Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier

Infobox Dogbreed
country = England
jrtcagroup = Jack Russell Terrier
jrtcastd = http://www.terrier.com/jrtca/standard.php3

image_caption = Smooth Coat Jack Russell Terrier
name = Jack Russell Terrier
nickname= JRT

The Jack Russell Terrier is a small, principally white-bodied, smooth or rough-coated terrier that has its origins in fox hunting. The name "Jack Russell" has been used over the years to describe a wide array of small white terriers, but now after a drawn out legal battle the JRTCA (Jack Russell Terrier Club of America) and its affiliates have won the exclusive rights to use the name Jack Russell Terrier to describe their particular variant of the dog. Commonly confused with the Parson Russell Terrier, the AKC and affiliate variant, and the Russell Terrier, a shorter legged, stockier variety, the working Jack Russell Terrier is a unique terrier which has been preserved in working ability as well as appearance much as it existed over 200 years ago.


Jack Russell Terriers are a sturdy, tough Terrier, measuring between 10" and 15" at the withers. The body length must be in proportion to the height, and the dog should present a compact, balanced image. Predominantly white in coloration (more than 51%) with black and/or tan markings, [http://www.therealjackrussell.com/jrtca/standard.php Jack Russell Terrier: JRTCA: Breed Standard ] ] , they exhibit a smooth, broken or rough coat. The skin can sometimes show a pattern of small black or brown spots, referred to as "ticking", that do not carry through to the outer coat. All coat types should be dense double coats that are neither silky (in the case of smooth coats) or woolly (in the case of rough coats). The head should be of moderate width at the ears, narrowing to the eyes, and slightly flat between the ears. There should be a defined stop at the end of the muzzle where it meets the head but not overpronounced, with a black nose. The jaw should be powerful and well boned with a scissor bite and straight teeth. The eyes are almond shaped and dark colored, and should be full of life and intelligence. Small V-shaped ears of moderate thickness are carried forward on the head. When the dog is alert the tip of the V should not extend past the outer corner of the eyes. The tail is set high and docked to approximately five inches in order to provide a sufficient hand-hold for gripping the terrier. It is a serious fault for the dog to have its tail down when in the show ring. The Jack Russell should always appear balanced and alert.

As the Jack Russell is primarily a working terrier, their most important physical characteristic is their chest size, which must not be so large that it prevents the dog from entering and working in burrows. The red fox is the traditional quarry of the Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) so the working Jack Russell must be small enough to pursue its quarry. Red foxes vary in size, but across the world they average about 14 pounds in weight and have an average chest size of 12-14 inches at the widest part. As Barry Jones, the founding Chairman of the National Working Terrier Federation noted:

"The chest is, without doubt, the determining factor as to whether a terrier may follow its intended quarry underground. Too large and he/she is of little use for underground work, for no matter how determined the terrier may be, this physical setback will not be overcome in the nearly-tight situations it will encounter in working foxes. It may be thought the fox is a large animal - to the casual observer it would appear so. However, the bone structure of the fox is finer than that of a terrier, plus it has a loose-fitting, profuse pelt which lends itself to flexibility. I have not encountered a fox which could not be spanned at 14 inches circumference - this within a weight range of 10 lbs to 24 lbs, on average 300 foxes spanned a year."

The chest of a Jack Russell should be easily spannable by the average size hands, meaning that if one wraps their hands around the dogs chest, directly behind their front legs, one should be able to put thumb to thumb, and forefinger to forefinger.


Jack Russells are first and foremost a working terrier. Originally bred to bolt fox from their dens during hunts, they are used on numerous ground-dwelling quarry such as groundhog, badger, and red and grey fox . The working JRT is required to locate quarry in the earth, and then either bolt or hold it in place until they are dug to. To accomplish this the dog must bark and work the quarry continuously. Because the preservation of this working ability is of highest importance to most registered breeders Jack Russells tend to be extremely intelligent, athletic, fearless, and vocal dogs. It is not uncommon for these dogs to become moody or destructive if they are not properly stimulated and exercised as they have a tendency to bore easily and will often create their own fun when left alone to entertain themselves.

