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Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier | Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Traits

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier

Height: 25 – 30 inches
Weight: 80 – 150 pounds
Lifespan: 6 – 10 years
Colors: Cream, fawn, brindle, brown, gray, black
Suitable for: Active families looking for a large dog with a sweet disposition
Temperament: Intelligent, calm, alert

The name of the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier will likely have you scratching your head, especially if you haven’t heard of one of the parent breeds. This pup is a cross between the Black Russian Terrier and the Irish Wolfhound. The hybrid is interesting, considering that neither dog is high on the list of the most popular ones, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

The history of the Black Russian Terrier is about as bizarre as you can imagine. It has nothing to do with the cocktail, but it is, nevertheless, dark and mysterious, as you’ll soon learn. The storied past of the Irish Wolfhound belies his gentle nature. He once served in the military, attacking cavalry soldiers. He also hunted predators, including the one from which he takes his name.

A mix like this one has “Experienced Dog Owner” written all over it. There is the size of the Wolfhound to consider, along with his relatively short lifespan and the litany of potential health issues. Then, you have the DNA mishmash of the Terrier that brings a heap of genetic wildcards to the mix. Suffice to say that you must do your homework with this pup.

Divider 1Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier Puppies


The Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier brings a lot of desirable traits to the table. They are steadfast and loyal companions. They’ll want to spend as much time as possible with you and your family. However, that also means they’re prone to separation anxiety. They’re not a dog to leave in the yard alone all day.

The other side of the coin is that a bored pet is a destructive one. When you’re dealing with a dog of their size, that can mean a lot of damage with digging and chewing. The Irish Wolfhound has a keen prey drive. They cannot be let off-leash. The doggie park is probably off-limits, too. The Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier is a dog of contrasts.

The Black Russian Terrier is reserved and even aloof at times with strangers. While they’re affectionate with their family, others, are not so much. The Irish Wolfhound, on the other hand, is like a teenage boy in those awkward years. He’s gentle and sweet, willing to greet anyone they meet.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Black Russian Terrier

1. A military kennel selectively bred the Black Russian Terrier for a big job.

The story of the Black Russian Terrier is cloaked in intrigue and politics. It began at the Red Star Kennel in the then Soviet Union. The purpose of the selective training program was to develop a breed for use by the national security force. Officials reportedly crossbred 17 breeds, including the Newfoundland and Rottweiler, before they arrived at the dog we see today.

2. The Irish Wolfhound is the subject of a heart-wrenching Welsh folk tale.

You just know there has to be a story or two about the Irish Wolfhound with his history. One of the most poignant is “The Legend of Gelert the Dog.” It tells a tale of Prince Llywelyn the Great and his beloved pet, Gelert. When the prince returned from a hunt, he found Gelert covered in blood. He assumed he killed his child and stabbed him. Later, he learned his pet had saved the boy from a wolf.

3. The Black Russian Terrier isn’t what he seems.

You’d think that the Black Russian Terrier would be a part of the AKC’s Terrier Group. If you did, you’d be wrong. Because of his history and job, this pup is part of the organization’s Working Dog Group. Interestingly, one of the recommended DNA tests by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is one to determine if the black color gene is dominant.

Parent Breeds of Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier
Image Credit: (L) Degtyaryov Andrey, Shutterstock | (R) 84kamila, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier 🧠

Now that you know the Black Russian Terrier’s secret, you probably understand the caveats we’ve discussed so far. This pup is an excellent candidate for genetic testing to give you a better handle on what to expect with your Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier. With hybrids, we often compare and contrast the traits of the two parent breeds. With this guy, you can have 18!

