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Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Black Russian Terrier Colour Controversy

The United Kennel Club (UKC) based in the United Staes of America with outlets in Canada recently inaugurated and ruled that “coloured” Black Russian Terriers could be shown under their auspices. 

There has been backlash from the Black Russian Terrier community some crying foul and some agreeing with the UKC ruling. In order to understand this dispute, one has to go back in time to understand the origins of the Black Russian Terrier.

The Black Russian Terrier was created by the Soviets under the USSR era when the Russian Military lost most of their dogs during the World 1 and World 2. As a result of this, the Russian Government made and edict that a new breed of dog should be introduced and that this dog should be a guard dog and be able to withstand the cold and frigid temperatures of the Siberian weather.
coloured black russian terrier standing near to it's owner
"Coloured"Black Russian Terrier
Glasha Iz Teremka - izteremka.com
Normal Black Russian Terrier
The Red Star Kennel began their experimentation  and came up with breeding a Rottweiler with a Giant Schnauzer. To get what they were looking for, other crossing breedings took place between Airedale Terriers, Caucasian Ovcharka ( Caucasian Shepherd Dog), Newfoundlanders, and other varieties of unnamed dogs. With a limited amount of dogs, the  breed was finalized as a Black Russian Terrier and introduced to the Russian public around 1953.

With this information, one can quickly  deduce that the gene pool and genetic information was rather limited to a few dogs and because of inbreeding anything was possible from their offsprings. What is rather interesting is the way the Red Kennel scientists were able to get the colour of the dog black.

As these Black Russian Terriers were made available to breeders across the Soviet Union, inbreeding was common resulting in off coloured puppies. In 1958, a breed standard was put in place and throughout the years revised and in conjunction with the world organizing body, Federation Cynologique Internationale, a proper breed standard was approved. For the purpose of this blog, I shall only deal with the colour. The breed standard colour for the Black Russian Terrier is Black, black with insignificant intermingling gray hair is permissible. 

As breeders continued to breed Black Russian Terriers, puppies were whelped with colour variations of the original dogs that were used as the foundation stock. The breeders who cared about the Black Russian Terriers made notes of such breedings and stopped breeding those dogs. The resultant puppies of these litters were either neutered and spaded so that their genes pools would be terminated. The breeders who did not really care, sold these puppies without have these puppies fixed.

The owners of these off coloured puppies in Russia wanted the same privileges as owners of the Black Russian Terriers namely, to compete in the same confirmation  ring.

The International Black Russian Terrier Club of Russia conducted an experiment prior to 2006 where these off coloured were shown at specialized shows. No titles were awarded. The experiment was called off since some of these dogs had the appearance of the Airedale Terriers and some dogs were extremely aggressive.

In North America, breeders had similar situations as to their counterparts in Russia. Breeders who cared for the breed made sure that the off coloured puppies were fixed so that their gene pool would not spread. Unscrupulous breeders who did not care about the breed continue to breed dogs that will produce off coloured puppies and are intent on competing with the true Black Russian Terrier.

It is a concern and the fight has only just begun  between as to who will be the winner in the long run. I am afraid that in order to enrich their coffers, the national breed clubs are going to eventually  approve and allow colour variations of the Black Russian into the show rings.

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