• home
  • Blog
  • haircut-of-a-black-russian-terrier

Haircut of a black Russian terrier.

Do you know what one of the first questions is from people who call me? That question is "How often should a black terrier be bathed and sheared?" 

What and when?


every 6-8 weeks, at least every 2 months, more often if necessary (playing in the mud, etc.)


at least every 2 months, after bathing

combing out the undercoat

once a week

Bathing and drying

We can have the black Russian terrier bathed by a groomer or do it at home. It is not a particularly difficult task. We need a good quality shampoo for dogs (do not use shampoo for humans).

How to wash your dog?

First, we must thoroughly rinse the dog with warm water using a shower head. The water for washing must not be too hot, its temperature should be the same as we use for our bath. The hair of the Russian terrier is very thick, we must thoroughly rinse the whole dog, moving the shower handset close to the dog's body. We have to be very careful around the ears - it is not allowed to pour water into the ear, because it can cause inflammation.

Attention - a wet black terrier usually shakes itself vigorously to get rid of water from the hair. So be prepared for an unexpected heavy shower.

Shampoo application

Immediately after rinsing the dog we proceed to apply the shampoo. Here is an important tip: shampoos are prepared in different ways. Some are ready to be applied straight away, others need to be mixed with warm water in suitable proportions.

Pour the shampoo on your hand, rub your hands together and apply the shampoo to the dog in a wide, circular motion. Be especially careful around the ears and nose area not to pour inside and around the eyes so as not to blur them. Depending on the shampoo (check the instructions), you should rinse your dog immediately after applying the shampoo or after a specific time.


Rinse your dog with warm water starting with the head, then the trunk (starting at the top) and tail. Finally, rinse the paws from top to bottom, not forgetting to thoroughly rinse the shampoo off the paw pads. Paw pads are one of the hot spots of the Russian black terrier, I will soon write a separate article about this.


After bathing, we wipe the dog with an absorbent towel. Black Russian Terrier has thick hair and under it there is still undercoat, so don't count on wiping your dog dry. Wiping helps before the next step, which is drying. Drying by pressing a towel against your dog's body gives the best results. We can wrap the whole torso with a large towel to absorb excess water. With the second towel we remove the excess water from the head by pressing the towel to the head (we can wrap the head with the towel if our dog is not stressed during this activity). Next, we remove water from the paws, also by pressing and "draining" with a towel. We have to pay a lot of attention to remove the water from the paws and head, because these parts of the Russian terrier's body are the most difficult to dry. Drying the paws takes a long time, while drying the head is a very unpleasant activity for the dog. When drying the head, our black terrier will constantly try to turn away from the dryer, so the more thoroughly we dry the head and paws with a towel, the easier it will be at the next stage, i.e. drying the dog with the dryer.

Drying with a dryer

To dry your black Russian terrier you will need a groomer's dryer. For amateur use, it doesn't have to be a professional groomer like Artero or Chris Christensen, a cheap Chinese groomer dryer will do. Such hairdryers can be easily bought on amazon.co.uk or ebay.co.uk for about £90-150. It will be money very well spent as trying to dry our black terrier's hair with a dryer designed for humans will be a real pain for both us and our dog. A human hair dryer is too weak and drying an adult black terrier with a human hair dryer can take up to 3-5 hours. Drying an adult dog with a dryer designed for drying dogs will take 45 - 60 minutes, even if it is a cheap Chinese product. You will see the power of a grooming dryer the first time you dry your dog - pointing the nozzle at your dog's skin from a close distance will result in a spectacular cloud of water droplets. The strong airflow from a powerful blow dryer helps to create volume in the hair, which is not pawed off as it is when drying with a human hair dryer.

The dryer usually has several nozzles - you can dry with a narrow nozzle which gives a very strong stream of air useful for drying the torso with short hair or without the nozzle, then you have a calmer flow of large volume of air useful, for example, when drying hair on the head.

Almost every dog dryer has the possibility of smooth or step-by-step regulation of temperature and air flow. We should remember not to dry on full power because it may lead to tangling of our black terrier's hair. We should also not dry with too little air flow as the drying will last forever and the hair will fall out.

Temperature control when drying a black terrier.

A very important aspect when drying a black Russian terrier is setting the right temperature in the dryer. Almost every dryer allows you to set the temperature. The regulation is done by means of a knob or a switch with two or more positions. Remember not to dry the Russian terrier's hair at too high a temperature. In extreme cases, it may even lead to skin burns and slight discolouration of hair. Before drying, it is best to check the temperature by pointing the air outlet of the dryer at your hand. If the air stream is not unpleasantly hot, we can safely dry on this setting. 

