During the 1930's a military kennel named the Red Star started work on a native breed that would be part of the national security force. The Red Star Kennel worked on selective interbreeding using Rotweiler, Giant Schnauzer, Airedale and Newfoundland mixes. It was important to have a large breed not only reliable but trainable in many different situations. The dog would also have to be able to endure the harsh Russian winters. By 1956 it finally reached the point where the Black Russian Terrier bred true. In 1981 The Russian Ministry of Agriculture recognized the breed and it was internationally accepted by the FCI in 1984.
The Black Russian Terrier (BRT) is a robust, large and powerful dog. The dog has large bone and well developed muscles. The breed was developed in Russia and used as guard dogs for protection. They must be balanced, have a good temperament and be reliable. The dogs have great courage and strength. They are capable of endurance. Dogs must have a large frame and heavy bone. Bitches are definitely to appear feminine but never lacking in substance.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size: Dogs at maturity are between 27 inches and 30 inches. Bitches at maturity are to be between 26 and 29 inches. A deviation from the ideal height is to be faulted. Any dog or bitch under 26 inches is a disqualification. Proportion: The Black Russian Terrier is slightly longer than tall. The most desired proportions are 9Ĺ to 10. The length is measured from breastbone to rear edge of the pelvis.
The head must be in proportion to the body. It should give the appearance of power and strength. Eyes: The eyes should be of medium size and dark. Eye rims are to be black without sagging or prominent haw. The eye is to be oval shaped. Light eyes are a serious fault. Ears: The ears are set high and are rather small and triangular in shape. The front edge of the ear should lay close to the cheek. The length of the ear should reach the outside corner of the eye. Ears set low on the skull are to be faulted. Cropped ears are not acceptable. The head should be powerfully built with a moderately broad and blocky skull. Viewed from the side it should appear balanced. The head is made of two parallel planes. The back skull to muzzle is measured from the corner of the eye. Occiput should be well developed. The muzzle should be slightly shorter than the back skull. The length of the muzzle to the back skull is approximately a ratio of 4 to 5. The forehead must be flat with a marked but not pronounced stop. The head of the male is distinctly masculine, and that of the bitch, distinctly feminine. Nose: The nose must be large and black. Disqualification: Nose other than black. Lips: are full, tight and black. There are to be no flews. The gums have dark pigmentation. Black mark on the tongue is allowed. Teeth: The teeth are large and white. There should be full dentition. The incisors form a straight line at the base. The bite should be scissors. Any missing teeth are a serious fault. Undershot or Overshot bites are a disqualification.
Neck, Topline, and Body
Neck: The neck should be thick, muscular and powerful. Length is not to be excessive. There should be no pendulous or excessive dewlap. The length of the neck and the length of the head should be approximately the same. A thick neck is considered a fault. Body: The whole structure of the body should give the impression of strength. The chest is deep and wide. The shape should be oval and reach to the elbows or a little below. The withers are high, pronounced and well developed. The topline is level and straight. The loin is short. The abdomen is well tucked up and firm. Withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. Croup is wide, muscular, moderately long slightly sloping toward the high tail set. Tail is set high, thick and docked with 3 to 5 vertebrae left. An undocked tail is not to be penalized.
Shoulders should be large and muscular, well developed with blades broad and sloping. The shoulders should be well laid back. The angle between the shoulder blades and the upper arm is at a 100 to 110 degree. Shoulders are well muscled. The forelegs are straight and well boned. The elbows must turn neither in nor out while standing or moving. The forelegs are straight and muscular. Pasterns are short and almost vertical. Length of the front leg to the elbow should be about 53 to 54 percent of the dog's height. Feet are large, compact, and rounded in shape. The pads of the feet are thick and firm. Nails are short and dark. Rear dewclaws could be removed.
Viewed from the rear the legs are straight and parallel, set slightly wider than the forelegs. The hindquarters are well boned and muscular with good angulation. The stifle is long and sloping. The thighs are muscular. The hocks are well let down, long and vertical when standing.
Tousled, double coat. The texture of the outer coat is coarse. The undercoat is thick and soft. Length of coat should vary from 1Ĺ to 4 inches and cover the entire body. It is a pronounced tousled coat rather than wiry or curly.
Presentation of the breed in the show ring, the dogs outline is clearly defined. The dogs will be trimmed but should not appear to be sculpted. Ears: hair should be trimmed inside and outside the ear. The ears will lay flat to the side of the head. Forehead: Just behind the eyebrows the hair is to be shaved or cut very short so as to make what appears to be a platform. The rest of the forehead is trimmed so that the shorter hairs will blend with the longer hairs of the muzzle. This forms a "cap" which should help define length of backskull. Looking from the top of the head it should give the appearance of a "brick". The fringe from the eyebrows is brushed forward and blends with the beard and muzzle. This blending of hair should look from the side like a "triangle". Neck: The front of the neck from the throat to the point of shoulder should be shaved or scissored short. The hair on the back of the neck should appear to have a mane down to the withers. Topline: is trimmed from the withers to the tail so that when viewed from the side it appears level. The hair from the back should then blend down the sides of the dog. It is stressed that there should be no distinct lines or scissors marks.
The only acceptable colors for the Black Russian Terrier is black or black with a few gray hairs. Any other color is to be considered a disqualification.
A Black Russian Terrier should move freely with a smooth easy springy motion. The motion should be well-balanced and fluid. As the Black Russian Terrier moves faster the feet will converge toward a centerline. The topline should remain level.
The character and temperament of the Black Russian Terrier is of utmost importance. The Black Russian Terrier is a calm, confident, and courageous dog with a self-assurance which sometimes is rather aloof toward strangers. They are highly intelligent, extremely reliable. They were bred to guard and protect. The behavior in the show ring should be controlled, willing, adaptable, and trained to submit to examination.
Any dog or bitch under 26 inches
Nose other than black
Undershot or overshot bite
Any color other than black.
Approved: June 11, 2001
Effective: September 1, 2001
1 - Sound-rough, desirable type, correct
structure of shoulder
2 - Rough type, excessively sharp shoulder
3 - Sound-dry type, straight shoulder
1 - Correct
2 - Short, coarse, excessively short head
1 - Narrow, weak head
2 - Excessively pronounced, forehead short muzzle
3 - Short weak muzzle
1 Ear of correct size and setting
2 - Too small, light high set ear
3 - Low set, wrinkled ear too large ear
1 - Correct
2 - Level bite
3 - Overshot
4 - Undershot
1 - Correct
front, straight, parallel forelegs, deep chest, well prominent ribs
2 - Excessively wide front, barrel-shaped chest
1 - Narrow front, yet deep chest 2 - Narrow chest, turned out
3 - Turned out elbows
1 - Correct pastern, strong, straight compact foot
2 - Weak, splay pastern, flattened foot
1 - Ideal hindquarters, with correctly set tail
2 - Hooked, excessively high set tail, straight croup
1 - Short upper thigh, long second thigh
2 - Short upper thigh, short second thigh, straight - stifled
3 - Hocks turn in feet set - under hock
1 - Correct movements
2 - Movements elbows turned out
3 - Movements legs turned out
Revised January 1, 1998
The history of the Black Russian Terrier began in 1930. The breed was created by the selective interbreeding of Rottweilers, Giant Schnauzers and Airedales, by the Russian Military. The intent was to develop a native breed that would fulfill the need for a large, working terrier, suitable for a number of tasks, while being able to endure the harshness of the Russian winter. In 1956, this culminated in the establishment of foundation stock that bred true. The Black Russian Terrier was recognized by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture in May of 1981, and internationally by the FCI in May of 1984. The Black Russian Terrier was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1995.
GENERAL APPEARANCE & CHARACTERISTICS
The Black Russian Terrier is a strong, agile, medium-sized dog. It is heavily boned, and has well developed muscles. Its skin is thick and elastic, and without wrinkles. It is superbly stable, dignified and reserved with strangers, but not aggressive; very protective of its family. The breed is energetic, alert, and fearless. The breed is capable of great endurance and is adaptable to a wide range of climates, including harsh conditions. It is capable of being trained to a variety of tasks, and must be kept well exercised and fit. Males are masculine and larger, stronger, bulkier and more powerful than bitches. The height, at the withers, equals the body length, from the forechest to the rear projection of the upper thigh. In no case should the body length be great than 110% of the height at the withers. All faults are to be penalized according to the degree of deviation from the ideal.
Serious Fault: Body length greater than 110% of the height at the withers.
Faults: Light bone. Weak muscle structure. Shyness. Excitability. Listlessness. Body length between 105% and 110% of the height at the withers.
