The year was 1860 when John Russell began a search for his ideal terrier.
An avid fox hunter, Parson John was looking for a feisty dog that could follow a fox underground and chase the vixen out for the sport to continue. He wanted his dog to be the size of a fox, mostly white so as to tell the difference from its reddish foe and narrow in chest to follow a fox through underground tunnels.
Spying such a dog, Jack, as he was known, bought the female “Trump” from the local milkman. His breeding program began and he coined the name Jack Russell Terrier for his efforts.
Within several years, Jack had a breeding stock that was consistently throwing the dogs he desired. These terriers were often handled by ‘Terrier Men’ who would send them ‘to ground’ to bolt the fox. The Fox hounds that chased the fox as the mounted hunters followed, were far too big for that job. The breed standard called for a dog who was approximately 14 inches at the withers, straight of leg, course of coat and squarely set. Folded ears were necessary so the dog wouldn’t tear them during his underground pursuit and the tails were cropped so as to be a hand hold should the dog need to be pulled from the tunnel.
Gaining in popularity amongst the hunters and the community in general, the active and intelligent JRT was soon a favorite companion breed.
At that time, some confusion arraigned as the ‘Rat Terrier’ was being called a JRT. Rat terriers were often longer in body, shorter in stature and sported crooked legs. To this day, most Rat Terrier owners will state that their dog is in fact a Jack Russell.
From Wikipedia, “In the late 1990s, the American Kennel Club explored the possibility of recognizing the Jack Russell Terrier. This move was opposed by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America as they did not want the breed to lose its essential working characteristics. The Jack Russell Terrier Breeders Association was formed, and petitioned the AKC with the breed’s admission which was granted in 2001. Under the AKC recognized standard, the size of the breed was narrowed from the previous club’s standard and the name of the AKC recognized Jack Russell Terrier was changed to Parson Russell Terrier, with the Jack Russell Terrier Breeders Association renamed to the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America.”
Jack Russell Terriers became increasingly popular with the onset of the television show, “Frasier.” A JRT named Eddie was a star character as he cunningly and cleverly ruled the show’s household. Worldwide, the Jack Russell was a most popular breed as their small stature led owners to believe that they now had an intelligent lap dog. Unfortunately for this breed, they proved to be a troublesome pet at times. Bred to be active and to work, they did not fill the lap dog bill and many were seen to be a handful.
The Jack Russell terrier can be a family pet if challenged on a daily basis. Agility activities, Frisbee sport and jogging partners, as examples, will fulfill the saying, “A tired Jack Russell is a happy Jack Russell.”
Fox hunting is under intense scrutiny as animal welfare proponents sight the cruelty involved. Although mounted fox hunting still takes place predominantly in England and the United States, protesters are often on scene and animal rights groups are outspoken on this topic.
The Jack Russell Terrier is a spunky breed with a need for an active lifestyle. Visit the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America to gain knowledge before purchasing. Do your homework and you may find that this wonderful canine will be your “best friend.”