Is The Black Russian Terrier The Right Breed For You?

Are you interested in a BRT? Owning a BRT can be the beginning of a wonderful relationship with years of happiness, or it can be the beginning of overwhelming responsibility for which you may not be prepared. You must remember that they were bred as guard dogs and without proper training and socialization you will have a problem. They are large, ranging in size from 26 inches to 30 inches at the shoulder. They weigh anywhere from 80 pounds to 130+ pounds. Once they are over their major growing stage, they will eat about 4-6 cups of high quality food per day.

Many people see the breed for the first time at a dog show or on a televised dog show and decide that they must have one based on their sheer beauty alone; however, there are several questions you must ask yourself to determine if you are ready to become a BRT owner. Answer honestly to ensure yourself, your family, and your BRT the future you all deserve.

Do I Really Want a BRT? Why Do I Want a BRT?

BRTs are wonderful companions. They are not dogs to be left outside, chained to a doghouse, or to be left alone in a fenced yard. They desperately need lots of human companionship to be properly socialized and trained. We have found that behavioral problems occur when a BRT is not a member of the family, but relegated to the backyard with only occasional human contact. No reputable breeder will sell a BRT to a home where they will be kept outside.

BRT beards are wet, some more than others, after they drink water. Are you prepared to dry your walls, your floor, your furniture and yourself after the water flies when they shake their heads? Rags or towels must always be handy in strategic locations all over the house. If you are a fastidious housekeeper and feel that water splashes, wet floors and tumbleweeds of dog hair will bother you, then the BRT might not be the breed for you.

BRTs sometimes snore. Are you a light sleeper or one that needs complete quiet to sleep? If so, consider another breed.

BRTs are above all else protection/guard dogs. They were bred for the sole purpose of protecting Russian military installations. They will protect their family and belongings. They can be very intimidating when guests come into their territory. You will need to be prepared to crate the dog when unexpected or unknown guests or repairmen come. Regardless of how much socialization the dog has, if an outsider comes to the home, the protective instinct will manifest itself. If you want a dog that happily greets everyone who comes to the home, you should consider another breed. Once you accept the guest, chances are good that they will too. If this seems like too much trouble for you then you should select another breed.

BRTs can be wonderful dogs with children. They can be very gentle and quite tolerant of ear and tail pulls. They will protect their children. But you must remember that your BRT will outweigh most children, play roughly, and could injure a small child just with rough play. Please make sure that you supervise and train your children to respect and treat the dog well. In rescue, we will not place a dog with a family with small children unless the dog has been raised with them in the previous home. If you have very small children who are just learning to walk, you may want to wait until they are older before getting a BRT whether it's a puppy or a rescue dog.

BRTs are territorial dogs. They will protect their yard, house, car and family from people or dogs. They want it to be known that this is their yard. They are dogs that can be good with other dogs and with cats as long as they have had good experiences with them, but even training and socialization will not guarantee their acceptance of other animals. Do not get this dog assuming that it will fit in with an existing group of dogs. Some will, and some are dog aggressive. If you have an adult male dog already and you are getting a rescue, you should consider a female BRT and vice a versa. This is not to say that two males cannot get along but males especially have a tendency to want to dominate each other. We do not recommend placing two males together unless both are neutered and socialized.

Can I Really Afford To Keep a BRT?

An adult male BRT can go through 40 pounds of dry dog food a month. That's a rough estimate of $75- $150 a month in food alone depending on the quality of kibble used. Raw feeding will be considerably more expensive.

Your breeder will also want you, and may require you by contract to perform specific tests such as hip and elbow certification, and heart, eye and thyroid tests to determine the soundness of the breed line. These tests can run an additional $400—$900 over the cost of the dog. While you may feel that if you are not planning to breed these tests are not required, any responsible breeder wants to know what their dogs produce in the health areas and having all of the testing done on all progeny is the only way to get good statistical numbers.

A BRT, due to its size, will cost you more at the Vet's office. Remember that antibiotics and other medicines are based on weight. Medicines will cost proportionately more because of the weight of these dogs. Heartworm medicine costs more, shots can sometimes be more costly, etc. You can expect to spend approximately, (depending on the age and medical conditions of your BRT) $200 to $500 per year at the Vet.

Do I Have Time To Spend Training, Exercising, And Grooming a BRT?

A BRT needs obedience training. It is imperative that obedience training be done. The obedience training must be of the positive reinforcement type. BRTs respond well to love, praise, treats. A minimum of one full year in obedience lessons are recommended, not only to train the dog, but to continue with his socialization. Socialization of your BRT is an ongoing process and should be continued into adulthood. An unsocialized dog will become overly protective and difficult to handle.

Exercising a BRT is recommended. Some love to hike, swim, bike and jog. Their exercise can be walks with you around the neighborhood, hikes, swims in the local lake, or chasing a soccer ball. They will also adapt to exercise on a treadmill. They are a thinking breed, and need things to keep them working. Because of their intelligence, they excel in competition obedience, agility and rally events. A working BRT is a beautiful sight!

Grooming can be intense, and it is recommended that you start grooming at a young age. BRTs need to be brushed and combed weekly, and professionally groomed every six weeks. They do shed their undercoat. Dogs with a heavier undercoat will shed more than dogs with no undercoat. They shed more than an Airedale but less than a Labrador. Cutting nails is important and should be done regularly. It should be started early in life so that the dog is used to it before he is fully grown. Teeth cleaning should also be done regularly.

No matter what, a BRT wants to be close to you. They thrive on being house dogs and sharing your life. They will follow you from room to room as you do your work. They are devoted to their owners and want to have contact with them frequently. Some want to touch you all the time to reassure themselves that you are still there. Most breeders will not sell a dog to a home where the dog will be kept outside or in a kennel.

Will a BRT Fit Into My Lifestyle And My Home?

BRTs want to be with you. Do you own a big car or van so your BRT can go for rides with you to the park, beach, post office, etc?

As stated earlier, the BRT is a house dog. A small house or apartment is suitable as long as the BRT goes for walks and plays outside. The yard should be fenced and the BRT obedience trained through the basics: come, sit, stay, down, and he should walk on leash without dragging you down the street.

BRTs are cold weather dogs. They do not like heat and humidity. This is not to say that if you live in a warm climate you cannot have a BRT, but be aware that they are less tolerant of the heat than some other breeds and will want to be inside with the air conditioner on during the warm months.

Owning a BRT is a major responsibility, but they will reward you a million times over with their love. They are not the breed for everyone, however, due to their size and their need to be a major part of your family. Realize that they will be very large, strong, powerful, dominate dogs. They can have tough personalities. If you plan to own one you should have previous experience with Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shephard Dog or other strong guardian breeds. They are NOT recommended for the inexperienced dog owner.