So You Want a Russian Black Terrier?

This brief piece is intended to provoke thought before making a decision as to whether this breed is right for you. For more in-depth information and expert opinion, consider joining the UK RBT Club where you can ask questions of breed experts, breeders and enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners.

When acquiring any dog, firstly you have to think do you have time for a dog, particularly one with the power and drive of a Russian Black Terrier (RBT)? 

RBTs develop an extremely strong bond with their family and want to be part of everything you do. They thrive on lots of human interaction or even just chilling with their family. They are NOT a suitable breed to be kept outside in runs. 

A well-trained and happy Russian can be the perfect family dog. A well-socialized RBT will love all members of the family, big and small, human and animal alike. Of course, as with all dogs, care must always be taken when small children are around, supervision of both the dog and the child is the key. Due to their size, RBTs could potentially harm a child with no intention of doing so.

The love that RBTs have for their family is seldom extended to the outside world. As a breed, they were developed over many years to have an innate and serious guarding instinct, which they displayed with great enthusiasm when they feel it is warranted. Therefore, training is an absolute MUST to prevent that instinct from surfacing in an uncontrolled manner. Overt aggression is not a normal breed trait, however an untrained dog can quickly become very difficult to manage. The protective instincts usually kick in when the dog is between 8 and 12 months of age. The training to develop control over the dog, gained by building trust between dog and handler, needs to start far before this age, ideally from the first day your new puppy arrives home. Even when the puppy appears to be loving the whole world, it is much better and easier to prevent unwanted behaviours rather than to try to fix them!

Due to their size and the temperament, RBTs are usually not an ideal choice for the first time dog owner. They require a calm and confident approach, especially through the rebellious teenage years, when even for the experienced they can be a challenge. Harsh training methods will not get the best from this breed, and consistent positively reinforced methods work well and build that all important bond.

Physical exercise of your dog, as part of the training, will affirm that bond. While RBTs don’t need to run for miles like some other breeds, they do need a considerable amount of exercise and especially mental stimulation to be fit and healthy. An under-exercised RBT can become destructive and has the power to take a room apart if bored or frustrated! The suitable type of exercise will depend on the age and general condition of the dog. Your breeder will be able to recommend suitable exercise types and limits for the developmental years and as an adult. As with all large/giant breeds, puppies must not be over-exercised as it can have a detrimental effect on their developing joints.

Grooming is very important for a Russian’s welfare. Although they are considered a ‘non-shedding’ breed, all animals lose hair (as do humans), but our dogs don’t moult seasonally. The breed standard states their coat is ‘trimmed’ to a specific shape; pet/companion dogs can be kept with short hair thus making care easier. Whatever your preference, remember, it takes time to look after a RBT’s coat too. 

Given time, devotion and experience in dealing with large, confident and ‘no-nonsense’ dogs, RBTs are the best breed one could hope for. However, the decision of getting a RBT should be only made after an honest check of your own abilities, both in terms of skills, but also the time and money you will have to devote to your new family member.

Copyright © 2014 John Cucci. All Rights Reserved. This material may be copied and distributed only for personal and non-commercial use, subject to inclusion of this notice.

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