Showsight Presents The Black Russian Terrier


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O ver the years, there seems to be a growing confusion about the appropriate size and coat type of the Black Russian Terrier. With the many variations being seen today, and with an unclear understanding of the coat, it is understandable why there is ongoing confusion. Our hope is to clarify and give guidance to judges and fanciers alike. For a look at the complete Illustrated Standard, please go to the Black Russian Terrier Club of America website and purchase the Black Russian Terrier Illus- trated Study of the Standard today! To understand the Black Russian Terrier, we must first understand what he was bred to do. The Red Star Kennel of Russia aimed to develop a large, brave, strong, and manageable working dog with pronounced guarding instincts. These dogs are working dogs in every sense of the word. Their history is full of successful missions such as protect- ing border crossings and military operations, and working in Russian prisons. The Black Russian Terrier, in essence, has combined all of the best qualities found in his forefathers—the strength and power from the Rottweiler; the energy and work ethic of the Giant Schnauzer; the kind, gentle nature and reserve of the Newfoundland; and the fun-loving, intelligent, and tenacious disposition of the Airedale. According to the AKC breed standard, mature male Black Russian Terriers are to be between 27-30 inches in height, with the desired height between 27 and 29 inches, and mature females are to be between 26-29 inches in height, with the desired height between 26 and 28 inches. Maturity is defined as being over the age of 18 months. (The FCI standard, which is very similar to the AKC standard, states for males 28-30 inches, no less than 27 inches and no greater than 30.5 inches; and for bitches 26.5 inches and 28.5 inches, and no less than 26 inches and not more than 29 inches.) Both the AKC and FCI stan- dards express that height should not exceed 30 inches as this is a serious fault. However, here is where it gets tricky for those learning about the breed. Also stated in the AKC standard and the FCI standard is that: “ Height consideration should not outweigh that of type, proportion, move- ment and other functional attributes. General balance is more impor- tant than absolute size. ” (AKC) and “ Slightly taller specimens are toler- ated providing they are proportionate and of excellent breed type. ” (FCI)

“ These dogs are working dogs in every sense of the word. Their history is full of successful missions such as protecting border crossings and military operations, and working in Russian prisons.”



“ A crucial piece to take away from the standard when thinking of size is; the desired height-to-length ratio is 9.5 to 10 and, as per the standard, ‘The chest is oval shaped, deep and wide with well-sprung ribs. The bottom line of the chest extends to the elbows or below and is not less than 50 percent of the dog’s height measured from the withers.’”

So what does this mean, you might ask? What the standards are saying is that while there is a desired height, a dog outside the max- imum height could still be considered, provided he has maintained correct type, proportion, movement, and other functional attri- butes. An oversized dog may lack substance, rib spring, and shoul- der angle, which result in improper structure and movement. The larger dog, though massive and impressive while standing in line, must also possess correct structure to enable correct movement. Remember, this is a working dog. He has purpose! Think of form following function. Endurance and sound working ability come from a balanced, well-proportioned dog. The moderate dog within the desired height and with balanced proportions will be able to do this job far longer and with greater ease than an oversized dog. A crucial piece to take away from the standard when thinking of size is; the desired height-to-length ratio is 9.5 to 10 and, as per the standard: “ The chest is oval shaped, deep and wide with well-sprung ribs. The bottom line of the chest extends to the elbows or below and is not less than 50 percent of the dog’s height measured from the withers. ” I have asked Laura Manis, a well-respected member of the BRT community and an accomplished groomer, to describe the Black Russian Terrier coat and proper show grooming. Laura has groomed many of the top dogs in the country over the 18 years that she has been in the breed. This is what she had to say: “The BRT has a double coat with outer guard hair that is coars- er than the softer undercoat; it is not wiry or curly. The body coat is slightly to moderately wavy. The furnishings on the head fall over the eyes, and the mustache and beard fall on the muzzle. The legs are covered and protected by a long, dense coat.

