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rec.pets.dogs: Jack Russell Terriers Breed-FAQ
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp
to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via
the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-fa.../faq-list.html, or
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in the body of the message.
This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.
Jack Russell Terriers
This file was authored by _Stephanie Davis_ in 1994, with various
updates since the original version was distributed. Stephanie Davis
is no longer on line; comments can be sent to Cindy Tittle Moore,
who will make basic updates.
Revisions made February 1997, with the help of Kathy Kemper:
* Added rescue contact
* Corrected several typos
* Clarified BKC/UKC membership prohibition for JRTCA membership
* Added information on AKC registration underway
* Updated information on "True Grit"
* Extensive updates to health section
* Added Brown's new book
* Updated TV commercial question
I consulted the official JRTCA pamphlet and other materials from the
JRTCA to help me in the writing of this FAQ. Do not insult me
personally for items you don't believe to be true.
PLEASE READ! I have had several people email me claiming that "my dog
certainly doesn't exhibit the traits you list" or "geez, should I be
worried that Muffy will turn into a cat killing monster?" etc... All
dogs are different, and Jack Russells are no exception. Not all will
hate cats, not all will be excellent hunters, not all will thrive in
different climates etc. A lot of their behavior is learned or trained,
so please do a good job of training your JRT. Enjoy your JRT, they are
_Copyright 1994 by Stephanie Davis._
Table of Contents
* Table of Contents
* Characteristics and Temperament
* Frequently asked Questions
* Health Information
* History of the Jack Russell Terrier
* Terrier Trials
+ Jack Russell Terrier Clubs
Characteristics and Temperament
The Jack Russell is a happy, bold, energetic dog; they are extremely
loyal, intelligent, and assertive. Their greatest attribute is their
working ability, closely followed by their excellent qualities as a
companion. Unlike some modern breeds, Jack Russells have one type,
hunting. Hunting ability is bred into them. It is their nature. The
unique personality of this feisty terrier is rapidly gaining
popularity, but they are not a dog for everyone, especially first time
dog owners. While adaptable to to a variety of environments, they are
first and foremost bred to hunt.
These dogs come in three different coat types; smooth (recessive),
broken (intermediate), and rough (coarse, longer straight hair,
dominant over smooth). All coats shed, smooth coats shed the most.
They are adaptable to most climates, and usually handle the cold fine,
although some dogs will need a dog blanket or sweater if under 40 deg.
Fahrenheit. The color of the coat must be at least 51% white, or all
white. Black and/or tan markings are allowed. Height can be between
10" and 15", with a proportionate body length. For showing purposes,
terriers are classified in two groups, 10" to 12 1/2", and over 12
1/2" and up to 15". Dogs should appear compact and balanced, always in
solid, hard condition. Jack Russells have a short, upright tail, about
4" long. The tail is cropped shortly after birth, and front dewclaws
Frequently asked Questions
_What famous Jack Russell Terriers would I recognize?_
"Eddie" on the television show Frasier. He is a rough coat. "Milo"
from the movie "The Mask" is a smooth coat. The puppy in the RCA
commercial. "Barkley" from the movie "Clean Slate" with Dana
Carvey. More recent has been a terrier in an MCI commercial. Also,
the Nissan commercial has a JRT in it, and there is a pizza
commercial where a JRT and a shaggy dog lick sauce off a giggling
child's face. The PBS show "Wishbone" features the JRT Wishbone.
_How much should I expect to pay for a Jack Russell Terrier?_
Most breeders are charging anywhere from $350.00 to $600.00 for a
puppy. Don't forget all the other costs involved with owning a dog
-- vaccinations, neutering/spaying, food, toys, crate, home
improvements (better fencing), books, obedience classes (a must!),
etc. You might be able to adopt a Jack Russell from Russell Rescue
for a lower up-front purchase price.
_Are Jack Russell Terriers really as energetic as they seem?_
Jack Russell Terriers are very energetic dogs, with a big need for
regular exercise. They are working dogs, and need to have a job,
whether it be keeping your yard free of rodents (digging is normal
and common, since they are bred to dig after quarry), chasing a
ball, or going for a run or long walk with it's owner. Sitting on
the couch peacefully all day is not in a Jack Russell's agenda.
