When most people think of Russian dogs, they picture the massive and imposing breeds like the Borzoi or the Samoyed. However, there is one breed that is both uniquely Russian and surprisingly small: the Black Russian Terrier. Also known as the “BRT” or the “T echo,” this dog is an absolute head-turner!

Black Russian Terrier Breed Characteristics

The Black Russian Terrier is a large dog, typically weighing between 100 and 130 pounds, and standing between 25 and 28 inches. They are built solidly, with a thick, coarse coat that is weather resistant and helps protect them from the cold Russian winters. It comes in a variety of colors, including brown, white, gray and of course, most notably, black. They have a long muzzle, pointy ears, and a tail that curls over their back. Their eyes are usually dark brown.


The Black Russian Terrier was originally bred in Russia for military and police work. As a result, this breed is known for its intelligence, strength and courage. BRT dogs are also known for their calm and even temperament, making them ideal companions for families with children. They are also often used as therapy dogs. Black Russian Terriers are considered to be a confident breed that is both loyal and protective of their family and home. They might, however, need socialization early on to get on well with other dogs.


The Black Russian Terrier’s bark is deep and guttural, resembling that of a German Shepherd. However, their bark is much less sharp and aggressive sounding than a German Shepherd’s. BRTs are known to be territorial and protective dogs, so their bark can be quite intimidating to strangers.


Black Russians Terriers are very strong and resilient dogs, but even they can suffer from certain conditions.

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Addison’s Disease

Addison’s Disease is a rare and potentially fatal disease in black Russian terriers. The cause is unknown, but it is believed to be the result of an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Treatment typically involves lifelong steroid therapy. Without treatment, the disease can be fatal.

Gastric Torsion

Gastric torsion is a condition that affects Black Russian Terriers. It occurs when the stomach twists on its axis, which cuts off the blood supply to the stomach. This can lead to death if not treated immediately. Symptoms of gastric torsion include vomiting, diarrhea, and a distended abdomen. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, take them to the vet immediately. The time it takes for a dog to die from gastric torsion can be as little as 30 minutes, so don’t wait! Treatment for gastric torsion includes surgery to untwist the stomach and secure it in place, and IV fluids to help the dog re-hydrate.


The form of the condition found in Black Russian Terriers, hypoadrenocorticism associated with tyrosinemia, is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. Hypoadrenocorticism is a disorder that affects the adrenal glands. The condition is characterized by an inability of the adrenal glands to produce a sufficient amount of cortisol and other steroid hormones. In black Russian terriers, it can cause hair loss, weight loss, and extreme fatigue. The definitive diagnosis is by determining the serum level of the hormone aldosterone, which is typically low if hypoadrenocorticism is present. If left untreated, hypoadrenocorticism can even be fatal.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Both of these conditions are caused by joint malformation, and they can be extremely painful for dogs. In severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the problem. Fortunately, there are a number of steps that owners can take to help prevent hip and elbow dysplasia in their dogs. Providing them with a nutritious diet and plenty of exercise will help to keep their joints healthy, and regular vet checkups can help to catch any problems early.

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Black Russian Terriers are not recommended for first-time dog owners as they can be quite high-maintenance. Here is what you need to know about their care requirements before you get a BRT.


Black Russian Terriers require a lot of exercise and enjoy being active. They need at least an hour of exercise per day and love playing fetch, swimming, and going on walks. They are not recommended for families who are looking for a couch potato dog. Without enough exercise, the Black Russian Terrier can become destructive and hyperactive. They are also very intelligent dogs and need plenty of mental stimulation as well. This can be done through puzzle toys or training sessions.


Grooming the Black Russian Terrier should include brushing and combing weekly, and bathing only when necessary. You’ll also need to trim the dog’s nails and check its ears for infection. If your Black Russian Terrier starts to shed excessively, you may need to brush it more often.

Cost of Black Russian Terrier Puppies

A Black Russian Terrier puppy can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500. The cost of a Black Russian Terrier puppy can vary depending on a number of factors, such as where you adopt from, the dog’s lineage, whether they’re purebred or not, and any other special needs or circumstances. A reputable breeder may be more expensive than adopting from a shelter or rescue, but you may end up paying less in the long run because you won’t have to pay for medical expenses.

History of the Black Russian Terrier Dog Breed

The Black Russian Terrier is a relatively new breed, having only been developed in the 1940s. It was bred by Russian military officers to be a farm and guard dog, as well as herd livestock, pull wagons and guard property. The breed was also used in World War II to hunt wild boar. A variety of breeds were used in the development of the Black Russian Terrier, including the Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, and Airedale Terrier. The resulting breed was known as the Red Star Kennel Dog, and it quickly gained popularity for its intelligence, strength, and courage. The first litter of Black Russian Terriers was born in 1953, and the breed was officially recognized by the Soviet Union in 1957. In the 1960s, the USSR organized a military dog show to exhibit the best of its military working dogs, and this event popularized the modern Black Russian Terrier.

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Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts about Black Russian Terriers:

  • They are the largest of the terrier breeds, with males typically weighing between 90 and 130 pounds.
  • They are known for being very intelligent, and they excel at obedience training.
  • They are relatively rare, with less than 1000 being born each year in the United States

Are Black Russian Terriers Right for You?

If you’re interested in adding a Black Russian Terrier to your family, be sure to do your research first. This is not a breed for everyone, and it may not be the right fit for your lifestyle or home environment. But if you’re up for the challenge, the Black Russian Terrier is sure to be a faithful and loyal companion. Thanks for reading!

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