The coat color is black or black with scattered gray hairs. Old- er dogs may have graying on their beards and ears. The gray hairs may also be coarser in texture; this is permissible. The guard hair is often scissored-off in grooming. During examination, the coat quality and texture can be checked by feeling the coat texture on the leg furnishings. For presentation in the ring, the BRT coat should be trimmed so that the dog’s outline is clearly defined. The grooming guide was developed in Russia. The length of the coat may vary depending on its location on the dog. The fall and muzzle furnishings may be longer than six inches in length. The shaving of the neck and rear emphasizes the com- pact shape of the body as well as the width of substance of the hindquarter. The head is rectangular, brick-like in appearance, and the top of the head is shaved to accentuate the parallel plane of the head and the moderate width of the skull. The ears are shaved and should be medium in size and triangular in shape. The legs are trimmed to resemble columns. A heavy coat can present a beautiful picture in a stack, while its illusion can hide an underdeveloped chest, undersized frame or a multitude of structural faults.” In summary, grooming is not to be “given more weight than structure, movement, and balance…” It is important to remember that the Black Russian Terrier has height ranges for good reason. Size without proper bal- ance, proportion, and substance should not be rewarded. Too small a dog may lack breed type and too large a dog may lack proper structure, balance, and movement. When thinking of the Black Russian Terrier, remember the overall appearance; correct height, substance, musculature and, ever important, balance.



HISTORY T he Black Russian Terrier is a very young breed, having been recognized as a sepa- rate breed in Russia in 1981 and three years later in 1984 accepted in FCI. In the United States, the Black Russian Terrier was accepted by AKC into the Miscellaneous Group in 2001, and fully accepted into the Working Group in 2004. But how did the Black Russian Terrier come to be? Prior to World War II, the Russian army had over 40,000 working dogs with 168 separate units that participat- ed in battles. After World War II, dogs suitable for service work had become essentially extinct, and the govern- ment ordered the creation of a new breed that would be able to serve as a multi-purpose military dog in different climatic regions. In the mid 1940’s, the Central School of Military Breeding (A Red Star Ken- nel@) undertook this task, mass cross- breeding from the few serviceable breeds available post-war. It is believed that at least 17 breeds and cross-breeds were used in the Red Star Kennel breed- ing programwhich eventually produced the Black Russian Terrier recognized by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture as a breed in 1981. Some of the breeds used were the Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, Airedale Terrier, South Russian and Central Asian Ovcharka, Newfound- land, Great Dane and Moscow Diver (now extinct) among others. The Red Star Kennel geneticists evaluated many aspects of what was being produced in determining which characteristics should be maintained and which should be discarded. As one can imagine, with such a varied genetic background of different breeds and cross-breeds, and without the use of genetic and other diagnostic tools we enjoy today, this was a huge undertaking evolving over many decades! A Giant Schnauzer named “Roy” is credited as being the foundation sire of the Black Russian Terrier. Roy produced large black dogs with rough coat on the head and legs when crossed with cer- tain females of different breeds. While there were certainly other colors that were produced during the formative years and which can also still appear from time to time in litters even now,

selection for both a strong nervous system and a stable temperament .” The geneticists found there was a correlation between temperament and color in the Black Russian Terrier; and from the very first standard for the breed promulgated in 1956 to date, the only acceptable color for the Black Rus- sian Terrier is BLACK . Dr. Yerusalimsky also noted that: “During the first few generations of BRTs, the dogs quite often could have hyper excitability and unmotivated aggression. Being large, such dogs were socially very dangerous, and because of that they were consistently eliminated from the breeding pro- gram of the breed. As a result of this selection, the temperament of contem- porary BRTs began to meet all the mod- ern requirements of social living.” This is a very important statement. What were these dogs that possessed such “hyper-excitability,” “unmoti- vated aggression” and were “socially very dangerous” to the extent that they had to be “eliminated from the breed- ing program of the breed”? Two breeds mentioned by Dr. Yerusalimsky are the black and tan Rottweiler and the black and tan Airedale Terrier. In discussing the specific black and tan markings reminiscent of the Rott- weiler, he states: “As one of the ancestors of the BRT, the Rottweiler also has to have maxi- mum pigmentation, a strong nervous system and a stable temperament. However, because the original inten- tion of the breed was to be essentially a butcher’s guard dog, the Rottwei- ler is more aggressive than the Giant Schnauzer, who is in [sic] usually more of a companion dog. Thus, the inter- breed type of BRTs, which is tilted towards the Giant Schnauzer, is more socially acceptable.” G. A. Yatcenko, the President of the National Russian Black Terrier Club, and M. V. Gerasimova, then President of the International Black Russian Ter- rier Club, provided additional informa- tion regarding non-black coated dogs in May and June 2016. Prior to 2006, puppies not black in color received reg- istration cards with the notation “not acceptable for breeding” and “the color is not accepted by the FCI.” In 2006 such breedings were discontinued “by S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2019 • 301