HEAD AND SKULL
The broad head is in harmonious proportion to the body. It is long, being roughly 40% of the height, measured at the withers. Cheeks (jowls) are well rounded. The skull is flat. There is a moderate stop. The tops of the muzzle and skull are on parallel planes. The muzzle is of great power. The muzzle is well filled in, narrowing slightly toward the nose, ending in a blunt wedge. It is slightly shorter, and slightly narrower, than the skull. The well-padded lips are not coarse or slack, and are tight on the upper jaw. The whiskers and beard emphasize the square corners of the shape of the head.
Serious Faults: Very coarse head. Very light head. Round head. Very short muzzle.
Faults: Coarse head. Light, weak head. Fine head. Stop too steep. Snipey muzzle. Slack or loose lips.
TEETH -- A full complement of strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite.
Serious Faults: Misaligned incisors. Any bite other than scissors. Any deviation from the ideal. Two or three missing teeth.
Fault: One missing tooth.
EYES -- The small, dark eyes are oval or almond shaped; set obliquely. They are dark brown in color.
Serious Faults: Very light eyes. Eyes of different color or size.
Faults: Eyes too large. Too light. Round eyes. Third eyelid.
EARS -- The short, triangular ears are high set. They are pendant, the front of the ears must fit closely to the cheeks.
Serious Faults: Drop ears. Upstanding ears. Semi-erect ears.
Faults: Low-set ears.
NOSE -- The nose must be black.
The long neck is well muscled and dry. It is carried in an approximate 45 degree angle from the shoulders. The distance from the occiput to the withers is equal to the distance from the occiput to the nose (in a straight line).
Faults: Too short. Too heavy. Set at less than 40 degrees to the backline.
The shoulders are well laid back, with an angle of approximately 110 degrees between the shoulder blade and upper arm. The upper arm is strong.
FORELEGS -- The thick forelegs are straight and parallel when viewed from the front. The elbows lie close to the chest. Pasterns are straight and short.
Serious Faults: Little or no angulation between the shoulder blade and upper arm. Very weak pasterns.
Faults: Shoulder and upper arm angulation less than 110 degrees. Fine-boned legs. Soft pasterns.
The withers are strongly pronounced, and form the highest point of the body, The back is level, broad, and strong. The short loins are well-developed and muscular. The croup is broad, muscular, and slightly sloping. The broad, deep chest is well ribbed up. The depth of chest reaches to, or slightly below, the elbow. The forechest is not prominent. The abdomen is well tucked up.
Serious Faults: Extremely long loin. Roach back. Herring gutted. Barrel chested. Slab sided. In mature dogs, the croup as high or higher than the withers.
Faults: Low withers. Narrow back. Weak back. Croup too flat, too steep, or too narrow. Lack of tuck up.
HINDQUARTERS -- The well-muscled hindquarters are in balance with the forequarters. The thighs are muscular.
HIND LEGS -- The hind legs are straight and parallel, standing slightly wider than the front legs. The stifle is long and sloping. The hocks are well let down, somewhat long, and vertical when the dog is standing.
Serious Faults: Very lacking in muscular development. No discernible angulation between the upper and lower thighs. Extreme angulation between the upper and lower thighs.
Faults: Poor muscular development. Cow hocks. Fine-boned legs.
The round, compact feet (cat feet) have heavy pads and strong, well-arched toes. Dewclaws are removed.
Serious Faults: Flat feet. Severely splayed feet. Lack of thick pads.
Faults: Feet toeing in or out. Rear dewclaws.
The thick, high-set tail is carried vertically. It is cropped to three or four vertebrae.
Serious Faults: Tail not docked. Faults: Low-set tail. Tail carried low while in action. Wrongly docked tail.
The weather-resistant top coat is rough and wiry, thick and tousled; approximately 1Ĺ to 4 inches (4 to 10 cm) in length, and covering the whole dog. A shorter-coated dog will have a relatively flat, but somewhat wavy coat. The undercoat is tight and thick. Both long and shorthaired dogs will have double coats. The head features a wiry, brush-like mustache, a wiry beard, and wiry eyebrows, which are overhanging.
Serious Faults: Soft, cottony coat. Lack of undercoat.
Faults: Lack of brows, whiskers or beard on a long-coated dog. Lack of brows on a short-coated dog.
Acceptable colors include: black; and ashen, which is black ground hairs with random white or gray hairs, giving an ashen appearance. The random white or gray hairs may be spaced over either a part of or the entire body.
Faults: Brown or grey tinge to black ground hairs. Sun burned coats are to be forgiven.
The height range for males is from 26 to 28Ĺ inches (66 to 72 cm). The height range for females is from 25 to 27Ĺ inches (64 to 70 cm).
Faults: Over or under the stated height ranges for each sex.
Movement is free, easy, straight and springy. A short trot and gallop are characteristic. At the trot, the movement of the front and hind quarters is parallel. The back and rump swing in time to the movement. As speed increases, the dogs single track.
Serious Faults: Feet crossing. Hackney gait. Restricted movement.
Faults: Crabbing. Over reaching. Hind feet kicking up. Pacing. Ambling. Toeing in or out, both front and rear.
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Extreme viciousness or shyness. Overshot bite. Undershot bite. Four or more missing teeth. Brown-colored coat. Grey-colored coat. Any area of solid white. Albinism.
You can say that Black
Terrier was doomed to success. Quite a number of factors contributed to this,
but first of all you should have a look at history, into now distant post-war
years. It is known that purebred animals became almost instinct in the Soviet
Union during the war years, but people needed them. This niche in the media of
companion dogs lovers was to be filled by Moscow Longhaired Toyterrier, among
hunters - by Russian spaniel, but to the working dogs fancy "Red Star"
kennel offered several breeds at a time: Moscow Great Dane, Moscow Newfoundland
(Water dog), Moscow Watch Dog and at last hero of our story - Black Terrier.
Certainly, no private kennel was able to conduct the experiment on such scale
(more than 100 dogs of different breeds were used simultaneously during the
development of Black Terrier), but on the other side "Red Star" did
not have any choice. Kennel specialists would hardly create something worthwhile
in already known breeds, since initial breeding material was leaving much to be
desired. Fast recognition in the Western countries also added to Black Terrier's
popularity. It's incredible, but already in 1968 FCI approved the description of
the very young breeding group. May be, it was because European dog people always
believed that there are big bear-like dogs in Russia and Black terrier one more
time successfully confirmed this legend. So, if you wish, appearance of Black
Terrier is not more or less than the dictates of time.
Black Terrier was produced in the "Red Star" kennel by reproductive crossing of such breeds as: Giant Schnauzer (key breed), Airedale Terrier, Rottweiler, Newfoundland with addition of Great Dane, Eastern-European Shepherd, Caucasian Ovcharka blood. Totally about 17 breeds were used in the experiment. It did not come without incidents. Crosses of the first generation were silent creatures and watching job (for which the breed was created as a matter of fact) demands just opposite. To improve this drawback "Red Star" kennel, which was under the command of General G. Medvedev at that time, decided to add some blood of the hounds, which was performed. Another idea - to have Black Terrier with standing ears - ended up with addition of Laika (Husky-type dog) blood. Though it was a mistake with the ears, but how about the experiment?!..
author of this article Olga Vorobjeva with her dog Ole-Kassandra-Like
Crosses of the first generation did not have the long hair but it didn't
confused the selectionists. For the war purposes they needed a big, strong,
unpretentious dog, not demanding hair care, having pronounced aggression and
very trainable. Working ability was always of a paramount importance in
"Red Star". Since 1957 kennel started selling puppies of the second
and third generation to the hobby dog breeders and new stage in the development
of the Black Terrier (still breeding group at that time) set in. At that time
the question arose about how to improve the appearance of rather plane animals
offered by the army kennel while preserving the working qualities. Got in the
60's to the hobby breeders the breeding group started to change gradually though
the mixture from which it was composed reminded about itself. In litters of
puppies there were Airedales, Rottweilers, Newfoundlands revealed, or animals
were born with blue, wheat even brindle colour, which by the way, was very
popular among foreign exotic lovers. Big problems were with the teeth. Faults of
the dental system were put in the very beginning because dogs with the different
type of constitution and different built of the head stood at the roots of the
breed. Besides that, the breeding material itself left much to be desired. This
is how experts described the ancestor of the breed - Giant Schnauzer Roy:"
typical for the breed dog of sturdy-dry type of constitution, proportionally
built, with well developed bones and musculature. In the front limbs there was
slight toes-out, in the rear - slightly cow-hocks. " Roy had level bite.
