22 Questions To Consider Before Getting A Black Russian Terrier
By Sviat Oleksiv | Updated on October 12, 2021
Many terrier breeds are small and cute but some can be as large as a mastiff! And still be cute. Enter, the Black Russian Terrier. These giant and gorgeous dogs have been bred for centuries to be the guard and work dogs of Russian farmers deep into the woods and tundra of Siberia. Strong, fast, agile, as well as loyal and obedient, Black Russian Terriers or BRTs are one of the best guard and work dog breeds you can get.
But are Black Russian Terriers good family pets? Or does their guard dog nature make them ill-suited for life with kids and an active social life? Are they a healthy breed too or do they have some issues? Can they live in an apartment or is having a yard a necessity? Below, we’ll answer these and the rest of the most important 22 questions to consider before getting a Black Russian Terrier.
1. Are Black Russian Terriers good pets?
While most family pet dogs tend to be shepherd and retriever breeds, guard dogs like the BRT can also work as family pets. They will need an experienced owner and trainer, however. This is generally true for all large breeds as well as for terriers in general. So, while a first-time owner can deal with a BRT if they do enough research and prepare well enough, these dogs are generally recommended for folks with experience.
2. Is the Black Russian Terriers a smart dog?
As experienced hunters, all terrier breeds are quite healthy. While not the complex problem solvers that shepherds and retrievers usually are, terrier breeds are still more than smart enough to understand and follow commands, as well as to adequately navigate tricky situations.
So, if you’re wondering whether you’ll be able to interact with your dog in a fun and fulfilling manner, as well as play interesting games with it – yes, the BRT is definitely quite a clever dog.
3. Are Black Russian Terriers easy to train?
If you know anything about terrier breeds you know that they are difficult to train. Unfortunately, the BRT is no exception to that rule which makes its giant size even trickier to deal with.
This difficulty in training comes not from a lack of intelligence but an overabundance of stubbornness. As hunters, all terriers were bred for their single-minded focus and determination. That’s what made them great at their job. However, it also means that you’ll need to really lean into your dog’s obedience training from early on if you want it to recognize your status as the “alpha” of your family.
Still, this difficulty in training doesn’t mean that BRTs can’t be trained – just that they need a skilled owner. Well-trained BRTs become very good and obedient dogs that often even compete in dog obedience competitions.
4. Is the Black Russian Terrier breed social or is it distrustful of people?
As guard dogs, BRTs are generally aloof with strangers and guests they don’t meet often. If you want a guard dog, you can easily raise an anti-social BRT that will fiercely protect your property from anyone and anything.
However, if you want a pet that doesn’t cause any trouble, doesn’t bark too much, and is good with people in the park or guests at home – you’d do well to socialize your Black Russian Terrier from the earliest possible age.
5. Are Black Russian Terriers good with kids?
Despite their massive size and threatening appearance, BRTs are not bad with kids. If they are socialized well and they are introduced to the child properly, they will recognize it as a member of the pack and protect it with their life.
However, there are a couple of things to still keep in mind. 1) BRTs are big and that’s always a problem with small kids as even a well-intended BRT can accidentally harm a small human. And, 2) kids often want to have guests over which can be a problem if the BRT isn’t socialized well. So, even though these dogs are generally good with children, adult supervision is still strongly recommended.
6. Can you have a Black Russian Terrier with another dog?
These terriers don’t have any inherent aggression or desire for dominance over other canines. So, they will typically do well with other dogs, as long as both animals are socialized well.
7. Do Black Russian Terriers get along with cats?
All terrier breeds have a strong prey drive for smaller animals and the BRT is no exception. Having a Black Russian Terrier with a cat is technically possible but only if the two animals have been raised together.
8. Can you leave a Black Russian Terrier alone?
Even though they are often used as guard dogs, BRTs still don’t like being left alone for extended periods of time. These dogs are quite social and affectionate toward their family members and they need to get some affection back every once in a while. If left alone, BRTs will easily develop separation anxiety which can lead to depression, disobedience, and destructive behaviors.
