Times were bleak in Russia when the country attempted to create a native breed of dog. In the 1930s, Red Star, a military kennel outside of Moscow, began working on creating a dog to be used as part of the country's national security force. This was quite the challenge at the time, considering most of the country's purebred dogs were slaughtered during the Russian Revolution. Even more dogs were eradicated throughout World War II and the ensuing economic devastation.
After 1945, Red Star Kennel's breeding program was brought back to life. The return of quality Rottweilers and Riesenschnauzer (or, Giant Schnauzer) to Russia was a boon to the effort of breeding a native dog.
The idea was to create another large breed dog, one that was reliable and trainable in diverse situations. It was also important to create a dog that came with a coat that could help it withstand the harsh Russian winters. It took a host of different breeds to create what is now known as the Black Russian Terrier, including the working class dogs the Giant Schnauzer, the Airedale Terrier, the Rottweiler and the Borozi.
Unfortunately, at the start of the project, there were still not enough individual breeds to create one single breed. Enter the Giant Schnauzer, Roy, who came to Russia via Germany. Born in 1947, Roy became the most prominent dog in the program, under the watchful eye of Col. G.P. Medvedev. Roy was initially crossed with several Airedales, then to several Rottweilers, and then to several Moscow Water Dogs, also known as Moskovsky Vodolaz. The progeny of Roy's breeding efforts were then bred to several other breeds, including the Great Dane and the sleek Borozi. Frequent inbreeding to Roy also took place.
It wasn't until the mid-1950s that the temperament of the breed had been set, but its form still had not seen standardization. During that same time, the Black Russian Terrier was released to private breeders, who started the process of standardizing them more, including creating the longer coat. Behind the heavy weight of the iron curtain, Black Russian Terriers were initially given jobs by military police as guards in prisons, border crossings, and military installations.
The results of private breeding were a success and on May 13, 1981, the Russian ministry of Agriculture gave full recognition to the Black Russian Terrier. Following in May 1984, the Federation Cynologique Internationale gave its nod to the breed's international recognition. The first Black Russian Terriers came to the United States in the 1980s. In 2001, the breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club in its Miscellaneous Class. The dog with a military background then joined the Working Group on July 1, 2004.