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Jack Russell Terrier people, please chime in!

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  • Jack Russell Terrier people, please chime in!

    I have been confused for a number of years about this breed and Westminster (or the AKC).

    I have read that the breed was named for an English clergyman, Parson John (Jack) Russell.

    For decades I have known this breed as the Jack Russell Terrier.

    Then Westminster (or the AKC) decides to call it the PARSON Russell Terrier. Why? Somehow "Parson Russell Terrier" does not sound to me like a feisty tough little dog taken out hunting. Doesn't sound very sporty (even if Jack Russell himself was).

    Now, this year, they are calling the breed the Russell Terrier implying it is new to Westminster.

    Why don't they just call it the Jack Russell Terrier, the way everybody else does, and have done?

    Yes, I sound irritated, and I am, but mainly I just want to know what the deal is with all these names and name changes. As it is now, it makes no sense to me, and that is frustrating.

    And no, I have never owned a Jack Russell, but I have met several at barns and horse shows and I like them a lot.
    Rack on!

  • #2
    It's nutty! The way I understand it is that the breed, the Jack Russell Terrier, was loosely organized in the U.S under the JRTCA - http://www.therealjackrussell.com/index.php. They were (and are) interested in maintaining the breed as a working dog. They fought recognition of the breed by the AKC fearing it would loose its working dog characteristics.

    But the AKC did in fact recognize the breed, then selected the name "Parson Russell' to differentiate itself from the JRTCA who didn't have set breed standards. I figured what would happen, over time, is that the breed would develop along show lines (the AKC Parson Russell) or working lines (the JRTCA terrier). Kind of like the english setter - the field type looks quite different from the show type. And accordingly the field type is much more suited to its original purpose of a gun/hunting dog.

    But this year the AKC recognized the Russell terrier (is your head spinning yet?). I don't understand this new addition at all, but I understand its type is different from the Parson Russell in that it's longer than it is tall.

    Here's the breed description for both from the Westminster site

    That's the best I can figure. I'm hoping someone more knowledgable will chime in and correct me where I'm wrong.


    • #3
      as I recall the breed history, the good parson used fox terriers to found his breed...

      Without breed standard you had all kinds of critters running around (in retrospect, I am inclined to consider the shortlegged short hairded kind that became hugely popular in Germany in the 80s to be somewhat off)

      and of course, what those other people had were not the real JR...

      Now, there are a lot of breeders who fight tooth and nail to keep their breed OUT of the AKC lineup. They consider it detrimental.
      The JR crowd had a bunch of those. But hey, if you can't agree on what your dog has to look like, I suppose the ideas on AKC participation vary as well....

      Since there was already a Jack Russel breed, AKC adopted Parson Russel...

      short but confusing story...


      • #4
        As I understand it, the name selections were driven by the breeders/fanciers themselves. I.e., when the breed was first recognized by the AKC, as always, it is breeders who have to come forward and show purity of the breed and show that the breed has a stable and large enough base of fanciers and breeders in the country to support the breed presence enough for AKC recognition. These folks would have needed a name to distinguish them from the JRTCA, not an AKC-afiliated club, as VWBug said, and they went with Parson Russell Terrier. The new Russell terrier is the shorter dog; the Parson Russell is the taller. No doubt each of the three groups feel they have the true JRT, but with the AKC groups, a more defined standard in regard to phenotype would be necessary than the JRTCA probably requires.

        There was a nice thread on JRT's in the recent OT Forum. As something of an AKC person, I would love to hear from folks who have done events with JRTCA dogs as to how large the organization is, what the events and titles are like, etc. I mean, I've read the website, and would be interested in more personal impressions of the Club and its future.
        If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great


        • #5
          The Parson Terriers are the long legged variety and the Russell Terriers are the short legged variety. AKC sees them as 2 different breeds of dogs vs the original JRTCA that sees them as 1 breed of dog.


          • #6
            The Parson Jack Russell (AKC) is like the Jack Russell Terrier (JRTCA). A group of JRTCA breeders decided to switch to the AKC when they were recoginzed. With the JRTCA you can't register your dog with them until they are 1 year of age and do have to meet the breed specifications. Unlike the AkC can be registered at birth.

            Now the Russell terrier that the AKC just recoginized this year are the shorter, old style terrier that some people called the puddin JRT. They tend to be stockier and their tales are not docked or not docked as short. as the others.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you all! I thought the "Russell Terrier" tonight looked more like the JRTs I have seen at barns, except for the sloping back. That I did not like. I thought, Oh, no, not another GSD influence!

              Interesting about the English Setters.

              I thought the Irish Red & White Setter looked a lot more like the old field-type(?) red Irish Setter than the present-day show Irish Setters look, as far as coat and ears.
              Rack on!