9. How big do Black Russian Terriers get?
Male BRTs can get as tall as 27 to 30 inches at the shoulder (68.5 to 76.5 cm) and females – 26 to 29 inches (66 to 74 cm). Add the massive head on the BRTs long neck, and these dogs are truly imposing. As for their weight, they can weigh as much as 80 to 130 pounds (36 to 60 kg) – as much as many smaller and average mastiff breeds!
10. How much exercise does a Black Russian Terrier need?
Despite their large size, these terriers still have quite a bit of a spring in their step. As such, they need a regular exercise of at least two 30-minute walks every day. These walks need to be vigorous too – either jogging with you, running with you as you bike, or playing games in the dog park. If you don’t give your BRT enough exercise every day, the dog will not only get anxious and disobedient but it will be at a risk of getting overweight too.
11. Can you have a Black Russian Terrier in an apartment or do they need a yard?
All dogs can live in apartments if you give them enough time outside every day. However, extra-large breeds like the BRT can be a challenge in an apartment. Instead, they do best when they have a well-fenced yard to run and play in. Just make sure that the fencing is really good as you don’t want your terrier running off chasing a squirrel or a stray cat.
12. How long do Black Russian Terriers live?
The average life expectancy of these dogs is 10 to 12 years. That’s pretty good for a large breed. Besides, if you’ve got a healthy pup and you take good care of it, it can easily surpass that average too.
13. Are Black Russian Terriers healthy dogs?
Purebred Black Russian Terriers are quite healthy. Reputable breeders will screen their animals for certain genetic conditions before breeding, thus guaranteeing healthy pups for you to choose from. Such breeders will also offer health certificates that further guarantee the health of the pup.
However, if you get your pup from a pet store or a puppy mill, you should be on the lookout for any of the following conditions:
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Kidney stones
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
14. What type of coat do Black Russian Terriers have?
BRTs have thick double coats that are meant to protect them from nature’s elements. The undercoat is soft and thick while the outer layer is coarse and wiry. Both layers need good maintenance to prevent mats and skin infections.
15. What colors do Black Russian Terriers come in?
As the name suggests, the standard color for these dogs is full black. However, rarer Russian Terriers can also come in black & tan, blue, sable, or salt & pepper.
16. Do Black Russian Terriers shed a lot?
Unlike most other double-coated breeds, the BRT doesn’t shed too much. Especially when well-taken care of, these dogs will barely leave any excess hair flying around. Mats and tangles are a much more significant risk, however, so you really need to take good care of your dog’s coat.
17. Are Black Russian Terriers hypoallergenic?
No, not at all. While not worse for people with allergies than any other dog breed, BRTs are not nearly as good as poodles or a few other breeds.
18. Can you shave a Black Russian Terrier?
No double-coated breed should ever be fully shaved. These dogs need their undercoat for protection and can develop all sorts of skin problems when shaved.
19. Do Black Russian Terriers need a lot of grooming?
They do, especially to avoid mats and tangles. Regular brushing (every day if you can) will be very helpful as will the occasional bath. Remember to always blow-dry your dog after a bath to avoid mats. Trimming your dog’s hair is also very helpful, especially around the face.
Many BRT owners will use the services of a professional groomer two or three times a year but that’s up to you. If you don’t want to go to a groomer, you can do everything yourself. Nail trimming, as well as tooth brushing, and ear and eye maintenance are also important.
20. How much does a Black Russian Terrier cost?
Getting such a dog from a responsible breeder will usually cost you between $1,800 and $2,500. This is pretty steep but it’s to be expected from a rare and large breed.
21. What is the bite force of a Black Russian Terrier?
The average bite force of a Black Russian Terrier is about 556 PSI (pounds per square inch). This is a quite phenomenal bite force and puts these dogs on par with most mastiff breeds.
22. Can Black Russian Terriers swim?
They can and they love to. Swimming is a great way to exercise your dog and to give it a wonderful afternoon. Just remember to dry and brush the dog’s coat properly after that to avoid mats and tangles.
All that being said, Black Russian Terriers are a fantastic pet to have if you can manage them properly. Like mastiffs and like other large guard dogs, BRTs are as much a privilege as they are a responsibility. In the hands of an unprepared and inexperienced owner, a BRT can grow up to be disobedient, unhappy, anti-social, and even dangerous.
However, when carried for and trained adequately, they can be as good and well-mannered as they are gorgeous – a lot!