The Russian Black Terrier was born out of necessity. Following WWII, the Red Star kennels had been decimated and as the Soviet Union needed a military dog, General Medvedev and geneticists created the concept of a Russian National dog. The foundation dog was Roy the giant Schnauzer, along with a Rottweiler, Airedale Terrier and Newfoundland. These main four and numerous other breeds, including the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, were the basis of the breed we have today, for both civilian and military uses. In 1958 the first Russian standard was written, declared a separate breed in Russia in 1981, accepted in the FCI in 1996 and recognised by the ANKC in 2001.
The first pair were imported to Australia in 2001 by Ross and Dot Sweeney, ‘Stryka’ CH Zornoi James Bond (IMP FIN) and Best Guard Deniza (IMP RUS). These two are behind the majority of Russian Black Terriers born in Australia, imported for their trainability and temperament. From the original litters SUP. CH. Ciamarron Rubeus Hagrid and his brothers GR. CH. Cimarron Gengis Khan and Cimarron Aszier Khan, all still have a strong influence today.
Appearance & Characteristics
They are a large, robust, balanced, very agile, athletic and powerful breed. They have great strength and endurance, are massive boned, with well developed muscles (when mature) and are deep chested. Differences between sexes is to be clearly defined.
The head should be proportionate to the body (although it is large, massive and long). The skull is moderately broad, with a flat forehead. The topline of skull is parallel with the topline of the muzzle, which is strong and broad but shorter than the skull.
The moustache and beard accentuate and give volume to the head. The head should give the appearance of power and strength, as this is one of the hallmarks of the breed.
The eyes are oval, set straight wide apart and dark in colour.
Ears are hanging, set high on the head, medium sized triangular in shape, but not be pronounced above the top of the head when alerted.
The mouth is a scissor bite, with full dentition. Their neck is strong, dry and muscular, the length approximately equal to the length of the head.
The forequarters are strong and viewed from the front are straight and parallel. The distance from the elbow, which is held close to the body, is roughly 50-52% of the height of the dog. The front feet are large and round and toes can be webbed; the rear feet are slightly smaller and oval.
The Russian Black Terrier has free, forward moving, springy, energetic trot with good reach and drive. Their body is solid, deep, voluminous, well balanced, with a slightly sloping topline from withers to tail. Withers more pronounced in males. Loin is strong, wide and muscular.
Tail can be carried over the back when gaiting, but not squirrel tailed. Preferable shape is sabre or sickle when undocked.
Coat – Colour - Skin Russian Black Terriers come in black, or black with grey hairs strewn through the coat. ( (Grey intermingling hair should not cover more than a 1/3 of the whole body).
Coat length untrimmed is between 5-15 cms with a rough, thick, wavy double coat, course outer hairs covering the entire body and length, they are low shedding and require intense grooming for the show ring. Their beards tend to get wet when drinking so be prepared to be dripped on a lot.
A desirable trait is black pigmented skin on the roof of the mouth and black spots on the tongue are common.
Desired height at the withers: Males: 72-76 cms (no less than 70cms and not more than 78cms). Females: 68 – 72cms (no less than 66cms and not more than 74cms.
Weight: Males 50-60kgs. Females 45-50kgs.
Temperament & Suitability
Russian Black Terriers have a great trainability but can also be willful and stubborn, they are extremely loyal, they are a calm confident, highly intelligent dog, are instinctively protective, determined & fearless. Alert and deeply loyal to owners, in a split second up and ready to defend their owner/family if needed, but once the perceived threat has passed will quickly settle.
I cannot stress enough that good socialising of dogs when growing is of utmost importance, as well as enrolling in puppy preschool. Obedience classes is highly recommended, plus taking puppy on outings to as many different situations as possible.
The breed can be aloof with strangers and do not suffer fools. They are not keen on their personal space being invaded by strangers and are very slow to physically mature: males are around 4+ years old and females are around 3.5 years. Possessing self-assurance and courage, they can also be very playful and clownish, love to have jobs to do and like routine. They thrive on being with their family and although not generally clingy, they need to know their family is safe and accounted for.
Russian Black Terriers make fabulous family members, but with any dog, care should be taken with small children and they should never be left unattended. This breed sometimes forget how big they are, as they love the company of people, but they are not necessarily for the first time dog owner. The breed is more suitable for an owner experienced with very strong guarding breeds, but having said that, to their families, they are like big cuddly bears.
With a large breed care should be taken with growing joints: low impact exercise when young, until joints have finished growing, is highly recommended.This will help prevent early onset arthritis. Parents should be hip and elbow scored, plus DNA tested for hereditary diseases: the main ones being HUU (Hyperuricosuria) painful bladder stones, JLPP (Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy).
Being a deep chested dog they can also be prone to bloat, so care is required when feeding and watering after heavy exercise. Lifespan is generally 12-14 years.
Now you know a little about the Russian Black Terrier, you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Russian Black Terrier and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.