Av: Katarina Eriksson, freely translated by Webmaster

The breed’s background
Jack Russell terrier was breeded by John (”Jack”) Russell (1795 - 1883). He was a parson in Swimbridge, Devon, England. He was also a committed foxhunter and his objective with his breeding was to get a dog that had those hunting qualities he applied for.  

Foxhunting in England was carried out through that one looked up and then chased the fox with the aid of big ”pack” of foxhounds. The hunters were moving forward on horsebacks. When the fox then went down in earth the terriers' were released and they continued the pursuit under ground.

The terrier would be brave enough to follow the fox down in earth but not so aggressive that they killed the fox. The terrier would either chase out the fox from earth or to hold the fox so the hunters had time to dig itself down to the foxhole. In order to succeed with this it required that the dog worked independently and took his own decisions. Besides the dog's shape must be suited to chase in earth. The body should be compact but smooth and balanced and the chest might not be for broad. Also the dog's colour was important. The white colour fulfils its function when the terrier leaves earth - one pack of excited foxhounds would otherwise easily be mistaken of the fox and dog and perhaps damage or bite the terrier to death by mistake. The terrier should also be so long-legged and sustainable that it had the energy to keep up with long pursuits.

Originally the lightly white terriers' that were used to this type of hunting were called “White Terriers'”. Gradually, the breed was taken up into the English Kennel Club under the name Foxterrier. However over time the dogs were developed to getting bigger chest and longer nose, because it regarded to be beautifully in show rings, and the dogs became also bigger. This caused that their hunting qualities were deteriorated. John Russells did not like this development and continued to breed his “own” terriers' with hunting qualities in focus, without taking considerations to if that was rewarded on the exhibitions. These terriers' became well-known under the name Jack Russell Terriers'.

This fact, that qualities that were rewarded in show-rings meant that the terrier's hunting qualities were deteriorated, is probably the fundamental factor to that we today have several” Jack Russell Terriers’ breeds” and several registered clubs. Certain breed-clubs are organized within FCI, (international kennel-club) and others has deliberately chosen to stand outside. It divides itself also in different countries. In Sweden, there is within SKK (Swedish Kennelklubben) the two breeds Parson Russell Terriers’ (as country of origin is stated England) and Jack Russell Terriers’ (country of origin Australia). There are also registered clubs that belongs to Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain, a English club that works in order to hold Jack Russell Terrier as the working terrier that it originally was and therefore most deliberately acted against one FCI-acceptance of Jack Russell Terrier.

It was however not only to fox hunting that the dogs were used. One used also dogs to hold away rats from the farms. This rat-hunting also led to one of the many macabre animal-sports, which grown and became popular in the nineteenth century’s England. A terrier was released in an enclosure with rats. The winner became the terrier that had killed all the rats fastest.
In order to get a tougher and harder dog certain breeders mixed in Bulldog, something that John Russell seamed to disapprove of. This led to that the dog became more aggressive and it had also that disadvantage that it became quieter. When the dog not barked at the wild, the hunters could not hear where the dog and the fox where when they would dig themselves into the earth. In order to get a more barking dog Beagle was breeded in.

In others parts of England they needed a dog with shorter legs due to the ground but also because they wanted to use the dog to badger-hunting. This led to short-legged variations of the white terriers. Most of these working white terriers' were afterwards called Jack Russell Terriers', a kind of trademark for a good working dog.

The breeds use today
Today, exactly at that time, Jack Russell Terrier (further abbreviated JRT) is used mainly to hunt. The breeders in England and other countries have successfully preserved the breed as a working dog. In Sweden JRT is used in earth (mainly on badger), as pursuit-dog at short distances and as a search and rescue dog.

By the side of the hunting you find many JRT that practise and compete in Working, Agility and Obedience. There is also some trained rescues-dogs within the breed.

Since JRT is so willing to work and easy learned dog are they often engaged as film dogs. They are masters on learning different tricks'!

Behaviour problems
The reason to that dog owners get problems with their JRT is just that it is of the nature a JRT, with the breeds desired behaviours. Too often the owner lacks knowledge and understanding for the breed. First and foremost is it a hunting dog for earth. It is breeded in order to trace itself until wild in earth and then bark until the wild either dashes out from earth or that the hunter dugs itself down to it. This means that it is very good on digging and barking, that it is brave and hot-tempered enough to meet the fox or badger in earth and that it has ability to trace wild. It must also be able to work independently and to take own decisions when it works in earth. These characteristic are often experienced as poor qualities for a dog that will function in our society.

A JRT is very intelligent and energetic. If it may not get an outlet for its natural instincts the dog will find its own” funny” jobs, these includes often to look after their properties or their family, cars chase, cats, birds or leaves and to dig in the garden or in the arm-chair.

Since the JRT likes to works and to be active can it be very destructive if you leave it alone to often.

A JRT is a big dog in a small body. It requires equally amount of activation that a much bigger dog. Their hot-tempered and intrepid make them sometimes offensive against other dogs and since they believe that they are much bigger than they in the reality are, can they challenge dogs that are three times as big as themselves.

The combination of JRT and guinea pig, birds, cats, mice's etc. are not it best. Due to their hunting instinct, is that a big risk the dog injures or deaths the other animals.

Due to JRT needs to run unleashed and ”dash off” they can have a tendency of escaping if they do not get to bee loose outdoors often enough.

Most JRT use to test their limits continuously entire life. Often they also try to raise their owners, which sometimes can lead to aggressive behaviour against the owner.

JRT love to work. They are therefore very easy to train. The training should be funny; otherwise they get tired and find something as they think is funnier. Since they often are hungry, sweets is a good function as award, but also a round with the struggle rag or to chase a ball functions excellently in rewarding purpose. They need both physical and mental activation and they are able to arranging this alone, however the result does not always become desirable for the owner.