              • #8
                I have to admit (not to hijack your wrestling with Russells thread) that I cried when that German Shepherd ran through the ring. What a pathetic mess, a beautiful dog back to the middle of the back and then looks like an absolute cripple. What a mess.

                I don't worry about all of the antics of the fanatics in the AKC. I LOVE my feisty little, stocky JRT, who is not registered. I did not see the dog in the ring but if he has a sloping back they are again perpetuating the destruction of another good working dog. Shame on them.
                "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                • #9
                  Parson Russell Terrier BOB:
                  ^ note they also have a performance page

                  Russell Terrier BOB:
                  can't fine their website but having seen this guy in person I can attest that he is sassy, confident, and structurally sound

                  I think both are very gorgeous but functional breed representatives


                  • #10
                    Good read. I love Jack Russell Terriers but never knew their history.


                    • #11
                      We bred JR's for many years, starting with a bitch from the Portman Hunt in Dorset in 1977. I can still see remnants of my dogs in today's dogs around here.

                      At tht time JR's had become popular in the UK as the horse show dog, because so many people liked a dog for the country and going to places like Badminton Horse Trials was an experience in JR's.

                      Most breeders there used a Hunt JR to breed to another JR based on their performance, and liked it that way, keeping the bloodlines intact, but also more interested in a performing dog. Then along come the fashionistas who
                      have to breed anything to anything, and you get the rotten little thing that passes for a JR these days. The breeders did not want a registry preferring to have performance as the main guideline along with the general look regarding size, etc. We felt the same way, knowing what can become of a breed when they are genetically manipulated for their looks...

                      Coonhounds are similar - best off not in a registry. My 2 cents' worth.
                      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                      • #12
                        When AKC gets involved they muck up perfectly good breeds!!! Always said winning Westmister was kiss of death to a breed!!! Changing the JRT name should not change the breed!!! And don't get me started on the nauseating German Shepherd conformation. "Someone" should be ashamed of what is happening to that breed!!
                        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                        • #13
                          Yes, it is rare these days to see a German Shepherd that has a functional hind end capable of doing what the dog is famous for. On the last GSD thread I learned something about the gaits - they are bred with that low back end so the front end can be pushed to show their movement. A poster posted a slo-mo video of the gait which was shocking, but now I know.

                          ...back to JR's.
                          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                          • #14
                            I used to breed them as JRTCA registered dogs, and i will never get a dog that is ruined by the AKC, i'll always get a pup from JRTCA registered parents.


                            • #15
                              Neither one at Westminster looked like the ones I'm used to seeing/was used to seeing back when they were the 'it' dog for a while--ie not fat little footballs with short legs and little heads. REALLY begging to be punted. The taller, thinner, ones with boxier heads and wirey coats look a lot more appealing.
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                              • #16
                                The REAL Jack Russell Terrier & those 2 other breeds

                                Okay, to set the record straight. I am a long time JRTCA member and well remember what happened with the AKC.

                                There are now three breeds using all or part of the Reverend John Russell's name. Here's a (believe it or not) short history of the breeding and politics of these game little white dogs:

                                In the beginning, the Rev. John Russell bred what HE called a fox terrier. Ideally it was the size of a vixen fox (13") and had the same kind of flexible chest to go where the fox went underground. It was bred to bay and flush the fox out so that the hunt could continue. He bred to many different breeds and types of dogs not so much caring about its pedigree if it looked right and the puppies worked.

                                The dogs he bred became known as the Fox Terrier and if you see pictures of the early champions they ARE IDENTICAL to the over 12.5" JRTCA terriers and the AKC Parson Russell Terriers. Note: Rev Russell was a founding member of the British Kennel Club, but never showed his dogs believing their ability to work was more important than being pretty. Then the show fanciers took over and began grooming and styling their terriers and stopped working them so they became the straight shouldered deep keel chested dogs you see (both smooth and wire) in the AKC ring today.

                                After his death, many tried to take up his breeding program. Some wanted a dog to hunt badger (very fierce) so heavier terriers, ie. the bull terrier were added. Foxhunters added leg and topline with the working Lakeland terriers. Smaller terriers were added but those tended to get barrel chested with long muzzles and short legs who were better suited to ratting in the stable. Those that were "correct" and square but with legs too short to keep up with the hounds were carried in bags by the terriermen.

                                Flash forward to the USA circa 1970. Although there were many fox terriers in the US the "Jack Russell Terrier" began to be imported from the UK mostly from hunt kennels that had kept pedigrees just as thorough as their hounds. These varied in size from 12" - 15" mostly. As people bred them as they did for pets and stable companions the short legged, longer backed "puds" evolved in addition to the square terriers. Puds also tend to have the bowed front legs which is a trait of dwarfism.