From the combination Giant schnauzer Roy and Rottweiler Una two dogs Vakh and Azart were used for breeding. Vakh's son Foka passed undershot to his offspring. Inspite of this, inbreeding to Foka gave promising animals. Tiza - Moscow Diver was also used for breeding. She had white chest and toes, that was steadily passed to the offspring. Besides this, in the beginning of the 60's littermates Giant Schnauzers Dasso & Ditter v. Dranhenshlucht were used. The latter turned to be monocryptorchid. Even this very short list of defects in dogs used in the experiments on the breeding group should terrify any breeder. Never the less the breed today draws the admiration from dog people all over the world. Unfortunately up till now no documents about the development of the breed had been published in full and the small part that is known is so inaccurate and disunited that it causes the beginning of extraordinary legends. In particular many fanciers contend that Black Terrier is the breed which originates from Germany. Scarcely conjectures of that kind should be taken seriously. Officially breed status was given to Black Terrier in 1981. What is the secret of Black Russian Terrier's success, what did quite a young breed get in line with universally recognized well-known breeds, counting back not one hundred years? Popularity of the working dog depends first of all of utility qualities, ability to protect the owner and his family. Large size in combination with excellent working qualities, courageous and at the same time elegant appearance, sociability and skill to get along with kids - all these allow to hope that popularity of Black Terrier is not temporal occurrence and will grow further. Speaking about the Black Russian Terrier breed it is necessary to mention the existence of two types inside the breed. Division has conditional character but helps to understand the breed correctly. First type inside the breed is terrier type. These dogs usually have square format, not wide long head, dry high-set neck. Straight shoulder, flattened ribcage, flat musculature are also inherent in this type. Long levers and well-pronounced limb angulation allow the dogs to move freely. With total balanced behavior dogs of this type are sufficiently excitable, mobile and reckless. Some experts both in Russia and abroad prefer this type, explaining that image of Black Terrier must follow the name of the breed. Majority of specialists never the less stick to the other point of view and that's why Black Terrier was transferred from Group III of FCI to the Group II. Second type existing inside the breed it's mighty dogs with massive bones, bulky musculature, wide and deep chest, quite a rough built. Nervous system of such dogs is exceptionally stable. Even their appearance radiates tranquility and confidence. At first dogs may look slow and even lazy but this sluggishness hides the desire to dash into battle at the slightest aggression from the opponent. However paradoxically it is but anatomical structure of Black Terrier has nothing "terrier". Airedale Terrier has completely different humeroscapular (between upper arm and shoulder blade) joint with 100-110 degree angle. Airedale Terrier with long well-pulled back shoulder-blade has short almost vertically set upper arm bone. That's why front limbs are almost plumb. High set of the neck, breast-bone which does not protrude over the shoulder point and almost plumb pasterns give the expression of the straight front, typical to most of the terriers and this is very serious fault for Black Terrier, especially in combination with light bones and low-set hocks. As for the working qualities many trainers have opinion that with a quite fast learning Black Terrier remembers material solidly and for a long time but re-training him is a vain effort. That's why the opinion exists that the breed is difficult to train. We can add also that Black Terrier is vindictive enough. During last several years breed underwent changes of show nature, rather than functional one. Changes in the conformation of Black Terrier fortunately did not change valuable qualities laid into this breed, though it should be pointed that chasing the wins on the shows in some cases leads to the appearance of animals with undesirable temperament. We would like to make things clear about existing in the fanciers media opinion that there exists division of animals inside the breed in accordance of coat type: long - and shorthaired. Indeed, "Red Star" kennel noted that fact in the first version of the standard. I think that we can't talk about shorthaired Black Terrier as of breed variety because this type does not exist any more. If such puppy born he is not allowed to be used for breeding. Black Terrier was shorthaired dog at the beginning of the breed formation. He could not be different because he was developed on the base of breeds which were not notable for abundance of decorative hair.
The Black Russian Terrier is a new page in the National
cynology, written in gold letters. Many cynologists (dog breeding scientist)
refuse to even recognize it as a breed, considering it a mere breed group.
However, this so-called "breed group" has its own standard,
genealogical tree, and one common recognized ancestor - Giant Schnauzer Roy. The
dog's exhibition rating is exceedingly high, which makes the talk of not
recognizing it a breed at least absurd. The history of breeding the Russian
terrier is complex, interesting, and somewhat mysterious in places, since many
more breeds had been involved in the composition of the Russian terrier's makeup
than previously thought. So what kind of breed is the Russian Terrier, the breed
nicknamed "Russian pearl", "KGBist", "Beria dog",
or, to put it more gently, "Blackie"?
Back in the 1930s, the Central School of Cynologists ("Red Star" Kennel) carried out hybrid experiments in order to create new progressive breed for the USSR and the Army. After the World War II the number of service dogs was greatly reduced, while the demand for them increased: they were needed to guard the prisons and POW camps, as well as industrial and strategic objects. To increase the dog population, they started bringing them from the occupied countries. This was when Roy the Giant Schnautzer found his way into the kennel. First they crossed him with Airedale terrier bitches. The first litter was received in 1951. On the second stage the Giant Schnauzer was crossed with the Rotweiler. On the third stage the Giant Schnauzer was crossed with the Moscow water dog (Newfoundland X German shepherd X Eastern European shepherd). Then those hybrides were crossed among themselves. Additional breeds were added later on, but their contribution was not significant. In 1954 the standard for the Black terrier went into work, and later the same year the dogs were shown at the All-Union Exhibition of Economy Achievements (Moscow) where they received high marks from experts. In 1957 43 Black terriers took part in the All-Union Exhibition of Service and Hunting Dogs. They attracted many of professional breeders, and the breed group was recognized as having future potential. Later that year the 2nd and 3rd generation Black terriers were first time released to private dog owners who praised the dog's qualities and continued their breeding. In 1979 the Red Star Kennel and Army Navy and Fleet Volunteer Support Organization (DOSAAF) approved the standard for the Black terrier breed. More than 800 litters have been received by that time, and the majority of more than 4000 puppies were recognized to be in compliance with standard. As the dogs of the breed group reached a relatively high exterior level, became more noble and uniform in type, a new standard which would recognize the Black terrier breed was proposed. The Black terrier became a breed in 1985. In the early 1970s the first batch of Black terriers were exported to Finland, later spreading all over Europe and becoming popular as a Russian rarity. In the early 1980s Black terriers debuted in international dog shows, and the breed standard was approved by the FCI under number 327. The latest breed standard was approved by the Red Star Kennel and the Central Club of Service Dogs in 1992. The dog was then renamed Black Russian Terrier, which is the name it is known by in the West. The new standard differs from that of FCI in the height parameters. The male standard height is 68-72cm+2cm, while the female standard height is 66-70cm+2cm. Deviations from the standard are considered damaging to the breeding quality of the dog. The BRT is of upper medium and tall height, strong and aggressive, suspicious of strangers, enduring, courageous, self-assured, with square or approximately square frame. It adapts well to different climatic conditions, is easily trained, and has a balanced character. The many years experience of using the BRT as a guard dog and in other functions proved its reliability and endurance. This dog has aristocratic exterior and looks extraordinarily decorative while having a massive bone structure, proportional dimensions, tough and somewhat rough constitution, and impressive muscles. The dog's nervous system type is balanced while the dog is easily excitable and possesses an active defensive reaction. The sex type is also obviously different - males are larger and more steadfast than female ones. "Blackie" has taken in the best qualities of its ancestors: he has joyful disposition and energy of the Airedale terrier, the strength, courage and endurance of the Rotweiler and Giant Schnauzer, the "Olympic" calm and reserve of Newfoundland. An important advantage of the BRT is the absence of specific "doggy" smell and seasonal shedding. If the dog is brushed and cut regularly it's hair wouldn't be much of a problem in the house. The owner should also have in mind that the BRT is one-person dog and recognizes just one owner: he may refuse being walked by another person even he really needs out. The dog would prefer the company of his owner to other dogs. He would defend the owner in danger as well, not even sparing his own life. The dog wouldn't be scared by most vicious enemy, because he himself is a terrifying weapon when in able hands. The BRT's behavior is guided by the principle "Don't touch me (my family), and I'll leave you in peace as well", and his adequate behavior makes him easy to handle in any situation - he will be calm and obedient in the streets of large city, and when inside, despite his large frame the dog would take relatively little space, will never bother and bug the owner. The dog is also very caring and tender with his human family, especially children and would tolerate nearly everything except maybe disorder. The BRT is amazingly trainable and he would understand the orders right away. However, he may pout like a child and have fun like one, too, spreading joy all around him. The BRT may be kept inside as well as outside the house. The dog wouldn't stand being chained, though: he is too smart for that, and would much rather guard a huge territory roaming free. Aristocratic in his exterior the BRT would be an advantage to any interior decor. He is also a genuine antidepressant and affects the human psyche quite positively. Distrustful of strangers, he'd meet owner like he hadn't seen him or her for ages, even after 5 minutes of being alone. I'll tell you from my own experience - I bought the BRT to protect my house and my child. I wanted to have a protective and beautiful dog. Being a first-time dog owner my expectations for its cleanliness and intelligence had been quite high. But Blackie exceeded all those. I love walking my dog - he attract other's attention, and makes some obvious dog ignoramuses stop and stare. Someday any of those would buy a puppy from me. My level of communication with my dog is so high it sometimes makes me wonder whether he really is just a dog.
