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Black Russian Terriers 

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Imports and the EU Pet Passport Scheme

Posted by hotratzbrt on March 27, 2013 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Opening the door to Europe, the EU Pet Passport Scheme

The EU Pet Passport system is designed to protect citizens from the threat of rabies and certain other diseases.  In order for pet dogs to travel between EUMember States they must obtain a Passport/certificate showing identification;have subsequent rabies vaccination with first vaccination at least 21 daysbefore travel; and have specific tapeworm treatment.  Rabies vaccination CAN'T be given before 12 weeks, if it is the vaccine has no effect and the puppy can be regarded as un-vaccinated.


Up until last year Ireland and the UK imposed more stringent regulations with the requirement that all dogs/puppies are bloodtested a month after Rabies vaccination resulting in a positive titre to confirm the vaccinations efficacy and then would only be allowed enter the British Isles six months after the positive blood test. So technically speaking, given the earliest a rabies vaccination can begiven to a puppy is at 3 months, the puppy selected from a litter born in Europe would have had to been 11months before entering our Isles; now, in line with the rest of the EU they can travel at 4months.

For many of us this change in regulations came asvery good news.  If your main concern was purely breeding and “new blood” and thus wanting to purchase a mature breeding age dog that already had a full passport and tests the old routine didn’t posemany problems, but for those of us looking for a dog that was first and foremost a part of the family and wanted a puppy the old system caused more stress, expense and complications.  Taking on a more mature dog whose temperament is unknown to you can bemanageable in a kennel situation, but when your dogs all live together in your home the idea of an older RBT, for me at least, did bring extra concerns. 

Personally, having imported six dogs from Russia,Belarus, Eastern and Central Europe in the years before I wished the change hadcome sooner; As the Russian Federation is not part of the EU they do not have an official EU Pet Passport, however they are listed as a qualifying country and have an equivalent official veterinary certificate that qualifies under thescheme with the same criteria.  Under the old system the first problem was trying to find a breeder not only whose breeding you admired for producing good quality dogs and had a great healthtesting record, but that was also prepared to keep that puppy for a minimum of seven more months than is usual.  Of course this also came with extra expense but also greater selectivity of breeder as they had to be relied upon to socialise your puppy so when this young adult dog arrived in your home he or she would be stable, sociable and happy. But even after all that was sorted there was the seeming eternity of waiting and worrying knowing your puppy was (potentially) thousands of miles away but couldn’t come home.  

The new regulations bring in a whole new era forour breed. No longer is the expansive gene pool of Europe so far away and out of reach for us Islanders floating off the coast of Europe.  The possibilities seem endless with the availability of the best bloodlines; the choices are seemingly without limit.  However with new opportunities bring new responsibilities and warrant vigilance.  Since the easing of restrictions there has been a corresponding wave of imported dogs (of all breeds); some from responsible breeders helping to strengthen our local populations, but also some from those taking advantage of the situation for purely commercial gains.  Local and internet sales ads now regularly feature litters of imported puppies... some born in our locale and some stillon foreign turf but with the prospect of sales in countries such as ours where prices are higher and greater profits are to be made.   Sadly rare breeds that were once too expensive to allow the puppy farmer and commercially minded to have more than perhaps one or two if any at all are now easily available from countries where they are more common and thus cheaper. So for the unscrupulous breeder/dealer it is the time to cash in and maximise profits buying from abroad cheap and selling with the desirable title of “Import” at a premium. 

The other corresponding issue is the health of these dogs and puppies.  While RBTs aremore common in Central and Eastern Europe, good quality dogs from good breeders that health test still command a comparable price to the cost at home as good healthy dogs will always be in demand. Such dogs and puppies coming from hip and elbow scored and HUU tested parents most often remain outside the domain of the breeder/dealer that wantsto make a quick profit unless he or she gets lucky.  If an allegedly reputable breeder needs to export puppies wholesale or pass on older puppies and dogs it begs the question“why?”   As far as health testing is concerned we have all heard the excuses that the culture is different “over there” and “they don’t do this or that test” but there is no reason why anyone responsible will breed from a dog that isn’t tested for HUU at least given theminimal cost and ease of the test.  TheHUU test is a great indicator of the person’s intent more so than even hipscores as the latter is often an official requirement among certain EU registries whereas HUU is not an essential requirement to gain a breeding licence.  Hence HUU testing tends to indicate the breeder’s personal dedication to health.  If someone has the breed, the individual dog,and the new owner’s best interest at heart s/he won’t make excuses about health testing, they will do it and only use health tested dogs.

