What wonderful big, furry paws! – That was my first thought, when I saw a Black Russian Terrier for the first time.
She was the female of my vet, a good 25 years ago. I have to admit, I love big, furry paws. But in the long run, what walks on those paws - that is what counts. And, I’m sorry to say, this female of my vet wasn’t a model character…
Anyway, I read a lot about the breed, and I could imagine the Black Russian Terrier to be a good companion for me. A short time later, when my own dog died, I got a BRT puppy. Regrettably, I couldn’t choose between different puppies, because there was only one male. But I didn’t want to wait, so I took him.
Black Russian Terrier Personality
On the way home my Blackie has shown the essence of his character: completely relaxed, content, and open to new experiences. He slept almost all the time (we had a long way home), and he was ready to play and cuddle at the breaks. An absolutely confident personality!
I worked and lived at a trotter stable at that time. From the first moment The Bigfoot, or Sam (that's how I called him) was friends with the horses, the cats, and whoever belonged to our surroundings. He accompanied me the whole day and learned the rules very fast: not to get between the feet of the horses, not to leave the horsebox while I'm training the trotters, not to chew on the leather...
Sam grew up not needing a leash. He was interested in other animals, too, but never went hunting. He could be friends with every dog and just walked away when attacked by idiots. Growing up, Sam became so sovereign, that nobody tried to provoke or attack him anymore. He never had a fight. My BRT lived with another male dog in my household, and we had several males for training, which never was a problem for him.
He did his natural job at our home. Like other Black Russian Terriers, Sam was a great guard dog but he never barked too much. Most of the time, when he noticed someone or something out of the ordinary, he just stood up, walked in the direction of the bother and looked at it. In most cases this “staring” did the job: people or animals withdrew from the gate, or the property. If they didn’t, he just gave off several short, deep barks and the problem disappeared.
He never got nervous or excited. I would describe him like a calm and “deliberate” dog. But he was far from a grave or boring dude. He loved to have fun: playing with other dogs, swimming, biking, hiking, or cuddling with the cats. And most of all he liked to play with our 2 year old stallion.
This stallion was a clown himself. Absolutely loveable, hospitable and cuddly, just like my Blackie. They were a real “Dream-Team”. They liked to chase each other, reaching for each other while running, and then sleep on the grass, lying back to back in the sun. Never ever did they hurt each other, bite, or kick. A beautiful friendship!
Black Russian Terrier Training
Yes, my BRT had his very own personality. Since I started to work with dogs, I always tried to find out, what each dog prefers: nose work, obedience, obstacle work… With Sam it was not that easy. I offered him different kinds of work. His nose was not the best I have seen, but good enough. But he just didn’t see the fun in searching for whatever. Even food didn’t get him real motivated. His whole body showed nothing but boredom.
Same with obstacle work. Sam seemed to ask: “what good is in that?” He could do it, he wasn’t bad at all, but he just didn’t like it. He could stop in the middle of work and walk away.
It wasn't like that with the obedience training. At the beginning it took some time until he got the drift but he was eager to try. I had to work a lot with him until he understood what I wanted. Then I realized that The Bigfoot had his own way of learning. After working with him several times on a lesson, I had to give him a break. I stopped working on that lesson for 2 or 3 days. And the next time, I tried the same lesson with him again – he just had it! He was one of the dogs who learned “while sleeping”.
Actually, it was Sam who has taught me to use breaks when training dogs.
Is Black Russian Terrier a Good Dog to Have?
I trained several BRTs so far. Most of the owners came to me because their dogs “had changed overnight”. According to each of them, their Blackie was an easy to deal with and friendly dog for the first 1, 5–2 years, and then one day he woke up a dangerous, aggressive guard dog that they couldn’t control any more.
Well, this famous "Stalin's Dog" has got genetic predisposition, just like people wanted him to. Getting a Black Russian Terrier, you should know what you are going to deal with. But raising and training the BRT to become a friendly and manageable dog is not that difficult. You merely have to do it from the beginning. If you just let him be without supervision, he still grows up and unfurls his potential. Then it might surprise you.
Right now I consider getting a Blackie again as my own dog!
About the Author
Vera Wonneberger is a professional dog trainer, a behavior consultant, and a publicly appointed and sworn expert for dogs. Educated in Germany, Vera has also worked in Europe and in the US.
For Vera working with dogs is not an occupation but her life and passion since her childhood. She learned dog training more from the dogs, than from people. Vera is very results-oriented. From puppy to senior dog, through all breeds and mix-breeds, basic to advanced obedience, behavior modification/correction/therapy and much more. Focus is the likeable every-day companion and the correction of aggressive dogs.
If you are looking for an excellently trained companion dog you should definitely contact Vera on her website http://ihr-hundeprofi.com/en/home/ or on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/verawonneberger/en