Russian dog fanciers magazine "Drug" ("The Friend") No.3-1994
by Elena Brailovsky, Russian Guard Kennels
I would say that females are more loving (males tend to hide it, being concerned about their "dignity") with owners and distrustful with strangers, probably because in nature they had to protect the puppies, and are more difficult "to buy" with food, affection, etc. Males usually are easier to socialize, but they try to challenge the owner's dominant position in the house at some period of their maturing. Males are more prone to dogaggression, which in Blackies comes again from the tendency to dominate (unless it's "braking the boundary" conflict). Female will do something she thinks is silly just because you want so, male, even obeying, will show you his opinion with the body language. Many first time owners of males have to deal with specific kind of disobedience, without realizing it: dog fulfills the command, but does it in slow motion. It's just his way to test owner's boundaries, how much can be tolerated. So male owner should be prepared to meet this challenge and correct it right away. When I got Ars as a year old, he could do anything he wanted to, with resulted in owner being bitten during discussion who had the first right on the couch. Couple of months later Ars got his first Obedience title and never opened his mouth on anybody in the family again, including Stacy, who was born a year later. Male is not comfortable in the top position, but he has to respect the owner to assume the lower rank. Females usually agree that the owner is "top dog" without testing. It's personal choice who is "better", I like more diplomatic females, others like the "straightforwardness" of males (Blackies share this characteristic with Caucasian Ovcharka, when it come to the job, male tries to get to enemy without hiding his intentions, female has a strategic plan and waits until guy who wants to steal her bag comes within reach). Male can be friends with agitator and work on the sleeve anyway, female will try to "get even" later. Of course, it's not always like that, but surely looks like it with dogs I've met.
Helena Lyashko, Moscow countryside
Starting in 1940s breeding was directed toward big massive dogs, it's the
fact and the goal of Medvedev and his followers' work. For amazement of the
whole world Russians again succeeded in making a "candy out of crap"
(probably we are blessed with this ability). Roy was 62 cm (less than
24.5") at the shoulder, 10 cm (4") paw circumference, 24 cm
(9.5") long head, 65 cm (25.5") chest/ribcage circumference. For
illustration, now days 3.5 month old puppy is 49 cm tall, 12 cm paw, 21 cm head,
61 cm chest. While bitches had varied background, all (almost) males go back to
Roy. For many years bigger and more massive than sire males were used for
breeding. Small size male is a cropout just as tan markings or white spots are,
step back to type of foundation dogs. The reason for developing new breed
instead of just using existing ones, was simple: they were not big, massive,
longhaired and tough enough to do the job. It's true, smaller dogs have less
problems with joints, but then Saluki does not have HD at all (as a breed), so
it's not the decision. German Shepherds have hip problems because of the
breeding toward open hip angle (only one part of the problem, of course).
Russian East- European Shepherds did not have HD, though they are bigger then
GSD, 26 - 27" bitches and males are even bigger. They have normal hip
angulation and almost straight top line. I don't know about American prisoners,
but average "customer" in Siberia camp could choke nice-sized dog with
bare hands. After puppies started to be sold to private owners, many dogs in
Russia continued to earn their living as guard dogs (and sill do). One of
regular tasks was raids on railroad depots. We had to check supposedly empty
wagons (serving as a hotels to criminals of different levels). Wagon was opened
from both sides and two dogs were released after warning to surrender. Needless
to say, smaller dogs can't do that without getting killed. Dog must hold the
person until handler with armed cop arrived. It was not ages ago, I did it with
Ars in mid 80s. The same Ars allowed Stacy to take meat from his mouth and
served as her support when she started to walk. This is BRT as he was bred to
be. Breeding toward show dog with mild temperament, which does not need any
training beyond puppy class and could be sold to anybody, is deceiving the
purpose of the breed. Back to the size. In any time (after 1970s at least) males
under 28" tall were not considered breeding stock. They could have
"excellent" rating at show because of lack of major faults but that's
it. There is no direct correlation between size and built. There are small dogs
with raw built and tall dry dogs, Michael-Bell being one of them. Big huge dog
still can have desirable sturdy type built and soundness. Terry's son in Utah is
30" tall and 145 lb. He bounces on and off picnic table like a basketball.
Foma Duke Unity is over 130 lb, jumps 5 feet straight up in the air and has
better hips than many dogs almost half his size. Kalinka's Iljusha may not beat
Border Collie at the agility course (probably will get stuck in the tunnel) but
he is far from being too big to get over the fence and do the bitework. So the
standard rightfully allows dog to be over recommended height. But big well built
dogs are rare and much more often they are narrow than raw type with loose skin.
Medium sized dogs compete in working Championships because of the style of work
required. Sitting in front of an agitator barking heart out is for GSD or
Doberman, BRT has too much dignity and self-respect for that. What's the point
of making hundred barks per minute? And after my Protection Champion GSD got
stolen, my opinion about competitive protection work is below zero, it says
nothing about real quality of the dog. BRT can put a big man into pain shock
just with one grip (saw with my own eyes). And they don't bite hand anyway,
until it's knife or a stick in it or it's raise for a hit. BRT must pass
Protection test but the style of his work must be taken into consideration:
"Why I must pay attention to that guy jumping and waving hands hundred
yards away on nobody's territory? When this guy comes close and threatens my
space or my owner, that's another story and I will prevent that with all my
heart, otherwise let him be, may be he's nuts". This is the dog who can be
safely taken to crowded streets. Blind prey drive is a reason why many breeds
are banned and breeding toward it is playing on the edge. We can't breed for
exclusively show dog, but decreasing the size to fit into trials developed for
different breed is another extreme. The same applies to Obedience: BRT will not
work as flashy as Sheltie, but Cecilia Charles won lots of High Scores in trials
with Shar. Plusha could get 199.5 out of 200 points in OKD (Russian Obedience
course), but you can jump out of skin, she would only walk to me on Recall but
running back to the left bag. BRT is truly breed apart and owner must except
that to avoid disappointments.
"Russian Guard" BRTs
Puppy in the New Home
At long last, the day you have all been waiting for, your new
puppy will make its grand entrance into your home. Before you bring your
companion to its new residence, however, you must plan carefully for its
arrival. Keep in mind the puppy will need time to adjust to life with a
different owner. First impressions are important, especially from the puppy's
point of view, and these may very well set the pattern of his future
relationship with you. You must be consistent in the way you handle your pet so
that he learns what is expected of him. He must come to trust and respect you as
his keeper and master. Provide him with proper care and attention, and you will
be rewarded with a loyal companion for many years. Considering the needs of your
puppy and planning ahead will surely make the change from his former home to his
new one easier. When your puppy moves in, the first days are a lot of stress for
him. Plan to bring your new pet home in the morning so that by nightfall he will
have had some time to become acquainted with you and his new environment. Avoid
introducing the pup to the family around holiday time, since all of the extra
excitement will only add to the confusion and frighten him. Let the puppy enter
your home on day when the routine is normal. Avoid everything in the first time
what scares the pup. He even may refuse to eat. So food must be more nutritious
and palatable at first time. You should have obtained some of the same food
puppy was eating at its first home. Shifting foods now can be a serious mistake
and should not be undertaken without legitimate reasons. Dietary changes may
bring on bowel upsets and even an increase in stress level for the puppy.
Diarrhea may come about because of the stress of the move. If it continues for
more than a day, contact your veterinarian. Don't invite too many people,
your puppy has to learn first who is member of "his pack". And, if
there are other dogs or animals around the house, make certain all are properly
introduced. If you observe fighting among the animals, or some other problem,
you may have to separate all parties until they learn to accept one another.