So ultimately the new ease of travel for our canine friends has many positives for the Russian Black Terrier population and it’s devotees, but the old phrase remains as important as ever if not more so“Caveat Emptor” LET THE BUYER BEWARE 

On this topic See the recent Channel 4 "Dispatches" Documentary on the illegal importation of Dogs


So you want a dog that doesn't shed?

Posted by hotratzbrt on March 27, 2013 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The first question many people ask about a breed these days is "do they shed?"

Unless you're talking about a hairless breed the truthful answer will always be YES!  All living creatures with hair shed hair, even us humans.  However it is true that some breeds shed much more than others.   As a rule of thumb short-haired breeds shed profusely whereas long coated breeds shed far less... the latter not having a moult per se.

The Black Russian Terrier is one of these breeds that is a minimal shedder, but this does NOT mean that it won't shed at all.  If groomed correctly most of the excess dead hair will come out while you brush your dog. 

This sounds great, furniture and clothes not covered in dog hair?  All true... but there is a trade off.  The BRT has a coat that grows continuously and given it doesn't molt this coat he must be groomed and trimmed regularly.  The coat is double, that is the BRT has a thick fluffy undercoat plus a harder outercoat.  If he is not brushed and combed regularly this coat will mat and tangle severely.  This brushing does not need to be a chore however.  It's a simple matter of having your BRT accustomed to standing still and being brushed from an early age.  Withing a couple of weeks your puppy will see this exercise as attention and affection from his owner and will actually enjoy the experience.  If the dog enjoys it so will you!!! 

Trimming the coat is also necessary, the frequency and style is really down to personal taste.  But sense will dictate that you must keep your dog clean and the coat in good condition other wise you will end up causing skin irritations. 

On the subject of shedding, many people associated non-shedding with non-allergic.  This is one of the biggest frauds of the last few decades.  Even a hairless dog can cause allergic reactions.  The reason is that most people that are "allergic" to dogs are not in fact having a reaction to the dog hair, but are reacting to the "dander" from the dog's skin (i.e. dead skin cells).  So beware those that try to sell you a hypo-allergenic dog... it doesn't exist!!!  


Teddy Bear or Grizzly Bear?

Posted by hotratzbrt on March 26, 2013 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Don't be fooled by the Black Russian Terrier's Teddy Bear appearance. This impressive dog, while devoted, soft, mild mannered and adoring with his family is still as driven today by the role he was bred for by the Soviet Army as he was when patroling the Siberian Gulag; that of fearless guardian and sentry. 


As with any large guarding breed the Black Russian Terrier must be treated with a tender, but firm, touch from the start to rear them to be a healthy, stable animal.  Heavy handedness does not work with the Black Russian.  This breed is by nature extremely suspicious of strangers and will begin to show its protective instincts anywhere from the middle of its first year to its second year. It is this suspicion that can give the dog an aloof appearance toward strangers, but it can also lead to uncontrollable, unruly behavior if left unchecked in its earliest rearing or indeed is not given the warm loving family environment and training it needs. 


The Black Russian Terrier is NOT a guard dog in the traditional sense insofar it does not do well in a kennel situation.  This is a breed that requires a family life, living indoors side by side with his humans. 


Black Russian Terrier puppies are very quick to learn, adaptive, sensitive, and playful.  They are an easy breed to housetrain and to behave well on a leash.  As long as the owner is consistent and fair the BRT learns house rules exceptionally quickly and terribly well.