there were other reasons why the Rus- sian geneticists chose to further devel- op the black coated dogs. The goal of the Red Star Army was to basically pro- duce a multi-purpose military dog. This dog had to work closely with its han- dler, over different terrain and varying climates, whether on patrol, guarding, or drafting. Not only was correct size and structure required, temperament and trainability were equally important. WHY BLACK? It is not unusual from time to time for puppies in a litter to have coats with “throw-back” colors and patterns which can include black and tan, black and silver, sable, gray, fawn and shades in between. Historically these pups were eliminated from any breeding program. Now, genetic color testing is available to determine what color gene a dog is car- rying so that breeders can make intelli- gent choices with regard to maintaining the black in the Black Russian Terrier. Color testing is now one of the required tests for Black Russian Terriers to obtain a CHIC number. Black dogs require dark pigmenta- tion of the nose, eyes, gums and lips. As the breed stabilized and consistently reproduced itself, the black dogs from the “Roy” (Giant Schnauzer) line con- sistently exhibited the qualities that were being sought. Remembering that there was no such thing as DNA test- ing post-WWII, the geneticists noticed a correlation between black dogs with maximum pigmentation and a sound temperament in comparison to light pigmented, non-black dogs. According to canine Russian expert Dr. Eugene Yerusalimsky (world known dog expert, international judge, author of Russian and FCI breed standards, author and international lecturer on canine biomechanics), in a letter writ- ten to the Black Russian Terrier Club of America in May 2016 in response to the emergent issue of the United Ken- nel Club registry considering a standard change to allow coat colors other than black, he states: “For the black color, the standard requires maximum pigmentation of the coat, nose, eyelids, eyes, gums and lips. This is because the direct selection for maximum pigmentation is an indirect

verdict of the Breeding Commission of the RKF.” This allowed breeders an opportunity to test breed over time and to analyze, via bloodlines, the possibility of planned breeding of black and tan dogs. Ms. Gera- simova stated that: “We can note that black-and-tan dogs were a good type of dog and very close to the standard BRT in build and coat. However, they were often overly aggressive. Saddle dogs were very close in build to the Airedale and had an explosive temperament , were overly reac- tive and difficult to manage, all which does not correspond with the BRT standard.” As our many years of experience show, pigmentation is closely linked with the stability of the nervous system. This is why it is necessary to select for reinforcing the pigmentation of the eyes, gums and coat. Black dogs most closely align with our image of the desirable Black Rus- sian Terrier—based on their type, their exterior, their temperament and their working abilities. Dr. Yerusalimsky also addressed the undesirable color-temperament link inherited from the Airedale Terrier. This hyper-excitability, in combination with the large size, presents a danger in keeping a BRT, and this is one of the exact reasons why the experimental breeding of BRTs using black and tan dogs, which started in Russia about 10 years ago, was discontinued…by verdict of the Breed- ing Commission of the RKF. It was quickly recognized within the early generations of the breed- ing program that certain color traits were linked with temperament; and it was necessary to eliminate those colors that were producing these large dogs which exhibited unmotivated aggression, hyper-excitability, and therefor deemed “socially very dangerous.” The black dogs, on the other hand, did not possess these undesirable traits and thus remained in the breeding program. As Ms. Gerasimova noted, these same unde- sirable traits were also noted in the test breedings done prior to 2006. Every registry around the world recognizes that the only accept- able color for a Black Russian Terrier is BLACK except for a for-profit organization known as the United Kennel Club, a for-profit corporation (UKC), which, at the request of a few, changed its standard in 2016 to allow dogs other than black to be registered and to compete in con- formation shows and to obtain a “Champion” title under its registry. This change to their registry standard was carried out despite strong objections from the Black Russian Terrier Club of America, the Russian Kynological Federation (RKF), and the International Black Russian Ter- rier Club. There are a few breeders in the United States and other parts of the world who are purposefully breeding to produce Black Russian Ter- riers that are NOT black, most of which appear to be black and tan. Their reasons for doing so are self-serving. Yes, these coats may be quite beautiful, but as the saying goes, beauty is only skin (or coat) deep. A pretty coat does not mean that it lies on a properly structured dog, or that the dog’s temperament will not be as the above experts observed and reported. It might not be the first generation that the temperament issue arises (as the genes from the black pigment override), but as future breedings occur, this will change as it did in the Russian experiment. Purposefully breeding to produce coat color other than black is a huge disservice to the breed and affects future generations as undesirable genes are introduced into a small gene pool. Can a Black Russian Terrier that is a color other than black be regis- tered through the American Kennel Club? Yes, if its parents were prop- erly registered as it would still be a purebred dog. However, it would be disqualified if entered in an AKC or FCI show because any color other than black is a disqualification. Being registered does not equal quality. No reputable registry in the world will allow a Black Russian Terrier to exhibit; much less obtain a championship, which does not have a BLACK coat. No other color is acceptable. Any Black Russian Terrier being advertised as a UKC “champion” that is not black is akin to a mail order diploma. It is a disservice to the future of the Black Russian Terrier to pur- posefully breed for any color other than black. It is a disservice and unethical to cross-breed with any other breed. Be wary of any “breeder” who markets such dogs as being “unique” and “special” and of “cham- pion” quality.