Remember that neglecting your other pets while showering the new puppy with
extra attention will only cause animosity and jealousy. Make an effort to pay
special attention to the other animals as well. As simple as it sounds, there
are several important thing to know about the act of picking up a puppy. Puppies
are often squirmy, active youngsters. Be sure to always support the puppy's rear
end with one hand while comfortably cradling its chest with the other hand. This
will make the puppy feel secure and keep it from jumping out of your hands.
Don't try to hold more than one puppy at a time. If you want to compare them,
have someone else hold one while you hold the other. Don't lift puppy by the
scruff of the neck. Training for your new puppy begins immediately. It is good
to have ready an outdoor area picked out as a urine and feces relief site. You
may be able to "salt" this location with some droppings or litter from
the puppy's first home. Immediately upon arriving home, take the puppy to this
site and wait until it relieves itself. The smell of urine or droppings should
encourage the puppy to do this. When it does, as it generally will,
enthusiastically prize the puppy. Always use the same expression, i.e. "pipi".
Soon he will learn - what you mean by that. Puppies at the age of 9 to 12 weeks
have to do their business approx. every two hours, especially after sleeping and
eating. Of course, the very young puppy has to go outside for his business also
at nighttime. Should it happen, that the business was done in your house, don't
punish the pup. If you catch him "just in time" when it is happening,
say sharply "NO", bring him to the relief place and say friendly
"pipi". He will know very soon that your room is definitely a wrong
place. Don't forget prize the puppy every time he did right. You have to set up
appropriate place for puppy. The greatest aid to allowing your dog to live
comfortably under the same roof with you and your family is the cage, crate, or
carrier. Utilizing the natural instinct the dog has to be a denning creature
will not only be a better way to share living quarters, but it is also better
for the dog. Place the create somewhere that is out of the way but not isolated.
Pick a spot that will let the puppy see what is going on in the room when it is
in the crate, but that doesn't sit right in the main walking area. When you
first introduce your new puppy to your home, let it have a chance to get
acquainted with its new family in its new surroundings. No roughhousing activity
with the youngster now, only gentle play. When you play you should end up as the
winner - but from time to time puppy also needs success. You decide when the
playing time is over - not the puppy. Use the play to do easy training (like the
mother in a wolf-pack). Careful - don't demand too much! The puppy needs a lot
of rest. Watch the pup to see if it needs to make a trip back to the relief
area. If it does show any sign of wanting to urinate or defecate, quickly and
gently pick it up and head to the relief spot. If you make it in time and the
pup uses the area, always prize it lavishly. This is the first step in
housebreaking your puppy. Keep playtimes brief with the puppy in the initial
days. As it begins to tire, gently move it to the home-scented crate. You want
the pup to associate being tired with going to his place of rest. Simply place
the little one in the crate, shut the door, and walk away. You puppy must learn
that the crate is place for rest and sleep. This is not just important for the
day, but for night as well. The puppy must recognize that when it is placed in
the crate at night that it should go to sleep. Without any doubt the first
nights will be somewhat problematic. On that eventful first night, try not to
give in and let the puppy sleep with you; otherwise, this could become a
difficult habit to break. Let him cry and whimper, even if it means a night of
restlessness for the entire family. It is important to be gentle with the new
puppy to help it get the best possible start in its new home. Don't be mad at
him. Speak to a lonely, crated puppy sparingly, but with a calm and reassuring
tone. This will let the pup know that you aren't far away. Socialization is
essential for BRT puppy. Socializing a puppy literally means introducing it to
new things and people in a nonthreatening manner. This socialization process
makes the difference in whether an animal will be wild or tame and comfortable
around humans or afraid of them. All the stories about dogs being born in the
wild or wild wolves becoming like lapdogs after meeting just the right human are
just stories. Animals begin to learn early as a part of basic survival. It is
generally true that a dog that has not bonded with humans before it is 12 weeks
old is not likely to ever do so. When the dog in question is one of the most
powerful canine athletes on earth, the matter of socialization takes on even
greater significance. BRT puppies are like little learning sponges soaking up
information from their earliest sentient moments. Because dogs use their sense
of smell even more than their sense of hearing and their hearing more than their
sense of sight, the first human scents that comes their way will be registered
while the pups are still blind sucklings. What they hear, in terms of tones
rather than actual words, will become part of their inventory of threatening or
nonthreatening stimuli. The right kind of socialization will introduce the
puppies to different types of people: males, females, children, older people,
and people from other ethnic groups than the breeder. In this way, the mental
and acceptance horizons of a very young puppy are broadened to include many
different humans. The puppy learns that humans, as a group, pose no threat. Some
breeds become thoroughly socialized more easily than others, but most experts
agree that the canine that becomes the best companion or pet is the one that
receive the best socialization. Socialization can also take place between the
puppy and other dogs, cats, and other animals that the dog may encounter in its
life. Some of the herding or herd protection breeds are exposed to the smells
and sounds of sheep very early in the pup's lives, which helps to forge a bond
the dog will have its entire life. Without appropriate, gentle, thorough
socialization, a dog will never reach its potential as a pet or companion.
Unsocialized BRT could be among the worst dogs to own. Your puppy will not just
automatically know the things you will want it to know any more than a human
infant would be able to function without someone to guide and teach it. No one
in the pup's new home should be harsh or severe on a pup during this time. The
puppy needs to learn its first lessons in its new home in a warm, trusting, and
supportive environment. Remember that your puppy wants nothing more than to
please you, thus he is anxious to learn the behavior that is required of him.
Prize and encouragement will elicit far better results than punishment or
scolding. Consistency is vital here as in every area of pet ownership. BRTs are
quite intelligent and remember much more than you think they will. If a little
puppy is allowed on the couch, the same dog as an adult will expect to be
allowed on the couch. It is not allowed as an adult to do what it did as a
puppy, it will stubbornly remember this as something inconsistent. Dogs, like
most children, are great limit tryers. They will want to see how far they can go
this time with an activity that was not clearly stopped last time. A puppy must
be gently, but firmly taught the behaviors that you will expect of it as an
adult. A lot of potentially great dogs in many breeds have been almost ruined by
inconsistent behavior from their humans. Don't do this to your BRT! Dogs are not
able to think like humans. Very often dog owners do the mistake to punish their
pet at the wrong time, that means a while after the situation occurred. Swallow
down your anger. Only if you catch pup "just in time" you can punish
him, because otherwise the dog will not associate what he has done with your
punishment. If your dog ran away don't punish him when he comes back. He would
associate the coming back with your punishment and run away from you when you
call him. A sharp "NO" correctly said and not yelled is enough to keep
puppy away from forbidden things. If you have to punish him, because he chewed
the fifth time your phone wire and also ignores your "NO", grab him at
the scruff of the neck and say sharply "NO". If he's staying away from
the cable, prize him. In general you should always prize your dog if he's doing
right. BRT is naturally more fixed to one person. Yet he should be able to
tolerate of another people. The puppy should not react too friendly to
"strangers" but also not very shy. Growls or bites the puppy (don't
mix up with nibbling i.e. at your fingers) always, he should be punished in the
described way. Put your puppy - if possible once a day - on the table and say
"STAND STILL" to him, but secure the puppy in the beginning with your
hands. First a few seconds will be enough. You can increase the time later.
