T he Russian Black Terrier as a working dog

When designing this specific breed, the breeders had a totally different aim than the current breed goal. The results of the then-hard work are enjoyed by the current RBT owners, sometimes without even knowing it. What are these specifics?

This breed has a number of temperamental characteristics that had long been fixed by the original breeders - today we can expect these characteristics from approximately all RBTs.

First and foremost it is their attitude to work - all owners can witness to this, as RBTs are keen to please their masters and are keen to perform work.

The second most important characteristic is indifference - this is what makes RBTs perfectly calm, causing onlookers to admire them, as RBTs typically do not attach humans or animals without proper orders. Their Hungarian import was greatly aided and abetted by their legendary love and care for children. Their guarding abilities are spectacular, though, given their late maturity, this ability is solidified at a rather late stage. It is important to consider this specificity throughout the trainings, and commence with this specialty only at a later stage compared to regular guard dogs. The sniff work of RBTs is also spectacular and it is worth training them in this respect as well, because they may provide pleasant surprises for their masters.

Original breeding aim When designing RBTs, only internal qualities were observed, external characteristics simply served as a factor to the utility goals.

By the end of WW2, the breeding stock of military canines in the Soviet Union has declined. The Red Star military breeding centre has been issued with the order to breed canines for personal protection details in large numbers. The new breed was designated to operate under various climate conditions for the protection of civilian and strategic sites. A specific emphasis was laid on meeting military requirements.

The breeds autochthonous to the Soviet Union were, by means of breeding and selections for hundreds of years, designed to guard and protect livestock and area. So far only German Shepherds, Airedale Terriers, Boxers, Collies and Dobermans have qualified for military service, but these breeds did not prove appropriate as "war dogs."

Breeders were trying to utilize the available European guard dog breeds, these, however, testified for local problems, rendering them incapable of operating under adverse conditions. Among such inadequacies was intolerance to Siberian weather conditions, overly sensitive neural systems or inappropriate attack force.

The Soviet genetic engineers, breeders, trainers and military officials have listed the qualities that were considered as requisites for their ideal working dog. Prior to WW2, Professor Iljin has tried crossing German Shepherds with Laikas, but his experiments had brought no success. He has experienced that only crosses implemented across a breeding population of large numbers bring adequately numerous combinations. This can be achieved by crossing various breeds in large numbers, using various breeds hardly known at that time in the Soviet Union, imported at random and in great numbers from the occupied territories of Germany. Full trains were loaded with canines and shipped to a village called Vesnyaki, located near Moscow, where the Central Military Canine Training School was situated. It was not possible to implement breed-specific breeding, because this process would have required a pure-bred population of larger numbers. The original aim was not to create a new breed, but to produce a large number of heavy and aggressive guard dogs. This aim, obviously, had not always resulted in success, but new crosses were always sought after vehemently by performing various crossing experiments. A number of new breeds were created, but no recognition was given to them. The breeders intended to match the size and power of the new canines with their service abilities. The service abilities of German Shepherds were used throughout the creation of the Moscow Guard, but they also had managed to create the Moscow Diver, which was a cross between the Caucasian Shepherd, the Newfoundland and the German Shepherd.

Selection was outstandingly effective in certain areas, with the best example being the Black Pearl of Russia, the most successful breed that later became known as the Russian Black Terrier. Commander Medvediev and genetic engineer Iljin had started working on this specific genetic pool that was initially created by the crosses among the above described breeds. In 1958 a book with the title of "The training and application of military canines" was published, describing the working standard for the first time. The population created was kept under heavy selection pressure from the working ability aspect, whereas external abilities were judged primarily in light of stability, strength and the unified breed contours. When studying archive photos, sporting uniformed military and police "handlers", RBTs are pictured as canines having a strong skeletal frame and chiseled muscles, and the unified breed contours were already starting to take shape, which is a unique achievement in the case of a new breed that was only a couple of decades old. Hair coats, however did not resemble to the least to RBTs of the present days, groomed for conformation shows.

The ideal external appearance of the breed was treated differently by the military and by the civilian breeding clubs. The military required thick and short-haired canines, requiring little grooming, whereas civilian breeders intended to formulate an appealing appearance for the conformation shows, resulting in trimmed coating.

The first descriptions of the service abilities of RBTs became available via Finland, describing this specific breed as distrustful to strangers, alert, but calm and well balanced. It was the Fins that had named this breed the pearl of Soviet canine breeding, and they have procured a number of specific "working line" specimens. In Finland, such usage is considered primary even nowadays, aided and abetted by strictly professional training work.

RBTs, originally imported as hobby guards, became increasingly popular due to their appearance as well in Poland, Germany and Hungary, where separate individual kennels were set up.