There are similarities across the board that provide valuable clues. Both breeds are very intelligent. Mental stimulation is just as essential as activity. Each one is protective in their way. The Irish Wolfhound is a sweetheart and gentle. His stance is imposing enough on its own. The Black Russian Terrier, on the other hand, possesses fearlessness stoked by fierce loyalty. After all, guarding is his job.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

There’s no questioning the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier’s loyalty. If you’re looking for a watch/guard dog, it’s worth looking into getting one. Both parent breeds are kid-friendly. However, the size of this pup means that you should supervise playtime, especially if you have small children. This pooch isn’t aggressive, but he may not realize his strength.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The size of the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier is enough to say that he’ll probably do best as the only top dog in the house. Again, it depends on the dominant breed. The Wolfhound is okay with other dogs, whereas the Terrier has different ideas. Of course, you shouldn’t invite him to a home with resident cats and small animals.

Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier:

The Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier will make an excellent addition to the right home. There are several other points to cover that apply to this hybrid and large dogs in general. There are the obvious points about food and weight control. Exercise is a vital part of the puzzle, too. Training has some must-know items you should know upfront because they play a key role in whether he’ll be a good fit for you.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

A giant dog like the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier needs a food formulated for pups of this size. These pets mature more slowly than small ones like a Bichon Frise. Commercial diets are less energy-dense for large canines to support their development and prevent weight gain. The opposite is true with toy breeds.

You can feed your puppy three to four times a day. Getting him to eat won’t be an issue since the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier is quite food-motivated. Cut it back to two when he reaches adulthood around 16 months or more. We strongly urge you not to feed him only once a day. He’ll likely gorge himself, which can increase his chance of life-threatening bloat.

This caution is especially true because of his Black Russian Terrier lineage. Many of the breeds that are part of his history have an increased risk of this condition.

Exercise 🐕

Both parent breeds are active, as you may expect. The Irish Wolfhound gets it from his hunting background. Daily walks are essential to satisfy his needs for mental stimulation, too. Letting him out in the backyard for a couple of hours won’t cut it for a pup as intelligent as the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier.

3 - Parent breeds of the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier
Image Credit: 1, 2

Training 🦮

Early socialization and training are imperative for any dog but more so with a pup the size of the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier. This pooch tends to nip as a puppy, which you should certainly stop. It will help the Terrier in him become more accepting of other people. You’ll have better success if you start him young.

The Wolfhound in him has an independent streak, which is typical of hunting dogs. Therefore, we suggest making training easier with treats. It will help build strong bonds between you and your pet. For as big as he is, the Black Russian Terrier is a bit of a baby. He’s sensitive to harsh reprimands because he’s such a loyal pup that wants to please you. Positive reinforcement is a better training approach.

Grooming ✂️

How much grooming you’ll have to do depends on the parent breed. We recommend daily brushing if just to keep him used to being handled. Your pet will likely shed, so it’ll help to keep your vacuuming in check. The same advice applies to cleaning his ears and trimming his toenails. Doing these tasks on a reluctant adult dog is a far cry from wrestling with a puppy.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Regular preventive vet care is an absolute essential with any dog but especially the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier. It’s a smart way to keep on top of any health conditions and perform annual screenings and evaluations. Fortunately, the Terrier in your pup is relatively healthy, despite his Heinz-57 past.

Minor Conditions
  • Ear infections
  • Anesthesia sensitivity
Serious Conditions

Divider 5Male vs Female

The size difference between males and females is noticeable, again, depending on the dominant breed. If possible, ask to see the sire and dam to give you an idea about how big your puppy may get. Our advice is that the larger your pet may become, the more diligent you must be about training and socialization.

If you’re not going to breed your pup, we suggest discussing spaying or neutering with your veterinarian. While altering your pet’s sex can increase his risk of obesity, there are also other concerns about the chances of chronic diseases and the surgery’s timing.

Divider 3Final Thoughts

Few pups have the history and legends of the Black Russian Wolfhound Terrier. You’ll have a lot to share if someone asks you about your dog. Owning a large breed is always a challenge. This pooch throws a few more wrenches into the mix. However, the love and loyalty he’ll bring to your life are worth the effort. As long as you accept the commitment, you’ll have a delightful and steadfast companion.

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Featured Image Credit: 1, 2

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