Why Black Russian Terriers from Siberia are so popular abroad  04/22/2013, 12:16
Photography: Vera Salnitskaya

Joseph Stalin didn’t have a dog: he bred squirrels at his dachas near Moscow and even made friends with a bear cub during a stay at a Sochi resort. Meanwhile, «Stalin’s dog», as the Black Russian Terrier is informally known, has been around for more than half a century and is very popular abroad. Black Russian Terriers bred in Siberia are particularly prized. Natalia Kirillova, BRT owner and winner of a World Championship title, told Sib.fm’s correspondents how this happened and what makes these big dogs unique.

Jerome is four years old. He was named after famous French skater Jérôme Blanchard. But this famous name is rarely used at home, where Jerome is known as Romka. His daughter recently flew off to Canada and last year a «bride» was brought to him for mating from the capital of Bulgaria.

After Jerome’s victory at an international exhibition in Paris, canine breeders all over the world are looking for BRTs with Siberian roots. They are even willing to drive over five thousand kilometres from Sofia to Novosibirsk to get puppies from this handsome thing.

Black terriers don’t shed and their fur doesn’t smell, even after rain or swimming

It became clear a long time ago that Jerome is special, as he confidently won all sorts of shows and competitions. When he turned two, his owner decided it was time to conquer the world. First of all, Jerome won the European Championship and six months later went on to take the highest honour a dog can.

«Our victory in France was fate! Everything came together: the dog’s French name and the show’s special anniversary. In 2011, the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale, World Canine Organisation) celebrated its 100th birthday,» smiles Natalia.

At the exhibition, Jerome was Best of Breed out of 136 Black Russian Terriers from different cities and countries and was awarded the title of World Champion. The judges selected 800 World Champions and 400 Best of Breed.

23 thousand dogs participated in the 2011 World Dog Show in France

The fact that Jerome was among the select few is also unique because he’s a 4th generation born and bred Siberian. According to his owner, Russian Black Terriers bred in Siberia have became widely popular all over the world, for which, of course, credit is due to all Siberian breeders.

«Today, there’s even the concept of ’Siberian black terriers’,» says Natalia. «So it’s important to maintain that high status. I couple very selectively and carefully pick who will be a good match.»

Romka’s puppies often head off to other cities and countries. Natalia just recently got back from Mexico, where she’d taken another bunch of babies.

Romka doesn’t waste his time when getting to know his «brides»: «I love you, let’s get married». He’s a real macho, if you can say that about a dog.

«Everyone loves Black Russian Terriers. The emergence of this breed was a great achievement by Soviet dog experts. They have a unique character, many call them „man-dogs“, but I say they’re dog guardians, companion dogs. They’re very sensitive to their owner, friendly and sociable, but react with lightning speed if their master is in danger,» says the breeder.

The Black Russian Terrier was bred in Red Star Kennels, Moscow by order of the government. Barely any working dogs were left after World War II and demand for them increased dramatically.

The state urgently needed big, angry, physically hardy dogs, capable of going on guard duty and defending facilities in different climatic conditions.

In 1955, black terriers, not yet recognised as a separate breed, made their first appearance in front of experts at the National Agricultural Exhibition, where they received wide acclaim. Their creators were awarded a gold medal and the kennels got a special diploma. The nickname «Stalin’s dog» stuck.

Later, private breeders started to breed BRTs, but they put an emphasis on getting companion dogs, which were more elegant and had neater fur than was originally intended.

In 1975, the «new» dogs first saw the light of day at the International Exhibition in Budapest and became a sensation. In 1981, the Red Star Kennels developed a standard and the black terrier became an independent breed. Finally, the FCI International Assembly in Mexico City officially recognised the breed in 1984.

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in Russian

«Blackie combines the best qualities of working breeds, an eye-catching appearance and surprising character. He’s calm, intelligent, self-sufficient and able to adapt to his owner, but is always in control of the situation,» Kirillov describes the breed. «I tried to breed other species too and not get obsessed with one. But my heart, like many dog lovers around the world, has been well and truly won over by Black Russian Terriers.»

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