“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
– Roger Caras
Black Russian Terriers
Bill and Sandra, his fiancé, have become huge fans of the Black Russian Terrier, a large, intelligent military working dog from the
former Soviet Union.
The history is a bit sketchy, having taken place behind the Iron Curtain. What we do know is that the Russians were starving during WWII. Eating tree bark and anything that moved. This decimated the dog population.
After the war they restarted the project to create the perfect military working dog. With few surviving pups and an expanded access to dog breeds from Europe, the project took on a new life and direction. The Soviet owned Red Star Kennels used an estimated 17 dog breeds to create the BRT but the 4 main ones were Giant Schnauzer, Newfoundland, Rottweiler and Airedale
Bill was fortunate enough to meet David Greer and Stephanie Sexton who, at the time, ran Nightwatch Black Russian Terriers, a small, exclusive Kennel just outside of Wichita, Kansas.
They had a beautiful BRT bitch named Nova. A hundred and thirty pounds, exceptionally loyal and amazingly smart. Nova is almost assuredly the most titled Black Russian in America. Bill was not sold on the breed until he met her and then he fell in love with the breed. He went home with his first "Blackie," a nine week old pup Sculli, named after the former Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia.
As responsible breeders, David and Stephanie were concerned about the stress of pregnancy so Nova was to be limited to two litters. When she dropped her second and final litter, Bill and Sandra couldn't pass up the opportunity to get another Nova pup, Domino.
"We didn't get a chance to name her" said Bill. "They said that we had to pick her kennel name after a James Bond movie. Since we had declared ourselves a two dog household and this was number four, her name had to be Never Say Never Again...and the only female character that lived was Domino Petachi."
"We have found this breed to be exceptionally loyal. We were told that they are "one person dogs and we have to work to make sure they they do not cleave to either one of us. We want them to be "our dogs" rather than "her dog and my dog" Bill said.
"If Domino gets too clingy to me, Sandra will spend more one-on-one time with her, and vice versa. Sculli seems to spread her attention around more evenly, but we sometimes have to swap her off as well."
As to their easiness to train "We don't really train them...we are firm, consistent pack leaders and they try to do what we want. If you have the relationship, they will do their best to please you."
"We haven't needed a leash on either one in months. Even though Domino is 9 months, we can go to bars, restaurants or Home Depot and they will both stay in a "heal" with no problem."
They do require a lot of grooming. "Sandra works hard to keep up with the coat. They don't shed but their hair grows fast, especially Domino's since she still gets puppy food. We like the Schnauzer look as we like to see their eyes. Drives the breeders nuts" he said with a laugh.
When asked if he would recommend them, this is what he said.
"For us, the Black Russian is the perfect dog. Their intelligence is significant, they are by nature extremely loyal and very protective of their humans. That said, any dog this powerful and intelligent needs a strong pack leader or they will fill that role. You see it with chihuahuas and other small dogs. That is annoying but with a large powerful dog...let's just say you don't want them to be in charge. So to answer your question, if you are experienced and dedicated with a lot of time to dedicate to the animal, yes. If you are a new dog owner or have never had a strong willed breed, this is not the breed for you."
Loëb went on "the main thing that you need is good guidance. David or Stephanie are excellent dog handlers, breeders and keepers of all things BRT. They are also extremely open with their information. Get in touch with them via mugbook and they will set you right."