Their high energy and drive make these dogs ideally suited to a number of different dog sports such as flyball or agility. Obedience classes are also recommended to potential owners as Jack Russells can be stubborn at times and aggressive towards other animals and humans if not properly socialized (a process that should continue throughout their whole lives). Despite their small size these dogs are not recommended for the condominium or apartment dweller unless the owner is ready to take on the daunting task of providing the dog with the necessary amount of exercise and stimulation. These are truly a big dog in a small package, and most suffer from a "Napoleon complex", which can sometimes lead to trouble involving larger animals. The JRT owner must be aware of these tendencies and be the cognizant party in many situations. [ [http://www.therealjackrussell.com/breed/baddog.php Jack Russell Terrier: Breed: Bad Dog Talk ] ]

Jack Russell terriers are not recommended for families with young children as they are intolerant of even unintentional abuse and will often return a perceived injustice with aggression. This is not to say that the Jack Russell can not cohabit with well behaved children but both dog and child need to be properly introduced and educated on how to behave towards one another. JRTs are also extremely loyal towards their owners, and highly territorial. If a Jack Russell decides that something belongs to it even the most persuasive owner is unlikely to convince them otherwise.

Despite some of these negative traits JRTs are exceptionally loving, intelligent dogs who have the ability to entertain their owners for hours with their comical antics. To understand the Jack Russell temperament, it must be remembered that they are first and foremost a "working dog." In other words, they were bred to aggressively run, chase, and flush out fox and badgers in the great hunts of England. These traits, so passionately guarded by Jack Russell breeders since the 19th century, have delivered to us a dog that is fearless, happy, alert, confident, intelligent and lively. A dog that is ready to meet the world on a moment's notice; this is the Jack Russell temperament in a nutshell.


Jack Russell terriers are known for longevity and health due in a large part to a diverse gene pool. The JRTCA specifically regulates inbreeding and line breeding to a 16% coefficient unlike many of the kennel club show dog breeds. A well-cared-for Jack Russell can live well into its teens, remaining active right into its senior years. The typical lifespan is between 11 and 18 years.

Health concerns with the breed include hereditary cataracts, primary lens luxation, congenital deafness, medial patellar luxation, cerebellar ataxia, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, myasthenia gravis, atopy, general joint problems, and von Willebrand's disease. Responsible breeders have breeding stock BAER tested for hearing as juveniles and CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) tested annually to check for any hereditary defects. Although not commonly a problem in this breed some breeders choose to have their dogs OFA inspected for potential joint problems.


The small white fox-working terriers we know today were first bred by the Reverend John Russell, a parson and hunting enthusiast born in 1795. In his last year of university at Oxford, he bought a small white and tan terrier female called Trump from the milk man. Trump was purchased based upon appearance alone. (Burns, 2005) She was the basis for a breeding program to develop a terrier with high stamina for the hunt as well as the courage and formation to chase out foxes that had gone to ground. An important attribute in this dog was a tempered aggressiveness that would provide them with the necessary drive to pursue and bolt the fox without resulting in physical harm to the quarry, effectively ending the chase, which was considered unsporting. This line of terriers developed by John Russell was well respected for these qualities and his dogs were often taken on by hunt enthusiasts. It is unlikely, however, that any dogs alive today are descended from Trump, as Russell was forced to sell all of his dogs on more than one occasion because of financial difficulty, and had only four aged (and nonbreeding) terriers left when he died in 1883.cite book
last = Burns
first = Patrick
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = American Working Terriers
publisher =
year = 2005
location =
pages =
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 141166082X

The only painting that exists of Trump was painted more than 40 years after the dog died, and it was painted by someone who had never seen the original animal. Russell said the painting was "a good likeness", but he may have been more polite than honest in this. The painting was commissioned by Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) who befriended Russell in his old age, and had the painting done as an homage to the old man.

While it is often stated that Trump was "14 inches tall and weighed 14 pounds," there is no source for this statement, and it appears to have been penned by someone who had never met Russell and had only seen the painting of Trump (to which there is nothing to suggest scale).

While Trump's appearance is murky, and her size a complete mystery, the fox dens of Devon, England, where John Russell once hunted, are well known. Terrierman Eddie Chapman, who has hunted those same Devon earths for more than 30 years, notes that "I can state categorically that if given the choice, ninety-nine percent of hunt terrier men would buy an under 12" worker, if it was available, over a 14" one."cite book
last = Chapman
first = Eddie
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The Working Jack Russell Terrier
publisher =
year = 1994
location =
pages =
url = http://www.terrierman.com/terrierbooks.htm
doi =
id =
isbn =
] . To this day most working terrier enthusiasts seem to prefer a dog around 12 inches tall.

