The Black Russian Terrier (BRT) is a young breed with a deep and rich, although partially unknown genealogic history. As its name implies, the breed’s country of origin is Russia. While considered a rare breed, the BRT has confidently stepped far beyond its native homeland to find passionate acceptance and a constantly growing presence around the globe.


How it all began

The Black Russian Terrier was developed in the early 1950s by the Russian military, specifically, the former Soviet Army’s Red Star Kennel. Historical accountings of genealogic development are peppered with both facts and speculation.

This is due to the breed’s military origins and limited access to classified information during and after the breed’s very complex development over a period of years. Following are some of the most widely held facts, understandings and beliefs about the Black Russian Terrier.

What does the name mean?

In Russia, the Black Russian Terrier has always been known as the Tchiorny Terrier. In the United States and other Western regions, the breed is called Black Russian Terrier or just BRT. In the UK and other regions, it is known as the Russian Black Terrier or RBT.

BRTs are also referred to as the Black Pearls of Russia and endearingly, just Blackies. There are other monikers around the world that identify the breed in native languages. But as the saying goes, a BRT by any other name is still a BRT.

It’s not really a terrier

The breed name suggests that the BRT is a terrier, but it is not a true terrier. The breed’s creation is said to have involved approximately 17 different breeds. Foundation breeds most heavily used included the Giant Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, Rottweiler and Newfoundland. Other breeds believed to have been included in the breeding program were the now-extinct Moscow Water Dog, as well as the Caucasian Ovcharka, East European Shepherd, Great Dane, German Shepherd Dog and other working breeds. It is speculated that the breed is based on a foundation of 30% Giant Schnauzer, 30% Airedale Terrier and 30% Rottweiler, with the remaining 10% comprising the genetics of the Newfoundland and many other breeds.


Why was the breed created?

The Black Russian Terrier was borne of necessity. The purpose of the breeding program was to restore to the Soviet Army the purebred working, protection and guarding dogs that were decimated during World War II. Recognizing the heroic contributions of military dogs during the war, the Red Star Kennel set out to develop a breed that could exceed the value of previous canine soldiers for the military.

The imperative was to produce a breed that was imposing, confident, courageous, highly intelligent, devoted to its handler, and highly trainable with a stable and balanced temperament. The breed would be fit to serve, protect, guard and work in brutal climatic conditions, performing proficiently and reliably as a military dog, police dog and prison guardian. Working breed traits ultimately bred into the Black Russian Terrier also fostered the breed’s use as cattle drivers, herders and sled dogs.

Through a calculated and very scientific breeding program, the Red Star Kennel imported, studied, selected and bred what was believed to be superior stock from among the chosen foundation breeds. Over time, other breeds were introduced into the lines with the goals of adding and strengthening the military’s desired traits, eliminating undesirable ones and retaining the best ancestral qualities. After years of strategic breeding practices and untold generations, the Black Russian Terrier bred true.

Ultimately, the Red Star kennel made the BRT available to civilian dog breeders, where the breed’s high potential was recognized for repurposing as an intelligent, loyal, and gentle yet protective family companion, as well as a strong and versatile working breed, and an extremely attractive and viable competitor in the exhibition ring. Black Russian Terriers initially tracked across Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Baltic States, and eventually arrived in Finland and Scandinavia before entering the kennels and homes of canine enthusiasts on nearly every major continent.

Major Milestones In History

Early 1950s: A breeding program was established by the Soviet Army to create a distinctly Soviet working dog to assist the military. Colonel G. Medvedev of the military’s Red Star Kennel led the breeding program, which produced the Black Russian Terrier.

1957: The Red Star Kennel began making the Black Russian Terrier available to civilian dog breeders.

1958: A first official breed standard was published in Regulations & Requirements for Training and Usage of Military Dogs.

1979: The Red Star Kennel officially approved a standard for the breed.

1981: The breed standard approved by the Red Star Kennel was accepted and the breed officially recognized by Russian authorities.

1984: The breed, known at the time as the Black Terrier, was granted international acceptance from the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) – the international federation of kennel clubs based in Thuin, Belgium.

Early 1990s: The Black Russian Terrier is believed to have first arrived on U.S. soil and started reproducing between 1990 and 1993.

1992: The Black Terrier was renamed the Black Russian Terrier.

1993: The Black Russian Terrier Club of America (BRTCA) was established.

2004: The American Kennel Club (AKC) formally recognized the Black Russian Terrier as a member of the Working Group.