They require more of a time commitment than some breeds.
_Because they are small, they seem ideal for living in an apartment.
Will a Jack Russell be happy in an apartment situation?_
Given the exercise requirements of the Jack Russell, a home with a
large, fenced yard is more appropriate. They do not take well to
inactive, sedentary lifestyles. However, if you are at home during
the day or are able to provide regular exercise, it may work. They
need a 5-6 foot high fence, since they are known to jump, climb,
and even dig under fences. Many of the Jack Russells in the Rescue
are there because the owner underestimated the attention
requirements of the terrier. Author's note: I work 8 hours a day,
and my JRT is home alone for this time. She does fine in a small
dog-proofed room, and doesn't seem unhappy about her situation.
_Will a Jack Russell Terrier cohabititate with my cat/small pet/young
Cats and other small pets (rodents) will usually not work with a
Jack Russell because these dogs are first and foremost hunting
dogs. They see the cat or hamster/rat/guinea pig as prey (quarry).
This is not true for all Jack Russells, and if brought into the
household as a pup, most could be trained to live with a cat. Many
Jack Russell owners are horse people. Jack Russells are not herding
dogs, so the horse isn't of interest to them. Children under the
age of six can be a problem, unless the child is taught how to
properly handle the terrier. Having the natural assertive terrier
characteristics, however, the Jack Russell will not put up with
even unintended abusive behavior from a child. This should be
carefully considered, particularly with children under six.
_Are Jack Russell Terriers dog aggressive?_
They can be very aggressive with other dogs (not just other
terriers), and in certain cases, more than two terriers shouldn't
be kept together unattended. It is very important that prospective
Jack Russell owners understand this sometimes harsh part of the
_Can I train the hunting instinct out of my Jack Russell?_
To be blunt, perhaps you should consider a different breed if you
don't wish to have a hunting dog. Jack Russell Terriers can be
difficult to deal with because they are true hunting dogs. They
should be kept on leash when in rural/country areas, because if
they take off after a ground squirrel or other quarry, they will
not hesitate to dig and go underground. Terriers have been known to
stay underground with their quarry for days, with no food or water.
Despite the fact that the JRTCA will not register any dogs until they
are one year old and have passed a structured veterinary examination,
hereditary defects do occur in the breed. Some occur because they are
late onset, others because the genetic nature is recessive or
polygenic which means the parents may be perfectly normal upon
examination and yet produce affected litters.
According to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, JRTs are
afflicted with lens luxation. This is a displacement of the lens from
its normal site behind the pupil and may result in elevated
intraocular pressure (glaucoma) causing vision impairment or
blindness. Lens luxation not associated with trauma or inflammation is
presumed to be inherited.
Legg-Perthes Disease also affects this breed, as it does many small
breeds. It is very similar to hip dysplasia, however, instead of the
acetabulum being shallow, necrosis is of the femoral head. This
disease may be a simple autosomal recessive or polygenic (more than
one gene involved) and results in painful hips.
While those are the two most common diseases, the breed can also be
afflicted with epilepsy, skin conditions (including allergies), and
genetic deafness. The latter is associated with white coats:
Dalmatians and some other white dogs have the same problem. A BAER
test is necessary to rule out the condition. One may know that a dog
can hear, but only the BAER test can prove whether the hearing is in
both or only one ear.
The JRTCA recently sent out a Genetics Disorder Survey (January 1997)
to all members who have a registered kennel prefix. Its purpose is to
help determine genetic problems and frequency of occurrence in the
breed. The results will be published in _True Grit_, the club
As in all breeds, there are good and poor breeders. Purchase a pup
from someone who has completed BAER tests, eye examinations and hip
evaluations on their breeding stock. This will improve your chances of
a healthy pup.
History of the Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers are a type, or strain, of working terrier; they
are not purebred in the sense that they have a broad genetic make-up,
a broad standard, and do not breed true to type. You will see
different "types" of JRTs, from long-bodied, short, crooked legs to a
more proportioned length of body and longer legs. This is a result of
having been bred strictly for hunting since their beginning in the
early 1800's, and their preservation as a working breed since.
