History – In 1819, the Reverend John Russell first began to breed the Terrier we know today, out of the necessity for a mostly-white fox hunting dog. Up until that point, the dogs employed to hunt foxes were too similar in coloring to the foxes they chased. The Reverend wanted to create a smart, fast, small, energetic hunting companion that was mostly white in color (easier to spot in the field) and possessed a tempered aggressiveness with the prey (meaning they could chase it down but not actually harm it when caught). It all began with a small white and tan female pup named Trump, which he bought from a milkman outside of Elsfield, England. Trump was said to be similar to a Wire Fox Terrier, but with shorter legs. She was most likely a stout cross between a Fox Terrier and a Black and Tan Terrier. The dogs that followed were named “Jack Russell Terriers” in honor of the man that began the quest to breed them.
Breeding continued past the Reverend’s death in 1883, and three distinct types came to be: the Jack Russell, the Russell, and the Parsons terriers. While only slight variances separate the three, the Parson is the tallest and the Russell is the shortest (commonly called “the shorty JRT”).
Today, this is clearly one of the most popular dogs around. So it might be surprising to know that though the Parson Terrier and the Russell Terrier have been acknowledged by many kennel clubs worldwide, the Jack Russell Terrier itself was not included, formally, among the 175 breeds recognized by the AKC. Part of that was in fact due to objections by those in the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. They wanted to keep the Jack Russell a working, hunting breed…not a show dog. Finally, in the late 1990s, the Jack Russell Terrier was accepted into the “Miscellaneous” category of the AKC. And now, though their differences are small, the Parsons and the Jack Russell Terrier are considered absolutely different breeds by both the AKC and the UKC, among many others.
Breed Standards – When referring to the actual Jack Russell Terrier, the average height ranges between 10–15 inches (25–38 cm) for both males and females, while the average weight is between 14–18 pounds (6.4–8.2 kg). Length must be in proportion to the height. Coat colors and textures can vary, but the accepted coat is usually smooth, but fairly thick. As for colors, white should predominate (needs to be more than 51% white) with tan, brown, or black markings. Coats can also be brindle of black and tan, but they are not common. As for other characteristics, the body is firm and well-muscled, the head is flat and in good proportion to the rest of the body, the nose is black, eyes are almond-shaped black or brown, and the tail should be no more than four inches and set high. Sturdy, alert, poised for action (or fun)…that’s the look of a Jack Russell Terrier.
For more specifics about your pup, contact your local Jack Russell Terrier breeder, who can help you…