If you are looking for a large teddy-sized cuddle partner or guardian bear in the body of a doggo—then the Black Russian Terrier dog breed might be the one for you!

These dogs are super versatile and can win anyone’s heart with their affectionate nature and sense of companionship. But that is not enough to know if you want to bring them home! So, to help you with that, below is everything you need to know about the Black Russian Terrier before making them a part of your family!


Height26-30 inches
Weight80-130 lbs
Life span10-11 years
Exercise needs30 minutes to 1 hour daily
TemperamentCalm, Adaptable, Confident
GroomingHigh maintenance
OriginSoviet Union

Origin of the Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier dog breed originated in the Soviet Union as a versatile working dog that won the hearts of millions. These dogs started to develop in the early 1950s and soon got recognized by the military for civilian tasks. It is surprising how 17 breeds in total were crossed to develop the Black Russian Terrier! It was done to make them an all-rounder dog breed who can not only guard but also help militants and police in search and rescue. 

In the doggo world, these working dogs are known for their distinctive appearance and their skills that can intimidate anyone! Not only are Black Russian Terriers excellent guard dogs, but they also prove to be trustworthy companions to hoomans. 

Appearance of the Black Russian Terrier

These big lads, the Black Russian Terrier dogs, are admired for their unique features and physical attributes. Here is more information on their appearance:

1. Size and body

Black Russian Terriers are large-sized dogs that are about 26-30 inches tall and weigh about 80-110 pounds. Generally, female terriers are slightly smaller than males, but the rest of the features are pretty much the same in both sexes. A very interesting thing about them is that under their very heavy coat, there is a well-muscled dog. They have a straight back and a broad chest, making them look robust. 

2. Coat

Now comes the part we all love about them—their fur coat! The Black Russian Terrier dog breed has one of the thickest coats. It is a double coat that protects them from harsh weather conditions and guards them from enemies. Their coat is pitch black and does not have any markings.

These working dogs look messy, with their heavy bangs and mustaches falling down on their eyes and face. When puppies, you can mistake these furry buddies for black coiled yarn. 

3. Other features

The Black Russian Terrier dog breed also has special features like their cushioned legs! Due to the heavy hair falling down, it looks like they are wearing a gown that hides their paws. Also, their dark, oval eyes are super expressive! Pro tip: To keep their fur shiny all the time, you should slather them in coconut oil.

Personality And Temperament

Every dog breed has their own characteristics and traits, which makes them unique. Here is all the information about the temperament and personality traits of the Black Russian Terrier dog breed: 

1. Smart and witty

This dog breed may look like lazy lads, but make no mistake! Black Russian Terriers are super intelligent dogs and catch on very quickly to commands. They are quick learners and have brilliant problem-solving skills, which is one of the reasons why dog enthusiasts admire these fluffy buddies. 

2. Adaptable

The Black Russian Terrier dog breed is also an adaptable and flexible furry companion. They can adjust to any environmental situation and will not throw any tantrums. The best part is that these dogs can fit in an apartment, just like they would in a big house with a yard. Although, we recommend that you give them enough space to move around. 

3. Confident lads

You will never see Black Russian Terriers standing with a low head! They walk with confidence that can intimidate anyone passing by. It is also one of the reasons why alot of people adopt them for their guarding skills, as their protectiveness is super impressive! To encourage this behavior, you should keep them healthy, engage them in agility courses, and make these terriers fit. 

4. Gentle giants

Even though they are large dogs and can scare away people, the Black Russian Terrier dog breed is calm and composed by nature. They are very affectionate and can make deep emotional bonds with hooman families, making them family dogs. Although we do not recommend leaving kids alone with these gentle giants, with supervision, Black Russian Terriers can be a great play date for your kids!

If they don’t like someone, they’ll probably look straight into their eyes silently till that person feels so uncomfortable that they leave your house.

Grooming Needs of the Black Russian Terrier

As the Black Russian Terrier dog breed has a dense double coat, they need a lot of maintenance. You may also need professional grooming services to keep their fur coat in the best condition possible. If you don’t know yet, here are the grooming needs of Black Russian Terriers:

1. Brushing

Brushing their coat will probably be the most tiring thing you have to do if you adopt the Black Russian Terrier dog breed. They require brushing at least 3-4 times a week and can be exceeded depending on their shedding levels. Even though they have rough coats like barbet, Black Russian Terriers shed quite a lot. You should use a grooming mitt and slicker brush to detangle and remove loose hair.

