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 well-behaved 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.