A bold, happy and high energy dog, the Jack Russell Terrier is a fun dog to have around in the right surroundings. This little dog is feisty and is not afraid to show it and it is important that the owner does not forget its working roots to ensure a long and happy life with their pet.
The Jack Russell Terrier as we know it today was bred by the Reverend John Russell in the early 1800's. As a hunting enthusiast, the Reverend purchased a mostly white haired Fox Terrier he called 'Trump' to help him distinguish between his dog and the quarry in the field. From there, Trump became the founder of a breeding programme headed by the good Reverend and by the mid 1800's a distinct breed had emerged with the mainly white hair he was aiming for, with the stamina to cope with tough field conditions, the drive to chase and follow prey which had gone to ground but the intelligence and control of aggression to not kill the prey, (the Reverends claim was that his dogs had, 'never tasted blood'). Thus the Fox Terrier and ultimately the Jack Russell Terrier is likely to be descended from dogs of this period.
After the death of Reverend Russell, a group of enthusiasts carried on the work and aimed to breed small terriers under 6.5kg in weight and in the late 1800's a club was formed which was named the 'Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club' as their popularity as hunting dogs grew. Their numbers declined during the 2nd World War and gradually they started to be kept in family homes as pets rather than as working dogs.
Average height to withers: 11-14 inches for both males and females
Average weight: 6-8 kg for both males and females
Small and perfectly formed is how enthusiasts often describe this breed - and indeed they are! Sturdy and tough, with a body in proportion to their height, they are compact dogs with dark, intelligent and lively eyes, dropped, triangular ears and a predominantly white coat with black, tan or black and tan markings. The coat can be either rough or smooth and is simply a personal preference and is made for the outdoor life, usually being a double coat. A notable feature of the Jack Russell Terrier is that its chest is not too deep as this may hinder its work in dens, burrows and other compact areas.
A true Terrier to its very core, the Jack Russell Terrier has more energy size for size than any other small dog. The owner of this little dog should be prepared for its boundless stamina and fun all the way! Its high energy and exuberant nature makes it a great choice for canine sports such as flyball and its natural intelligence can be focussed in agility and obedience competitions. Outside a working life, a 'job' such as one of these canine sports is a good idea as a bored Jack Russell Terrier can be a very destructive one, and is especially given to digging and chewing anything and everything in sight, indoor or out.
Early socialisation is paramount, especially if the dog is to live with smaller animals (although for terrier types with this strong hunt-prey drive nature it is not always recommended). If not socialised correctly, the Jack Russell Terrier can become 'snappy' and very dominant with all it encounters.
Jack Russell Terriers are noted as a breed for its longevity, often living up to the age of 16 years and beyond. This is largely due to the sensible use of the gene pool adopted by good breeders. As a result, it is a very healthy breed and has few health worries for the owner; however, some issues the owner needs to be aware of include deafness, (often encountered in white haired animals) and cataracts.
Jack Russell Terriers need plenty of exercise given its size, something of which prospective owners are not always aware. They will seem to go on and on long after you have called home time! As hunting dogs it is worth taking the time to ensure they have an excellent recall or are kept on a lead in certain areas where there is high wildlife activity. Even the best behaved of Jack Russell's can be lured away from its owner with the promise of a good chase and going to earth, (be prepared that you may have dig out this little fellow on occasion).
This breed can shed reasonably heavily, so grooming once a week will benefit the dog.