The Jack Russell Terrier is a recognizable and popular dog breed. This is a pet that you will not be bored with for a minute.
The Jack Russell Terrier was previously famous for its working qualities of a burrowing dog, but few modern breeders systematically develop the hunting instincts inherent in the genes of these frisky babies. In the twentieth century, they turned into loyal and funny companions, real favorites of families who are used to spending their leisure time actively.
Some breeds live side by side with humans for so long that it is possible to reliably learn about their roots only with the help of geneticists. This is, for example, the situation with the ancestors of the Jack Russells – the fox terriers. Their first descriptions are found in Roman chronicles of the time of Caesar’s campaigns against Albion.
But the closer to modernity, the more documentary evidence, so today no one doubts that the Jack Russell Terrier owes its origin to a very specific enthusiast – John “Jack” Russell. Following family tradition, he became a priest and led a branch in southern Britain, but his true passion was not serving the church but prefers hunting and breeding dogs for her.
During the last year of John’s studies at Exeter College, Oxford University, a significant meeting took place. During one of his walks, he saw a dog that embodied the ideal qualities of a real fox hunter: compact size, passion, vigilance, and fearlessness. The treasure belonged to a local milkman, who was unlikely to be able to fully appreciate the mentioned merits, so the first owner immediately yielded to Trump to the persistent student. With this Trump – this is how the English word Trump is translated – many years of breeding work began.
Of course, outwardly, the ancestor of the breed does not so much resemble today’s “jacks”. The similarity is noticeable only in color: against the dominant white background, darker spots stood out in the area of the eyes, ears, and at the base of the hooked tail. According to the surviving drawings, Trump was a poor-boned dog with a small skull. Most likely, the now extinct English White Terriers were in her family.
I must say that in the process of breeding a new breed, the pastor used representatives of various burrowing dogs. There is no exact data on experiments with the gene pool since the breeder did not keep any logs with records, or they simply did not survive. Researchers believe that old-format fox terriers, boarders, Lakelands, Irish terriers, Scottish kerns left their mark in the formation of the breed. Russell set himself the task of improving the working qualities of the offspring, and he did not consider it necessary to cull puppies because of the shape of the skull or the setting of the tail. As a result, the unsightly and roughly cut short-legged pets of the Devonshire priest won the ardent love of all the surrounding hunters.
Although the vicar himself was involved in boxing (which was a very tough sport in the 19th century, because protective gloves were not used), he was not prone to cruelty and publicly condemned those fellow breeders who mixed the blood of fighting dogs with terriers. Parlor hunting for John was incompatible with killing or severely mutilating prey, he considered the main goal of the competition between foxes and his animals in speed and endurance. Russell’s Terriers did not require ferocity and powerful bulldog jaws.
The pastor’s achievements in breeding and popularizing terriers did not go unnoticed. In 1873, he, along with Sewallis Shirley and a dozen like-minded people, took part in the creation of the organization today known as the oldest dog breeding club – the English Kennel Club. In subsequent years, John Russell was invited as a judge to exhibitions but did not exhibit his own pets, calling them wild rose hips against the background of greenhouse roses. And this comparison was not in favor of the latter.
John Russell, who devoted much of his life to dog breeding, died at the age of 87 and was buried in the village of Swimbridge – in the cemetery next to the medieval Church of St. James, where he served. Since he was actively selling puppies and adult dogs, at the time of death the breeder had only 4 dogs.
The development of the breed was continued by a young colleague, Arthur Heinemann. It is he who is the author of the first draft of the breed standard. In 1914, the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club (parson means priest) was founded and existed until the 1940s. In the middle of the century, Russell Terriers were crossed with dachshunds and Welsh Corgi to improve the character and working qualities. As a result, not only “classic” but also short-legged animals began to appear. The latter was considered undesirable for a long time and in the eyes of the jury, they invariably lost to their tall brothers.
It is not known what the fate of the “side branch” would have been if in the 1960s several dogs with short paws had not ended up on the Green Continent. Of course, the Australians were not going to hunt with them, but they appreciated the energy and ingenuity of their new pets, so they took up the development of the breed with great enthusiasm.
Official recognition of the Kennel Club and FCI came only in 1990. Then both types of dogs were introduced into the standard of the International Cynological Organization under the general name Parson-Jack Russell Terrier. However, activists from the UK and Australia did not abandon their attempts to achieve a distinction, and in 2001 two standards were adopted: for the Parson Russell Terrier (animals with long legs with a square body) and the Jack Russell Terrier (short-legged with an elongated torso).
