Best Dog Food for a Black Russian Terrier
The Ultimate Black Russian Terrier Food Buyer’s Guide
If you were going to create a protection dog by committee, you might end up with a Black Russian Terrier. As a matter of fact, it took 17 breeds to create the Black Russian Terrier. BRTs, as they are often known, were deliberately created by a military kennel in Moscow beginning in the 1930s. They wanted to create a native breed to be part of the national security force. This was not easy considering so many of the purebred dogs in the country had been killed during the Russian Revolution, World War I, and in the economic disasters following the war. The breeding program really sprang to life after World War II when the kennel had access to quality Giant Schnauzers and Rottweilers from Germany. The Red Star Kennel selectively bred Giant Schnauzers, Rottweilers, Airedales, and Newfoundlands to create the Russian Black Terrier – but it took a total of 17 breeds in all to create the new breed. The dogs needed to be large, reliable, and trainable in diverse situations. They would also have to endure the harsh Russian winter and varied terrain found in the enormous Soviet Union.
At first the dogs were used by military police in prisons and at border crossings. They were also used at military installations. By the mid 1950s the breed was reliably breeding true in each generation and the Red Star Kennel allowed the dogs to go to private breeders. Black Russian Terriers were recognized by the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) in 1984. The first BRTs were brought to the United States in the 1980s. The breed was admitted to the Miscellaneous Class of the AKC in 2001. They were accepted into the AKC Working Group in 2004. Today the Black Russian Terrier is ranked as the 116th most popular dog breed in the United States, according to the AKC.
Highly intelligent and very reliable, the Black Russian Terrier was bred to guard and protect. They need human contact and want to be close to family members. They make loyal companions. BRTs are known as calm, confident, courageous dogs but they tend to be aloof toward strangers. This is a breed that needs obedience training and socialization from an early age. The socialization should continue throughout the dog’s life to prevent the dog from being overly-protective. Black Russian Terriers can excel in obedience, agility and other dog sports. This is usually not a dog for a first-time dog owner. You can find out more about owning a Black Russian Terrier on the Black Russian Terrier Club of America web site.
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Top 4 Best Dog Foods for Black Russian Terriers
Black Russian Terriers are very large, powerful dogs. They have large bone and well-developed muscles. Males stand between 27 and 30 inches tall and females stand between 26 and 29 inches tall at maturity. BRTs weigh between 80 and 130 pounds. Black Russian Terriers are always black though they may occasionally have a few gray hairs.
BRTs can excel in Schutzhund, Search and Rescue, Carting, and Therapy dog work. If you engage in any dog sports with your Black Russian Terrier, you should take that into account when you figure how many calories your dog needs in his diet.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Black Russian Terrier weighing 100 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 2206 kcal. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. For example, if you train and participate in agility trials with your Black Russian Terrier (100-lb dog with light work), you might need to feed him somewhere around 2451 kcal. Growing puppies consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young Black Russian Terrier puppy (4-12 months) weighing 60 pounds also needs an estimated 2451 kcal per day. You always need to adjust your dog’s food intake based on his activity level, age, and other factors.
Black Russian Terriers are a large/giant breed dog so it’s a good idea to look for dog foods that are especially formulated for big dogs, especially when these dogs are growing puppies. Adult dogs may also benefit from foods for large breeds that include joint supplements and slightly fewer calories. Hip and elbow dysplasia are the primary health concerns in the breed, as with many very large dogs, so it’s important to keep BRTs slim and avoid putting extra weight on bones and joints.
We recommend feeding a good food formulated for large breed puppies. These foods typically have fewer calories and calcium levels that are appropriate for large breed growth. The National Research Council recommends a safe upper level of 4.5 grams/1000 kcals for calcium but pet nutritionists usually recommend no more than 3.5 grams of calcium per 1000 kcals (or less) for growth or all life stage foods formulated for large breed puppies. The calcium amount in the food should be between 1-1.3 percent for large breed puppies. A puppy’s skeleton is growing and developing during these months and too much calcium for a large breed puppy often leads to skeletal problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
If you feed a puppy food, most breeders recommend feeding this food until your puppy reaches about 90 percent of his adult size. With a large breed puppy such as the Black Russian Terrier, you should not switch to an adult food while the puppy is still growing. Continue to feed a large breed puppy food or an all life stages food until your dog reaches maturity which may take up to 18 months or more. A giant breed such as the BRT needs precise calcium and other mineral content that is not found in maintenance dog foods. You should talk to your breeder about the food they recommend for their puppies since they usually have experience with how their puppies grow and develop. You can find BRT growth charts from one kennel here.
