The Jack Russell Terrier is a real bundle of energy. It may be small, but it is by no means a dog for beginners. A pronounced hunting instinct, fearlessness and perseverance are the essential characteristics of this breed. The lively “Jacky” likes to be the center of attention, be it in the family or on the dog meadow.
The breed was founded by the British pastor James (Jack) Russel from the county of Devon. As a passionate hunter, the man of God was intensively involved in breeding fox terriers. The packs of dogs were on the one hand indispensable for fox hunting on horseback and on the other hand they were also useful exterminators who kept mice, rats and martens out of the stables. The biography of contemporary William L. Davis entitled “A Memoir of the Reverend John Russell and his Out-of-Door Life” describes how Jack Russell bought a terrier bitch from a milkman during a stay in Oxford in 1819.
Their appearance is described in detail in the book: The first thing you notice is the relatively short stylus hair, which is not flat. It was weatherproof due to its insulating undercoat and its appearance was very different from the wiry wire hair of the fox terriers that were widespread at the time. Trump wore the later breed typical Jack Russel Terrier colors white with brown markings on the head and at the end of the back. The straight, high runs move the sturdy body powerfully and, at first glance, indicate the great stamina when running. The overall size corresponds to that of an adult vixen. The honorable memory of the bitch Trump was honored with a painting that is now owned by the Queen and hangs in the saddle room of Sandringham Palace.
The great mother Trump clearly corresponds to the Parson Russel Terrier, which reaches up to 38 cm shoulder height and has a rather square head. The import of the larger fox terriers into the crown colony of Australia took place from 1880 due to the massive increase of the red foxes, which were also imported by the British thirty years earlier. From these original, high-legged terriers, which came directly from the breed of Jack Russel, a smaller, low-legged loft developed as a result of a so-called genetic bottleneck. These hunting dogs met the special requirements in Australia. The reproduction among one another with relatively few individuals resulted in narrow-chested dogs with a maximum height at the withers of 30 cm, which could penetrate narrow fox and rabbit burrows. The members of the first regional breed club, founded in 1972, worked hard to gain recognition as an independent breed, which was also carried out in 1991 by the Australian National Canine Association.
The naming has resulted in disputes that have not yet been resolved. Both species were kept under the same name until 1999 because they came from the same breeder. The proportions of the build in the larger and smaller terriers were also identical. In the same year, the British Kennel Club recognized the original, high-legged breed as an independent breed with the name Parson Russel Terrier. In 2001 the FCI followed suit and awarded the standard no. 339, group 3 for terriers, section 1 high-legged. The smaller loft received the FCI standard no. 345, group 3 for terriers, section 2 low-rise. However, some British and American breeders’ associations did not agree to this renaming and still carry the tall and short-legged varieties under the common name of Jack Russel Terrier. On the other hand, the low-barreled Jack Russel Terriers are not recognized in British breed standards. Last but not least, in America, due to the name conflict, the term Russell Terrier must be used for the low-legged species (FCI standard 345).
The flat head has a weak stop. The Jack Russell Terrier looks very attentive with almond-shaped dark eyes, whereby the small, pointed ears fold forward and lie tightly. The muzzle is strong. Longer than tall, a strong neck is followed by a straight back. According to the breed standard, the chest measurement behind the elbow should be 40 to 43 cm. The tail is carried high when it is active, and lowered when it is at rest. In Germany, too, the Animal Welfare Act allows the tail to be docked when used purely as a hunting dog. The coat is of a basic white color with brown, tan or black markings. The spots can also be multi-colored, in which case the color is called tricolor, for example. The fur can be flat close to the skin, wire hair or burin hair can also be found.
Jack Russell Terriers are spirited power packs that require strong leadership from puppyhood, and that for life. This breed can be very exhausting for beginners, especially if you bring along a squeaky toy or a ball as a toy with good intentions. The Jack Russel will get out of hand and with his pronounced hunting instinct will also get the owner really busy. A lot of exercise with regular breaks is therefore the order of the day. Attending a dog school at an early stage can also put the high level of energy and self-confidence on the right track. Meaningful tasks such as tracking, agility and retrieving make the courageous work terriers completely satisfied in city life when the big halali fails because there are no foxes or horses around. As a family dog, he gets along well with older children, but he has to be approached slowly with other pets. If you respond to the bundle of energy with patience and loving consistency, you will get a loyal comrade with whom you will have a lot of fun.
There were hardly any hereditary diseases in the Jack Russell Terrier. Even in young dogs, however, there is a tendency for the kneecap to shift, which can lead to the affected leg weakening or cruciate ligament tears. In addition, in rare cases there is a shift in the lens of the eye, which is caused by a genetic defect. The suspension fibers of the lens are too weak, tear at some point and the lens shifts inside the eye. This can lead to serious inflammation and glaucoma due to increased pressure in the eye. Without medical treatment, there is a risk of blindness. The clouding of the lens of the eye, cataracts, is also hereditary. In addition, ataxia can also lead to deafness in young dogs and myelopathy, damage to the spinal cord in the cervical spine, can cause permanent movement disorders.
The Jack Russell Terrier at a glance
Origin: Great Britain / Australia FCI Breed Standard 345, Group 3, Section 2: Low-legged TerriersSize: smallWeight: 25 – 30 cmWeight: 5 – 6 kgFur color: white with brown, tan or black markingsEye colors: dark brownUsage: hunting dog, working terrier, family dogCharacter: active, Persistent, spirited, friendly Health risks: kneecap dislocation, deafness, movement disorders Life expectancy: approx. 12 – 15 years
Image: © Depositphotos.com / Ivankmit