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SUSAN DIVINE SHOLAR I now live in New York. As for my life outside of dogs— is there such a place? I presently serve on the board of two parent clubs, I am the delegate for the Black Russian Terrier Club and am on the Delegate All-Breed Committee and I set up the AKC Groomer Certification program and travel the country teaching the AKC Groomer Safety course. I am proud to say that this is now on the AKC website Education section. I hate the travel part, but I love teaching and I love meeting new people at every trade show I attend as well as seeing old friends. I have been in dogs for 45 years show- ing, certified professional handler, breeding and have been judging since 1997. 1. Describe the breed in three words. AG: To me when I look into the Black Russian Terrier ring I want my first impression to be powerful looking, well boned and balanced. Then on the first go around I need to see a strong, capable dog in command of the ring.

I live in British Columbia, Canada in a city called Langley. Outside of dogs I do gardening, travel, women’s group and collect for wildlife rescue. I have been in the world of show dogs and breeding since 1968. I started judging in 1982 and have been an All Breed Judge in Canada for 23 years. In the United States I have three Groups: Sporting, Working and Herding, plus Junior Showmanship.


Joan and I live outside of Colorado Springs with our three Samoyeds, two Komondors, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound and Joan’s two horses. I retired last year after 30 years with Chevron as a Geophysicist, sometimes doing oil explo- ration, sometimes Research. I got my first dogs, a Komondor and an Ibizan, in 1981. The Ibizan got his Ch. and a CDX, the Komondor still holds the All-Breed BIS

EL: Powerful, robust and self-assured. GN: Robust, balanced and powerful. SS: Black, intelligent, large and protective.

2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? AG: I need to see bone in harmony with the body. Never do I want to think, ‘It could be better with more bone to fit its height or lack of body.’ When I go over the dog I want my hands to tell that it all matches, then I can get into the individuals and their structure. EL: A large, off-square dog with lots of substance in head, bone and body. The Black Russian’s coat, trim and outline are distinctive. It must have well-balanced strong movement. GN: Obviously, no disqualifications. First, the correct pro- portions, body, topline and substance. Next, the proper coat. Finally, the freely, smooth fluid motion.

Record for the breed (7). I’ve had good success breeding both of those breeds since. In addition to finishing many Komondor champions and breeding several BIS and National BISS dogs I also achieved CDs on several Komondors. I’ve been judging since 1992 and am approved for all Hounds, Working, and Herding breeds and 16 Sporting breeds. I have been judging Black Russians since they joined the Working Group in 2004. Their many similarities to Komondors in body and temperament make them seem like a “home breed” to me. GARRY NEWTON I currently live in Richmond, Texas, which is outside of Houston. I have a diverse life outside of dogs which includes being the Director of Nursing specializing in Pediatric care, a bronze sculptor, a firearms instructor and competitor and a published fiction novel author. What time I have left goes to the dogs. I grew up with dogs, but did not start in the sport of purebred dogs until 1975. I started judging a little over 20 years ago.