Brush carefully his back and touch different parts of body. Commend him always
when he's doing right and also give him his preferred tidbit whilst on the
table. Thus, visit a vet, trimming and grooming will never be a problem. Never
yell at your puppy, he can hear much better than you and he heard your command
already (at the first time). If you yell at him he wants to get all commands in
the future yelled. Yelling is only for emergency situations! Never hit your
puppy. He will loose the trust in you. Long before your pup is old enough to
begin serious obedience work, he can be helped by a program of planned puppy
training. You will accomplish much and risk nothing by studying the obedience
book, and then teaching your pup, according to its instructions, all he can
learn, omitting any corrections until he is six months old or until he tells you
with a show of guilt that he knows he disobeyed. This policy will prevent any
possibility of corrections being made too soon During the first formative weeks
of your relationship with your new puppy, keep the youngster close to you. The
crate is an appropriate place to confine a puppy or dog when you can't supervise
it, but it should never become a substitute for the vitally important human
interaction the youngster needs. Your puppy will learn a lot by being with you
and this will being the all-important training phase of the young dog's life.
|2||7 - 9||34 - 36||8 - 9|
|3||11 - 14||43 - 45||9 - 10|
|4||20 - 22||50 - 52||10.5 - 11|
|5||24 - 28||55 - 57||11.5 - 12|
|6||29 - 32||58 - 62||12 - 12.5|
|7||30 - 35||63 - 66||12 - 12.5|
|8||32 - 37||64 - 67||12 - 12.5|
|9||33 - 38||66 - 69||12.5 - 13|
|10||34 - 40||66 - 70||12.5 - 14|
|2||8 - 10||36 - 40||9 - 10|
|3||12 - 16||45 - 47||10 - 11|
|4||22 - 25||52 - 55||11 - 12|
|5||25 - 30||58 - 63||12 - 12.5|
|6||30 - 35||63 - 65||12.5 - 13|
|7||32 - 37||67 - 70||12.5 - 13|
|8||33 - 38||67 - 71||13 - 13.5|
|9||35 - 40||69 - 73||13.5 - 14|
|10||40 - 45||73 - 76||13.5 - 14|
Kids and Blackies
Although Hollywood and television often portray dogs with human
thoughts, values and even words, reality is far from fiction. The truth is -
dogs are not human beings. They don't think in the same way that humans do. Most
of their actions are instinctive. Thus, no dog is completely childproof - even a
Golden Retriever. But some breeds naturally require less effort from parents to
get them along with kids then others. The BRT is a big and protective dog and
requires extra caution and a lot of attention when in presence of children. You
have to be willing to provide supervision and guidance for dog and kids
("NO" is not enough - you have to teach your child how to interact
with the dog and what games to play). First of all, obedience classes are
essential for the BRT. You cannot control the dog around your children if he
doesn't know or won't obey basic obedience commands. You must establish some
household rules - for feeding, discipline (e.g. no begging, no jumping on
people, no chewing, etc.), cuddling, etc. - and make sure the children
understand them so that they know what is allowed of the dog and what is not.
Consistency is very important. Teach your dog the rules by firmly but gently
disciplining him for breaking them and lovingly praising appropriate behavior.
Kids also need to learn to respect dog's rights. Never allow the child to tease
or torment the dog. Usually BRT is able to tolerate a little of this from
"his own" kids, but don't expect him to become your child's punching
bag. Starling a sleeping dog or petting him when he's eating can provoke a bite.
If your children are too young to understand, it will be up to you to physically
supervise them and protect them from potential harm.
ATTENTION! Remember that what your dog tolerates from your own children he will NOT tolerate from someone else's.
You need to take extra safety precautions when other
children visit and make sure that the children obey your ground rules. You
better put the dog in a quiet place alone if there are lots of kids over
visiting. It's difficult to supervise, and lots of running and screaming can
illicit instinctive aggressive displays from the dog.
Some games, like tug-of-war and rough-house, are inappropriate for a child to play with a dog. Children who rough house and wrestle with dog unknowingly encourage him to use his teeth. Dogs equate this kind of play with littermates or other dogs where using teeth is allowed. Running, playing, screaming kids can trigger an instinctive predator-prey reaction in some dogs, especially young ones. Children shouldn't be allowed to take BRT for walks on their own. They can't be expected to cope with unpredictable situations. Usually even teenagers don't have enough strength, responsibility and authority to walk such powerful animal as BRT is. Dogs interact with children differently depending on the child's age. There are several "age stages".
Under 2 - Children under the age of two really aren't aware of
the dog as a real presence. Although they may talk to the dog and call it by
name, the dog doesn't really mean any more to it than a stuffed animal.
Supervision is mandatory whenever the child and dog are together. Playpens are
very useful tool to separate dog and infant. In this case adult dog (not a
puppy!) can be left with the baby for a while and child cannot harm the dog.
Ages 2-7 - At this age, children view the dog as a "funny thing" which competes for Mom's and Dad's attention. They also begin to see the dog as a friend. You can expect a lot of ear pulling and roughness with children of this age. Monitor all interaction between the dog and child. Teach the child appropriate games such as "Fetch" and "Hide and Seek" that he can play with the dog to avoid physical contact and roughness.
Ages 7-11 - This is the age when your children can begin to show understanding and really sensible interaction with dog. This is a good time to have your children participate in care of the dog (feeding and training). But don't expect your child to take full responsibility for the dog. Supervise all activities with groups of children. Too much commotion can be overwhelming to most dogs. BRT is a guard dog. Be very careful about visiting children!
Age 11 and up - At this age children become more interested in their own activities than the dog. This is normal and can be expected. But the child will still rely on the dog, especially during stressful times.
Young BRT considers the child of 0-7 years old as a littermate. Adult dog patronizes and protects it. It is important peculiarity of the breed that males usually more tolerant of children than female BRTs. There are many, many children who have grown up with BRTs with nothing but the deepest love for their pets. The key is search for the well-bred dog and train it properly.
were designed to protect people and places as well as to help with
other tasks in a combat situation. That is going to lead to a different set of
natural behaviors than is going to be seen in a breed that is designed primarily
for companionship. These dogs are bred first for the task and then for
companionship. If you look at the descriptions of the history of the breed the
companionship didnít even factor in until the breed was placed in civilian
hands. A companion dog is not going to act aggressively with out extreme
provocation. A working dog is going to have a much lower threshold for
aggression. A companion dog isnít going to have the tendency to react to
things with their mouth. Most working breeds are mouthy and will bite out of
aggression, excitement, and even to get attention - all acceptable in a working
dog. These behaviors need to be properly controlled. The reason it is so
important that they receive extensive socialization and training is that without
it they will tend to be suspicious, aggressive, and are going to deal with
things by biting.
The idea for training and socialization is to provide direction for desired behavior, threat identification, and to teach the dog that everyone is not a threat. Usually the behavior of the working dog is different at home and away from home. At the home the dog is going to have a desire to protect, away from home the dog has no territory to protect and will have a higher threat threshold. The dog has nothing to guard so the only thing it is going to have to protect is a threat against the handler. Itís known that many fully trained protection dogs that function as therapy dogs. In fact that is what should be considered desirable in a personal protector. If the dog isnít capable of that, you are going to have to lock them up when ever anyone comes over and that wonít be much protection. To say a breed is defensive should not be considered a detriment. It describes how the dog will react to a threat and how it will deal with it. Prey driven breeds will tend to go out and meet a threat. They will tend to want to chase things going away from them. A defensive breed like BRT will tend to wait for the threat to come to them as well as prefer to have the threat head on. They are less likely to want to chase down anything running away from them. Both types of behaviors have to be trained. With a dog properly bred to protect, the dog is going to protect in some fashion whether you want it to or not. There are several methods to handle this. You can teach that no aggression is acceptable. That will often work. Sometimes it wonít work and with enough stress the dog will react and bite. This training may also decrease the dogís demonstration of stress and provide less warning prior to the dog reacting. The dog has been taught that this type of demonstration is not acceptable, so they skip that step. With trained protection dogs - barking is a good thing. We called it an honest dog. The dog provides a warning of their presence. Some dogs wonít bark. If they bark the threat will leave and they wonít get their bite, and they want that bite. The idea that you can wait until a problem with protectiveness or aggression shows up and then deal with it is asking for problems. The protective instincts will start to kick in between 12-18 months. The time to deal with the issues that will come up is at 2-10 months. Train proper reactions to people, get and maintain proper obedience control, learn to read your dog. I have had so many people say to me ďI had know idea my dog would do thatĒ. In most situations if I was standing there I knew it was coming and often warned about it before it happened. You have to recognize when the dog is beginning to perceive a threat and what they are going to do about it. Training can make that easier as well as provide control over those situations. Properly done protection training will have no effect on the dogís temperament. If anything it will teach the dog to recognize a real threat and what to do about it. Protection training has little to do with teaching the dog to bite. Getting a dog to bite is easy, getting control over the behavior is what the training is all about - the ability to ďoutĒ. Because you are teaching the dog what is a threat and under what circumstances they should bite, it also teaches when they shouldnít bite. It provides the ability to stop the dog on command and command a release. Not every deployment of a dog requires a bite. In most cases the mere
