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Black Russian Terrier
Characteristics, History, and Health

Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier (BRT), also known as the ""Chornyi Terrier,"" is a breed of working dog that originated in the Soviet Union. The BRT was primarily bred for military and police work, with the aim of creating a large, intelligent, and versatile working dog that could withstand Russia's harsh climate. The first breeding experiment that led to the creation of the BRT began in the 1930s, in a state-run Soviet military kennel called Red Star Kennel. The breed's foundation stock consisted of about seventeen breeds, including the Giant Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, Rottweiler, and Newfoundland, among others. The BRT was recognized by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture in 1981. Internationally, it was first recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1984, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized it as a breed in 2004. Breed group classification varies between kennel clubs, but the AKC classifies the Black Russian Terrier under the Working Group, given the breed's history and abilities. The FCI places them in Group 2, which is for Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Chornyi Terrier
Life Expectancy
10-14 years
Average Male Height
27-30 inches
Average Female Height
26-29 inches
Average Male Weight
80-130 pounds
Average Female Weight
80-130 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Double, Curly
Coat Colors
Black, Black & Tan, Blue, Sable, Salt & Pepper
Coat Pattern
Saddle Pattern

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Black Russian Terriers are prone to elbow and hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and dwarfism. Genetic testing can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.

Personality and Behavior

Black Russian Terriers are known for their courage, confidence, and intelligence. They are highly trainable, yet can be independent thinkers. They are protective and deeply loyal to their families, which makes them excellent guard dogs. However, they require extensive socialization from an early age due to their protective nature. This is a breed that thrives on mental and physical challenges. They're good with children and can be friendly towards strangers, provided they've been well-socialized.

However, owning a BRT requires commitment and responsibility, as these dogs need a lot of exercise, training, and socialization to be well-adjusted and happy. They also need regular grooming due to their thick, waterproof double coat.

Fun Facts

The Black Russian was developed through selective interbreeding by the Russian military of many breeds including Rottweilers, Giant Schnauzers, and Airedale Terriers.


Willis, M.B. (2012). The Black Russian Terrier. In The World Encyclopedia of Dogs (pp. 232-234). London: Octopus Books.

American Kennel Club. (2021). Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed Information. Retrieved from

Coile, D.C. (2005). Black Russian Terriers. In Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds (pp. 78-79). Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series.

Federation Cynologique Internationale. (2023). FCI breeds nomenclature: Black Russian Terrier. Retrieved from

Hardman, L., & Walkowicz, C. (2003). Black Russian Terrier: A Comprehensive Owner's Guide (Kennel Club Books). Allenhurst, NJ: Kennel Club Books.