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SS: Size within standard recommended, coat and texture to protect during harsh Russian winter and dependable temperament. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? AG: Each breed was bred for a purpose. Movement is a great part of this. Both breeders and judges alike need to see breeds doing their job to truly understand what their movement should be. I have seen many breeds have wide-open gaits that would be useless doing their job. Never breed or judge for fashion; breed and judge for breed purpose. EL: No, the Black Russian Standard does a good job describ- ing the breed and I think we are seeing dogs that meet that standard. GN: Some try to improve the breed by grooming, rather than improving the dog under the hair. SS: Grooming, but nothing within structure. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? AG: There are a couple of things that have definitely improved. When the breed first entered the AKC and CKC ring, they were mostly imports. One thing that went against them was what language they understood. It sounds odd, but when English is not the language any dog is used to hearing, it affects them. To an import we sound different, we smell different (mostly from the food we eat) and dress or look differ- ent in body structure.

Another thing was some these dogs came from breed- ing kennels and not used to the North American way of being shown. I once had five in my ring and had to excuse three of them, as I could not get near them. I could see they were of good quality, but very unhappy to be there. I am not seeing that any more—great progress. EL: We see good rears and solid backlines, which do not roll more now than when the breed first came into the Work- ing Group. Even now, many young dogs need to improve their musculature and soundness in the rear. GN: Generally, I think that the breed has improved. There is a stabilization of breed type. I also see some negatives with straight upper arms and lack of bend of stifle result- ing in less-than-good angulation in the rear. “EACH BREED WAS BRED FOR A PURPOSE. MOVEMENT IS A GREAT PART OF THIS.”

SS: Not necessarily. “Tuz”, the first one brought in from Russia, was breath taking in every sense of the word. Now we have more dogs and many just as good looking. There is still some overall work to be done, but I am proud that our breeders have, for the most part kept quality up and are still striving to maintain or improve on our breed.

5. What do you think new

judges misunderstand about the breed? AG: New judges need to know this is a breed different from

any other breed in the Working Group. It might resemble at

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least one other, but it has its own virtues. It is only to be judged against other Black Russians in the ring. EL: Good bone and substance are mentioned in the Black Russian standard many times. Without that, breed character is lost. GN: They are not Giant Schnauzers. I believe that judges also reward the generic rather than the breed specific far too often. SS: This is not just a tall breed, it is a large boned breed and not one that has an Afghan gait. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. AG: While at their National dinner a few years back, the group discussed the examining of this breed. One very important idea was raised and a solution was found. It needs to be shared with all the handlers and judges. This breed has a heavy fall of coat over its eyes, thicker than most breeds. With light eyes being a serious fault and two or more missing teeth a DQ, judges have to get right in there—so to speak. To make it easier on the dog and the judge, they would like to person on the end of the lead to lift the fall so the eyes are clearly seen and then open the mouth for examination. EL: In the 1980s we heard from our European contacts that there were black Komondors being bred in Russia. These were probably either untrimmed Black Russians or some Komondor crosses, which went into the development of the current breed. Certainly the steady, courageous demeanor we see in good Black Russians could have been borrowed from Komondors. “GOOD BONE AND SUBSTANCE ARE MENTIONED IN THE BLACK RUSSIAN STANDARD MANY TIMES. WITHOUT THAT, BREED CHARACTER IS LOST.”