Like many other representatives of the terrier group, Jack Russell Terriers were bred to participate in the hunt for the medium-sized game that lives in burrows. Of course, the terriers do not have enough speed and power to track and chase, but the English Foxhounds or other hounds did an excellent job with this task, but in getting into the underground shelter and in the fight to force the “fugitive” to leave it, there is no equal to persistent and compact to the stalwart.
It was already mentioned above that the Jack Russell Terriers earned their fame as excellent burrowing dogs, not for their ferocity, but their sonorous voice and high intelligence. They not only understood the strategy of hunters in a given situation, focusing on various horn signals but also made their own decisions, which helped to save energy without sacrificing efficiency.
Since their inception, “jacks” have been an integral part of rural life in the UK. However, since 2002 in Scotland, and since 2005 in England and Wales, fox hunting has been officially banned, although for many it was part of the country’s cultural heritage. Badgers are also today under the protection of conservation organizations. In the south of Spain, there is still a hunting area where it is possible to chase games on horseback, but in most European countries the tradition goes down in history due to the lack of uninhabited territories with a suitable landscape.
But innate instincts cannot be canceled as easily as centuries-old rituals, so four-legged “townspeople” do not miss the opportunity during a walk to chase a cat that turns up or dig an impressive hole in the roots of trees from a nearby park.
The Jack Russell Terrier is a small but sturdily built dog. The height at the withers is 25-30 cm. Strict weight standards are not fixed, however, experts note that the Jack Russell Terrier looks harmoniously, which has 1 kg of weight for every 5 cm of height, that is, the desired weight of an adult representative of this breed is 5-6 kg.
The silhouette of the Jack Russell Terrier is strictly rectangular, elongated (the length from the withers to the base of the tail is greater than the height at the withers).
The skull is flat and moderately broad. The muzzle is somewhat shorter than the skull. The transition from forehead to muzzle is well defined, but not too pronounced.
The nose is neat. The lobe is black. The nostrils are well developed and well open.
The eyes are almond-shaped, dark. Not protruding, the eyelids are close to the eyeball and darkened along the edge.
The jaws of the Jack Russell Terrier should be strong, powerful, strong teeth. Scissor bite. The lips are black, tightly closed.
Ears “Buttons” or dangling. Small, bent in front. Extremely flexible, can be rotated 180 °. The tips are V-shaped.
The neck is strong with a clean, crisp line.
The group is even. The loin is short, strong, and muscular. The back is strong and fairly narrow.
The chest is deep, not wide. The ribs stand out strongly at the base and are noticeably flattened at the sides. The circumference of the ribs behind the elbows is 40-43 cm.
At rest, the tail of the Jack Russell Terrier can be lowered, but it must rise when moving.
The forelegs look the same from the front as from the side. Straight, well set under the body. The shoulder blades have a good backward slope, the muscles are not overloaded.
The hind legs are strong and muscular. The knee joints are strongly bent, the hocks are low. Metatarsus parallel when viewed from behind.
Paws are small, round in shape, with hard pads. Delivered straight. The toes are moderately rounded.
The coat of Jack Russell Terriers can be of three types: hard, smooth, or with a break. Should protect well from bad weather.
Dominant white background with dark spots. The color of the spots can range from black and dark brown to reddish.
Jack Russell Terrier is a real perpetual motion machine. He is simply physically unable to sit in one place for a long time and get bored while waiting for the game. This dog will attract the attention of the owner in all available ways. She perfectly knows the rules of conduct in the house and can deliberately violate them to cause at least some reaction from the owner, who is too carried away by her favorite TV series or new book.
It is important to remember the high intelligence of the pet. Physical activity must necessarily be accompanied by mental activity, otherwise, any activity will quickly get bored. Alternate commands and toys, come up with new activities.
In general, the representatives of the breed are distinguished by a cheerful and friendly disposition. Jack Russell Terriers are great for families where the kids are old enough not to treat the pet like a teddy bear. Aggression for no reason can only be shown by dogs, in whose upbringing from early childhood serious mistakes were made.
