisoners.

The breed was used exclusively by the military until the late 1950s when civilians started to acquire some puppies for companionship and conformation.

Contrary to its name, the Black Russian Terrier is not a true terrier. Rather it is a blend of numerous working and protection breeds including the Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, Airedale Terrier, and Newfoundland, among other breeds.

The Black Russian Terrier was recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1983 and by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2004.

Black Russian Terrier Size and Appearance

The Black Russian Terrier is a massive and imposing dog.

The AKC breed standard describes the Black Russian Terrier as “a robust, large, balanced, agile and powerful dog with large bones and well-developed muscles.”

The Black Russian Terrier weight can exceed 130 lbs.

The typical Black Russian Terrier height range is between 26 inches and 30 inches at the withers.

As the name suggests, Black Russian Terrier colors are always black. A few scattered gray hairs are permitted, but all other colors or markings are disqualified.

The Black Russian Terrier coat is coarse and dense.

The ears are naturally erect. Cropped ears are not acceptable.

The tail can be docked or left in its natural state.

Black Russian Terrier vs. Giant Schnauzer

The Black Russian Terrier temperament shares some qualities with the Giant Schnauzer.

Both breeds are large, intelligent, working dogs.

The Giant Schnauzer is more common. Whereas the Black Russian Terrier is a more obscure breed.

For more information about the Giant Schnauzer, check out this article about the Giant Schnauzer temperament.

Black Russian Terrier Training

The intelligent Black Russian Terrier temperament makes this breed a quick and eager learner.

With a dog that can grow to 130 lbs., obedience training is a must.

If you acquire your Black Russian Terrier as a puppy, start the training process as soon as possible.

A great way to start is with a puppy socialization class. This will help your puppy learn important social skills from other canines. This is crucial for a dog that is going to grow to be so large as an adult.

If you adopt your Black Russian Terrier as an adult, you can still get off to a good start by signing up for a beginner’s obedience class right away.

Just be sure to find a trainer that uses positive reinforcement methods. Do not work with any trainer that uses outdated, force-based methods. Never use painful training devices such as shock collars or pinch collars.

These types of training methods are not effective and can sometimes lead to outbursts of fear or aggression from your dog.

Instead, find a trainer that uses science-based methods and force-free tactics. Positive reinforcement training is effective, humane and fun for you and your dog.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Black Russian Terrier dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Once you have mastered basic obedience, there is a whole world of advanced canine sports that you can explore with your Black Russian Terrier. For example, Black Russian Terriers do wonderfully in competitions such as weight pull, agility, rally obedience, nosework, and many more.

A Guide to Black Russian Terrier Grooming

The Black Russian Terrier has a thick double coat that requires diligent maintenance.

You should brush the fur two or three times per week to prevent matting.

The “beard” and “moustache” on the face will also need periodic trimming.

It takes a fair amount of time and energy to bathe a dog that is so large and shaggy. Prepare to invest the time to do it yourself or invest the money to hire a professional groomer to do it for you.

As with all dogs, the Black Russian Terrier will need regular nail trims, ear cleaning, and dental care.

Is the Black Russian Terrier Hypoallergenic?

The Black Russian Terrier is not a hypoallergenic breed.

If you need a breed that is hypoallergenic, check out this article for a list of options.

However, Black Russian Terrier shedding is fairly minimal and easy to control with routine brushing and vacuuming.

Staying Healthy: Black Russian Terrier Health Issues

Like all breeds, the Black Russian Terrier is prone to certain medical conditions.

Talk with your vet and/or breeder about what to expect in terms of health issues and expenses for the Black Russian Terrier.

If you purchase a puppy from a breeder, ask the breeder for medical documentation for the parents—including any genetic screening.

Some of these conditions can be quite expensive, so make sure you are prepared to handle these medical issues if they arise:

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely Black Russian Terrier from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.

As with all dogs, your Black Russian Terrier should visit a licensed veterinarian at least once per year for an annual checkup and vaccinations.

Your Black Russian Terrier should also stay up to date on flea, tick and heartworm prevention at all times.

Unless you plan to show your dog competitively, spaying and neutering is highly recommended for companion dogs. Discuss this procedure with your veterinarian.

You should feed your Black Russian Terrier a high-quality diet that is free of filler ingredients such as corn or animal by-products.

With good care, the average Black Russian Terrier lifespan is between 10 and 12 years.

Black Russian Terrier Rescue and Adoption

Do you feel like the Black Russian Terrier temperament is a good match for your lifestyle?

If so, the next step is to find one to add to your home.

These rare dogs can be hard to find, so it may take some time and patience to find your new best friend.

A great way to add a pet to your home is through adoption.

There are thousands of homeless animals in the United States. If you want to add a pet to your household, please consider adopting an animal that needs a home.

Finding Black Russian Terriers for Adoption

If you would like to find a Black Russian Terrier for adoption, you can visit the website for the Black Russian Terrier Rescue Association.

This group matches adopters with rescued Black Russian Terriers throughout the United States.

You can also search for Black Russian Terriers online through websites such as Petfinder.com, Adoptapet.com and Getyourpet.com. You can also connect with the Black Russian Terrier rescue community through Facebook.

Even though Black Russian Terriers are rare in American animal shelters, it is still worth a visit to your local shelter or humane society.

The staff can direct you towards other rescue groups in the area. They can also keep your application on file in case a Black Russian Terrier or a Black Russian Terrier mix or a similar breed becomes available in the future.

One of the perks of adoption is that the adoption fees are always substantially less expensive than the Black Russian Terrier price from a breeder. A typical adoption fee is between $100 and $350 depending on the organization. The adoption fee generally includes basic veterinary services such as spay/neuter, vaccinations and a microchip.

Finding a Black Russian Terrier for Sale from a Good Breeder

On the other hand, when you purchase a Black Russian Terrier puppy from a breeder, the price can be extremely steep.

The average Black Russian Terrier cost from a breeder is between $2000 and $2500—not including travel expenses.

There are a limited number of Black Russian Terrier breeders in the United States, so you will need to take some time to find a breeder and make sure they are legitimate.

A good place to start is the Black Russian Terrier Club of America, Inc. Contact the club members for a list of recommended breeders.

Do not purchase Black Russian Terrier puppies over the internet or from a pet store. Always take the time to visit the breeder in person to make sure your puppy comes from an ethical source. Sadly, there are many unscrupulous breeders who will take advantage of unsuspecting puppy buyers.

Once you identify a possible breeder, set up an appointment to visit the breeder and see the property. This will give you a chance to meet the breeding dogs and make sure they are happy and healthy. Ask lots of questions. The breeder should be happy to answer your questions and will probably want to ask you questions as well. A good breeder will want to make sure that you are knowledgeable about the breed.

Ask the breeder for references—people who bought puppies from previous litters. Call the buyers and see if they were happy with the experience.

Responsible breeders will not overbreed their dogs, so once you find a breeder to work with, you still may have to wait for a puppy to become available.

Conclusion: Why the Black Russian Terrier

Many love the Black Russian Terrier temperament but this dog is not for everyone.

This breed was developed by the Russian military to be used during warfare. So think carefully before you bring one home as a pet.

Make sure you are prepared to handle a very large, powerful and protective dog.