GN: I had the honor and privilege of judging the Black Rus- sian Terrier National a few years ago. It was one of the highlights of my judging experiences. The sheer quality and quantity of the entry was a memory I will never forget. The breed is very special and the owners and breeders are obviously dedicated and devoted to the breed. SS: Temperament is very important, which is why the Rus- sians disqualified the Black & Tans. They found that the dogs with the Rottweiler/Airedale markings were of questionable temperament. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? AG: So many funny things happen to all of us. When I just started to learn how to handle dogs, my instructor said, “When the judge is at the front of your dog, go to the back. Then when they are at the back, go to the front.” Well I was up against another open dog and I wanted to do everything right, so I went to the rear quickly as he went to the front. There was one small problem. I had not held onto the lead and Gulliver ran out of the ring. The judge said to me, “I thought you had the dog?” I said to him, “I thought you did,” I did not know what else to do so I said, “Well did you like the way he moved?” I did not win and never let go of the lead again. GN: I’m not sure if it was funny, but definitely fun. I went to judge in Arkansas and there was a ZZ Top concert on the show grounds—adult beverages, food and great music the night before the show was a special treat. SS: In Emil Klinkhardt’s ring (that was many years ago), an exhibitor could not hold on to a slipping slip. She final- ly let it go and stepped right out of it in her gate. Along comes Kim Griffith behind her, the gallant man that he is, and, without missing his stride as well, he scooped up the slip and put it in his pocket. He returned it to her outside the ring. Funny, now that I look back on this so many of the humorous dog show stories I experienced involved Emil. “TEMPERAMENT IS VERY IMPORTANT...”

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Judging the Black Russian Terrier

By Susan Sholar

J udges have the most visible ability to influence the devel- opmental direction of a breed, especially a new breed, as a result of their ring selections. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that judges have a solid under- standing of the standard of the breed and be able to apply the standard to the speci- mens presented in selecting the best repre- sentatives and future producers. Th e standard for the Black Russian was substantially revised in 2009. More than two years later it was still apparent that many judges either neglected to read, understand or apply the revised standard in their rings. In response to many com- plaints from exhibitors, a letter on behalf of the parent club was published in the

2011 Fall Issue of the Judges Newsletter reminding judges of the revised standard and re-addressing a few of the key changes in the standard. Although I have not heard of any oth- er judges since attempting to call for a wicket in the BRT ring (there is no lon- ger a DQ for size), there still appears to be misapplication of the standard in judging this breed. After the July 2011 letter was published, some comments were made by judges that the parent club wanted “small dogs to be put up.” Th is type of response just further emphasizes the lack of under- standing of the Black Russian Terrier stan- dard and particularly of the size and sub- stance required. Size and substance are major elements to be considered together in evaluating the

Black Russian Terrier. Size and substance are key components in the silhouette that identifies a Black Russian Terrier.

Th e standard states:

Size, Proportion, Substance Size: Th e height for males at maturity (over 18 months of age) is between 27" and 30" with the desired height being between 27" and 29". Th e height for females at maturity (over 18 months of age) is between 26" and 29" with the desired height being between 26" and 28". Any height deviation is a serious fault. Height consideration should not outweigh that of type, proportion, movement and other functional attributes. General balance is more important than absolute size.


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Size without substance should not be rewarded. Substance without proper proportion and balance should not be rewarded. All things being equal, the dog with the desired height and substance is preferred and should be rewarded. Serious faults must be applied, and include light bone, lack of substance, poor muscula- ture, mature male under 27" or over 30", mature female under 26" or over 29", light colored eyes, one missing tooth, shyness or excessive excitability. I have frequently observed that judges do not have a sense of height, especial- ly when faced with an entry of varying heights and varying degrees of substance and coat. Judges are not alone – exhibitors have the same problem. It is very important that judges develop an eye for determining height – be it is a mark on clothing, where fingertips reach, top of the ring table, etc. so as to avoid potential optical illusions of height. Height is measured from the top of the withers, not from the top of the coat on top of the withers (which can add an additional inch). Th ickness of coat contributes to the illu- sion of being oversized or hides an under- sized frame or fills an undeveloped chest. It is therefore important that the judge is able to determine what lies beneath the coat, both by feel and visually. Once height has been determined, eval- uate for substance and musculature, and finally for balance. All components must be present in the Black Russian Terrier to move harmoniously: correct height, sub- stance, musculature and balance. Th e Black Russian Terrier is a working breed, developed as a multi-purpose mili- tary dog by the Russian Red Star Kennel in Moscow. While the majority of the dogs being shown have been conditioned and schooled in proper ring etiquette, remem- ber this breed’s function of guarding and

