The Russian Black Terrier was developed in the former USSR in Red Star (Krasnaya Zvezda) Kennel by the state for use as a military/working dogs. The breeding stock was largely imported from the occupied countries, especially East Germany. Breeds used in the development include the Giant Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, Rottweiler, Newfoundland, Caucasian Ovcharka and other breeds. BRT were bred for working ability, rather than appearance, and early examples only resembled today’s Russian Black Terrier in their build and coat type. The BRT was bred solely by the state owned Red Star Kennel in Moscow until 1957, when some puppies were sold to civilian breeders. These breeders began to breed for looks (as the original was rather plain) while retaining working ability. In time, the breed spread to the other parts of USSR like Saint Petersburg, Siberia, Ukraine and later to the first European country Finland and next to the other European countries: Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Germany and finally to the United States, Canada, Australia and others.
The Russian Black Terrier is a large powerful dog. His block-shaped head is somewhat powerful and built with a moderately long skull. His moustache and beard add enough to the squaring of his muzzle. He has a well-defined stop; his nose is large and black; His dark eyes are of medium size and almond in shape. The ears are triangular in shape, set rather high, and reach to the outside corner of the eyelids. The Russian Black Terrier is somewhat symmetrical in shape, with the withers rising over the top-line with the croup slightly descending to his high-set tail.
IMPORTANT. A Russian Black Terrier with exaggerated features is the result of bad breeding. Credit; The Breed Club Connection.
The Russian Black Terrier is a generally healthy and somewhat long-lived dog, lifespan of 9–14 years, however it is prone to certain hereditary diseases:
HIP DYSPLASIA; Hip dysplasia is the most common inherited orthopaedic disease in large and giant breed dogs, and occurs in many medium-sized breeds as well. The hip-joint is a “ball and socket” joint; the “ball” (the top part of the thigh bone or femur) fits into a “socket” (acetabulum) formed by the pelvis. If there is a loose fit between these bones, and the ligaments which help to hold them together are loose, the ball may slide part way out of the socket (subluxate). The mode of inheritance is polygenic (caused by many genes). Scientists do not yet know which genes are involved, or how many genes. Factors that can make the disease worse includes excess weight, a fast growth rate, and high-calorie or supplemented diets.X-rays are taken when the dog is over one year old, then the x-rays are sent to the BVA for scoring. The hip-scoring system warrants explanation as it is quite confusing for the uninitiated. The score is determined by allocating points to each imperfection on the ball and socket of each hip-joint.
ELBOW DYSPLASIA;The term elbow dysplasia refers to several conditions that affect the elbow joint; osteochondrosis of the medial humeral condyle, fragmented medial coronoid process, ununited anconeal process and incongruent elbow. More than one of these conditions may be present, and this disease often affects both front legs. This is a polygenic condition, although it is not currently known how many or which genes are responsible. Environmental factors such as over-feeding, which causes fast weight gain and growth can also affect the development of this condition in dogs that are genetically predisposed to it.
HYPERURICOSURIA; Hyperuricosuria means higher levels of uric acid in the urine. This trait predisposes dogs to form stones in their bladders or sometimes kidneys. These stones often must be removed surgically and can be difficult to treat. Hyperuricosuria is inherited as a simple autosomal recessive trait. The trait can occur in any breed but is most commonly found in the Dalmatian, Bulldog and Black Russian Terrier. Dalmatians are considered to be homozygous for hyperuricosuria. A mutation in exon 5 of the gene Solute carrier family 2, member 9 (SLC2A9) has been found to be associated with hyperuricosuria in dogs. A DNA test for this specific mutation can decide if dogs are normal or if they carry one or two copies of the mutation. Dogs that carry two copies of the mutation will be affected and susceptible to develop bladder/kidney stones.
A well intended breeder will have all health checks on all breeding stock before making the decision to breed their dogs. While health checks on breeding stock can not guarantee a puppy will not develop any health issues later on, it is important to “do your homework” on any potential breeder.