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The Jack Russell Terrier is a type of small, principally white-bodied, terrier that has its origins in fox hunting. The name "Jack Russell" has been used to describe a wide array of small white terriers, but is now most commonly used to describe a working terrier. "JRT"s make great pets but can sometimes get too excited.

The Jack Russell Terrier takes it name from the Reverend John Russell who bred one of the finest strains of terriers for working fox in Devonshire, England in the mid-to-late 1800's. Rev. Russell (1795-1883), apart from his church activities, had a passion for fox hunting and the breeding of fox hunting dogs; he is also said to be a rather flamboyant character, probably accounting for his strain of terrier's notability and the name of our terrier today. His first terrier, the immortal TRUMP, is said to be the foundation of John Russell's strain of working terriers.

Everything about the Jack Russell has fox hunting in mind .... coloring, conformation, character, and intelligence. The body is compact, of totally balanced proportions, the shoulders clean, the legs straight, and most importantly, a small chest (easily spannable by average size hands at the widest part behind the shoulders). The Jack Russell must also be totally flexible, allowing him to maneuver underground. This conformation allows the terrier to follow his quarry down narrow earths. The fox is a good model for the Jack Russell-where the fox can go, so must the terrier. Although originally bred for fox hunting, the Jack Russell is a versatile working terrier to a variety of quarry including red and grey fox, raccoon and woodchuck.

The information above was pulled from the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America.



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 be dug out if necessary. As a result, Jack Russell Terriers are most definitely vocal dogs.

Jack Russell Terriers are also very intelligent, high-energy dogs – requirements of a working dog which must problem-solve in the field and work tirelessly against often formidable quarry.

Due to their compact size, friendly and inquisitive nature, and intelligence, Jack Russells are popular as pets. Prospective buyers should be aware, however, that while these dogs may enjoy sitting in a lap, they are not “lap dogs” – they are dogs that require training and regular and consistent exercise to maintain their temperament and to occupy their minds.

Jack Russells that are not trained on a consistent basis, or are not exercised regularly, may exhibit 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 Jack Russell Terriers whose owners could not meet these requirements for keeping these dogs as house pets. Prospective Jack Russell Terrier owners are advised to do their homework.

Most Jack Russell Terriers 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 with larger dogs if not kept in check.

It is not uncommon for a Jack Russell terrier to be cat-aggressive, and homes with other small fur-bearing animals in them (pet hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets etc.) would do well to think through the ramifications of bringing a working terrier into the house.


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The Jack Russell Buzz
June 2007