The Russian Black Terrier is a very young breed which was created during the mid-20th century by the state-controlled Red Star kennels in Russia to serve the needs of the Soviet military. They were bred primarily for their ability to work bravely, confidently, and independently under harsh climatic conditions. Their duties have included anti-tank work, mine detection, sabotage, transport of supplies and ammunition, detection of the wounded and general guard and protection work. Several breeds (at least seventeen) were used in their development, the most dominant being Airedales, Rottweilers, Giant Schnauzers, and Newfoundlands. Due to a very rigorous program breeding to type was soon established and in 1981 the Russian Black Terrier was declared a breed in its homeland. In 1996 the breed was first introduced into the U.K. and was added to the Kennel Club Import Register in 1998. The RBT is also known as the Tchiorny Terrier or Terrier Noir Russe and, among afficionados, as the ‘Black Pearl of Russia’.
The RBT is a confident, alert, even tempered dog known outside its native country more as a companion than a guard. His impressive appearance radiates calm assurance and vigilance. He has a great loyalty to, and affection for, his owner. This bond is so deep and true that, once formed, it is difficult for the dog to accept anyone else as handler and problems of adjustment may arise should the adult dog require re-homing. The RBT should never be kept outside in a kennel as he will become anxious and depressed if isolated from human company and may resort to inappropriate behaviour. He needs to be a real member of the family, included in as many activities as possible. He is a natural guard and therefore is inclined to be wary of strangers and, if provoked, will fiercely defend the home and family from any perceived threat. This breed was developed from generations of high-drive working and guarding dogs and, being a recently created breed, many of the qualities prized in a purpose-bred military dog such as nerve and determination are still present. These traits demand understanding and a high level of commitment to training and socialization in order that drives are correctly channelled. This breed is not recommended for the novice owner.
The adult Russian Black requires a considerable amount of exercise. Regular long walks, free running in a secure area and games which require him to use his considerable intelligence will help to keep him physically and mentally fit. Playing in snow and in water are favourite activities. The growing puppy does not need too much exercise. Playing in the house and garden and very brief walks are sufficient while the bones and joints are developing.
It is important that the Russian Black Terrier should be under control and responsive to verbal commands at all times. Basic obedience is therefore the very minimum requirement. This is a very trainable breed, bred to work in partnership with the owner, quick to learn, willing to work, and eager to please. Their intelligence may lead them to find apparently easier ways to do things and this can be mistaken for stubbornness, but it is usually just the dog using his brain and performing a task in the manner which seems most logical to him. Harsh training methods will be totally unproductive with the RBT who will gladly respond to kind handling and positive reinforcement. Early and constant socialization is vital. The puppy should be exposed to all manner of people, dogs and situations. If correctly socialized the ‘Black Pearl’ will grow into a well-mannered, adaptable, level-headed adult who will be a credit to his breed.
- Hip dysplasia
- elbow dysplasia
- progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- sub-aortic stenosis (SAS)
- urate urolithiasis
Some photographs of the Russian Black Terrier...