Fiercely loyal, Black Russian Terriers seek strong bonds with people and animals, and therefore love the process of training and are eager to please their owners. The breed tends to avoid confrontations with other dogs and animals and easily get along with submissive or smaller dogs, horses, rabbits, cats, and other evenly-tempered animals.  They will not however readily accept stange humans so easily and will always feel the need to be aware of potential threats.  Being quiet by nature the BRT owner must be aware of their dogs body language.  When the Black Russian Terrier perceives a threat he may not bark or growl, rather his strong guarding instinct will often prompt a moment of stillness followed by an instant attack.   Be warned... BRTs are incredibly sensitive to how their owners are feeling.  If you feel threatened, stressed or intimidated your black Russian Terrier may well react to the person he precieves is making you feel that way without any direct cues from you.


Harkening back to its roots, Black Russian Terriers are like Minutemen, quick to protect their house or owners. The breed is soft-spoken: It will only bark when it feels it's needed. But because of its yearning to be around and protect people, this is not a breed to kennel in the backyard. Left to its own devices, it'll protect its territory, even against its own owners' friends and family if they are not invited.


Despite its size, the Black Russian Terrier will do okay in an apartment, if exercised frequently. They tend to be lazy indoors, and generally will be waiting by the door if you set them outside on their own - no matter how big your yard is. They have an inherent need to be close to humans. They will follow its owner from room to room. They will even follow you from window to window if they are left outside! Because of its need for human contact, the Black Russian Terrier makes an excellent family pet albeit for the responsible owner experienced with large guarding breeds.

BRT Health - the big 3

Posted by hotratzbrt on March 26, 2013 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Nobody wants an unhealthy dog and no responsible ethical breeder will ever knowingly take a chance on health.  We can't control for everything that nature throws at us, but science has afforded us the ability to at least control for issues we know we can take out of the equation. 




While the Black Russian Terrier is generally a healthy breed there are three main serious health problems associated with the breed:



 Hip Dysplasia - HD

Elbow Dysplasia - ED

HUU (Hyperuricosuria) urate stones


There are tests available for these health problems and it is the responsibility of every dedicated caring breeder to ensure they only produce puppies from dogs tested to ensure they do not produce puppies destined to suffer from these painful hereditary disorders.  While Elbow and Hip scoring can be expensive it is a small price to pay for the healthy future of a breed.  HUU testing costs very little and entails no more than a simple cheek swab and DNA analysis... less than 50 dollars per test!   




Hip and Elbow Dysplasia (HD and ED) are painful and debilitating conditions that sadly are all too common in large breeds.  Sadly the prognosis for many of the worst affected dogs is not good.  Surgery is complicated and very expensive, and even if successful in very young dogs can only allieviate the problem temporarily.  The arthritis that ensues all too often results in the dog having a short life, being euthanised as a last kindness to stop the poor animal's suffering.  HD and ED are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  However even if the environment, feeding and exercise are controlled to reduce the risk of ED and HD, there is very little an owner can do if the dog is born with the genetic predisposition to these diseases.   To control these problems all potential breeding dogs should be tested.  This involves having x-rays taken by a certified orthopedic vet and these (in Ireland) being sent to the UK to be "scored" under the BVA Hip and Elbow scoring scheme.  



HUU  or Hyperuricosuria is a genetic disorder that affects the body's mechanism of eliminating waste bodily protein which results in high levels of uric acid in the urine.  This dysfunction causes the formation of urate stones that block the dogs urinary system causing extreme pain, suffering and ultimately death.  The gene that causes HUU has been identified in the Black Russian Terrier and the disease is passed from parents to puppies as a simple recessive hereditary disorder.  As such any given Black Russian terrier can carry 2 copies of the faulty gene (affected), one copy (not being affected but carrying the disorder) or clear (having none of the faulty genes).   Thankfully DNA tests are available so we can identify if any dog is affected, carrier or clear.  With these tests being available there is no reason to ever produce a Black Russian Terrier puppy that is affected.  To do so a responsible breeder will never breed an affected dog to an affected dog or a carrier, or a carrier to carrier as all these combinations can result in HUU affected offspring.