The Rugged and Regal Black Russian Terrier

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russian dog breeds big black terrier lying down

Few people know about the Black Russian Terrier. Yet, dog owners of the breed will tell you how charming, loving, and fun they are. They’re not wrong! The Rusky puppy used to be a working dog, but now they’re much more used to being loyal companion dogs. Keep reading to learn more about their origins and temperament!

A Look at the History of the Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed

The Black Russian Terrier has a weird history: it sounds straight out of a Cold War-era movie. Russian officials started developing this breed in the 1930s. Outside of Moscow, the Red Star Kennel focused on creating the perfect Russian working dog.

The team mixed 17 dog breeds. Among them, the Giant Schnauzer, the Airedale Terrier, several water Spaniels, the Rottweiler, and the Great Dane. The result was the perfected Russian Terrier. This was no small feat, as many purebred dogs were nearly extinct at that time in the Soviet Union!

Until the 1950s, this breed worked alongside Soviet officials in prisons, work camps, and military installations. But when the Stalin-era gulags started to close, some pups were sold to the public.

Since then, they’ve been deeply loved. They’re fully retired nowadays, so you’ll find them playing or napping on the couch. Today, they rank 118 out of 193 on the American Kennel Club popularity list.

The Appearance of this Rough and Rugged Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terrier puppies look like silly balls of black fluff. But when they mature, they gain a distinct and rather elegant shape. Their straight back ends in a short perky fluffy tail while their bellies tuck inward toward the back legs. You also can’t ignore their adorably thick and fuzzy front paws. Their heads are robust, brick-shaped and their eyes are shiny and happy-looking. What’s there not to love?

five adorable black russian terrier puppies

The Average Size and Weight of these Russian Dogs!

An adult BRT can, like many other working breeds, grow to be a small giant. They can weigh up to 140 pounds and measure up to 28 inches at the shoulder.

Their Black Terrier Coat

It’s no wonder the Black Russian Terrier is so covered in thick fur. After all, it was bred to thrive in the coldest Russian climates! Their fluffy coat is what attracts many dog owners to this breed in the first place.

The BRT’s undercoat is soft and thick. It keeps them warm even when it’s snowing. Their outer coat is wavy and slightly coarse, but it’s not wiry or curly. You’ll notice that Ruskies look as if they’re blindfolded and have a mustache. That’s what gives them their funny look! If you never trim the coat, it can grow to be six inches long.

What Are Their Grooming Requirements?

As you can imagine, Black Russian Terrier dogs need daily brushing to keep their double coat healthy. They’ll also need you to trim the hair around their eyes and mustache once in a while.

Temperament and Personality of this Russian Guard Dog

The Rusky dog was bred to be a guard dog. So, it’s only natural that today they still have some personality traits as they did in the 1950s. They’re dominant dogs who like being the leader of the pack and often don’t get along with other pups. They also have somewhat of a prey drive but are great with obedience training.

Since their retirement, they’ve become awesome family dogs. Their temperament is friendly and loyal to the humans they love most. They’re even great with children!

These Dogs Need Training and Socialization

Every dog needs socialization and training from a young age. That’s especially true of the Black Russian Terrier. Their best personality traits shine brightest after training. Positive reinforcement is a great place to start. As is exposing Fido to children, strangers, and dogs while they’re on a leash. There are dozens of great dog training books out there that can guide you on this journey.

two black russian terriers running on grass

A Look at Their Lifespan?

The Rusky dog can live to be twelve years old. The key is keeping a healthy lifestyle. Make sure they’re getting wholesome dog food, enough exercise, and that you keep an eye out for the breed’s common health concerns.

4 Potential Health Issues to Look Out For

Black Russian Terrier puppies may develop some health problems. They’re genetically prone to getting them, no matter how well you treat them.

  1. Hip Dysplasia: This happens when the hip socket and the thigh joint don’t match exactly. When they grind on each other, they’ll hurt Fido.
  2. Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Also referred to as PRA, this is a family of eye diseases. It causes the wearing down of your pup’s retina. Usually, dogs with this disease will gradually lose their sight and can become completely blind.
  3. Subaortic Stenosis: If there’s a malformation (because of a mutation, for example), the blood can’t flow properly through all the heart’s chambers. This makes it hard to get enough oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
  4. Luxating Kneecap Patella: This happens when a dog’s kneecap moves out of place and grinds on other bones and joints. With time, it is worn out and can cause pain.

In a nutshell, BRTs mostly have to worry about joint problems. Keeping an eye out for all these conditions is a good way of catching them early on—and acting on them. Make sure to stay on top of the veterinary examinations!

Black Russian Terrier Puppies for Sale!

Is your heart set on these Soviet-era pups? Getting one is a good idea for families who have had dogs in the past. Or, at least, for families willing to learn and who are persistent!

Be Sure to Get Your Puppy from a Reputable Breeder!

The only way of ensuring Fido won’t develop a congenital disease is by getting them from trustworthy Black Russian Terrier breeders. Reputable breeders care for all their dogs (moms, dads, and babies) and make sure they go to good homes. They also don’t breed dogs who have a history of clinical issues!

adorable black russian terrier puppy

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask a Local Animal Shelter About Russian Dog Breeds that Need Rescuing!

There are already so many pups living in shelters, why not give them a forever home? Visit your local animal shelter and ask about a BRT. You never know: they may have one looking for a new owner. If not, the staff could probably point you to another dog whose personality and looks resemble that of the Rusky!

Common Questions on the Black Russian Terrier Breed

Where do these pups come from?

Are these dogs good with families?

Are Russian Terrier dogs high-maintenance?

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