                                When the JRTCA was created, they DID (and still do) have a breed standard. Because there is different quarry in the US than the UK (ie ground hogs) they created two sizes 10"-12.5" and 12.5"-15". BOTH sizes are supposed to be square.

                                After a number of years the Club's Breeders Committee began to lobby for AKC recognition because they felt that AKC affiliation would allow them to get more money for their puppies (remember they were the Breeders Committee). Since the JRTCA Founder Ailsa Crawford thought that the AKC and its litter registration and showing just for conformation would be the kiss of death for this jolly working terrier, the JRTCA fought AKC recognition tooth and nail.

                                Eventually some members of the Breeders Committee and other like minded members split off from the JRTCA and formed the Jack Russell Terrier of America Association. They actively sought and eventually got their dogs accepted into the UKC, and fought to have their dogs admitted into the Foundation Stock Service the precursor to AKC registration. They used the name Jack Russell Terrier and they only wanted to admit terriers 13"-15" citing the Reverend Russell's original breeding program. They defended vociferously the need to have long legs so they could run with the hounds (remember that, it's important).

                                The JRTCA fought their use of the name Jack Russell Terrier claiming the JRT was a type NOT a breed. Of course the JRTAA insisted their dogs were a BREED not to be confused with the 'bred to anything that hunted' JRTCA dogs. Of course what was so ridiculously ironic is that ALL the dogs taken into the FSS to create this new "breed" were ALL JRTCA REGISTERED 'over' terriers, some whom it was well known had white lakeland terriers in their bloodlines. After a lengthy court battle the judge decided that if the JRTCA wanted to be a 'type' then JRTCA dogs WERE a type, and that the JRTAA dogs were a breed. That done, the JRTCA wanted to be known and have sole use of the name Jack Russell Terrier. To facilitate this, the Club sold the trademark "Parson Russell Terrier" to the JRTAA. A Club member had had the foresight to register it nearly 20 years before specifically to prevent AKC registration as the taller terriers in England at the time had begun calling themselves The Parson Jack Russell Terrier.

                                So now there were two little white terriers in the USA: the 10"-15" JRTCA Jack Russell and the 13"-15" AKC Parson Russell Terrier. We (the JRTCA) were all pretty much fine with that. For a few years afterwards, puppies whose parents were dual registered with both the JRTCA and AKC could be registered with the JRTCA but that was not riciprocal; if a puppy's parents were not AKC registered, then their offspring could not be. Now the JRTCA registration is also closed as there are no longer any living dual registered breeding stock.

                                Then the breeders of the 'shortie' and 'puddin' dogs wanted a registry. You see although many had JRTCA registered dogs in their pedigrees it is incredibly difficult to breed a correct ie square terrier under 12". Mostly what happened was as the legs stayed or got shorter, the length of back increased, so these dogs never did well in JRTCA conformation divisions. No prizes made for alot of sad breeders who realized if they wanted to win ribbons they'd have to have their own club. Nothing wrong with that.

                                Around the world people had discovered the Jack Russell Terrier. They were quite popular in Australia, but their ratting instincts got them into trouble with the deadly Aussie snakes. So gradually, the hunting instincts were bred out or at least drastically decreased. What happened then was easily forseeable. Without the aggression necessary to hunt efficiently you got a happier, more mellow terrier that got along well with others (JRTs are notorious for being dog aggressive). So in Oz, they already had Parson terriers, and there was no JRTCA to argue against it, so the breed was developed as the Jack Russell Terrier and across Europe the breed proliferated under that name.

                                But the breeders in the USA were thwarted by the JRTCA's previous lawsuit. They had to come up with another name. After toying with the English Russell Terrier, they settled on the Russell Terrier when they applied to the AKC to open the FSS as a precursor to becoming an AKC recognized breed.

                                So now there are three the JRTCA Jack Russell Terrier, the AKC Parson Russell Terrier, and the AKC 10"-12" Russell Terrier.

                                THEY ARE THREE SEPARATE BREEDS (personally, I think now that the JRTCA books are closed - we are only supposed to breed to JRTCA registered dogs- we can call our dogs a breed, not a type.). If a Russell goes over 12" it does not become a Parson (as a pony can overgrow into a horse), it is simply a dog that would be disqualified in the show ring. Same with a Parson that doesn't make 13" or grows over 15". Either will get you disqualified from the AKC show ring. Also, since the FCI JRTs were developed in Oz and Europe where docking tails is not allowed, their breed standard allows for undocked tails. Since many of the Russells showing are Aussie imports, you will see alot of undocked tails flopping over their long backs.

