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Jack Russell Terrier Breed Description
Parson Russell Terrier, Parson Terrier, Russell Jacks, Rebel Terrier, Russell Terrier, JRT, Jack
Approximately 14-15 Years
Average 4-8 Puppies
AKC Terrier (Parson Russell Terriers) Jack Russel Terriers are no longer recognized by the AKC.
The JRTCA was founded in 1976 by Mrs. Ailsa Crawford, one of the first Jack Russell Terrier breeders in the United States. Ms. Crawford and the early founders of the Jack Russell Terrier Club put a lot of thought into structuring the JRTCA so that work remained front and center.
Towards that end, the club decided that its highest award — the “Bronze Medallion” — would not go to show dogs, but to working dogs that had demonstrated their ability in the field by working at least three of six types of American quarry — red fox, Gray fox, raccoon, groundhog, opossum, or badger in front of a JRTCA-certified field judge. In the show ring the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America decided to ban professional handlers as it was thought this would make the shows less serious (and more fun) while keeping the focus on the essential element of work.
Instead of mandating the kind of narrow conformation ranges demanded by the American Kennel Club for their terrier breeds, the JRTCA decided to divide the diverse world of the Jack Russell Terrier into three coat types (smooth, broken and rough), and two sizes (10 inches tall to 12.5 inches tall, and 12.5 inches tall to 15 inches tall).“Different horses for different courses” became the watchword, with overt recognition that different quarry, different earths, and different climates required different dogs.
Unlike the Kennel Club, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America also decided to maintain an “open” registry so that new blood might be infused at times. At the same time, the JRTCA discouraged inbreeding and eventually restricted line breeding to a set percentage. To balance off an open-registry with the desire to keep Jack Russell-type dogs looking like Jack Russells, the JRTCA decided not to allow dogs to be registered at birth or to register entire litters. Instead, each adult dog would be photographed from both sides and the front, with each dog admitted to the registry on its own merit. In addition, each dog had to be measured for height and chest span. This last element turned out to be quite important, as it meant that the height and chest measurements of adult dogs were recorded as they were registered. Over time, both height and chest size of adult dogs could be tracked through pedigrees — an essential element of breeding correctly sized working terriers. The JRTCA was not shy about their rationale for these rules: they openly and emphatically opposed Kennel Club registration, maintaining that time had shown that dogs brought into the Kennel Club quickly grew too big and often lost other essential working attributes such as nose, voice, and prey drive.
The Jack Russell Terrier is bred to conform to a conformation show standard. Unlike its close relative, the Parson Russell Terrier, Jack Russell Terriers have noticeably longer legs that are about as tall as the length of the Terrier's body. It is a predominantly white breed with black, tan or tricolor markings and an easy to groom coat which is either smooth or broken (similar to a smooth coat, but with some longer hair on the head, face, legs or body). The breed standard does not recognise a Parson Russell with a curly or rough coat. There is a clear outline with only a hint of eyebrows and beard should the dog be broken coated. They possess moderately thick small "V" shaped drop ears with the tip pointed towards the eyes. The nose of the dog should be black. The normal range of sizes is between 13–14 inches (33–36 cm) tall at the withers, with a weight around 13–17 pounds (5.9–7.7 kg).
The Parson Russell has a relatively square outline, with a body about as long as the dog is tall. Compared to the Jack Russell Terrier the Parson Russell has a longer head and a larger chest along with overall a slightly larger body size. The Parson retains the flat skull but not the elongated shape of the Fox Terrier, and with lower set ears. In addition, the Jack Russell Terrier has a greater variation in size, ranging between 10–15 inches (25–38 cm) in height at the withers. Two hands should be able to span the chest of the dog behind its elbows, with the thumbs at the withers. This is required in show judging, with the judge lifting the dog's front legs gently off the ground in this motion in order to measure the size of the chest. The judges fingers should meet under the chest and the thumbs on top of the spine. The American Kennel Club describes this as a "significant factor and a critical part of the judging process." It is not done to measure the size of the chest, but rather to feel for the correct shape.
Under the show standard, there are several physical points which would be treated as faults in the show ring. These are for the height of the dog at the withers to be outside of the standard range, or for the dog to possess either pricked up ears, a liver or brown colored nose, an overshot or undershot jawline or to have brindle markings.
The AKC used to recognize the Jack Russell Terrier however as of April 1, 2003 they changed the name to Parson Russell Terrier. The breed split into two breeds and now the Jack Russell Terrier and Parson Russell Terrier are considered two different breeds. The Parson's name change is in great part to a lawsuit from the JRTCA to the AKC, when the breed was first allowed registration.
Breed Standard - FCI
Jack Russell Terrier
Head: The skull should be flat and of moderate width gradually decreasing in width to the eyes and tapering to a wide muzzle. Stop: Well defined but not over pronounced.
