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Black Russian Terrier Health Issues *¹

As with all dogs, the Black Russian Terrier (BRT) is susceptible to inherent hereditary diseases. Proper breeding by knowledgeable breeders can help alleviate some of these diseases.

The BRT life expectancy can be anywhere from 9 years to 14 years of age

Hereditary (Genetic) Diseases

Hip Dysplasia

What is Hip Dysplasia? The hip of any dog consists of a ball and socket joint. When the ball fits into the socket nice and firmly, the dog is said to have good hips. When the ball does not fit into the socket firmly, the dog suffers from the condition known as hip dysplasia. To further explain, the head of the ball may be too small, or the socket may be too large to accommodate the ball. Hip dysplasia in dogs can be deterred by not breeding dogs that are afflicted with hip dysplasia. Owners of BRT puppies should be careful in not allowing their puppies to run up and downstairs or excessive exercise as these causes may also contribute to problems of hip dysplasia. For additonal information on hip dysplasia grading and comparison x-rays, please go to Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website. For further explanation of hip dysplasia and the PennHip method, please see video below.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia is a genetic condition that affects the elbow joints of Black Russian Terrier. When there are abnormal cartilage growth on the elbow joints, this condition may be diagnosed as elbow dysplasia. These abnormal growths can lead to osteoporosisosteoarthritisosteochondrosis Diagnosis can be confirmed by x-rays. For additional reading on elbow dysplasia go to the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals.

Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy (JLPP)

JLPP is a genetic condition which may have come from the Rottweiler and passed on to the Black Russian Terrier. (The Giant Schnauzer and Rottweiler were used to create the Black Russian Terrier plus other breeds).  JLPP is a condition which affects  the Black Russian Terrier from 3 months of age. Affected dogs usually have difficulty in breathing after exercising or when they become excited. They can have difficulty in swallowing and breathing which can lead to pneumonia. As the disease progresses, there is difficulty in movement in the front and hind limbs. Black Russian Terriers displaying any signs of JLLP should be taken to your vet immediately. The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. has developed a test where samples are sent for identification of JLPP

Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy (JLPP) Video

Hyperuricosuria (HUU)

Hyperuricosuria (HUU) is a genetic condition of excessive uric acid in the Black Russian Terrier resulting  in stones being developed in the kidneys or bladder. It is difficult to treat and the removal of the stones is done by surgical intervention. Breeders should test all their dogs for this condition and should be very careful when breeding dogs that carries HUU. The Black Russian Terrier HUU data base has lots of reading information.

Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

Gastric Torsion also commonly known as Bloat is a condition where the dog’s stomach over fills with gas, food or liquid which distends the stomach creating pressure on nearby organs. This expansion can cause blood not flowing to the heart properly, a rupture of the stomach lining or breathing problems. Sometimes, the dog’s stomach may rotate causing Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus. Symptoms of this condition would include ,an anxious look or looking at the abdomen, standing and stretching, drooling, distending abdomen, retching without producing anything. If your dog shows any of these, please consult with your vet

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic disease gene which has to be inherited by both parents of the Black Russian Terrier. In other words, Male A-PRA + Female B-PRA= Puppy-PRA. Parents can be a carrier or affected. In simple terms PRA is the degeneration of cells behind the retina. Most dogs with PRA will eventually go blind. There is no cure for PRA. It is important that breeders and owners test their  Black Russian terriers yearly for PRA.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy in a dog's eye

Close up image of PRA

Other Health Concerns

Otitis (Ear Infection)

The Black Russian Terrier is susceptible to ear infections. There are two types of Otitis. Otitis Media is the infection of the middle ear and Otitis Externa is an infection of outer ear canal. If you dogs show excessive shaking of his head from side to side and or excessive itching of the ears, it is time to take your dog to the vet and have your dog examined for an ear infection.

Otitis in a Schnauzer

Hot Spots Also known as Pyotraumatic Dermatitis

Hot Spots are infection of the skin which appears to be bald spot, reddish in colour, hot  and moist. In medical terms it is called dermatitis. If you noticed that your dog has this condition, please take your dog to the vet for treatment.

hot spot (pyotraumatic dermati  tis) on a dog

 Hot Spot also known as Pyotraumatic Dermatitis

Eye Diseases


Cataracts can be defined as the cloudiness of the crystalline lens of the eye which obstructs the vision partially or completely. Your vet would be able to diagnosis this problem during your visit

Cataract Video


Entropion is the condition when the eyelids turn towards the cornea (eyeball) causing the eyelids to rub against the cornea. This condition can be corrected by surgery

entropion in a dog's eye

Entropion in a dog. Notice the bottom eyelid


Ectropion is where the lower eyelids rolls out to become droopy. The resulting conditions of this abnormality causes the dog to have dry eyes, corneal infections and or ulcers. Surgery to correct this problem is necessary. You vet should be able to diagnosis this problem when visits are made to him.

ectropian in dog's eye

Ectropion. Notice the droopy bottom eyelids.