protection, and judges should respect the fact that much of the breed retains this working protective quality. Su ffi cient spac- ing should be maintained between dogs while gaiting in a group and handlers should be cautioned against running up on an opponent or otherwise encourag- ing his dog to jump, spin and “play” in the ring. Th is is not only distracting, but can be antagonizing to other exhibits when the other dog’s space is invaded. Physical examination of the dog should be performed in a confident, thorough yet expeditious manner. Approach from the front in a purposeful and confident man- ner. Th e majority of experienced handlers prefer to show the bite and to lift the fall for examination of the eyes themselves for the judge. Do check for a scissors bite and for missing teeth (severe fault to DQ). Th e Black Russian is an aloof breed. Don’t stare into his eyes. Care should be taken to not bend over the dog, but be e ffi cient and thorough in feeling the framework and musculature of the dog under the coat. A heavy coat and experienced groomer can present a beautiful picture in stack while hiding a multitude of structural faults. Substance should be confirmed by feeling the circumstance of leg bones, base of tail and breadth of chest. Feel for key points: head size, head length and neck length being approximately equal, width of chest between the front legs, prosternum, shoul- der placement and angle, depth of chest, length of back and loin, angle of croup and tail set, thigh muscle mass, bend of stifle and hocks. Th e coat should be trimmed so that the dog’s outline is clearly defined. Check the coat quality and texture during exami- nation of the body. As the guard hair is often scissored o ff in grooming, check for coat texture by feeling the leg furnish- ings. Grooming should not be given more

weight than structure, movement and bal- ance in evaluating the dog. Again, it is nec- essary that the judge determine what is or is not present under the coat. Look for balance and agility in move- ment. Proper front and rear angulation coupled with correct body proportion will result in a harmonious and e ff ortless gait. Remember in observing the dog in move- ment that he must be large and strong yet agile. Movement is best observed in a moderate gait. Know and feel comfortable with the Black Russian Terrier and its standard. Don’t fault judge. Judge the overall dog, prioritizing important features. Reward the dog that possesses the appearance of a “robust, large, balanced, agile and power- ful dog” with “large bone and well-devel- oped muscles” exhibiting “great strength and endurance” and “a stable and reliable temperament, possessing self-assurance and courage.” Withhold rewards for those specimens which do not. Th e Black Russian Terrier Club of America is currently in the process of developing an illustrated standard which will hopefully be completed sometime in 2014. It should be brought to the judges’ attention that the purported photograph of a Black Russian Terrier posted next to the breed standard on the AKC breed website was not provided by the parent club and the photograph is not represen- tative of the breed standard. Th e club will be contacting AKC and asking that the photograph be replaced. Should any judge have questions about the breed standard or judging the Black Russian Terrier, please feel free to contact Susan Sholar, Judges Education Coordinator and Del- egate for the Black Russian Terrier Club of America, at Judges, the future of the Black Russian Terrier is in your ring.

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T he Black Russian Terrier is a majestic breed exuding pow- er and presence and demanding respect. The breed was cre- ated by the Russian Red Star military kennel located in Moscow. The Russian Army began working on developing a multi-purpose military dog in the 1930s that would be part of their national security force. Attempting to create the breed was quite a challenge due to the slaughter of much of the purebred dog stock because of the Russian Revolution, World Wars and economic disasters. The Red Star Kennel breeding program came to life after World War II when quality Giant Schnauzer and Rottweiler stock were brought back to Russia. Th e Red Star Kennel worked on selec- tive interbreeding using Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, Airedale Terrier and New- foundland breeds. In all, a total of 17 breeds and crosses were used to create the Black Russian Terrier. It was important to have a large breed that was not only reliable but highly trainable to many dif- ferent situations. Th e dog would also have to be able to endure the harsh Russian

By Marilyn Powell

winters. Th ey were initially used by the military police at border crossings, pris- ons and military installations. By 1956, the Black Russian Terrier was breeding true, and the Red Star Ken- nel released dogs to private breeders. Th e first breed standard was created by the Red Army in 1958, and was revised several times before 1981. In 1981, the Russian

Ministry of Agriculture recognized the breed and it was internationally accepted by the FCI (Federation Cynologique Inter- nationale) in 1984. Black Russian Terriers first came to the United States in the 1980s. In 2001, the Black Russian Terrier was admitted to the Miscellaneous Class of the AKC and was accepted into the AKC Working Group

“In 1981, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture recognized the breed and it was INTERNATIONALLY ACCEPTED BY THE FCI (FEDERATION CYNOLOGIQUE INTERNATIONALE) IN 1984.”

