Russian Dog Breeds
Black Russian Terrier
(Tchiorny Terrier)

by Catherine Marien-de Luca, Dogbreedsoftheworld.org
A breed obtained by crossing Giant Schnauzers with Rottweilers and several other breeds in order to produce a perfected military service dog suited for the protection of any army installation and for police work.
Black Russian Terrier
Black Russian Terrier
Photo: Olga Filatova

The Black Russian Terrier stems from an intentional cross between Giant Schnauzers, Airedaile Terriers, Rottweilers, and several local types of dogs among which the Moscow Retriever. The breed was purposely developed as a guard dog for military and industrial sites in Russia.

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The Black Russian Terrier resembles a Giant Schnauzer, but without its more elegant structure, with a height of 25-28 inches (64-72cm) at the whithers. The tail is usually docked short. The coat should be tick, wiry and 1 1/2 to 4 inches (4 to 10cm) long. Black and grayish black are the only accepted colors.

Two varieties exist: a long-haired and a short-haired Black Russian terrier. In the short-haired variety the legs are covered with moderate feathering.

Eyes are similar to those of the Giant Schnauzer.

The breeding program was initiated after World War II at the Soviet Union's Red Star Army Kennels. The first stud to be involved in this military breeding program was a Giant Schnauzer called Roi (born in 1947). He was mated with several Airedale Terrier bitches, Rottweiler bitches and several other bitches known as Moscow Retrievers, themselves crosses from Newfoundlands, Caucasian Sheepdogs and Eastern European sheepdogs. The other breeds used include the Great Dane, the Borzoi and the Laika.

The Black Russian Terrier was formally recognized by the FCI in 1984, a Black Russian Terrier Club was founded in the United States in the 1990's. Its breed standard was revised in 1993.


The Black Russian Terrier is an imposing, highly resistant, fearless, aggressive but very trainable dog. The breed is unpretentious, obedient and easily manageable. It is very healthy, hardy and able to adapt to extreme climatic conditions. It is distrustful of strangers, but  faithful and friendly with his human family. This explains why it is equally appreciated as a body guard, property guard and as a companion dog. Breeders like to say that: "Any property guarded by a Russian Black Terrier is safe". Another plus point of this breed is that Russian Black Terriers can adapt equally well to apartment living as country living.

Similar breeds

This perfected dog has no real equivalent, but Schnauzers and Airedale Terriers are possible alternatives.

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Russian Black Terrier head study
Photo kindly submitted by Olga Filatova
Further reading:

In English:
"Black Russian Terrier: Special Rare-Breed Edition : A Comprehensive Owner's Guide" by Emily Bates. Kennel Club Dog Breed Series, 2003.

"Il Terrier Nero Russo - le Origini, lo Standard, le Attitudini, i Soggetti Italiani", published by the Italian Black Russian Terrier Club (Club Italiano Tchiorny Terrier). (in Italian and English)

In Russian:
"Tchiorny Terrier" by Lavrova E.G., Mazur O.U., Mironov L.G., Pronina N.B. Moscow, 1994

"Il Terrier Nero Russo" by M.Gerasimova and E.Lemehova. Moscow, 1996

"The Pel-Lars Constellation" by M.Smeyan. Moscow, 2001

In Dutch:
"De Zwarte Russische Terrier" by Diana Ramakers. 1997

Black Russian Terrier:
Special Rare-Breed Edition : A Comprehensive Owner's Guide
 (Kennel Club Dog Breed Series)
by Emily Bates
More information

Black Russian Terrier