presence of the dog will take care of the problem. A dog that is guarding is going to be preparing to react aggressively to a threat. They may not show it, but it is there. Without the back up there is no point to guarding. How you train their reaction will determine the reaction they have. Now we get in to an area where personal opinion comes in to play. I have long believed that the more protective the dog is by breeding the more important it is to protection train. There are a couple of reasons for this. If the dog has the instincts it is important to channel them in to proper behavior. If the dog has a bred in desire to do something but they arenít sure what it is they are supposed to do it creates a problem in the dog. If you are trying to train what NOT to do, it is impossible to train for EVERY circumstance. It is possible to teach good decision-making. So by exposing the dog to as many things as possible in training, you can teach the dog to make good decisions. If you teach the dog what TO do then they donít have the conflict of not knowing if they are correct until after they have done it. Since you also train for control you can communicate what you want on the fly, hence the out command that can stop the dog BEFORE it bites. You can also tell the dog to release after it has made the bite. In addition you can add cues according to where they are in training, like a specific collar or the training area, to tell the dog that it is going to bite now. Without the collar you donít bite now. After you have control you can eliminate the collar in training and use their normal training equipment for protection. Another thing is that the dog loves to do the work. It is fun for me too. So now the dog sees you as the source of that fun. You take them to the training, you work them there, you can control when they do it and use it as a reward for other things like obedience. You can also associate a command to biting. It takes a lot of work and that time goes further in to establishing a better relationship with the dog, and in terms of leadership it puts you in control of the dogs aggression. This is the typical arrangement in pack behavior. It is pro-active not re-active. You also learn what will cause the dog to react and learn to read the dog to tell what the dog is going to do. Is it ABSOLUTELY required to train the dog for protection? No. If you train the dog properly in obedience and make sure you have the proper control you may not to do protection training. There are some keys that can make it more difficult. Dogs that are bred for work are also bred for trainability. So if they are properly trained you will have good control and can use commands that will not allow the bite. It isnít an out command, but the dog isnít going to bite an arm from a down. If the dog is going out towards a bite it can be stopped with a down or recall command. However, you need to recognize when the dog is being aggressive, dominant, or friendly. Often they look much the same and the cues are often very subtle. If you miss them you will have a mistake. It is that ability to read the dog that makes me recommend people that train working dogs over a person that just trains pets. As the owners of a large protective breed it is imperative that we have proper control, do extensive socialization, and know our dogs. It is also important not to set up false expectations of what the dogs are. We must always keep in mind that there is a potential for the dog to react aggressively to a threat. I think that to say the BRT has little or no prey drive isnít really accurate. The prey drive is there it is just demonstrated much differently than in other breeds. The most common definitions of prey drive only describe the reaction of the dog to something moving away from them. Prey drive is seen as being very comfortable for the dog, as opposed to the stress involved with ďdefenseĒ drive. BRTs react more as the item is moving towards them. Even when working in close with a tug, they tend to make their grabs as the tug comes towards them and let it go when it starts going away. As they learn and go higher in to drive they will chase more. They seem to be very comfortable in dealing with someone moving towards them rather than away. They also seem to be more comfortable in ďhandlerĒ or ďdefenseĒ situations that are going to be more stressful for other breeds. The BRT also seems to be less concerned about ďescapeĒ behaviors than you are going to see in the working dogs that come from the herding breeds or from SchH type work. Since the BRT wasnít bred for herding there seems to be less of that desire to chase and ďherdĒ things. I would start by making sure that the trainer you are working with has experience with working dogs, not working breeds, working dogs. They think differently. Because of their dominance issues they are going to respond to a challenge. They are also going to move to help defend a ďpack mateĒ. If another of your dogs acts aggressively they are going to join in. If they see the aggressor moving away they are going to figure that the dog is running away because of weakness and they are going to enforce their dominance over the other dog. You need to expect that. I always maintain the same grip on my leash as I do in protection when there are people or dogs around I donít know. I trust my dogs; I donít trust other people or most of their dogs. Most just donít get it. The place I am most comfortable is in the middle of a group of protection/sport competitors. They get it, they know the rules, and they pay attention to their dogs. It is always safer than in a group of mixed pet owners. Start thinking like a protection dog and try to avoid some of the situations that are going to provoke a response from the dog. The example would the GSD being allowed to jump on you. A protective dog will see that as a threat and respond. They expect some space around them. Always give them a chance to evaluate a situation before entering it. They will not like surprises. It sounds backwards, but training in protection will make a dog that has proper aggression issues safer and less aggressive. The issue is teaching the dog the rules of behavior you accept and will allow. It also teaches you what your dog is going to respond to and help to establish control in a situation that the dog is focused on being aggressive. It will also teach you to use the out command under stress. I would start in the beginning of training with an ďoutĒ command. By that I mean a command that the dog should cease all aggression. It can be used with aggression towards people, dogs, or any other animal. The out should be followed with an obedience command. Enforce the obedience command as a separate thing from the out. If the dog re-aggresses then use the out again (with a correction) and start doing obedience commands in rapid succession. Re-focus the dogís attention on you, instead of the object of its aggression. I would also teach a greeting command. Use it to tell the dog that a person, or dog, or whatever is OK. Make the dog sit before any greeting. Obedience establishes control. That control will extend in to all other areas of interaction with the dog. The issue with the BRT, or most working dogs, is not a correction but an unfair correction, one that is given too hard or too often. Make it a point to keep them interested by decreased repetitions of an exercise. If they lose interest they are going to find some way to entertain themselves and that may lead to what the dog sees as unfair corrections. Positive training is a good thing, but it doesnít have to exclude proper corrections. I would prefer to see a more traditional correction than the bottle. For one thing it just isnít practical to carry a 2-liter bottle all the time. One problem with punishment is that it is only effect when the punisher is present. With out the bottle the dog knows you canít correct it. A correction collar is going to be more effective. The dog has to see the owner as making all decisions regarding dominance and aggression. I would describe BRTs as both dominant and protective. For starters I think that we have to define some terms so we are talking about the same thing. Dominance is the desire to get their own way. In some cases that are done through aggression, but that is a separate issue called Rankness. Often people will describe a dominant dog as pushy. The dog that is coming up to you and using its nose to demand that you pet it is exhibiting a form of dominance. Dogs are acutely aware of body position and the dog that pushes through a door first or bumps you as you walk down the hall is demonstrating dominance. Dominance is used to increase position in an encounter. It is done through the use of body position, forcing the encountered person or animal in to a submissive position and through the attempt to get their own way. Dominance also extends to those around them. Dominance is involved when a dog takes a bone or toy from another dog. They will use their size and strength to impose their higher status on some thing new coming in to their area. It can bee seen in their body position, use of their shoulders, and by mounting as method to force the other dog in to a position of submission. Get two dominant animals together and they will continue to vie for the top position until it escalates in to a fight or an outside force disrupts it, for instance - the owners stepping in and controlling the behaviors of the dogs. If a dog senses weakness it may attack to demonstrate dominance. In a contact with a person they will bite to demonstrate dominance over that person if they sense fear in them. So not all times the dog bites is it doing out of aggression, it may do it to establish dominance. Rankness in a dog involves the dogs desire use aggression to increase rank within the family (pack) by using aggression to force their will on who they see as the top ranking individual. They may also pick a lower individual if they donít think they can win the top position. There are some breeds that tend to be rank by nature; the Giant Schnauzer is an example. Some dogs have been bred so that they exhibit rankness as a by-product of trying to increase other characteristics. This is often seen in GSDs. Protectiveness is the ability of the dog to use force to protect a person or property from a threat. Many protective dogs are also dominant, but they are separate issues. Some dominant dogs have little or no protective desires and some protective dogs have little dominance. BRTs will demand attention through several methods, like the foot or a head butt. With other animals in their ďpackĒ they will attempt to control the actions of those around them. They demonstrate no type of rank behavior. You are not going to see a BRT actively coming after its owner to establish dominance. I suppose you could, through bad training, foster that type of behavior. But I would not describe it as a characteristic of the breed like I would with the Giant. They are definitely protective, more of people than property, but protective of both. Given a choice they will protect the person first. If they identify a threat they work to eliminate it. This can be a problem if they are not taught to identify a true threat. Because the BRT doesnít have a rank bone in its body you have some more latitude than with a rank dog. Everything you do is a question of degree and if the dog is starting to get out of control you can clamp down a bit. This can also become a problem depending on the training and I will explain that later. Much of what you need to do starts when the dog is a pup. If you lay down a proper foundation, when the dog is older you will have less problems. I have said it a million times; it is much easier to prevent a problem than to correct it. It will take 2-5 times longer to fix a problem than to create it. I could explain why but it is a bit complicated and charts and graphs help. So if you lay down a proper foundation when the dog is 8 weeks to 8 months old it will decrease your work when the dog is 2. That foundation can include not only the relationship, the basic obedience, but can also extend to things like corrections and the foundations for protection work. Once you have the proper foundation and relationship you can allow things that you may not be able to allow otherwise because you can associate them with commands. If you give a command for what the dog will do anyway, then to the dog it is under your control. The point for dealing with dominance is for the dog to see you as in control of those behaviors. With a dominant dog (or a non-dominant dog for that matter) you can create what would otherwise look like a rank issue through training. It looks like this. If the dog starts to do something through dominance and you allow it for a while, then you decide to put a stop to it. When you start to train against the behavior and the dog starts to resist the training. If the dog growls and you stop trying to modify the behavior you have taught the dog that it can control