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on July 1, 2004. Th e Black Russian Terrier Club of America ( is the AKC parent club. Despite its name of “terrier,” which was transferred to the name of the breed from the name of the Red Star Kennel project, the Black Russian Terrier is not a terrier and has neither the structure nor movement of a terrier. Structure and movement resembling the “terrier type” would be a fault under the Black Russian Terrier standard. Th e Black Russian Terrier was bred to guard and to protect, and it must possess the substance, size, agility and stability of temperament to perform this function. Th e desirable type for a Black Russian Ter- rier is a large dog with a balance between excellent substance and powerful move- ment without sacrificing one for the other. Th ere are many adjectives that describe the character and temperament of the Black Russian Terrier. He is a calm, con- fident, courageous and self-assured dog.

He is alert and responsive, instinctively protective, determined, fearless, and deeply loyal to family. He is aloof towards strangers and therefore does not relish intrusion into his personal space. Stability and working abilities are passed genetical- ly and should be mandatory requirements for breeding stock. Created for close work with humans, the Black Russian Terrier does not pos- sess hunting instincts. Th e dogs are dedi- cated to and become very attached to their owners and families, and thus it is not a breed that can be left outside or iso- lated in a kennel. The Black Russian Terrier is a robust, large and very powerful breed with males ranging in size from 28"-30" and females slightly smaller. A large male will easily weigh 140 pounds. Because of its size, strength and natural protec- tive qualities, early and continuing obe- dience and socialization will result in a well-rounded, stable and trustworthy

companion. It is not a breed that should be purchased for children or left under a child’s supervision. Black Russian Terriers easily respond to positive training and they are quite multi-talented. Th ey excel in obedi- ence, rally, agility, carting, weight pull- ing, protection, and other working dog sports. Black Russian Terriers with cor- rect temperament are being used in many di ff erent working fields as military/police dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs and companion dogs. Th e only acceptable color for the Black Russian Terrier is black. A small percent- age of gray hairs (even in puppies) are allowed, as long as the gray hairs are even- ly spread and there are no solid patches. As the breed is still young and a few of the foundation breeds were not black, there can be throw-back colors (such as black and tan, sable and fawn) from time to time (each parent must contribute a col- or gene). While these non-black colored


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dogs are not acceptable in any registries, despite their color pattern they have the same unmistakable Black Russian Ter- rier qualities and are loved by many Black Russian Terrier fanciers. Health is very important in the Black Russian Terrier. As with many large breeds, hip and elbow dysplasia remain a health problem for the breed. Hyperuricosuria (bladder stones from high levels of uric acid) has also seen an increase in the last few years. Consciencious breeders world- wide are health testing and reporting results in an e ff ort to produce healthy litters. Th e double coat of the Black Russian Terrier requires regular grooming. Th e natural untrimmed coat length varies from 1 ½ " to 6". While this is not a heavy shed-

ding coat, weekly brushing and bathing and scissoring every four to six weeks are recommended to maintain a healthy man- ageable coat. More frequent beard washing may be required. Sadly, the number of Black Russian Terriers in rescue has increased substan- tially as the public has become more aware of this fascinating breed, often seen only in pictures or on television before acquir- ing. Many dogs have been imported or acquired from unknown breeders. Th e dogs su ff er from poor breeding and have genetic or other health issues. New owners have no idea of the size, cost, maintenance and training required for this breed. Th eir expectations of a black bear-type dog with a Labrador personality are short lived and

they are not prepared to deal with the tem- perament and size of a very large untrained and unsocialized heavy coated working dog. As a result, the dogs are abandoned or turned into shelters, often as young adults. Loved by people all over the world, the Black Russian Terrier is, indeed, a very fas- cinating breed. Emerging from the blend- ing of many working breeds, the Black Russian Terrier has its own, unique image – incredibly beautiful and powerful, intel- ligent and loyal, these dogs are amazing companions, providing love, joy and pro- tection to its owners. It is the responsibility and obligation of the Black Russian Terrier breeders and owners to be careful stewards of this mag- nificent breed.


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