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.
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 Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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 all special.
Copyright 1994 by Stephanie Davis.
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 are removed.
"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 child/horse?
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 terrier's nature.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.
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 newsletter.
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.
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 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.
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 judge.
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.
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 I've read.
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.
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