                                HOWEVER, part of what makes the JRTCA's registration system unique is that you cannot register a dog until it is a year old, has a 5 generation pedigree, it has to pass a health check, and the vet has to sign pictures of the dog they examine. Each dog is admitted (or refused) on its merits. Dogs that do not meet the qualifications for registration can be recorded if they are spayed or neutered. So any Russells that overgrow can be altered and get recorded with the JRTCA and compete in all our performance events (they're still not going to win in the conformation ring). Parsons that don't make 13" are also welcome in the JRTCA IF you deny the dog's pedigree (rescue dogs don't come with pedigrees anyway) and they aren't too tall as the JRTCA doesn't register or record dogs under 10" or over 15".

                                I have no problem with the Russell Terrier as a breed. What I object to is their breeders asserting any claim to the Reverend Russell. With their little stubby legs there is NO way they could've run with the hounds as the Parson people insist their breed was meant to do. The Hunt Terriers that were carried in bags were short square dogs. Not long backed colored Sealyhams. I'll even allow that the Russell has a softer temperament and may be better with children. But when former JRTCA breeders WHO LEFT THE CLUB over political and personality clashes and are now breeding Russell terriers INSIST on calling their dogs FCI (Federacion Canine Internationale) Jack Russells, that just galls me because these same people SWORE FOR YEARS THEY BRED SQUARE terriers and were proud to say they bred scrappy Jack Russell Terriers that worked underground. So they KNOW they don't have Jack Russells anymore but since "Jack Russell Terriers" has a recognition factor with the public, they want to use that name to justify the very healthy prices they charge for their dogs. Which confuses me because if you want to claim your dogs are calmer, friendlier and not as hyper as a Jack Russell Terrier, wouldn't you want to differentiate your dogs from that??.
                                Last edited by Kryswyn; Feb. 17, 2013, 05:27 AM. Reason: Clarification of certain points.
                                ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                                Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                                "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                                • #17
                                  As far as I understood, the initial JRTs that I saw in Virginia, about 20 years ago, were imported from England and Ireland. There were two distinct problems with them which had to be addressed and of course, it was likely that the most problematical dogs were culled and sold to soft headed horse people who had to have the dog of choice if you had a horse in Virginia. There were two types, in terms of size, the short legged and the long legged, one intended to be carried in a satchel, the other to run with the hounds. And, there were three coats types, smooth, broken and rough coat. The rough coats seem to be what they call the Parsons Terrier now, were always of a softer, almost too soft temperament. But, all of these dogs were always supposed to work in packs, and within packs, whether with the hounds or the go to ground work that they did more in Ireland and England than here initially.

                                  That means that problematical temperaments should never ever have been tolerated.I remember one eight week old puppy who tried to take the end of my nose off and my sister got a long legged, smooth coated Jack who was part of apack that killed one of the members. He lived for at least 22 years with her, I do not know if he killed anything ever again but he was a pistol, she did have a cat who lived with him, but other than that, she had to stay on her toes for his lifetime to keep him in check. A veterinarian that I knew in Leesburg had a line that was also known to kill it's members. In these kinds of lines, there is where significant problems grew. I do not care how many varieties they make of the dogs, the roughs tended to be a more square dog. You should not see a squarer muzzle or head on a smooth coat. It is as it should be, the dogs worked in different environments in terms of weather and needed different coats for that, mud, water, and terrain determines their body and coat time, and the length of leg, muzzle is determined by the game that they hunt. That is how I understood, and saw the evolution of the dog. In the case of the Jacks, I love all of the coat types, body types, and head types, should also mention that they all have tulip (folded ears) for the same reason, protection of their ear canals since they are a ground working dog, soft sensitive flaps so as to enhance as much as possible their hearing acuity for game.

                                  What always kills me is when what the dog is bred to do, is bred out of it for any reason. They were not intended to be soft companion dogs, but they were supposed to be sociable in packs, bidable by humankind and intensely game to fight foxes under or above ground if need be. That does not make them the perfect family dog for anyone, and you do need to be consistent and firm and very active if you intend for them to join your family. I love mine and will always have one of the type I admire and prefer. I have a beautiful shorter legged male Jack, chestnut and white, who looks just like the dog used in all of those action films, dressed up in character themed dress (I forget his name) and has a perfect English saddle that drapes one side, I guess it is a sidesaddle, a perfect head with chestnut around both ears and his skull, a blaze that runs the whole way up with an island of brown in the middles and black highlights around his eyes. He does not have perfect legs, but he has been a champion of a dog for me. I always said that the black streaks at the corners of his eyes (now fading at almost 12 years) came from him running through hell to get to me as he came from a Pennsylvania farmer who sold to the dealer network on the edges of the puppy mills. He has been a grand dog, I could not have asked for a better friend and companion.
                                  "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                                  • #18
                                    Speaking of "names". We own a "toller" which has the distinction of have the longest name Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. They do abbreviate the listing as NSDTR. I am fine with them staying right where they are the smallest retriever with the longest name.

                                    Our recent addition .. mom was beagle/healer and dad was a JRT.
                                    The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.