The Black Terrier

A few breeds with “terrier” in their name are either not true terriers, or aren’t part of the AKC’s terrier group.  The Yorkshire Terrier, for example, is a member of the toy group, while neither the Tibetan Terrier or Black Russian Terrier is a true terrier.

In the case of the “Blackie,” or Black Russian Terrier,  some 20 different breeds went into the development of the breed, including the now-extinct Moscow Water Dog, Caucasian Ovcharka, East European Shepherd, Great Dane, Russian-Europian and East-Siberian Laikas, German Shepherd Dog, and Newfoundland. We’ve come across speculation that the BRT is based on a foundation of 30% Giant Schnauzer, 30% Airedale Terrier and 30% Rottweiler, with the remaining 10% comprising the genetics of those other breeds. By the end of 1970s,  over 800 litters of the then-called Black Terriers had been bred – over 4,000 puppies conforming to the breed standard.  That the Soviet Army’s Red Star Kennel was able to get the BRT to breed true after only twenty of development using over 100 dogs from so many different breeds is somewhat astounding (to see some photos of these early dogs, visit here).

In 1992, the Black Terrier was renamed the Black Russian Terrier, and with AKC recognition, was placed in the Working Group (as opposed to the Terrier Group) by the AKC because its size and structure were inconsistent with the typical terrier type. What we’ve not been able to ascertain why “terrier” was ever a part of the breed’s name, or why it was retained.  Anyone?

Black Russian Terrier sculpture by Krzysztof Liszka/ArtDogShop is available here

4 thoughts on “The Black Terrier”

  1. Maybe because Black Russian sounds like an alcoholic drink? The BRT is not a terrier in size, structure, temperament, or purpose. As an Airedale owner it kind of drives me nuts when I see them described as the largest Terrier.

    • We can well imagine the frustration, Linda, and think that perhaps one way to keep your sanity when “Blackies” are described as such is to regard it as a “teachable moment?”

  2. I love my Black Russian Terrier. I never identify him as that breed to those that inquire, though. I tell them he is a Russian Bear Schnauzer. Having both a Giant Schnauzer and a Russian Terrier, I see many some similarities between the two I have as far as shape, temperament, and function. Both are tremendously skilled farm dogs, highly protective, loving with their family, and giant goofballs. There are, however, far more differences than there are similarities, though. Having experience with both, and if one can compare the Black Russian Terrier to any breed that is current recognized by the AKC, it would be the Giant Schnauzer.

    • We love having the insights of the actual owners of our different breeds, KC, so thank you for yours. There’s no substitute for living with a breed to know it!

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