Muzzle: The length from the stop to the nose should be slightly shorter than from the stop to the occiput.
Lips: Tight-fitting and pigmented black.
Jaws/Teeth: Very strong, deep, wide and powerful. Strong teeth closing to a scissor bite.
Cheeks: The cheek muscles should be well developed.
Eyes: Small dark and with keen expression. Must not be prominent and eyelids should fit closely. The eyelid rims should be pigmented black. Almond shaped.
Ears: Button or dropped of good texture and great mobility.
Neck: Strong and clean allowing head to be carried with poise.
Back: Level. The length from the withers to the root of tail slightly greater than the height from the withers to the ground.
Loin: The loins should be short, strong and deeply muscled.
Chest: Chest deep rather than wide, with good clearance from the ground, enabling the brisket to be located at the height mid-way between the ground and the withers. Ribs should be well sprung from the spine, flattening on the sides so that the girth behind the elbows can be spanned by two hands - about 40 cm to 43 cm. Point of sternum clearly in front of the point of shoulder.
Tail: May droop at rest. When moving should be erect and if docked the tip should be on the same level as ears.
Shoulder: Well sloped back and not heavily loaded with muscle.
Upper arm: Of sufficient length and angulation to ensure elbows are set under the body.
Forelegs: Straight in bone from the elbows to the toes whether viewed from the front or the side.
Forefeet: Round, hard, padded, not large, toes moderately arched, turned neither in nor out.
General appearance: Strong and muscular, balanced in proportion to the shoulder.
Stifle (Knee): Well angulated.
Hock Joint: Low set.
Metatarsus (Rear pastern): Parallel when viewed from behind while in free standing position.
Hind feet: Round, hard, padded, not large, toes moderately arched, turned neither in nor out.
Gait/Movement: True, free and springy.
Hair: May be smooth, broken or rough. Must be weatherproof. Coats should not be altered (stripped out) to appear smooth or broken.
Color: White must predominate with black and/or tan markings. The tan markings can be from the lightest tan to the richest tan (chestnut).
Size and Height: Ideal Height at the withers: 25 cms to 30 cms.
Weight: Being the equivalent of 1 kg to each 5 cms in height, i.e. a 25 cms high dog should weigh approximately 5 kgs and a 30 cms high dog should weigh 6 kgs.
Breed Standard - AKC
Parson Russell Terrier
Head: Strong and in good proportion to the rest of the body, so the appearance of balance is maintained.
Expression: Keen, direct, full of life and intelligence.
Eyes: Almond shaped, dark in color, moderate in size, not protruding. Dark rims are desirable, however where the coat surrounding the eye is white, the eye rim may be pink.
Ears: Small "V"- shaped drop ears of moderate thickness carried forward close to the head with the tip so as to cover the orifice and pointing toward the eye. Fold is level with the top of the skull or slightly above. When alert, ear tips do not extend below the corner of the eye.
Skull: Flat with muzzle and back skull in parallel planes. Fairly broad between the ears, narrowing slightly to the eyes. The stop is well defined but not prominent.
Muzzle: Length from nose to stop is slightly shorter than the distance from stop to occiput. Strong and rectangular, measuring in width approximately 2/3 that of the backskull between the ears.
Jaws: Upper and lower are of fair and punishing strength.
Nose:Must be black and fully pigmented.
Bite: Teeth are large with complete dentition in a perfect scissors bite, i.e., upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and teeth set square to the jaws.
Neck: Clean and muscular, moderately arched, of fair length, gradually widening so as to blend well into the shoulders. Topline: Strong, straight, and level in motion, the loin of moderate length.
Body: In overall length to height proportion, the dog appears approximately square and balanced. The back is neither short nor long. The back gives no appearance of slackness but is laterally flexible, so that he may turn around in an earth. Tuck-up is moderate.
Chest: Narrow and of moderate depth, giving an athletic rather than heavily-chested appearance; must be flexible and compressible. The ribs are fairly well sprung, oval rather than round, not extending past the level of the elbow.
Tail: Docked so the tip is approximately level to the skull. Set on not too high, but so that a level topline, with a very slight arch over the loin, is maintained. Carried gaily when in motion, but when baiting or at rest may be held level but not below the horizontal.
Shoulders: Long and sloping, well laid back, cleanly cut at the withers. Point of shoulder sits in a plane behind the point of the prosternum. The shoulder blade and upper arm are of approximately the same length; forelegs are placed well under the dog. Elbows hang perpendicular to the body, working free of the sides. Legs are strong and straight with good bone. Joints turn neither in nor out. Pasterns firm and nearly straight.
Feet: Round, cat-like, very compact, the pads thick and tough, the toes moderately arched pointing forward, turned neither in nor out.
Hindquarters: Strong and muscular, smoothly molded, with good angulation and bend of stifle. Hocks near the ground, parallel, and driving in action. Feet as in front.
