Showsight Presents The Russell Terrier

The Temperament & Versatility of THE RUSSELL TERRIER

By Kelli Van Liew

“They are always thinking, always up to something. THEY CAN OUTSMART MOST PEOPLE.”

I met my first Russell Terrier in 1988 and it was quite a remark- able experience. Little Judy start- ed me o ff on this long journey. Th rough the years of knowing them, I have found their tem- perament and antics endearing and chal- lenging at times. Th ey are always think- ing, always up to something. Th ey can outsmart most people. Th ey were bred to be an earth working terrier able to go to ground after a fox. To achieve this they had to be problem solvers and sometimes they solve problems we don’t want them to solve, like being stuck in a yard. Even then, that is from a desire of wanting to be with their owners. Th ey develop a strong tie with their owners. Th ey want to be with their people as part of the family. When they are bond- ed to you, they look at you adoringly, like you are the most wonderful thing in the world. And you are in their world.

Th ey love to run and play and always are up for adventures. Th ey are great car riders and fun to take on vacation. We have taken ours 2 times to Lake Powell on houseboat for a week. Th ey can be very laid back and don’t mind spending all day on the couch with you watching TV. From years of selective breeding, they can turn into a totally di ff erent dog outside when they see a varmint and their prey drive kicks in. Th at sweet little dog can get it and get it good. Th eir hunting instinct can be very strong. You have to be careful with them because they can fit in very small spaces as their chests are small and compressible. I’ve taught new people how to correctly span them and they have been surprised at how much they can compress. Th ey have to be one of the most ver- satile breeds. Most Russells love to do agility, flyball, terrier racing, earthdog, obedience and any other activity that’s

fun and challenging. Th ey have been used for so many things, from a service/ therapy dog to a drug sni ffi ng dog to a conformation champion. Most are fun to show because they love being the center of attention and have that “look at me, I am the greatest thing that ever hit the ground” attitude. Th ey should not be quarrelsome with other dogs as they were bred to be pack dogs, but they are terriers and disagreements can occur. As far as training a Russell, I have found like most dogs, they respond better to positive reinforcement. Most are food driven and all are toy motivated. Make it fun for them and they’ll do anything you want. Th ey do require a firm but fair hand as far as discipline but they are very smart and can learn quickly. A Russell Terrier is often described as a big dog in a little package. Th ey tend to be afraid of nothing. Sometimes that can get them into trouble. Th ey need

“WHEN THEY ARE BONDED TO YOU, THEY LOOK AT YOU ADORINGLY, LIKE YOU ARE THE MOST WONDERFUL THING IN THE WORLD. And you are in their world.”

216 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014

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