The Jack Russell is a small and spirited domesticated dog of the terrier family. Compact, muscular and very energetic, Jack Russells are known as the small dog with the big attitude. The Jack Russell Terrier is a tenacious and stubborn animal due to the breed’s development for fox hunting from the now extinct English White Terrier.
Jack Russells come in two types: those with the smooth type of coat and those with the broken type. Both Jack Russell types have a coarse feeling to their fur. The ‘broken coat’ type has the very recognisable shaggy eyebrows and beard.
Well-balanced and alert, Jack Russells reflect their hunting history in the amount of exercise they require. If you’re not in the position to thoroughly exercise your Jack Russell at least once or twice a day, it may not be the breed for you. Bred primarily for ‘bolting’ foxes hundreds of years ago, the Jack Russell requires a great deal of both physical and mental stimulation as well as human interaction to remain healthy and happy.
It is a sure sign that a Jack Russell isn’t feeling stimulated when they begin destroying property or demonstrate other forms bad behaviour.
Jack Russells tend to show aggression towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex. Their hunting background is also strongly reflected in their determined drive to pursue prey. When taken out for walks, they are notorious for chasing anything from birds to other dogs, joggers, cyclists, cars and even buses. This behaviour can be curbed with adequate training, however, and early socialisation, as with many breeds will dull dog-on-dog aggression.
Jack Russells have a great reputation for being healthy, happy and adventurous little dogs. They are known to generally live to a good age and rarely come down with serious illnesses during their lives.
The average Jack Russell Terrier measures between 25 to 38cm and should weigh between 6 to 8kgs. A healthy Jack Russell will live to the ripe old age of between 13 and 16 years of age.
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Like many hunting breeds the Jack Russell a very enthusiastic, energetic, loyal and loving little dog. They can be quite stubborn when not trained well and they are absolutely fearless in a confrontation with other animals, human beings and motor vehicles.
The Jack Russell is a very intelligent dog and needs strong leadership from day one if you’re going to avoid behavioural problems down the track. Jack Russells need to recognise their owner as a strong disciplinarian and pack leader. They require clear and consistent commands and firm discipline when they misbehave.
Jack Russells can be susceptible to what is commonly known as ‘small dog syndrome’. This refers to behavioural issues that often arise if the dog believes that it is at the top of the pecking order. Barking, growling, nipping and the destruction of property can result if disciple isn’t maintained from the start.
Developed solely for the purposes of the hunt, Jack Russells are extremely energetic and require a great deal of physical and mental stimulation. While they do enjoy living indoors, a backyard is best for the breed and daily walks is essential.
Jack Russells are very loving and loyal animals and can be great companions for children. Small kids should be closely supervised, however, as the breed will not tolerate any disrespect, annoyance or pain. Bites and yapping can occur if the child pulls the dog’s hair or yanks on its tail for example.
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The Jack Russell is named after the Oxford divinity student, Jack Russell (1795-1883) who developed the breed from a now extinct English White Terrier. Russell was a keen fox hunter and developed the breed to chase foxes with great enthusiasm. He developed the traits that we see today in the modern Jack Russell Terrier; its tenacity, enthusiasm for the chase and its determined stubbornness.
Developed in Devon in England, Jack Russells were a unique hunting dog at the time, developed entirely for the specific purpose of pursuing foxes underground. Their small size was complimented by strong and lengthy legs that allowed them to keep up with the hunting hounds and their bodies were long, lean and muscular for delving deep into fox dens.
In the late 1800s, after Jack Russell’s death, only two breeders in the UK continued to work with the terrier. Blake Heinemann was one of these men and introduced the first breed standard for the Jack Russell in 1894. Around this time Heinemann also started the Devon and Somerset Badger Club and began to put Jack Russells to work digging for badgers. It’s thought that Bull Terrier stock may have been introduced to the breed at this time to increase its strength for digging. It may also go some way to explaining the shortened legs that began to appear in the Jack Russells of this time.
The Jack Russell remained a working dog right up until the time of the Second World War when the popularity of fox hunting declined and the breed with it. Many still admired the Jack Russell for its lively and enthusiastic nature and adopted the breed as a family companion animal for the home.
A number of Jack Russell clubs started in the UK in the 1960s and 70s and The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America wasn’t formed until the mid-seventies. Since the 90s in the United States, the show Jack Russell has been known as the Parson Russell Terrier.