Glaucoma is in Optic Nerve disease where elevated pressure is placed upon the eye inadequate fluid drainage in the eye.  Symptoms include excessive blinking of the eye, the eyeball may recede back into the head, redness of the blood vessels in the whites of eyes, cloudy appearance at front of the eye, vision loss, please take your dog to the vet immediately.

glaucoma in a dog's eye


Corneal Ulcers

Corneal Ulcers occur when there is deep destruction of the epithelium and into the stroma of the eye.When this occurs, fluid from tears leaks into the stoma which creates a cloudy appearance in the dog's eyes. If the destruction reaches the Descemet's membrane, a descemetocele is formed. This descemetocele is a very dangerous as if the Descemet's membrane is broken, fluid loss occurs which an lead to the eye collapsing

Corneal Ulcer of a dog's eye

Corneal Ulcer of a dog's eye


The Merck Veterinary Manual describes that dogs are susceptable to suffer from allergies from flea bites, the environment and food.

Flea Bites

What are fleas? Fleas are very small flightless, parasitic insect that lives on the blood of dogs and cats. The adults can grow as large as 3mm and are brown in colour. They have the affinity to jump up to 8 inches (20cm) high and 16 inches (41cm) horizontially. Flea infestation of your home is a big problem, especially if you have either a dog or cat. Not only your pets can be bitten, but they do bite human beings also. Fleas can spread diseses like typhus and parasites like tapeworm. Dogs, if bitten by fleas can starting scratching, licking,rubbing and nibbling themselves agitatedly which can result in alopecia (hair loss), and serious skin infections.

The diagnosis of flea infestation is easily made.If your dog is scratching excessively or nibbling or chewing himself, it is time to give him a visual examination. If you examine his hair follicles very carefully you will find the fleas moving around. If you also find flea excrement which is described as reddish black, cylindrical, and pellet- or comma-shaped, then you can be sure that you have a flea problem.

flea and flea excrement in a dog's coat

Fleas and flea excrement on a dog

life cycle of a  dog flea

Life cyce of a dog flea

How do you treat a dog who has fleas? You would have to take your dog to your vet, who would take some history and re-examine the dog to confirm flea infestation. The vet would probably suggest some medications and most importantly, he is going to advise you that your residence should also be treated. Fleas lay their eggs, and if not treated and or destroyed, these egga are going to hatch and the flea infestation will happen all over again. It is extremely important that the dog and home be treat at the same time.

Environmental Allergies

The environment in which we live today contains allergens which may or may not affect the Black Russian Terrier. These allergens can range from chemicals, trees, grass and flower pollens to house dust. Seasonal allergies in dogs are very common.


















Currently there are no available allergic tests to test for allergies. Diagnosis is uusually based on the dogs breed,age, signs and history of the dog. The vet will be able to study the dogs history and make a diagnosis. Treatment can be started and sometimes it is by trial and error to find out exactly what the dog is allergic to.

different types of environmental allergens

Food Allergies

As with human beings, dogs do suffer from food allergies. The food that dogs are most allergic to include corn, beef, chicken, eggs, soy, wheat and milk. Dogs that are constantly scratching their itchy skins may be sufferring from a food allergy. The vet will examine the dog and if vet thinks that a food allergy is the culprit, he will give you instructions on food management and by the process of food elimination you can find out what food allergens your dog is allergic to.


The author of the article is not a medical doctor nor a veterinarian. The information above  was obtained by research on the Internet and put into the author’s own interpretation. If you think or suspect that your Black RussianTerrier or any dog suffers from any of the conditions mentioned above, please take you Black Russian Terrier or dog to a licensed veterinarian or Emergency Dog Hospital for consultation and or proper diagnosis.

Other Information 

Other information regarding the Black Russian Terrier can be found under the respective menu titles of Black Russian Terrier Overview, Black Russian Terrier History and Black Russian Terrier Temperament

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