The Jack Russell Terrier is a type of small terrier that has its origins in fox hunting. The name "Jack Russell" has been used for all of the several types of Russell terrier but is now most commonly used for working terriers similar in form to Parson Russell Terriers. more...
The Parson Russell Terrier itself was known as the Jack Russell Terrier in the United States until 2003. In England the name has been used to refer to the Parson Russell Terrier and to the short-legged type, the Russell Terrier. In Australia and other countries affiliated with the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) a fourth type, the Australian Jack Russell Terrier, is also known by this name. These four types are not always considered to be separate breeds, definitions are still evolving and the naming of the breeds is still sometimes unclear.
All Jack Russells are small terriers less than about 42 cm in height. They are predominantly white with black, tan or tricolour markings, particularly on the face and the base of the tail. They have a short coat that may be smooth, broken, or rough (a double coat), and pointed ears that usually fold forwards, although some prick their ears when alert. The tail is often docked to about four inches (100 mm) long and is high and upright. When not docked, their tails often have a tight curl. They have 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. They require consistent training 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. 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.
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. She was the basis for a breeding programme 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, when he died in 1883, his dogs were taken on by other hunt enthusiasts.
The first split between the types of Russell terriers may have occurred early in their history with dogs being sold by the sister of John Russell's kennel man. These she described as "Jack Russells" but they may not have been part of the line of terriers developed by John Russell. Instead they may have been shorter-legged working terriers of variable heritage. Later, around the turn of the century, the secretary of the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club bred a strain of terriers for badger digging. These needed the brave character and endurance of the Jack Russell Terrier, which were crossed with Bull Terriers to give a stronger and harder dog with shorter legs than the original type. Again these were described as "Jack Russells".
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