With other animals in the house, representatives of this breed do not get along well because of the hunter’s genes. Neighborhood with rodents is especially undesirable because Jack Russells are famous rat-catchers, but they can also cause trouble for cats. In relations with dogs of their own or another breed (regardless of the size of the enemy), due to their brave and wayward nature, they will always try to dominate, constantly entering into skirmishes.
Jack Russell Terriers are best suited for experienced owners as they are naturally cunning, independent, and strive for leadership. If you feel that you are not fully coping with the character of a new family member, seek advice and help from a canine specialist as soon as possible.
Early socialization of the puppy is important so that in the future he can coexist peacefully with household members (including children and the elderly), other pets, and does not show aggression towards guests and bystanders during walks.
The main problems in the behavior of Jack Russell Terriers are considered stubbornness, loud barking, damage to household property, anxiety from loneliness, digging, and chasing small animals. All of them lend themselves to correction with due attention from the owner. A dog shows the worst sides of his character only if he does not meet opposition or sees this as the only way to attract the attention of the owner.
The breed lends itself well to training, the main thing in the process is to be patient, not to forget about the reward, and not to raise your voice. Establishing the authority of the owner is extremely important, but it can and should be achieved with calm firmness. The pet should respect and listen to you, not be afraid.
Despite the compact size of Jack Russells, keeping them in a city apartment is fraught with certain difficulties. Dogs are too active to walk for a quarter of an hour in the morning and evening to satisfy their need for exercise. With a lack of training, they will spend excess energy on destructive pranks. As a result, the furniture, appliances, floors, shoes, and clothing of the owners may be damaged. It should be understood that for the Jack Russell Terrier this is not an act of revenge or deliberate sabotage, but simply an attempt to occupy oneself with something in the absence of the owner, therefore, before leaving for a few hours, you need to find time for a long and meaningful walk.
From a young age, your pet should know that he has his own territory in the house. Choose a location that is protected from drafts and not too close to heat sources. It is necessary to purchase a natural mattress that is strong enough to withstand the attacks of powerful teeth. You should keep toys nearby that the Jack Russell Terrier can chew with impunity upon waking up.
Grooming will not be too much of a hassle, although this breed sheds all year long when kept entirely at home. Only wire-haired terriers need trimming with the help of special tools, for the rest, regular combing is enough. Frequent bathing is contraindicated as it damages the natural protective layer on the pet’s coat and skin. After walking, it is enough to wipe the paws with a damp towel or animal tissues.
Brush your teeth once or twice a week with specialized toothpaste. Check and clean your ears twice a month.
There are standard requirements for the nutrition of the Jack Russell Terrier. Either premium and super-premium food or balanced natural food. In the latter case, the ratio of meat (beef, veal, boiled poultry, and offal) and vegetable components should be 2: 1.
In general, Jack Russell Terriers can be called hardy dogs with good health. But they are not insured against several congenital and acquired diseases:
- osteochondropathy of the femoral head (Perthes disease) manifests itself in puppies 4–10 months old in the form of constant or intermittent lameness;
- dislocation of the patella;
- dysplasia of the hip joints, although large breeds are often considered a risk group, does not bypass terriers;
- heart diseases;
- hereditary defects in the development of the sclera, choroid, retina, optic nerve, and retinal vessels – the so-called collie eye anomaly.
To ensure your pet’s well-being and improve its quality of life until old age, visit your veterinarian regularly for preventive check-ups and follow his recommendations. Do not self-medicate for symptoms of various diseases.
How to choose a puppy?
The appearance of the Jack Russell Terriers on the movie screen and in the photo reports of glossy magazines from the life of celebrities did not affect the breed in the best way. A lot of unscrupulous breeders have appeared who seek to make a profit on the sale of popular animals and do not care at all about the gene pool and raising babies.
It is very important to buy puppies only from breeders with an impeccable reputation and in the best kennels. Of course, these Jack Russells will cost more, but in the future, you will not have to deal with uncontrollable dog behavior or spend all your free time in clinics due to hereditary health problems.
When you first meet a Jack Russell Terrier, it is important to pay attention to the behavior of the selected puppy. He should be playful, energetic, and outgoing. Lethargy, apathy, and lack of appetite indicate poor health and aggression or fear of the outside world – about the instability of the psyche. Do not disregard the conditions of keeping mothers and babies. Cleanliness, adequate space, and the presence of toys are just as evidence of a responsible breeder as the availability of official documents and routine vaccinations.