The Reverend John Russell did not have Jack Russell terriers – he had white-bodied fox-working dogs that, in his day, were simply called “fox terriers.” Although Rev. Russell was asked to judge a number of fox terrier competitions he refrained from showing any of his own dogs and bred them with the hunt field in mind. He is quoted as saying "True terriers [my dogs] were, but differing from the present show dogs as the wild eglantine differs from a garden rose.". The term “Jack Russell Terrier” was coined after the Reverend John Russell was dead, and was used to differentiate small working terriers from larger nonworking Fox Terriers that, by 1900, dominated the Kennel Club show ring and bench.

JRTCA and the Jack Russell Terrier

*The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America is the largest Jack Russell Terrier registry in the world. It is a breed-specific organization that organizes “trials” that pair conformation shows with performance events such as go-to-ground and dog agility trials. The JRTCA actively promotes a working terrier, and its highest award is reserved for dogs who have proved their ability in the field in front of a sanctioned judge. The JRTCA breed standard recognizes Jack Russells as being from 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 cm) at the withers, with a body length approximately equal to height. The JRTCA has an open registry, and does not register entire litters, but individual dogs at the age of one year of age and only if they meet the breed standard of quality and pass veterinary inspection. JRTCA breed records indicate the size of every dog in their registry (useful for breeding dogs of the correct size), coat type and color, and whether or not those dogs have successfully worked approved quarry (fox, badger, raccoon, groundhog, and sometimes opossum) under a JRTCA-certified field judge in a natural hunting situation.

For a number of years the term "Jack Russell Terrier" was used to describe a wide array of dogs. Everything from the short-legged, stocky Irish bred dogs to the more refined balanced show dogs were considered Jack Russells. It was not until the late 1990s that a group of enthusiasts sought, and eventually received in 2001, Kennel Club recognition that the JRTCA took action to protect the name "Jack Russell Terrier". The JRTCA felt that Kennel Club recognition would inevitably alter the appearance of the Jack Russell as well as eliminate much of the dogs working ability, similar to what happened with the Cocker Spaniel. The JRTCA's motto since their inception in 1976 has been "to preserve, protect, and work the Jack Russell Terrier" and many members felt weasel-inline that Kennel Club recognition would violate this directive.


On April 29th, 2007, a Jack Russell named George saved five children in New Zealand from an attack by two pit bulls. He was reported to have charged at them and held them at bay long enough for the kids to get away. He had to be put down due to injuries and was posthumously awarded a medal of bravery, normally reserved for humans, by the SPCA. [http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070508/od_afp/nzealandanimalsoffbeat] A former US Marine also donated a Purple Heart award he received for service in Vietnam to George's owner. [ [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411319/1107891 Medals for brave jack russell terrier | NATIONAL | NEWS | tvnz.co.nz ] ]

On screen and in literature

The friendly facial expressions and feisty personality make it a natural choice for television and the cinema. The famous RCA symbol of a white dog peering into an RCA Victrola was a JRT. Wishbone, the title character of an extremely popular and award-winning children's television series in the United States, is one of the more famous Jack Russell Terriers. Wishbone was played by the late Soccer who died in June 2001 at 13 years old.

Other famous Jack Russell Terriers include Milo from the hit movie "The Mask", Razzle (played by Fizzy) in the BBC children's series "Jonny Briggs", and Eddie, the clever, irrepressible dog belonging to character Martin Crane on the sitcom "Frasier". Eddie was played by Moose, who died in July 2006. Moose's son Enzo stepped in for the more physically demanding tricks as Moose aged, and Moose and Enzo also appeared in the movie "My Dog Skip". Commandant Spangler on the FOX sitcom "Malcolm In The Middle" had a Jack Russell Terrier, but it was eaten alive by the character Francis's snake. Big Ben's dog "Nippy" in "Problem Child 2" was a Jack Russell. The Szalinski family dog "Quark" from "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" was a Jack Russell. A Jack Russell also appears in the movie "Mac and Me" as one of the neighbourhood dogs that chases Mac.

