There's no doubt about it, the Black Russian Terrier is one pretty epic breed. Not only are they so distinct visually, but they have a unique and interesting history too. They can grow to the whopping height of 30" to the shoulder, and weigh up to 140 pounds. Yet, despite their humungous stature, they are calm and rather nimbly footed gentle giants.
If you're thinking of becoming a hooman to one or just want to learn more about these super pooches, this blog will provide you with all you need to know.
From post-WW2 guard dogs to domesticated pups
Let's start things off at the beginning, with how Black Russian Terriers came to be. They originate from Russia, which can't be too much of a shock. Specifically in the former Soviet Army's Red Star kennel, where they were developed in the 1950s, over a period of just a few years. Due to their military origins, much of the information around their creation is top secret. What we do know is that there are around 17 different breeds involved in their make-up. The predominant of these include the Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, Airedale, and Newfoundland. Supposedly at a mix of about 3:3:3:1 respectively, with many other breeds also involved in that final 10%.
Rather than to warm the lap of Georgy Malenkov, the purpose of their creation was to rebuild Russia's army of guard dogs post-war. They recognized just how effective the military dogs had been, so wanted to build a breed with even greater capabilities.
Post-war, the breed was made available to civilian breeders and they can now be found well beyond the borders of Russia. With the AKC officially recognizing the breed in 2004.
That's one pretty rich history for a breed that's been around for less than 60 years hey?
To Terrier or not to Terrier...
Whilst their name gave us their correct origin, Black Russian Terriers are in fact NOT really terriers. As we mentioned Airedale Terriers are the only terrier in their foundation, making up just 30%. Nonetheless, we're sure terriers welcome the BRT as a (not so) long-lost sibling!
Black Russian Terrier characteristics
As you can imagine, as a military dog the requirements for the breed would have been; courageous, intelligent, hardy, competitive, and easy to train. Their role was to protect their handlers and others, guard, and work in the most horrific conditions imaginable.
You might think that given these traits and their rather eventful history, these pooches wouldn't make good domesticated dogs. However, you'd be wrong. Many of these traits make them perfect family dogs. They're both gentle yet protective, intelligent yet playful, and let's not forget that irresistible crimped black coat. Almost unparalleled in the pooch world.
All these traits don't just come about organically though, as pups they require plenty of obedience training and need to be well-socialised. You definitely don't want to be dealing with an unruly BRT, as they could easily rule over you if they fancied it.
What do Black Russian Terriers look like?
Here's one we made earlier 😉...
In terms of size and weight, BRT's range from 80-130 pounds. Males stand to a shoulder height of 27-30 inches tall and females come up slightly shorter at 26-29 inches.
Often larger breeds have a slightly shorter life expectancy, but Black Russian Terriers have been known to average around 10-13 years.
Feeding a Black Russian Terrier
You know how the saying goes; "the bigger the dog, the bigger the ... portion size". These giants need a hefty amount of fuel to keep all 130 pounds of them going. As an example, for a BRT weighing 100 pounds, you'd need to feed them an average of 2206 kcal daily. And for pups, the calorie intake is even higher at around 2451 kcal per day! For reference, the average human calorie intake is 2000 per day for women. To avoid overloading your house with lots of food, go for quality dog food that's nutrient dense!
As large breeds, it's a good idea to look for recipes specifically designed for big doggies. These foods will be tailored to their needs, including things like joint care to support elbows and hips, and will likely have a slightly lower calorie formula. (Ironically small breeds actually require more calories proportionally). On top of this, the food will also likely have a bigger bite suited to a larger mouth.
Besides these factors, BRT's don't have any specific requirements and can be fed dry or wet complete food. When choosing a food, just make sure it's packed with high-quality ingredients and contains all the proteins, fats, carbs, fibre, and vitamins/minerals they need. You can refer to the FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines if you're unsure. And don't forget to always check the ingredients list, as that's the only way to tell the quality, rather than pretty packaging or clever marketing terms!
Our Salmon Dry Dog Food suits larger breed doggies. We've added not one, not two, but three forms of joint care (chondroitin, MSM, and glucosamine) to support bones, and use a low-fat recipe that's single source protein; 50% sustainably-sourced salmon. Along with this, it's the largest kibble size we do. Like all our dry food recipes it also contains over 1 billion probiotics per kg, for pretty poops, healthy digestion, and immune function. Or take your pick of our range of grain-free and limited ingredient wet dog food, in salmon, turkey or, chicken. With a pooch this size, you definitely don't want them to suffer from any icky tums.