2. Cleaning and bathing

The good news is that the Black Russian Terrier dog breed is not a smelly breed! They do not have a strong doggy odor that can make your house smell bad. However, they still need to be bathed every 2-3 months. This will keep them away from infections which is one of the common health problems in dogs. You should also remember to clean their paws, ear wax, or eye boogers to keep them clean and pretty!

3. Overall hygiene

Lastly, you should also take care of your dog’s nails and trim them from time to time. The paws are very likely to have built-up debris, which can cause infections, so you better clean them as well! Do not forget to take these terries for dental checkups, even if they try all their tactics of “I am sick, I can’t go!” or make puppy eyes. 

a Black Russian Terrier running outdoors

Exercise and Training Needs

If you are willing to adopt the Black Russian Terrier dog breed, then we are off to a great start because this dog only requires 30 minutes to one hour of exercise a day. As a puppy, you only need to spend about 5-15 minutes a day to warm them up and keep them busy. However, as they grow up, their demands will, too! So for that, here is a training guide for you and your terrier:

1. Agility training

Imagine having such an active breed at home, and all it does is sit idly or bored on the couch all day! We are sure that’s not something you would want for your BRT, so what do you do? The best way to keep the training sessions from being too hectic is to make them interactive and fun with agility training. Such activities will stimulate them mentally as well as physically, which will eventually shoo away their laziness! 

2. Daily walks

We always recommend starting your dog’s day with a nice walk around the neighborhood. In fact, even if you take them for walking sessions of 20- 30 minutes, it will be enough to help your dog digest well and stay fit. You would be surprised to know that walking is not just a great way to burn off your dog’s excess energy, but it also helps with your heart- yes! Your heart! 

3. Socialization

Last but not least, early socialization is essential for the Black Russian Terrier dog breed as much as rewarding them with treats! Especially when the dog is super reserved and struggles with human interaction, early socialization helps a lot in the proper development of the dog in a social environment.

Final Thoughts

Our final thoughts on whether or not you should adopt the Black Russian Terrier dog breed, a.k.a. BRT or guardian bear, are 100% yes! The biggest drawback and stress-giving factor about this breed is their intensive care! Whether it is for grooming or their reserved nature- these dogs can be challenging to deal with at times.

Also, do not forget that BRT requires a particular lifestyle and room to live their life in. Apart from this, there are also other things that you should be aware of, such as health problems like hyperuricosuria and a similar disease to Charcot Marie Tooth disease, which is common in humans (1, 2).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you shave a Black Russian Terrier?

Well, yes, you technically can shave Black Russian Terriers, but it is not the best thing to do. Even though this will give you and your dog relief from shedding and grooming, it can be unhealthy. Shaving can expose your dog’s skin to sun, allergens, and infections. Hence, a wise solution would be to trim it instead of shaving it all off; after all, the fur is there for a reason, i.e., protection.

Are Black Russian Terriers hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately, no! The Black Russian Terrier dog breed is not hypoallergenic, meaning they do not do well with people or pets with allergies. They shed a lot and can spread allergens. This is why you should always keep them groomed and clean to avoid shedding.

What breeds make up a Black Russian Terrier?

You would be shocked to know that 17 breeds in total were crossed over a period of time to develop the Black Russian Terrier we know today. The common breeds used were the Giant Schnauzer, the Airedale Terrier, the Newfoundland, and the Rottweiler.

Are Black Russian Terriers good for first-time owners?

We do not recommend the Black Russian Terrier dog breed for first-time owners. It is because these dogs are high maintenance in terms of grooming and general lifestyle. They are big and have a lot of strength, which an experienced dog trainer can best manage and control.

What are the cons of Black Russian Terriers?

Although the Black Russian Terrier is a perfect dog to adopt, these dogs have some serious cons. The cons are that they can get separation anxiety if not given attention, their grooming needs are way too much to handle for a first-time owner, and lastly, these dogs can be pretty laid back, so they require a lot of motivational speeches.

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