The Russell Terrier is a predominantly white working terrier with an insatiable instinct to hunt formidable quarry underground. The breed was derived from the Reverend John Russell’s fox working terrier strains that were used in the 19th century for fox hunting. The Reverend’s fox working strains were much smaller than the Show Fox Terrier and remained working terriers. The size of the Russell Terrier (10″ to 12″) combined with a small flexible, spannable chest makes it an ideal size to work efficiently underground. Their unique rectangular body shape with the body being of slightly longer length than the leg makes them distinctly different from the Parson Russell Terrier and the JRTCA Jack Russell Terrier.
About the Russell Terrier
The name “Jack Russell Terrier” was never used to describe a breed of dog. Rather, it became a common name for any predominantly-white earth-working terrier after the death of the Reverend John Russell. The only requisite was color, the instinct combined with the will to employ earth-work, and the size to work efficiently underground. Still today, the name is widely used for working terriers of the Parsons Reverend’s style. It was in the country of development, Australia, that this 10-12 inch dog was first standardized by Kennel Club recognition with the official name “Jack Russell Terrier” applied to the breed. This ultimately led to recognition of the breed by FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) countries including Ireland and most recently the USA. Unfortunately, due to the previous use of the name in the USA and England, the name Jack Russell Terrier is conflicting. In the USA, a Terrier conforming to the Australian/FCI standard is simply called a Russell Terrier.
The Russell Terrier is a very popular companion breed in the US. It must be noted first and foremost the breed is a working breed not a companion breed. They are bred by dedicated Fanciers to preserve their working functional conformation and the instinct to employ their original purpose as earth terriers. This makes them an excellent performance breed participating in a variety of events; natural hunting which includes earthwork, agility, rally, obedience, tracking, go-to-ground, and conformation, just to name a few. They are also found as therapy and service dogs.
Breed development in England and Australia
In the early 1970s, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain was formed, and this body instituted a very primitive form of registration. Soon, Jack Russell Terrier Clubs were being formed worldwide, including Australia. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of Australia was formed in 1972 This national organization set up a particularly comprehensive registration system, along with a formal breed standard. This club also initiated discussions with their KC regarding the possibility of the breed being accepted for registration as a pure breed. The ideal height for the Jack Russell Terrier in Australia was to be 10″ to 12″
The Russell Terrier in the U.S.A.
The Russell Terrier, also known as the F.C.I. type Jack Russell Terrier is a recognized Kennel Club breed and is maintained separately from the AKC Parson Russell Terrier, and the UKC Parson Russell Terrier. In 2001, the United Kennel Club accepted the application from the English Jack Russell Terrier Club to give dogs in their registry the official “FS” designation. UKC officially recognized the breed as the Russell Terrier because the name Jack Russell Terrier was already in use for the longer legged dog in 2001. The UKC breed standard was changed in 2005 from the original standard of 2001. In 2009 the UKC changed the name to Jack Russsell to go back to their original standard and aligning themselves with the rest of the world. The American Kennel Club AKC accepted the breed into the FSS Program on December 8, 2004 based on the F.C.I. Jack Russell standard also submitted by the E.J.R.T.C. aka the American Russell Terrier Club . The American Rare Breed Association recognized the “Russell Terrier” in 2003, with the old UKC standard originally written by the UKC. This standard was based on the same standard written by Australia and used also in Ireland. The Australian National Kennel Council recognized the breed in 1990 . The original ARBA standard was then changed by the NRTFC to a new standard and different standard in Nov of 2008, than again on Jan 1, 2010.The AKC parent club for the Russell Terrier changed the F C I breed standard in 2010 and introduced their own standard which is now different from the rest of the world and F C I. The NRTFC was the first and is the only organization in the world and history of the breed, to recognize only the Smooth coated dog and create a history different from the rest of the world. The FCI Jack Russell Terrier was accepted into the AKC FSS known as the “Russell Terrier” in December 2004 on the application submitted by the ARTC using the FCI standard. The Parson Russell Terrier, Hunt Terrier and the Jack Russell Terrier/Russell Terrier (Australian/FCI JRT) will forever be linked in ancestry. However, after 15 years of maintaining the Russell Terrier in the US and longer internationally as a distinctly separate breed with the selection of the rectangular appearance unique only to the Jack Russell/Russell Terrier they can no longer be considered variations.