Showsight Presents The Russell Terrier


Left: Fig 12. The Terrier Front, J-Front or Fish-hook front of the Fox Terrier. Courtesy of Simon Mills. Right: Fig 13. The forechest is created by the manubrium (tip of the sternum) being positioned clearly in front of the point of the shoulder joint (star).

Balance should exist between the bones comprising the fore- limb. The length of the humerus (upper arm) should approximate that of the scapula (shoulder blade) in the Russell Terrier. Ideally, we want a well laid back shoulder blade of a good length, meeting up at an approximate 90-degree angle with a long upper arm that links to the elbow, setting the vertical part of the forelimb back under the body of the dog. This description means that the Russell Terrier should not have the traditional “Terrier front” or J-front as is seen in the Fox Terrier (Fig 12). This front is a key differentiator for the Russell Terrier from the Fox Terrier because it affects the overall silhouette. The prosternum in the Russell should be obvious, with it clearly evident in front of the point of the shoulder (Fig 13). …elbows are set under the body, with the sternum clearly in front of the point of the shoulder. Even though it is the Fox Terrier breed standard that mentions “standing like a cleverly made, short-backed hunter,” I would argue that the Russell Terrier, and not the Fox Terrier, is a better match. We want a nice length of upper arm in Thoroughbred hunters, with a sternum clearly in front of the point of the shoulder. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that an obvious forechest means that a dog has a correct shoulder. A dog with an upright scapula may have a long upper arm and, thus, an obvious forechest, but it is incorrect. The lack of layback of the shoulder affects the dog’s movement, and the dog’s neck will appear shorter, and the back longer, both due to the vertical orientation of the scapula. The breed standard for the Russell Terrier does not specify a number for the layback of the scapula, and this is probably best. Many books and breed standards talk about a 45-degree angle off the vertical for scapular layback, but they provide no objective sub- stantiation. More recently, cineradiographic imaging studies have identified a 30-degree angle as more accurate. In any case, a pref- erence for an approximate 90-degree angle of the shoulder blade to the upper arm should be the sought-after conformation for the Russell Terrier.

Many breeders claim that the front is the hardest thing to fix in breeding. They will say that once you introduce a bad front into your line, you will not be able to correct it in one, two or even three generations. I have long wondered if the reason for this might be that the shoulder/upper arm configuration seems to be the most difficult area for breeders to accurately evaluate, and so they, unknowingly, inbreed on bad shoulders and “fix” them into their line. Multiple generations of questionable shoulder con- figuration become commonplace, and judges get used to seeing incorrect shoulders and acclimate to them. We need to make a cognizant effort to improve [on this]. Both the lengths and verti- cal orientations of the scapula and the humerus can combine in several ways, only one of which is ideal. Hindquarters The hindquarters should be strong with flat (as opposed to bulging) muscling. The width from above should approximate the width of the oval chest and the width of the forequarters. Balance with the forequarters requires a nice length of pelvis that is neither too flat nor too tipped in its orientation. The angu- lation of the pelvis should approximate that of the scapula. A line drawn from the point of the hip to the stifle should be symmetrical with the length and lay of the humerus (upper arm) (Fig 2). The lay of the pelvis is approximately 30-degrees and the base of the tail is centered between the front and rear points of the pelvis. The lay of the pelvis and a line from the point of the hip to the stifle joint creates a 90-degree angle. A plumb line dropped from the base of the tail intersects the stifle joint. A plumb line dropped from the point of the hip touches the rear foot when the hock/ pastern are perpendicular with the ground. A pelvis (croup) that is too steep will result in a low tail set and a lack of “shelf,” and it will produce weak drive for movement. Shelf refers to the “dog behind the tail.” A good shelf balances well with a laid-back shoulder and forechest. A croup that is too flat moves the femur caudally, resulting in deficient thrust from behind.

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