Coat: Smooth and Broken: Whether smooth or broken, a double coat of good sheen, naturally harsh, close and dense, straight with no suggestion of kink. There is a clear outline with only a hint of eyebrows and beard if natural to the coat.
Color: White, white with black or tan markings, or a combination of these, tri-color. Colors are clear. As long as the terrier is predominantly white, moderate body markings are not to be faulted. Grizzle is acceptable and should not be confused with brindle.
Gait: Movement or action is the crucial test of conformation. A tireless ground covering trot displaying good reach in front with the hindquarters providing plenty of drive. Pasterns break lightly on forward motion with no hint of hackney-like action or goose-stepping. The action is straight in front and rear.
Temperament: Bold and friendly. Athletic and clever. At work he is a game hunter, tenacious, courageous, and single minded. At home he is playful, exuberant and overwhelmingly affectionate. He is an independent and energetic terrier and requires his due portion of attention.
Spanning: To measure a terrier's chest, span from behind, raising only the front feet from the ground, and compress gently. Directly behind the elbows is the smaller, firm part of the chest. The central part is usually larger but should feel rather elastic. Span with hands tightly behind theelbows on the forward portion of the chest. The chest must be easily spanned by average size hands. Thumbs should meet at the spine and fingers should meet under the chest. This is a significant factor and a critical part of the judging process. The dog cannot be correctly judged without this procedure.
Size: The ideal height of a mature dog is 14 inches at the highest point of the shoulder blade, and bitches 13 inches. Terriers whose heights measure either slightly larger or smaller than the ideal are not to be penalized in the show ring provided other points of their conformation, especially balance, are consistent with the working aspects of the standard. Larger dogs must remain spannable and smaller dogs must continue to exhibit breed type and sufficient bone to allow them to work successfully. The weight of a terrier in hard working condition is usually between 13 to 17 pounds.
Proportion: Balance is the keystone of the terrier's anatomy. The chief points of consideration are the relative proportions of skull and foreface, head and frame, height at withers and length of body. The height at withers is slightly greater than the distance from the withers to tail, i.e. by possibly 1 to 1½ inches on a 14 inch dog. The measurement will vary according to height.
Substance: The terrier is of medium bone, not so heavy as to appear coarse or so light as to appear racy. The conformation of the whole frame is indicative of strength and endurance.
This type of small white terrier dates back to the work of the Reverend John Russell, born in 1795. In 1819 he purchased a small white and tan female terrier named Trump from a milkman in the hamlet of Elmsford. She formed the basis for his breeding program, and by the 1850s the dogs were recognised as a distinct type of Fox Terrier.
In 1894, the Devon and Somerset Badger Club was founded by Arthur Blake Heinemann who created the first breed standard for this type of terrier. The club was formed with the aim of promoting badger digging, rather than fox hunting. By the turn of the 20th century, the name of John Russell had become associated with this type of terrier. The Devon and Somerset Badger Club would go on to be renamed the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club and continued until just before World War II when the club folded.
The Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain was established in 1974 as the parent club for the Jack Russell Terrier in the UK. The club has actively opposed recognition of the Parson Russell Terrier by Kennel Club (UK). In 1983, the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club (PJRTC) was reformed with the aim of seeking Kennel Club recognition for the breed. The initial application was turned down, but after several further rejections, the Parson Jack Russell Terrier was recognised on 9 January 1990 as a variant of the Fox Terrier, with the United Kennel Club following suit in 1991. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed as the Parson Russell Terrier effective 1 November 1997. On 1 August 1999, the PJRTC successfully petitioned the Kennel Club (UK) to change the name of the breed to the Parson Russell Terrier, with the name of the breed club following suit. The international kennel association, the Federation Cynologique Internationale, recognised the Parson Russell Terrier on 4 June 2001. The American Kennel Club updated the name of the recognised breed from the Jack Russell Terrier on 1 April 2003. The United Kennel Club adopted the new name on April 23, 2008. The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) and New Zealand Kennel Club are the only two major kennel clubs to recognise both the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier separately.
The Terrier is a cheerful, merry, devoted and loving dog. It is spirited and obedient, yet absolutely fearless. Careful and amusing, he enjoys games and playing with toys. Stable dogs are friendly and generally kind to children. Children should be taught not to tease or hit the dog. They are intelligent, independent, somewhat stubborn, and they have a strong personality. He makes a devoted, affectionate pet and is easy to train.
He can adjust to life as a house dog provided he gets a lot of much needed exercise. The coat requires little care.
Hunting Dog, Pet.
The breed is sporadically prone to dislocation of the kneecaps, inherited eye diseases, deafness and Legg Perthes, a disease of the hip joints of small dog breeds. It is also prone to mast cell tumors.
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Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network
Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. RescueShelter.com is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.