The Jack Russell Terrier is a small dog with a particularly big attitude. When people talk of a small dog with a big dog attitude most of the time they are referring to this spunky terrier whose roots are in fox hunting. While it may be a small dog the Jack Russell is a very adept hunting dog and uses its small size to its advantage. Despite this fact, however, it has earned a place in hearts of dog lovers everywhere.
Origins of the Terrier
It is thought that the Jack Russell Terrier found its beginnings from the English White Terrier when a parson, Reverend John Russell purchased a small terrier talented at fox hunting, from his local milk man. The female “fox terrier,” so named because of its ability to fox hunt and not for any relation to an actual Fox Terrier, became the beginnings of Reverend John Russell’s breeding program in which he strived to breed courageous fox hunters with good stamina. As a hunter himself, it was important to Russell that he had a fox hunting dog that was able to keep up with the hunt as well as drive out the foxes from their holes. Already by the 1850’s these dogs were recognized as a specific breed and this is where the Jack Russell Terrier began.
The Terrier of Russell’s time, however, was larger than the Jack Russell of today. Through demands of the breed over time they began to change. It was around 1894 when Blake Heinemann created a breed standard for terriers that were to be used for digging out badgers, he required shorter legged dogs and it is thought that perhaps this is where the Jack Russell began to shrink down in size from Reverend Russell’s larger fox terrier. As time progressed changes in the dog began to become more apparent but it was post World War II that brought a drastic change for the small terrier.
From Hunting to Household
After World War II there was less demand for hunting dogs and so the Jack Russell began to serve more as a home dog and less as a hunting dog. During this time they were also cross bred with a variety of other smaller dogs creating a wide range of off shoots from the Jack Russell Terrier including “Shortie Jacks”. As society moved further away from post war life it became a popular dog among households worldwide and prompted the formation of a variety of breed recognition clubs.
History of the Jack Russell Terrier
While there have been some changes in the Jack Russell over its history (namely in its height and leg length) the actual breed has changed very little for the past two hundred years or so. The standard for the breed today has the dog measuring in between 10 – 15 inches tall at the withers and weighing in at anywhere from 14 – 18 lbs. Due to their small size it is increasingly common to find overweight Jack Russell’s from their being fed table scraps or too much food in one meal. The Jack Russell Terrier can have a smooth or a broken coat and these coats are always thick double coats which serve to protect the dog that works as a hunter. It is generally white with brown and black spots and it should also have small ears that are triangular in shape.