The Black Russian Terrier originated in Russia, created by the Krasnaya Zvezda, or “Red Star”, military kennel outside of Moscow. This facility was devoted to developing working dogs for the Russian national security forces. World War II dramatically decreased the number of working dogs in Russia, but powerful and intelligent guard dogs remained in high demand at military installations, prisons and other government sites. After the War, the Red Star Kennel set out to address these needs by cross-breeding existing large working breeds including the Rottweiler, Giant Schnauzer, Moscow Retriever and Airedale Terrier specifically to create an entirely new breed of dog with a stable temperament and consistently imposing appearance. Other breeds reported to have contributed to this elaborate project are the Newfoundland, Caucasian Sheepdog, Eastern European sheepdog, Great Dane, Borzoi and Laika. The result was a large, tough, well-muscled black dog with heavy bone and quick instinctive reactions. Offspring of these dogs were shown at the 1955 USSR dog shows and attracted many admirers. In 1956, the Red Star Kennel began selling puppies to private breeders, which accelerated the development of the Black Russian Terrier throughout Germany and other European countries. The BRT has since gained attention in the United States. It frequently is mistaken for a Giant Schnauzer or a Bouvier des Flandres, as these breeds share its massive body-type and course black coat. This is a willful breed with a strong personality. It is highly protective and must be guided early in life to become a good citizen. The Black Russian Terrier Club of America was founded in 1994. The Black Russian Terrier entered the American Kennel Club’s Working Group in July of 2004.
The average life expectancy for the Black Russian Terrier is between 10 and 12 years. They generally are healthy and hardy but may be prone to bloat and hip dysplasia, as are many other large, deep-chested breeds.