The Jack Russell takes its name from the Reverend John Russell who
bred one of the finest strains of terriers for working fox in
Devonshire, England in the mid-to-late 1800's. Rev. Russell
(1795-1883), apart from his church activities, had a passion for fox
hunting and the breeding of fox hunting dogs; he is also said to be a
rather flamboyant character, probably accounting for his strain of
terrier's notability and the name of our terrier today.
John Russell maintained his strain of fox terriers bred strictly for
working, and the terrier we know of today as the Jack Russell is much
the same as the pre-1900's fox terrier. The Jack Russell has survived
the changes that have occured in the modern-day Fox Terrier because it
has been preserved by working terrier enthusiasts in England for more
than 100 years. It is the foremost goal of the JRTCA that the Jack
Russell continues in that tradition.
The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) breed registry is one
of the most unique registries in the world. It has been designed
specifically to maintain the the Jack Russell Terrier as a healthy
working breed, free from genetic faults and characteristics that would
be detrimental to the breed. Unlike other registries which register
entire litters at birth, each application for registration in the
JRTCA is judged on the individual terrier's own merits; having
registered parents does not automatically guarantee that a terrier can
be registered. A terrier is not eligible for registration until it
reaches one year of age and has attained its adult height, dentition,
and other aspects considered for full maturity. Each terrier's
application for registration must be accompanied by the following
* Veterinary Certificate. A JCTRA Veterinary Certificate, designed
specifically for the Jack Russell Terrier, must be completed and
signed by a liscensed veterinarian stating that he has examined
the terrier and found it to be free from inherited defects.
* Pedigree. A complete pedigree, signed by the breeder (4
generations are required as of July 1, 1993). The JRTCA will not
accept any terrier that is inbred according to the JRTCA's
* Stud Service Certificate. A stud certificate signed by the owner
of the sire, verifying that they bred their stud dog to the dam of
the terrier applying for registration.
* Color Photographs. Clear photos, standing on a firm surface,
clearly showing each side and the front of the terrier, are
required in order to evaluate the terrier's general adherence to
the breed standard.
The JRTCA and the JRT Club of Great Britain (JRTCGB), along with the
majority of the JR Clubs in the world, strongly oppose recognition of
the Jack Russell by any kennel club/national all-breed registry. Most
JRT owners, and all working terrier people, seem to be in complete
agreement on this issue. The highest compliments the JRTCA receives
comes from its registry. Those familiar with kennel club registries
would say that they are proud to be associated with a registry that
turns down dogs with genetic faults. Kennel club registries accept
anything, and thus implicitly condone breeding from it. By turning
down dogs with inherited defects, the JRTCA is doing a great service
to protect the Jack Russell and keep out serious faults in the breed.
The UKC accepted the Jack Russell Terrier for registration in 1992,
against the advice of the JRTCA. The JRTCA views this as a clear and
present danger to its efforts of preserving and protecting the Jack
Russell Terrier, and in no way endorses recognition of the Jack
Russell Terrier by the UKC or any other all-breed registry. All Jack
Russell Terrier owners are asked to support the JRTCA in its efforts
to protect and preserve the Jack Russell Terrier as we know it today,
and not to support the UKC registration of Jack Russell Terriers. The
JRTCA fully expects that in the future they will have to face further
challenges as the Jack Russell Terrier becomes more and more popular,
and trust that the JRTCA members, and all Jack Russell enthusiasts,
will be equal to the task.
The Parson JRT Club in England actively campaigned for and acquired
British Kennel Club recognition for a terrier meeting a narrow portion
of the JRT breed standard. This small group has only been in existence
a few years and has formed their own standard including only a
specific size and type which they claim was preferred by Rev. Parson
himself. The BKC accepted the proposal, however, the JRTCA and JRTCGB
will refuse membership to anyone belonging to The Parson JRT Club, the
Jack Russell Terrier Breeder's Assoc., or who have JRT's registered
with the BKC or the UKC.