As with washing, pay special attention to drying around the ears and eyes. Do not use a direct stream of air. You can do this, however, when drying without a cap, with a weak stream.

Drying the Russian terrier's head is the hardest part. The black terrier generally does not like to feel a strong stream of air directed at his head so he constantly turns to be as far away from the air outlet tip as possible. Removing the narrow slotted tip and drying without the tip, on a reduced airflow works best. Additionally, we can help ourselves by holding our terrier's head. We can also move the hand with the blow-dryer hose 50 - 70 centimetres away from the head and dry the whole head with such a wide stream. When the dog does not move its head away, we can help ourselves by "combing" the dog's head with the fingers of our hand what helps the air stream to reach deeper.

Use a pendulum motion to dry your hair, which will give it more body as opposed to blow-drying in spots.

Dry the black terrier's ears with a narrow slotted tip by moving the tip vertically up and down while pressing the tip of the ear against the skull to prevent air from being blown into the ear canal which could lead to inflammation. Do not dry the ear from the inside!


Grooming a black terrier is the most difficult grooming activity. We have two options - we can either go to a groomer for a haircut or we can sharpen the dog ourselves at home.

The black terrier should be groomed at least every 2 months, ideally every 6-8 weeks. In extreme cases, when we cannot groom our dog earlier, we can postpone the interval up to 3 months. However, we have to reckon with a higher groomer fee due to a higher workload. This should not come as a surprise as the extra time needed to groom a neglected black terrier is so long that a groomer could groom one or even two smaller and well groomed dogs in that time! If it has been more than 3 months since your dog's last grooming, you should be aware that it will no longer be possible to save the hair and the only solution will be to shave it.

When choosing a groomer, be guided by the opinions of black terrier owners on online forums. Not every groomer knows how to do it right. 

A black Russian terrier's haircut in a groomer's salon, including combing and washing, takes a few hours. Let's remember that good groomers have appointments for many weeks ahead, so make an appointment well in advance and during the visit, let's make another appointment right away.

If you are interested in clipping your Black Russian Terrier yourself at home, you will need a suitable clipper and scissors. 

Trimming the undercoat

The hair of the Russian Black Terrier consists of two layers, the outer hair and the undercoat. While brushing the outer coat is easy, brushing the undercoat is more difficult and requires special tools.

The undercoat should be combed out regularly, ideally once a week. If you don't comb out the undercoat, it will clump together and after a while it will become impossible to fix the knot. In this case, the only solution is to shave your dog. Believe me, for someone used to the impressive appearance of a well-groomed black Russian Terrier, the sight of a shaved dog can be a traumatic experience.

What do I use to comb out the undercoat of my black Russian terrier?

A common poodle brush is not suitable for combing out the undercoat. As much as such a poodle brush (I recommend the one made by Artero) is great for combing out the coat, it is useless for combing out the undercoat. For combing out the undercoat we need a tool of a larger calibre, a comb, also called a rake. A rake is a type of combing brush where the pins are a few centimetres long nails, each 2 to 3 millimetres in diameter. The nails in rakes are bent in one direction and have blunt ends in order not to cut the skin of our black terrier. 

The way we use the rake is to dig deep into the undercoat, all the way to the skin, and try to move it a few inches towards you in a short, firm motion. If the undercoat is too clumped we shorten the length of the movement or move away from our dog's skin and comb the higher layer, then dig in again and try to comb the layer next to the skin. If we can freely move the rake over our terrier's bare skin in a given spot then we move to the adjacent spot and repeat the process. And so on until all of your dog's undercoat is combed out. 

Brushing the undercoat of a black Russian terrier may seem difficult and physically exhausting, but after a few times, once you get the hang of it, it's no longer a problem. I do it while watching a film, my dog lies on his side on the floor and I sit next to him and comb him while watching films. If we take care of our dog and actually comb out the undercoat every week, the total combing time for an adult black terrier will take between 20 and 60 minutes. If we don't comb out the undercoat regularly or don't do it very carefully, the next combing can take much longer, even several hours. In extreme cases, the undercoat can no longer be combed out and all you can do is shave your dog and make sure to groom him regularly next time.

Please remember that if you neglect your dog's weekly grooming, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise at the next visit to the groomer's salon. Some groomers are reluctant to comb out their hairy Russian Terriers (a necessary step before bathing and clipping) and suggest shaving with a razor. No wonder, as combing a badly groomed black terrier takes a lot of time and the client doesn't always want to pay for it ("so much money for one dog???").