you through aggression. Now the dog is getting its way. If you then try and stop that behavior, or a different behavior, the dog growls and you quit you have reinforced to the dog that aggression letís it get its way. On the third trip the dog growls and you donít stop and continue to force your will, the dog will escalate and now snap. You give up. After a while you make another attempt on the same or new behavior and this time snapping doesnít work so the dog bites. If you look at the last behavior only it looks like a rank dog. It is in fact a ďtrainedĒ behavior. It wasnít trained on purpose, but it was trained. With a dominant dog every time it wins it sees it as an opportunity to move up and exert more control so it will push in other areas. So the whole thing is progressive. The BRT is sensitive to their handler, which is a good thing. It means that the dog is not likely to challenge their handler. If there is only one person that handles the dog you can set up a similar situation and I have heard of this happening several times. If a new person comes in or a person just has no desire to deal with the dog, the dominance is going to start to show directed at that individual. If the dog gets away with that it will begin to enforce that dominance. If it isnít properly dealt with by the handler AND the person the dog is going to be reinforced for the behavior, so it is tried again and the dog growls, and the correction stops. It can even escalate to a bite and now there is a terrible problem. Most people will put the dog down or re-home it first, but it has happened. A couple of stories: a single woman got a BRT. Did great with it. Dog loved her to death. Then she got a new boyfriend that moved in. The dog started to dominate the boyfriend. It wasnít properly handled and it got to a point that the dog would actually stand with itís paws on the guyís shoulders growling in his face. The dog was re-homed. It sounds like a problem dog, in reality it is problem training and that is further born out by the fact that the dog is doing well in the new home and is coming around based on proper training. A guy got a BRT as a rescue. The dog was re-homed for guarding behavior (barking when people walked by, growling at guests). When the guy got the dog he invested a tremendous amount of time and effort in to training the dog. His wife had no interest and didnít train with the dog at all. As the dog settled in it started to protect the home and owner from guests. The wife had no control and so the dog increased the level of aggression towards the guests and wife. There were a couple of bites and the dog was put down. The dog had good lines and was fine in most circumstances and with the husband. Good dog, bad training, dog put down. There are other stories. Many people also will not do what is recommended and that leads to further problems. It is important that the dog has good experience with other people. The other piece is that this type of socialization has to occur at home. One thing that I would recommend is that the dog to be allowed to approach the person rather than the person approaching the dog. One of the things I have been watching is that these dogs react to objects moving towards them rather than away. I think that we need to remember that when doing introductions. Once the dog has accepted the person and is allowing physical contact, then have the person pet the dog. The bigger issue in my mind is to start this type of training as soon as possible with a puppy and provide the puppy with as much good
experience as possible. The problem with training threat identification is that it requires exposing the dog to a threat. It also requires the placement of the threat in close proximity to similar non-threatening behavior. What this breed needs to learn is to accept people at the direction of the handler. That means the dog has to have the experience of the person being threatening and then the handler calls the dog off and the person is friendly with the dog. It also requires that the dog learn what your reaction to a threat is going to be. The dog has to learn, through experience, that when you say the person is no longer a threat that the dog can trust that judgment. When the dog has that experience then the dog is going to be more willing to take direction. The training has to be about teaching the dog what decisions it can make and how you want those decisions made. It can be taught but it takes time and experience as well as an understanding of what the dog reacts to. That provides the ability to engage in training in that area. Make sure that you have the control over the situation you are in with the dog. Pay VERY close attention to what dog is doing at all times. It allows you to be confident that you can read what the dog is going to do before it does something. I believe it can be done, but it takes a tremendous amount of effort and a lot of training time to provide the history required to allow that to happen. Working dogs are often mouthy. That means that they will bite because they are happy, they will bite because they want attention, they will bite because they are trying to dominate and they will bite out of aggression. So you have to understand the circumstances regarding how a bite happened. It necessitates a training regime that starts
the day the dog comes home, and in this breed continues until the dog 3 years old. The BRT matures late and may not develop the full type and level of aggression until they are 3. If you are that afraid of a problem DONíT GET A DOG THAT HAS BEEN BRED TO BITE PEOPLE. If you arenít going to put the work in to do the training to make the dog safe, DONíT GET A DOG BRED TO BITE PEOPLE. If you arenít going to pay enough attention to keep THE DOG SAFE, DONíT GET A DOG BRED TO BITE PEOPLE. Dog breeds need to be suited to their owners. Figure out what you want and need and then pick a breed. DONíT TRY AND FIT THE BREED IN TO YOUR WANTS. It doesnít work. Unfortunately I donít think many in the U.S. have been either honest
or knowledgeable about what it means to own a true working dog. As I have said many times the Russians did a great job with this breed but it comes with a trap. They mature late combined with the fact that they are so good with their owners. The trap is that because the dog is so friendly with their people and when properly socialized can be very accepting of strangers, to a point, that many people are just now starting to see some of the protective qualities coming out. Many of the current protective breeds will also be aggressive with their owners and this breed isnít. That may also lead to a false sense of security with the breed. BRTs are smart enough that they can be difficult to train. With most breeds you can go through multiple repetitions of an obedience exercise, with the BRT they will become bored and find their own entertainment. So you have to modify your techniques to keep their attention. With many breeds in the U.S., especially those that have had some measure of popularity and/or wide spread acceptance in the AKC, have been ďbred downĒ. Many of the breeds that have been trained for ďman workĒ are no longer capable of doing work of that type on consistent basis as was seen in years gone by. It is often difficult to find a dog that is capable of working. In many cases people donít understand that the proper training will actually make an aggressive dog safer. The training, socialization, and supervision required to own this breed (or any strongly protective bred) is more than most people in the U.S. are willing to do. Many people in the U.S. still buy a dog and throw it in the backyard and do nothing with it. Done with this breed you will end up with a truly dangerous dog. Not because the dog is bad, but because the breed has a level and type of suspicion that will make them aggressive with any stranger. We must in fact train these dogs that not all people are bad by nature. With many breeds you have to teach them to be suspicious of strangers. In the U.S. we also tend to do a sales job and only talk about the good qualities of a dog. There are drawbacks in almost any breed you deal with. I am afraid that there is going to be a decrease in the working abilities of the breed worldwide based on the general decline in the number of people working them. In Europe there are still many people that are training, but it is on the decline. In the U.S. there are probably less than a dozen people that are training the BRT for protection type work. In the U.S. there is a major stigma towards dogs that bite and little understanding of the idea that protection training is more about control than just the bite. There are also people involved that donít help that impression. I have also seen many working police dogs that are very poorly trained and they donít leave a good impression when they are seen working. Because of the negative stigma attached, many people that are training for protection will not admit to it. The AKCís attitude towards protection training doesnít help. In fact they will not accept it in any fashion. A member club that sponsors protection ďany activity that involves the biting, grabbing, or holding of a personĒ is subject to having their privileges with the AKC revoked. They did attempt to bring protection sports in, and the delegates have overwhelmingly voted it down. Also in many areas in Europe the dogs are taken out with more regularity, but are kept in muzzles so they donít bite. Here it is considered a major stigma if the dog is in a muzzle. Often people have suggested that a dog be put down rather than to wear a muzzle to keep the dog and other people safe. In the U.S. we get a dog and then try and get it to fit in to our lifestyle rather than choosing a dog that has characteristics that fit the lifestyle. Many times I have talked people out of one breed or another for a variety of reasons because the breed wouldnít fit with the owner. My training schedule is I try to have the dog out working twice a week. When we first started we trained several times every day in obedience, socialization several times a week, invited people in to my home for the sole purpose of socializing the dog, and out in group settings 3 times a week. That is by far not the standard in the U.S. The BRT is a great breed, but they arenít for everybody. They require extensive training with a person that understands working dogs, extensive socialization in and out of the home by someone that can read the dog, and someone that is going to make sure the dog isnít put in to a position that will compromise safety for the dog and people around the dog. As difficult as that sounds, it is harder to do. Most donít have the ability or desire to deal with a truly dominant breed or protective breed.
Rich, professional trainer