The Black Russian Terrier (Russian: Чёрный терьер), abbreviated as BRT, or Stalin's dog (Sobaka Stalina) is a breed of dog, developed to serve as guard dog and police dog. It is rare outside the countries of the former Soviet Union but beginning to be formally recognized elsewhere: in July 2004, for instance, it became one of the AKC's recognized breeds. Despite its name, the Black Russian Terrier is not a true terrier: it is believed that about twenty breeds were used in its development, including the Airedale, the Giant Schnauzer, the Rottweiler, the Newfoundland, the Caucasian Ovtcharka and the now extinct Moscow Water Dog.
The Black Russian Terrier gives the impression of great strength, athleticism, and courage. It should be rustic (but not coarse) in appearance, and should not look as though its coat is sculpted or trimmed. It should never appear to lack substance or be weak in any way.
Coat The coat is a double coat with a coarse outer guard hair over a softer undercoat. The coat is hard and dense, never soft, woolly, silky or frizzy. It should be between 5 to 15 cm (2-6 inches) in length. It should form a beard and eyebrows on the face, and a slight mane around the withers and neck that is more pronounced in males. The coat is low-shedding and the colour is black with some scattered gray hairs.
Size According to the FCI standard the male stands 72 to 76 cm and not more than 78 cm at the withers compared to the female’s 68–72 cm and not more than 74 cm. The male weighs between 50 and 60 kg (110-132 lbs), and the females weigh between 45 and 50 kg (99-110 lbs). Nowadays, even larger individuals are tolerated if the dog is well proportioned and retains correct movements. At maturity (over 18 months of age), the AKC standard recommends 27-30 inches for males with the desired height between 27 and 29 inches and 26 and 29 inches for females with the desired height between 26 and 28 inches. A mature male less than 27 inches or more than 30 inches at the withers is considered a serious fault. A mature female less than 26 inches or more than 29 inches at the withers is considered a serious fault. Although the standard also states "Height consideration should not outweigh that of type, proportion, movement and other functional attributes." In proportions, a Black Russian Terrier should be slightly longer than tall, a ratio of 9 ½ to 10 being ideal.
Temperament The character and temperament of the Black Russian Terrier is of utmost importance. The Black Russian Terrier is a calm, confident, courageous and self-assured dog. He is highly intelligent and adapts well to training. The Black Russian Terrier was initially bred to guard and protect. He is alert and responsive, instinctively protective, determined, fearless, deeply loyal to family, is aloof and therefore does not relish intrusion by strangers into his personal space. Shyness or excessive excitability is a serious fault.
Care The Black Russian Terrier, because of its breeding as a working dog, has a very strong "work ethic", and needs a job to do in order to be happy. Early training is a must and they are very responsive to firm, consistent training, excelling at Obedience competitions. They also perform well in other dog sports, such as Agility, and Schutzhund training. They have a low-shedding coat, and need grooming several times a week. Dogs who compete in conformation need to be groomed a minimum of every three weeks to keep the coat in show condition. The Black Russian Terrier needs lots of exercise, and may become hyperactive and destructive if it does not have a chance to burn off its energy.
Health The Black Russian Terrier is a generally healthy and somewhat long-lived dog (lifespan of 10–14 years), however it is prone to certain hereditary diseases: Major concerns Hip dysplasia Elbow dysplasia Hyperuricosuria Minor concerns Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) In an interview with Optigen staff in 2012, they do not recall ever having a Black Russian Terrier reported to them. This is why it is extremely important to screen any potential breeders as well as their breeding stock. A well intended breeder will have all health checks on all breeding stock before making the decision to breed their dogs. While health checks on breeding stock can not guarantee a puppy will not develop any health issues later on, it is important to "do your homework" on any potential breeder.
History The Black Russian Terrier was developed in the former USSR by the state for use as a military/working dogs. The breeding stock was largely imported from the occupied countries, especially East Germany. Breeds used in the development include the Airedale Terrier, Caucasian Ovcharka, Newfoundland, Giant and Standard Schnauzers and the now extinct Moscow Water Dog. BRT were bred for working ability, rather than appearance, and early examples only resembled today's Black Russian Terrier in their build and coat type. The BRT was bred solely by the state owned Red Star Kennel until 1957, when some puppies were sold to civilian breeders. These breeders began to breed for looks (as the original was rather plain) while retaining working ability. In time, the breed spread to the Balkans, Ukraine, and Siberia, and later to Finland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the United States. The breed was recognized by the FCI in 1984. On July 1, 2004, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club [AKC] in the Working Group. The Canadian Kennel Club has the Black Russian Terrier as a "listed" (formally Miscellaneous Class) breed in the Working Group. Black Russian Terrier Club of Canada