Black Russian Terrier

Created in Russia, the black Russian terrier is a large, very strong hunting breed that will even go after a bear. This dog will gain more popularity in the future in Europe and the United States as it is accepted by the FCI (the French equivalent of the AKC).

The giant schnauzer used to be called the Russian bear schnauzer in Russia, as it resembled the black Russian terrier. Although a popular house pet and guard dog in Moscow and the suburbs of St. Petersburg, the black Russian is not yet a very well-known breed in Europe.


A powerful, black, thick-coated guard dog, the Black Russian has perhaps the most complex origins of any dog breed, involving no fewer than 17 different parent-breeds. So often, the origins of a breed are said to be "lost in the mists of time" but uniquely this breed’s history has been meticulously recorded since its very beginning. The breeding programme was initiated after World War II, when the Russian army decided it needed to develop its own specialized guard dog, an animal that would be able to stand up to the rigours of an often hostile climate. The dog population of Russia had suffered terribly during the war and there was no pure-bred strain readily available, so it was decided to gather together various breeds from both home and abroad and start from scratch with the creation of an entirely new type of dog.

The first dog to be assigned to this military breeding programme was a Giant Schnauzer. Among other breeds known to have been involved at some stage were the Great Dane, the Borzoi and the Laika. First they aimed for a dog that was stable in temperament, then they went on to standardize its appearance. By the 1980s they had achieved their goal and in 1984 the new breed was recognized by the FCI. By the 1990s there was already an enthusiastic Black Russian Terrier Club in the United States, eager to see this impressive new breed in the show-ring.

The result of this elaborate, long-term project was a perfected military canine servant, a formidable guard dog that would effectively protect any army installation against intruders. It has been described as a solid, robust, rugged, fearless, aggressive but train-able, high-spirited, imposing dog, able to withstand huge climatic variations. Its luxurious, 4-in (10-cm) long, slightly wavy, black coat not only keeps it warm in the Russian winters, but also camouflages it from prying eyes during night-time duties.


Square and resembling the giant schnauzer, the black Russian terrier has a sturdy, well-boned muscular body; a flat skull with an unclear stop; and a muzzle pointed at the tip. The hard, slightly wavy coat is profuse and grows five to ten inches long, which is good for extremely cold weather. The hair on the forehead is longer, covering the face. The coat color is black or salt and pepper.


Sensitive, very intelligent, brave, daring to fight against much larger animals, this obedient and loyal breed is excellent as a guard dog or house pet.

Care and Exercise

The dense undercoat needs regular hard brushing and combing. A great deal of exercise is required every day.


There are four to eight relatively strong puppies in a litter. Handling from an early age is required. The tail should be docked within a week of birth.

Gallery of Black Russian Terrier