Feeding Your Black Russian Terrier
We recommend reading this site with information about raising and caring for a Black Russian Terrier. It includes feeding information for a puppy. According to this owner, after trying a raw diet with his puppy (which didn’t work out), he tried three brands of food before settling on a grain free food that worked for his Black Russian Terrier. He also adds some lean ground beef and carrots to his dog’s diet.
Black Russian Terriers grow fast but mature slowly. When you’re a dog that can stand 30 inches tall and weigh up 130 pounds, it can take a long time to fully mature. Both puppies and adult dogs need to watch calories. Foods specially formulated for large breed puppies and dogs typically have fewer calories per pound but they still have all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that large breed dogs require. It’s important for Black Russian Terriers to stay slim since hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are particular concerns with this breed. Being chubby as a puppy or overweight as an adult dog will worsen any tendency toward these health issues.
As with all dogs, you should feed the best quality dog food you can afford that agrees with your dog. It does no good to feed your dog the most expensive food if it’s causing him to have diarrhea or lots of gas. If your dog is having some of these digestive problems when you feed a very expensive, good quality dog food, the food may be too rich for your Black Russian Terrier; or you may be overfeeding. Try feeding less food. If that doesn’t help, check the fat and fiber percentages in the food. They may be too high for your dog. Look at the protein sources in the food. Some high protein foods today use a lot of plant sources of protein such as peas and lentils which do not agree with all dogs. Meat protein is easier for dogs to digest.
Some breeders, especially in Russia, recommend feeding BRTs a raw diet. You can find their web sites online if you are interested in feeding your Black Russian Terrier this kind of diet.
Black Russian Terrier puppies can be subject to a condition known as Hyperuricosuria (HU). This is a genetic condition resulting in urate bladder stones known to affect BRTs. If you have an affected puppy, proper nutrition is essential to keep your dog healthy. You will need to feed him a low-purine, water-enhanced diet. You should also consult your veterinarian.
Some BRT puppies and dogs can also suffer from food allergies. In this case you may need to work with your veterinarian on a food trial to determine your dog’s allergies. Food allergies typically manifest as skin problems such as itching, leading to scratching, which results in redness, hair loss, damaged skin, and skin infections. Ear infections can also be a sign of food allergies. Common food allergens for dogs include: beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. Food sensitivities, by contrast, can result in loose stools, flatulence, and digestive problems. Once you identify the ingredient(s) which cause problems for your dog, you can choose foods that don’t use them.
Whether you feed your dog a food with or without grains is a personal choice. Many people choose grain free dog foods because their dogs have digestive problems, food allergies or sensitivities, or skin problems. You may want to avoid the most common grains, such as corn and wheat which are often over-used in dog foods, but there are many good dog foods that use alternative grains/cereals such as oats and barley. If you still prefer to feed a grain free dog food, that should also work for your BRT. Try a couple of foods, with and without grains, and see how your dog does on the foods so you can make your decision. Many Black Russian Terrier breeders, whether they feed a raw diet or kibble, say that BRTs do well eating a lot of meat protein in their diet.
Adult Black Russian Terriers usually do well eating two meals per day. You can feed Black Russian Terrier puppies 3-4 meals when they are very young, then move to three meals per day as they get older. By the time they are about a year old they should be eating two meals per day. Most breeders and owners do not recommend free feeding Black Russian Terriers since it makes it harder to monitor how much dogs are eating and controlling their weight.
Black Russian Terrier Health Problems
You can find more information about Black Russian Terrier health problems on the web site for the Black Russian Terrier Club of America site.
BRTs are considered to be generally healthy, robust dogs. However, they can be prone to several possible health issues:
Hip and elbow dysplasia are common problems in many giant breed dogs, including the Black Russian Terrier. Breeders screen for these problems in their dogs.
Congenital Cardiac Disease can also appear in BRTs. Breeders also screen for this disease and submit results to the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) database.
Eye issues that can be found in the breed include PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), PPM (Persistent Pupillary Membranes), Cataracts, and Distichiasis (eyelashes that may cause ocular irritation). There are optional tests for these problems that breeders can submit to the CHIC database with OFA.
A condition called Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy (JLPP) also exists in the breed.
Other problems that can be found in the breed include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hyperuricosuria (urate bladder stones) and Addison’s disease. Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disease of the adrenal glands.
There is ongoing research into all of these conditions.
