Russell Terrier

11-17 lbs
Jack Russell Terrier, Jack, JRT, Rebel Terrier, Parsons Terrier

The Russell Terrier is a dynamic small dog who is full of personality, energetic, active and bossy. Other words that come to mind when describing these dogs are clever, stubborn, persistent, impulsive, feisty, quick to bark and even quicker to chase. Their original purpose was to hunt small game, and to this day they still possess very strong chasing instincts (beware of your cat and other small pets). They can be aggressive towards other dogs (including their breed) as well if not socialised properly when young. They have boundless energy and love to chase the ball, dig holes, bark and enjoy challenging games such as agility training, flyball or advanced obedience training. These small dogs need a lot of exercise, plenty to occupy their minds with, and they need a very strong pack leader (that means you as the owner) who can get their respect and teach them that they do need to listen and do what you say. Raised and trained well, with a strong leader, they make adorable, friendly dogs, loyal through and through, and are ideal companions. They are not suited to a solitary or sedate lifestyle due to their high energy.y level but can adapt to an apartment if they get a lot of exercise during the day.

Hunting small game
Date of Origin
Wire Fox Terrier, Beagle

Russell Terrier Health

Average Size
Male Russell Terrier size stats
Height: 9-15 inches Weight: 13-18 lbs
Female Russell Terrier size stats
Height: 8-14 inches Weight: 11-17 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
Minor Concerns
  • Deafness
  • Lens Luxation
  • Mast Cell Tumors
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Blood
  • Knee
  • Hearing
  • X-Rays
  • Physical Examination

Russell Terrier Breed History

The breed takes its name from the Reverend John Russell who bred one of the finest lines of Terriers that were destined to be fox hunters in England. He started the breed from a female Terrier named Trump, and it is thought that she was crossed with a Fox Terrier and possibly a Beagle to get the new breed. A debate about their genetic makeup has led to disagreements regarding their name and the standards for their breed. In England, a longer legged dog for hunting was encouraged, and the Russell Terrier standards were very broad in characteristics. Not happy with the wide standards, in April 2003 the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America was changed to the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America, and the debate still goes on. The use of the Russell Terrier in movies and television programs have increased the breed's popularity in recent years. The Russell Terriers are portrayed as small heroic dogs who are so well trained and obedient; loveable characters which in reality only happens though thorough, consistent training.

Russell Terrier Breed Appearance

The Russell Terrier is a sturdy, tough little Terrier who is not afraid of anything or anybody. They have a well-balanced compact body that is in proportion to their height. The head is finely balanced and in proportion to the body, with a defined stop. The muzzle is well defined, and the nose is black. The ears are small and v-shaped; these drop ears are carried forward and close to the head.  The jaws are surprisingly powerful and well boned, with muscled cheeks. The eyes are expressive, dark in color and almond shaped. They are full of life and watchful, never missing a trick. The teeth can either be level or scissored. The upper teeth slightly overlap the lower row. This little dog has a muscular neck with sloping shoulders and well laid back. Their legs are strong and sturdy, and they have a shallow, narrow chest. The Russell Terrier has an athletic appearance, ready to accelerate at a moment’s notice into a chase. Their round, hard padded feet propel them onwards, and their tail is set high and proud. This breed is an attractive dog that has a loyal following for its antics. They run with a free, lively, well-coordinated step, and are ideally suited for their purpose – hunting.

Russell Terrier Breed Maintenance

The Russell Terrier is a high shedder regardless whether it is a smooth coat or a rough coat. Everywhere you look, there will be little white hairs on your clothes, the carpet, and the bed. These active little dogs are easy to groom though, and with the use of a firm bristle brush and a bath when needed, they will be more manageable. If you want to show the dog, then you must strip the coat to meet the show standards. The thing that Russell Terrier’s need the most is exercise. Although they are small, they are full of energy, and if they are allowed to become bored, they will get into mischief. They can be an inside dog but are very active, so once again; they need to be worked outside to a standstill so that they fall asleep once inside. A fence is necessary to keep these dogs in or they will be off chasing the neighbor’s cat, and goodness knows what else. They need a high fence as they are excellent escape artists who can ‘climb’ a fence and disappear. Make sure they cannot dig under the fence as well. It is important to keep their teeth clean to prevent later gum problems, so it is important to train them with this at an early age. Ear and eye checks need to feature regularly in your maintenance program to keep them in great health.

Russell Terrier Temperament

By now you will have the message that the Russell Terrier is an energetic, cheerful, mischievous dog that loves its family and is loyal and protective towards it. Well trained Russell Terrier dogs enjoy games and are usually kind to children, but the child does need to be taught not to tease or hit the dog. These dogs are intelligent, and if not controlled or trained properly, they can become wilful and determined. Don’t let the size of this dog fool you, they are bossy and will take over if you let them. They need to be trained to accept you as their pack leader and that there are rules they need to follow. An untrained Russell Terrier can become aggressive, destructive and disobedient. If this happens, they can suffer behavior problems such as excessive barking, snapping, and anxiety. They will attack other dogs and fight to the death – even their own. This Terrier has much stronger hunting instincts than your usual Terrier; they will hunt and chase anything that moves so keep them on a leash when out walking. These dynamo dogs are not the breed for an inexperienced owner. They will not sleep at your feet, nor stride quietly at your side on a walk. They are a working dog by nature and need plenty to do, tons of training, and a firm hand. Having alerted you to the disadvantages of these dogs, they are a loving companion, full of personality, they will make you smile, and they will be your best buddy - but it helps if you are the strong, active type. 

Russell Terrier Owner Experiences

4 Years
The Russell Terrier that I walked was a very strong dog and very powerful, however nothing that was too out of hand that needed the walk to be cut short. They are originally hunting dogs which explains their strength and attentiveness on a walk. They were very loving, and not aggressive at all but were a bit bossy in terms of strong force when walking which was persistent throughout the entire walk.
1 year, 5 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
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