The Black Russian Terrier is a calm, confident, and courageous dog with a self-assurance which sometimes is rather aloof towards strangers. They are highly intelligent and extremely reliable. They were bred to guard and protect. The BRT requires human contact and is not a dog to be left outside. They want to be close to family members at all times and are very loyal companions. Obedience training and early and continued socialization are required in order to keep the breed from becoming overly protective. Because of their intelligence, they excel in Obedience and Agility competition, and other working dog sports.
Paladin wants you to also know the Black Russian Terrier is not a dog for the average or first time dog owner. They are brave and confident, and dominant. They can be pushy and seem like a bully. Especially in proper looking dogs, they should seem to have a stance and attitude that is all business. Other dogs can take that to be a challenge. Other owners can be intimidated by the instinctual programming that black dogs are more dangerous, and the awesome physical power. After all, they are bred to look intimidating.
Because Black Russian Terriers are considered a guard/take down dog, it is no surprise the standard describes them as large, robust and muscular. This is a PHYSICAL dog. They can be a couch potato, especially as adults. They wander around after you and throw themselves down to wait for your next activity. But when they move, they are off the ground on their feet at full speed before you can get out of the way.
So temperament needs to be balanced in BRT's. We want and need the physical excellence, the brute strength. But we have to aim for a reliable dog, that you can count on to follow your lead. When they do think for themselves, and that is often, a good temperament can help the decision process follow the correct path. Work with the nature of the dog. He should be standoffish, reserved, and watching. They are not cuddly approachable dogs in general. The original engineering of the breed was not intended to be. Here at Paladin we are aiming for safe dogs that still are true to the original USSR goals
Don't be fooled by the complex nature of this breed. If you are not vigilant, others will be fooled. My own Armani is the gentlest yet most actively protective dog I have ever seen. He looks regal and cuddly. His shiny black waves and hidden eyes invite people to approach us, sometimes reaching out and touching without asking. He has the softest mouth...he takes the most delicious treat with slow tender care. He stands back from my little cat and gives her space..he sighs and freezes hoping she will come to him. His eyes roll to me to see if he is doing it right. Sounds like the most disirable golden, cocker or basset doesn't it? He doesn't even touch babies with food all over...he respectfully sniffs. But the other facets of his personality must be acknowledged too. The old adage that "once a dog sniffs you, he will never forget you", often gets interpreted to mean he will always accept you. Please don't let people think that of your dog. Yes they remember things good and bad for a long time. BUT, once a person, or even a relative comes into your house, your BRT can continue to treat him/her as a stranger for a long time. Hiring someone to sit with your dog in your house, may not be possible. If you board him or doggy day care, he may be too physical, or too bossy.
Count on these dogs feeling their reason for living is to protect you. Strangers at the door, people throwing their arms around you at a picnic...could send a unsocialized dog into protective mode. A family member screaming in a bratty fit, or a game that is too rowdy, could cause the dog to investigate and intervene. Until he is used to many situations it might not be the best thing to take him to an outdoor concert packed with people jumping around and oohing and ahhing too closely. A firm but fair hand, and consitant timely correction/discipline are essential. But don't confuse discipline with punishment. When we say this dog needs a fair hand, we mean that an adult male espeically, may not tolerate being picked on, or punished too far. Don't be surprised if this dog learns someting in 2-3 tries, and becomes bored of repetition number 6. It may look like disobedience. My goodness these dogs can PLAY!! They are fun loving and a good romp is wonderful to them. But they can't be allowed to knock down grandma, or snatch the food from a child's hand, or pounce on a small dog. Female dogs especially, love children. They will play, nurture and guard them. Males seem to bond tighter to an individual adult, and have less tolerance for shenanigan's, unless they instigate it of course. (see Training and Socialization).
So understand what this breed is really like on the inside. Be sure any breed of dog you get is right for you. Do your homework. Now I don't want to seem all doom and gloom, just up front with the problematic...you can learn the wonder of the light hearted and easy going for your selves...IT'S THE JOY AND MAGIC OF Black Russian Terriers!