The Jack Russell Terrier is a breed of terrier developed in England.
About the size of a fox, the Jack Russell Terrier stands 30 to 35 centimeters (12 to 14 inches) tall and weighs 6 to 8 kilograms (13 to 17 pounds).
Its legs are longer than those of many other terriers, enabling the dog to pursue its prey on foot. It has a “button ear,” which folds forward. Its tail can be docked to a few inches, traditionally left long enough to provide a handhold to pull the dog from a fox’s burrow. Tail docking is optional, relative to the breed standard, and occurs primarily in those dogs that are bred for fox hunting.
The Jack Russell Terrier has a double coat — predominantly white with black, tan, or black-and-tan markings — that is harsh and weatherproof and may be either rough and wiry, broken (intermediate), or smooth.
The average lifespan of the Jack Russell Terrier is 13 to 16 years.
The Jack Russell Terrier was developed in the 19th century for hunting foxes both above and below ground.
It was named for the Rev. John Russell, an avid hunter who created a strain of terriers from which are also descended the Wire Fox Terrier and the Smooth Fox Terrier.
Russell was born in 1795 into a devoutly religious family that lived in the countryside of Dartmouth, England. He was educated at Blundell’s School and would later attend Oxford University. By 1814 the nineteen year old Russell was associating with the nobles and aristocrats of England. It was at this time that the young man was invited to his first fox hunting expedition with a group that was led by the late Earl of Fortescue. He immediately fell in love with the sport fox hunting which would develop into a lifelong obsession.
In 1819 during his last year of university at Exeter College, Oxford, Russell purchased a small white and tan terrier female named Trump from a local milkman in the nearby small hamlet of Elsfield or Marston. Trump epitomised his ideal fox terrier, which, at the time, was a term used for any terrier which was used to bolt foxes out of their burrows.
By 1830 Russell would establish an intensive breeding program in order to create a breed that would meet the needs of any British hunter. By the 1850s, these dogs were recognised as a distinct breed.
It is unlikely, however, that any dogs alive today can be proved to be descendants from Trump, as Russell was forced to sell all his dogs on more than one occasion because of financial difficulty.
In his lifetime Russell would become one of the original founding members of The Kennel Club, the first ever officially recognized and sanctioned dog breeders and showers association.
Many breeds can claim heritage to the early Jack Russell Terrier of this period, including the Brazilian Terrier, Japanese Terrier, Miniature Fox Terrier, Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz, Rat Terrier, and Tenterfield Terrier.
Further crossbreeding occurred, with Welsh Corgis, Chihuahuas, and other smaller breeds of terrier.
Following World War II, the requirement for hunting dogs drastically declined, and with it the numbers of Jack Russell terriers. The dogs were increasingly used as family and companion dogs.
Due to their working nature, Jack Russell Terriers remain much as they were some 200 years ago.
The breed is noted for its tenacity, courage, energy, and strong hunting instinct.
Jack Russells have appeared many times in film, television, and print – with several historical dogs of note.
Nipper was a dog born in 1884 who was thought to be a dog of the Jack Russell terrier type. He was the inspiration for the painting Dog looking at and listening to a Phonograph, later renamed to His Master’s Voice. The painting was used by a variety of music related companies including The Gramophone Company, EMI, the Victor Talking Machine Company, and RCA. Today it remains in use incorporated into the logo for HMV in the UK and Europe.
A Jack Russell named Bothy made history in 1982 as part of the Transglobe Expedition. Owned by explorers Ranulph and Ginny Fiennes, he became the first dog to travel to both the North and South Poles. This feat is unlikely to be repeated, as all dogs have been banned from Antarctica by the Antarctic Treaty nations since 1994, due to fears that they could transmit diseases to the native seal population. Ranulph Fiennes and Charles Burton actually made the trip to the north pole by powered sledges before signalling to the base camp that they had arrived. To celebrate their achievement, a
plane was sent out to take the two men champagne, along with Bothy.
Uggie was a trained Parson Russell Terrier famous for his roles in Water for Elephants and The Artist. His memoir Uggie, My Story was published in the United States, UK, and France in October 2012. The campaign “Consider Uggie” was launched in December 2011 on Facebook by S.T. VanAirsdale, an editor at Movieline, for Uggie to receive a real or Honorary Academy Award nomination. BAFTA announced that he would be ineligible for one of its awards, while he received a special mention at the Prix Lumière
Awards in France. He won the Palm Dog Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.