Black Russian Terrier Club of Northern New Jersey

New Jersey Regional Club

Is The Black Russian Terrier The Right Breed For You?

You're interested in a BRT. Owning a BRT can be the beginning of a wonderful relationship with years of happiness, or it can be the beginning of overwhelming responsibility for which you may not be prepared. BRTs are loving, and giant bears, but without proper training and socialization you will have a problem. They are large, ranging in size from 25 inches to 30 inches at the shoulder. They weigh anywhere from 80 pounds to 150+ pounds. Once they are over their major growing stage, they will eat about 4 cups of high quality food per day.

There are several questions you must ask yourself to determine if you are ready to become a BRT  owner. Answer honestly to ensure yourself, your family, and your BRT the future you all deserve.

Do I Really Want a BRT? Why Do I Want a BRT?

BRTs are wonderful companions. They are not dogs to be left outside, chained to a doghouse, or to be left alone in a fenced yard. They desperately need lots of human companionship to be properly socialized, trained, and "owned". We have found that behavioral problems occur when a BRT is not a member of the family, but relegated to the backyard with only occasional human contact.

BRT beards are wet, some more than others, after they drink water. Are you prepared to wash your walls, ceilings, etc. after the water flies when they shake their heads?  Rags or towels must always be handy in strategic locations all over the house. They always seem to drink when you are ready to walk out the door for work!

BRTs will snore, and sometimes you think a train is going through the house. Are you a light sleeper or one that needs constant quiet to sleep? If so, consider another breed. They will want to keep you warm at night on the bed of course. If not on the bed, then they will want to sleep in the same room. They do roam the home at night!

BRTs are protection/guard dogs. They will protect their family. Once you accept the guest, chances are good that they will too.

BRTs are wonderful dogs with children. They are very gentle and quite tolerant of ear and tail pulls, sitting on their backs (not a good idea), and they adore licking kid's faces. They will protect their children. Of course, please make sure that you supervise and train your children to respect and treat the dog well. In rescue, we will not place a dog with a family with small children unless the dog has been raised with them in the previous home. If you have very small children who are just learning to walk, you may want to wait until they are older before getting a BRT whether it's a puppy or a rescue dog.

BRTs are territorial dogs. They will protect their yard, house, car and family from people or dogs. They want it to be known that this is their yard. They are dogs that can be very good with other dogs and with cats as long as they have had good experiences with them. If you have an adult male dog already and you are getting a rescue, you might want to consider a female BRT and vice a versa. This is not to say that two males cannot get along but males especially have a tendency to want to dominate each other. We do not recommend placing two males together unless both are neutered and socialized.

Can I Really Afford To Keep a BRT?

An adult male BRT can go through 40 pounds of dry dog food a month. That's a rough estimate of $20- $35 a month in food alone.

A BRT, due to its size, will cost you more at the Vet's office. Remember the antibiotic for Aunt Elena's pug only cost her $10.00 but since most dosages are based on weight, a week's supply of antibiotics for your BRT can cost upwards of $50 to $100. Heartworm medicine costs more, shots can sometimes be more costly, etc. You can expect to spend approximately, (depending on the age and medical conditions of your BRT) $200 to $500 per year at the Vet.

Do I Have Time To Spend Training, Exercising, And Grooming a BRT?

A BRT needs obedience training. It is imperative that obedience training be done. After all, do you want to be pulled down the street, legs streaming behind you, when your 150 lb. male wants to chase that squirrel? The obedience training must be the positive reinforcement type. BRTs respond well to love, praise, and especially treats. The training should not be negatively based, nor should it be the type where the dog is jerked around using different types of collars.

Exercising a BRT is essential. BRTs  are happy to go on 2 walks a day of about 20 - 30 minutes. Some love to hike, swim, and jog.  Their exercise can be walks with you around the neighborhood, hikes in the forest, swims in the local lake, or chasing a soccer  ball. Remember BRTs are like some of us... a couch is their idea of the perfect place to spend a day but exercise is important to keep them fit and help them live longer. They are a thinking breed, and needs things to keep them working. 

Grooming can be intense, and BRTS love to be groomed. BRTs need to be brushed and combed regularly, and professionally groomed every six weeks.  They shed more than an Airedale but less than a Labrador. Cutting nails is important and should be done regularly. It should be started early in life as wrestling with a large dog is very interesting! Teeth cleaning should be done regularly.

No matter what, a BRT  wants to be with you. They thrive on being house dogs sharing your life. They will follow you from room to room as you do your work. As you proceed, they will follow and hope that you will spend more than a moment in each room. After all it takes a lot of effort to keep getting up after they've been lying down! They are devoted to their owners and want to have contact with them frequently. Some want to touch you all the time to reassure themselves that you are still there.

Will a BRT Fit Into My Lifestyle And My Home?

BRTs want to be with you. They love their masters and are very devoted to them. Do you own a big car or van so your BRT can go for rides with you to the park, beach, post office, etc?

As stated earlier, the BRT is a house dog. A small house or apartment  is suitable as long as the BRT goes for walks and plays outside. The yard should be fenced and the BRT obedience trained through the basics: come, sit, stay, down, and he should walk on leash without dragging you down the street.

You must like big wet kisses as they love to give them. They love to sneak on the bed when you are deep in sleep. Snuggling is a favorite pastime as well as touching some part of their human, whether it be to sit on their feet, a head on the lap, or a paw to say Hi!

Owning a BRT is a major responsibility but they will reward you a million times over with their love. They are not the breed for everyone, however, due to their size and their need to be a major part of your family.

Please remember that your rescue BRT has been traumatized by the changes that have occurred in their life. BRTs have a difficult time with change. They are not immediately ready to be the perfect pet you have read about in books. Be understanding and help them through the rough spots. Your efforts in doing this will be greatly rewarded.

Your Rescue Coordinator is always there to answer any questions you may have regarding our marvelous breed. You can also talk to the National Director or your Regional Coordinator. We are here to assist you and the rescue BRT with the best possible fit and adjustment.