Black Russian Terriers have a normal lifespan of 10-12 years which is considered long for a giant breed.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
As with most dogs, when choosing a food for your Black Russian Terrier you should look for a food that has good sources of protein and fat.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Many dog foods today, even some of the most expensive and highly touted, use lots of plant proteins such as lentils and peas. These foods often have high protein percentages on the label. When you read the guaranteed analysis it’s important to consider how much of the protein in the food comes from meat and how much comes from plants. Your dog is able to digest meat protein more easily than plant protein. Meat protein is a much more natural source of protein for your dog than plant protein.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development in puppies. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Black Russian Terrier may still be able to eat an alternative grain such as barley or oats. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs that is low glycemic such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
If your Black Russian Terrier has a food allergy or food sensitivity, you may need to work with your veterinarian to identify the food triggers unless they are very obvious. There are lots of good foods with novel meat proteins today as well as limited ingredient diets which we will discuss below.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Black Russian Terrier
Black Russian Terriers should be able to eat most good quality dog foods. If your dog has a food allergy or food sensitivity you will need to try to avoid foods with ingredients that are triggers for your dog.
We suggest a variety of foods here for Black Russian Terriers. Most of the foods we have selected do not contain corn, wheat, or soy, unless noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s dietary needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to suit him. In most cases we have selected large breed foods for BRTs.
Best Dog Foods for Black Russian Terrier Adults
Now Fresh Grain Free Large Breed Adult Recipe is made by Petcurean. You may be more familiar with some of the other product lines from this Canadian company, such as Go!, Spike, or Summit. This food for large dogs is made from 100 percent fresh turkey, salmon, duck and 100 percent fresh omega 3 & 6 oils from coconuts and canola. It has no corn, wheat, or soy, and no other grains, gluten, or beef. It uses no rendered meats, no by-products, and no artificial preservatives.
This formula features New Zealand green mussels and glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints which should be beneficial for Black Russian Terriers. It has added L-Carnitine for a healthy heart and to help turn fat into lean muscle. It has taurine for good vision and heart function. And it has added pre- and probiotics for better digestion. The first ingredient is deboned turkey. It contains 363 kcal/cup and has 27 percent crude protein and 13 percent crude fat. These levels should help your Black Russian Terrier stay at a good weight. We think this food has some good features for a large breed in terms of bone and joint health and heart health, as well as quality ingredients.
If you are specifically looking for a grain free food for your BRT, we like Wellness CORE Grain Free Large Breed. The first three ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. The food is high in protein (34 percent crude protein) and relatively low in fat (12 percent crude fat) to help keep your Black Russian Terrier slim. It checks in at 346 kcal/cup. This food has 36 percent more protein than Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Recipe. It also includes glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints; antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and probiotics. And it’s naturally gluten-free. We think this is a very good grain free dog food for Black Russian Terriers or any large breed. The food even comes in a larger kibble size for your large dog.
This recipe does include grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, and barley, but these grains have some health benefits. They are not empty carbs or filler ingredients. Oatmeal and barley provide some good dietary fiber, for example. The first five ingredients in this food are Deboned Chicken, Whitefish, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, and Oatmeal. The food has 25 percent crude protein, 11 percent crude fat, 5 percent crude fiber, and 11 percent moisture. It also contains added glusamine and chondroitin which many people consider helpful for large breed dogs who can experience joint problems. The food has 363 kcal per cup.
Designed specifically for large dogs over 50 pounds, Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold is one of our favorite dog foods for large dogs. It contains duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. Chicken cartilage is added for a natural form of glucosamine to keep joints supple which is important for big dogs. The food contains no wheat, corn, or soy that might irritate the digestive system. Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold features moderate protein and fat which may be better for large dogs like Black Russian Terriers. The food is moderate in terms of calories (378 kcal/cup) which helps your large dog stay slim.
We also like the fact that Fromm is a family-owned company in Wisconsin and they make their food in small batches fresh every morning. These are good ingredients from a respected company in a formula that should be good for your large dog.
Best Dog Foods for Black Russian Terrier Puppies
Black Russian Terrier puppies can usually begin eating a puppy food right after they are weaned or they can eat a good all life stage food. If you have questions about how to feed your puppy, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder. They usually have the most experience with raising Black Russian Terrier puppies and can guide you.
Puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess of calcium since this can affect bone growth. This is especially true for large breed puppies like Black Russian Terriers. If you are feeding your puppy a food that is properly formulated, you should not add any extra calcium, such as milk, cottage cheese, or other calcium supplements. Doing so can lead to serious health problems such as OCD (osteochondritis dessecans) – painful bone spurs that may require surgery – and other orthopedic problems.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Black Russian Terrier puppies. Remember that an all life stage food can also be fed, as long as the nutrients are appropriate for your puppy.
Many breeders recommend Canidae to their puppy owners and feed it themselves. The name of this food is a little confusing. Although it says “Life Stages” it is a large breed puppy food. It’s specially designed for puppies that will grow to be over 50 pounds as adults. Duck meal is high in omega-3 fatty acid which is good for reducing joint inflammation. Lentils are a non-grain, gluten free source of carbs. The food is also lower in protein and fat so it helps keep large breed puppies like the Black Russian Terrier slim – which can help prevent hip dysplasia later in life.
