History of Jack Russells

Since the beginning of the breed in the early 1800s, Jack Russell Terriers have been bred as a working breed. In order to preserve their working terrier traits, inbreeding among Jack Russells has always been somewhat restricted, resulting in a “broad standard” (varied sizes/types/other characteristics). This broad standard and working terrier mentality have made the Jack Russell Terrier a great working terrier. 

Where Jack Russell Terriers Got Their Name

The Jack Russell breed got its name from the Reverend John Russell in the mid 1800s. John Russell, an avid fox hunter in Devonshire, England, was said to have bred Jack Russell Terriers with fox hunting in mind. 

When you consider the traits that would be needed for a breed’s success in fox hunting, the Jack Russell certainly seems to be the perfect fit. The Jack Russell’s personality, intelligence, coloring, small frame, and flexibility (for underground maneuverability) all combine to make the Jack Russell an excellent fox-hunting companion.

The “fox terrier” that the Reverend John Russell bred in the mid 1800s has been able to pass on these traits for more than 100 years thanks in large part to the English working terrier enthusiasts, as well as the modern-day efforts of organizations such as the JRTCA, all of which have had the goal of preserving these traits in the Jack Russell Terrier breed that we have today.

Jack Russell Terrier vs. Parson Russell Terrier

There are two varieties of the Russell Terrier: the Jack Russell Terrier (a.k.a. Irish Jack Russell Terrier or Miniature Jack Russell Terrier) and the Parson Russell Terrier.

Jack Russell Terrier

Also known as the Old Fashioned type Jack Russell Terrier which originates in Ireland and England. The old style Jack Russell is often referred to as English, Irish Jacks, shortie, puddin, or miniature Jack Russell. They are smaller and more stocky than the Parson Russell Terrier. They were originally bred to be barn companions and to keep the rodent populations down at horse farms all across Europe.

The European Jack Russell has a more docile nature and much less of a hunting drive than the Parson Russell Terrier. Our dogs are bred for temperament and substance, not for hunting ability. They are a playful charming breed, but after a long walk are very content to curl up on the couch or in the bed. The Old Fashioned Jack Russell is often described as a sturdy, intelligent, and a well-mannered terrier.

Parson Russell Terrier

Parson Russell Terriers (a.k.a. American Jack Russell) are the long-legged Russell Terriers. They are bred for their hunting ability and tend to be overactive and hyper. Although the Parson Russell Terrier and the Jack Russell Terrier were once both considered the same breed, a distinction was made (and they were therefore considered 2 separate breeds) in April 2003. This was partly due to a lawsuit from the JRTCA to the American Kennel Club, when the Parson Russell Terrier was first allowed registration.

Learn More

To learn more about the history of Jack Russell Terriers, check out this Wikipedia page.


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