A Jack Russell named Russell the Muscle stars in the music video for 1980's hit "Just Got Lucky" by JoBoxers. [ [http://www.nwoutpost.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=6055 New Wave Outpost Message Board - Dig Wayne Of Jo Boxers? ] ]

In 2008, A VW Polo advert included two jack russells. One of them was shaking which sparked much controversy about cruelty.

In the UK, one of the more recognisable canine stars was restaurateur and chef Rick Stein's irrepressible terrier Chalky, who frequently upstaged his owner on his various cookery series. He was unique in having his own line of merchandise, including plushes, tea towels, art prints, art paw prints and even his own real ale - "Chalky's Bite." He earned a BBC obituary when he died in 2007. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/6268025.stm BBC NEWS | England | Cornwall | Celebrity chef Stein's dog dies ] ]

The character of the wizard Ron Weasley in the popular Harry Potter book and movie series has a Jack Russell Terrier as his patronus charm. The patronus is an insubstantial animal-form protector created by the advanced Patronus Charm spell, and one way to defend against Dementors and certain other dark creatures. Fact|date=March 2008

A Jack Russell Terrier is also briefly seen in the movie "Crimson Tide", in which it is referred to as the "Smartest Breed." Another Jack Russell Terrier is playing a tiny role in the movie "See Spot Run" where the dog is shown as an aggressive dog, attacking a criminal jumping his back.

In the Francophonic Belgian novel "Thank You for The Delicious Coke", the heroine Murielle Fried's closest companion is Matisse, who in a plot surprise, is revealed to actually be her Jack Russell Terrier.

Ernest P. Worrell owned a Jack Russell Terrier named Rimshot.

Tillamook Cheddar, a Jack Russell Terrier from Brooklyn, New York, is among the world's more renowned animal artists. She has appeared on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (on which she demonstrated her painting technique), as well as in a short film, "Tillie Goes BUST!".

In "Tales of the Gold Monkey", Jake Cutter's companion was a one-eyed Jack Russell Terrier named Jack.


* Lucas, Capt. Jocelyn M. "Hunt and Working Terriers", 1931. UK. [http://www.amazon.com/s?index=books&rank=-relevance%2C%2Bavailability%2C-daterank&field-author-exact=Lucas%2C%20Jocelyn]
* Russell, Dan. "Jack Russell and His Terriers." 1990. ISBN 978-0-851-31276-7 [http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780851312767&itm=1] In the movie "MY DOG SKIP" Skip saves the live of a young boy while also befriending it on a tale of friend ship and trust.

External links

* Jack Russell Terrier Clubs
** [http://www.terrier.com/ Jack Russell Terrier Club of America]
** [http://jackrussellgb.co.uk/ Jack Russell Terrier Club Great Britain]
** [http://www.jrtcc.com/ Jack Russell Terrier Club of Canada]
** [http://www.jrtcgbsf.fi/ Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain - Suomi-Finland]
** [http://www.ejrtca.com/ English Jack Russell Terrier Club Alliance]

* Other Links
** [http://www.terrierman.com/historypics.htm A Pictorial History of Working Terriers]
** [http://jackrussellgb.co.uk/club_info/breed_standard.htm Jack Russell Terrier Breed Standard]
** [http://www.terrierman.com/hunting.htm Terrier Work Basics]
** [http://www.learnallaboutdogs.com/dogs/jack-russell/index.php Information on the Jack Russell]
** [http://www.jack-russell-terrier.co.uk/index.htm A comprehensive resource of Jack Russell information]
** [http://www.jrtrescue.net/ Jack Russell Rescue Australia, the only Jack Russell Terrier Rescue group in Australia]
** [http://www.dogjackrussell.com/jack-russell-temperament/ Learn about Jack Russells' Temperament]
** [http://www.jack-russell-terrier-pictures.com/index.html Jack Russell Terrier Pictures & Info]

See also

* Jack Russell (dog breeder)
* Fox hunting
* Working terriers

Clubs & Associations

* American Working Terrier Association
* Jack Russell Terrier Club of America

Similar Breeds

* Parson Russell Terrier
* Russell Terrier (slightly longer than tall Russell)
* Fox terrier
* Rat terrier
* IrishJacks
* Mini Parsons
* American Jack Russell Terrier
* Atlas terriers
* Blue Eyed Jacks

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