In the fall of 1996, the AKC accepted the JRT in its new Foundation
Stock Registry. Dogs registered here cannot compete in AKC events. AKC
officials state that this type of registry is a holding area for
breeds so that they can obtain the numbers, registrations and
statistics necessary to become fully recognized. The recognition
process could take anywhere from two to twenty years but it has begun.
Traditionally, the Jack Russell Terrier trial is made up of three
divisions: conformation, go-to-ground, and racing. Obedience, agility,
and search 'n' sniff are also being included more often in these
Conformation classes are judged much like any other dog show. The
winner is the dog that most closely matches the breed standard. In
addition to conformation and movement, the dog is judged on
temperment; as in all things having to do with Jack Russells, the best
working dog is being sought.
Go-to-Ground consists of wooden liners placed in a trench dug in the
ground. They are made to resemble as closely as possible natural earth
where a dog might encounter fox or other prey. At the end of the
course is a cage with two or three rats. The terrier is judged on how
quickly it it gets to the liners and finds the rats, and on how it
"worries" its quarry. The judge wants to see the Jack Russell bark,
growl, dig and whine.
The Racing division is probably what first attracts and most excites
both terriers and owner at these trials. A sanctioned track is at
least 150 feet long, and is a straight course (sometimes with jumps
added) with a starting box at one end and a stack of hay bales with a
hole in the middle (the finish line) at the other. A lure (usually a
piece of scented fur) is attached to a piece of string that is pulled
along by a generator. The dogs are muzzled for safety because of the
excitement. The first dog through the hole in the haybales is the
winner--and the winner, despite the impediment of the muzzle, usually
has the lure clamped firmly between its teeth.
The JRCTA gives out three types of Certificates for working. The
Natural Hunting Certificate Below Ground in the Field, the Sporting
Certificate, and the Trial Certificate. The Trial and Natural Hunting
Certificate can only be awarded to a terrier by a sanctioned working
Although the JRTCA has not yet adopted rules covering obedience work,
some trials offer obedience competitions. The individual trial
officials can tell you the requirements for their events.
_The Jack Russell Terrier -- An Owner's Guide to A Happy Healthy Pet_
by Catharine Romaine Brown. Especially good for first time JRT owners.
T.F.H. Publications has a book called _Jack Russell Terriers_.
_The Complete Jack Russell Terrier_, by Brian Plummer. Great book on
the hunting with JRTs, with training tips and more... The best book
_The Making of the Parson Jack Russell Terrier_ written by Jean &
Frank Jackson and published in England.
The JRTCA has a bi-monthly newsletter called "True Grit." It has
80-100 pages (this has changed with the format changing from 8.5 x 5.5
to 8.5 x 11--new page length is 40 to 50) of information, including
updates on what is happening in the Club and with JRTs worldwide with
articles on veterinary medicine, breeding, and general interest. It
also contains poems, humorous stories and advice and training of
hunting, as well as listings of JRT trials throughout the country and
shops which carry JRT items. The newsletter is available free only
with a JRTCA membership.
The majority of the dogs that end up in the Russell Rescue are
unwanted simply for being Jack Russells by nature and behavior. Owners
often find that they were unprepared for the care required for this
feisty terrier; and did not understand the nature of the breed, and
their instinctive desire to hunt. Owners are often gone all day, and
therefore unable to provide the time, attention, and level of activity
necessary to this active little dog.
Consider a Rescue dog before a puppy... give a Jack Russell Terrier a
second chance at a good terrier life!
JRTCA Russell Rescue c/o Catherine Romaine Brown Humane Services of
the JRTCA 4757 Lakeville Road Geneseo, NY 14454-9731
Jennifer Carr - Rhode Island (401) 737-1041
Patti Cranmer - New Jersey (609) 261-3251
Conni Martin - Washington (206) 885-9858
Paul Kimmerly - Kansas (913) 432-0989
Jack Russell Terrier Clubs
_Jack Russell Terrier Club of America Inc._
P.O. Box 4527, Lutherville, MD 21094-4527
_Jack Russell Terrier Club of Canada_
Yvonne Downey, 242 Henrietta St, Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada,
_Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain_
Chairperson Greg Mousley, Aston Heath Farm, Sudbury, Derbyshire
Jack Russell Terrier FAQ
Stephanie Davis, c/o
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