As a puppy food, Canidae Life Stages Large Breed Puppy formula also contains high levels of DHA to help with cognitive development. And the food has no corn, wheat, soy, fillers, antibiotics, hormones, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. These are all things we look for in a good food for BRT puppies.
This grain free, high protein food can be a good choice for Black Russian Terrier puppies. No grain, corn, soy, wheat-gluten or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. No meat by-products or fillers. It has DHA for brain and eye development, antioxidants, and probiotics. And it has the proper calcium level for large breed puppies. The first three ingredients are Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, and Turkey Meal. It has 417 kcal/cup. Recommended for giant breed puppies.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Black Russian Terrier
Many senior dog foods are formulated with the belief that older dogs are overweight and need to lose pounds so they often have less fat and fewer calories than regular dog food. If you have an older Black Russian Terrier, be sure to carefully read dog food labels so you don’t accidentally buy a food that has too few calories for your older dog.
Senior Black Russian Terriers, like many older dogs, can start to have problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. They may start to lose muscle tone and weight as they get older. Look for a senior dog food that has plenty of protein that is easy to digest. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys or with phosphorus, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels. Remember that with many large/giant breeds, your older dog may start to need a senior diet earlier than with some smaller breeds.
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older Black Russian Terrier . This food features deboned chicken, deboned turkey, yellowtail ﬂounder, whole eggs, and whole Atlantic mackerel. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 85 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Black Russian Terrier ‘s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 414 kcal per 8 ounce cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older. (We know Orijen is expensive but this food really stands out for senior dogs.)
If you would like your senior Black Russian Terrier to have a little less protein and fewer calories, we like Now Fresh Large Breed Grain Free Senior Recipe. This food is made with 100 percent fresh turkey, salmon, and duck, and it has zero grains, gluten, wheat, beef, corn, or soy. No rendered meats, by-products, or artificial preservatives. It features New Zealand green mussels and glucosamine/chondroitin to support hip and joint health. The first five ingredients are: De-boned turkey, potatoes, peas, whole dried egg, and tapioca. The food has (guaranteed analysis): 25 percent crude protein, 11 percent crude fat, 4.5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. ME (Calculated) = 3122 kcal/kg or 328 kcal/cup. This is a maintenance dog food.
Best Dog Foods for Black Russian Terriers with Skin Problems/Allergies
If your Black Russian Terrier has problems with food allergies you can look for a good food with novel proteins. Here are a couple of foods that we like.
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. If your Black Russian Terrier has a food allergy, he may benefit from Wild Calling! The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes.
Another food that is often recommended for dogs with food allergies and skin problems is Zignature. It comes in proteins such as trout & salmon, kangaroo, turkey, duck, venison, and others. It’s available in dry and canned versions. Foods are potato- and grain-free, and chicken-free. They do not use common bonding agents (thickeners and ingredients to hold the food together) in their foods which are high in simple carbs and starches. They only use low glycemic carbs such as chickpeas that add extra protein and fiber to the food. They work with Tuffy’s in Minnesota and Performance Pet in South Dakota to make their foods. Many people like Zignature very much. If you have a dog with food allergies, this is a brand that you might consider. This duck formula is a good example with hypo-allergenic meat first, no corn, wheat, soy, dairy or chicken, chicken eggs or chicken by-products.
Best Dog Foods for Black Russian Terriers with Sensitive Stomachs
If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different from a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
We recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The first five ingredients are: Sweet Potatoes, Salmon, Fish Meal, Potato Protein, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols). It has 21 percent crude protein, 10 percent crude fat, 5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. It has 350 kcal/cup and it’s a maintenance formula. If your dog can’t eat some of the ingredients in this food, Natural Balance has lots of other LID recipes that you might check.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Black Russian Terriers
Middle-aged dogs often start to put on some extra pounds, especially if they are not getting enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise. Try reducing snacks or giving your Black Russian Terrier low-calorie snacks such as apple pieces instead of treats with more calories.
If you have a Black Russian Terrier that needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China. The first five ingredients in this food are: Deboned Beef, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, and Sweet Potatoes.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition. Weight control dog foods are usually maintenance diets which makes them inappropriate for puppies.
Black Russian Terriers have been bred with a very specific purpose as guard and protection dogs. However, they can make wonderful family dogs with proper socialization and training from an early age. They are highly intelligent and devoted dogs, but it’s usually a good idea if you already have some experience with dominant breeds before getting a Black Russian Terrier.