Dog Breeds Cat BreedsPet Names Dog TrainingForumPet Health

BACK to Dog Breed Listing


Family terrier
Life Span 10-13 years
Avg Size of Male: 10-12 inch (25 to 30 cm)
Avg Size of Female: 10-12 inch (25 to 30 cm)
Original Function: fox hunting and rat catching
Overall Rating (out of 5)
Jack Russells are a great small dog breed that is versatile and suits the whole family.

The Jack Russell Terrier is a type of small terrier that has its origins in fox hunting and rat catching. The name "Jack Russell" has been used for all of the several types of Russell terrier dog breeds but is now most commonly used for working terriers.

The Jack Russell Terrier is not the Parson Russell Terrier, which is a breed created by the American Kennel Club by narrowing the Jack Russell standard to include only the larger dogs, and as a consequence the Parson Russell Terrier is rarely found in the hunt field today.

In Britain the name "Jack Russell Terrier" has been used to refer to a wide variety of dogs, including the Parson Russell Terrier, working Jack Russells, and the short-legged type of terrier (many of which are achondroplastic dwarves).

In Australia and other countries affiliated with the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) a fourth type, the Australian Jack Russell Terrier, is also talked about but the official name is Jack Russell Terrier.

The various types of white fox-working terrier are not always considered to be separate breeds; definitions are still evolving and the naming of the breeds is still sometimes unclear.

All Russells are small terriers; The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America[1], the largest Jack Russell Terrier registry in the world, has a breed standard that recognizes Jack Russells as being from 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 cm) at the withers, body length being in proportion to the height. The American Kennel Club's breed standard recognizes Parson Russell Terriers as being from 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm) also calling for body length to be in proportion to the height. As of 2005 The American Kennel Club (A.K.C.) recognized the 10-12 inch (25 to 30 cm) Jack Russell Terrier as the Russell Terrier, omitting "Jack" from the name and the body length being slightly longer than tall.

Jack Russell Terriers are predominantly white (must be more than 51%) with black, tan, or tricolour markings, particularly on the face and at the base of the tail. They have small V-shaped ears that usually fold sharply forwards ("tipped" ears, as though tipped over), and strong teeth with a scissor bite.

Jack Russell Terriers have a dense double coat that appears in three varieties: smooth coat, where the topcoat is very short (approx. 1cm) and stiff; rough coat, where the topcoat is longer (as much as 10cm long, though usually groomed shorter); and broken, which is used to describe dogs with topcoats of intermediate length and dogs that have longer coats only on some parts of the body (always on the face, frequently on the head and back, sometimes extending to the shoulders, occasionally everywhere except the legs).

Tails are straight, six to eight inches (150–200 mm) long, held high and upright. Traditionally, tails are docked to around five inches, the length of a hand's grip.

The breed has a sturdy and robust appearance and an outgoing character; breed standards emphasize that the Jack Russell must have a "keen expression".


Jack Russell Terriers are considered an intelligent, high-energy breed. Despite their high-energy, they are often considered one of the smartest dog breeds in the world, thus their common appearance in television and movies. Their compact size, friendly and inquisitive nature, and intelligence make them popular as pets. Built for speed and strength, they will always be ready to play. However, they require consistent training and a good deal of attention and exercise to maintain their temperament and to occupy their minds.

Jack Russells who are not trained on a consistent basis, or are not exercised regularly, may occasionally exhibit aggressive or unmanageable behaviour, including excessive barking, escaping from the yard, or digging in unwanted places inside and outside the house. In America, several Jack Russell rescue networks have to work constantly to find temporary and permanent homes for JRTs whose owners could not meet these requirements for keeping JRTs as house pets. Prospective Jack Russell Terrier owners are advised to do their homework.

The Jack Russell is a working terrier. Terrier work requires a dog that will bark at prey so that the dog can be located underground and dug out if necessary. As a result, JRTs are most definitely vocal dogs, but they lack the nervousness that makes so many small dogs "yappy". JRTs rarely bark without good reason, though that reason may not be readily apparent to those who do not have the ears and eyes of a Jack Russell Terrier.

Most JRTs easily mingle with children, though they do not tolerate even unintentional abuse. Most are outgoing, and very friendly towards other dogs, but a good number show same-sex aggression issues. Some JRT's exhibit a "Napoleon Complex" regarding larger canines that can get them into dangerous situations. Their fearlessness can scare off a larger animal, but their apparent unawareness of their small size can lead to a lopsided fight if not kept in check.


A well-cared-for Jack Russell can live for over 15 years. One main health concern is cataracts. They are often seen in dogs bred by backyard breeders or puppy mills who have not CERF tested the breeding stock they use. Other concerns are Lens luxation, congenital deafness (responsible breeders will have their dogs BAER tested), Patellar luxation, cerebellar ataxia, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, and von Willebrand's disease.


Russell terriers were first bred by the Reverend Mr. 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 bitch 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, but without the aggressiveness that would result in their harming the fox, which was considered unsporting. The 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 non-breeding) terriers left when he died in 1883. (Burns, 2005)

The only painting that exists of Trump was painted more than 40 years after the dog died, and it was painted by someone that had never seen the original animal at all. Russell said the painting was "a good likeness" but in fact he may have been trying to be polite, as 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. (Burns, 2005)

On the day that the impoverished Rev. John Russell died, his old sermons and other papers were found blowing around in the farm yard. Little or no written record of Rev. John Russell survives to the present day.

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 only seen the painting of Trump (to which there is nohing to suggest scale). (Burns, 2005)

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 give the choice, ninety-nine percent of hunt terrier men would buy an under 12" worker, if it was available, over a 14" one." (Chapman, 1994). To this day most working terrier enthusiast seem to prefer a dog around 12 inches tall and with a chest span of around 14".






Copyright " - Find Your Perfect Pet" 2006