Showsight Presents The Russell Terrier


Part One: Blueprint or Impressionism?

T he Russell Terrier (known as a Jack Russell Terrier in FCI) is a somewhat newly recognized breed for the AKC (full recognition mid-2012), despite the Jack Russell Terrier’s (JRT) long-time famil- iarity to much of the public. Because this small Terrier has existed in many shapes and sizes for a couple hundred years in the UK (and probably since the 1950s in the US) before it was ever considered a purebred, everyone seems to have a picture ingrained in their own mind as to what a JRT should look like. That picture is often based on what each remembers seeing as a child. So, some think of a leggier, lighter-weight, nearly all-white Ter- rier; others think of a short-legged, heavy-muscled, “puddin” style dog with a good amount of spotting; and then we have everything in-between. These disparate views of what constitutes a Jack Russell Terrier have carried through to modern day, and these different types of JRT can be found in many of our current pedigrees. The existence of various types in the ancestry of our current Russell Terriers commonly results in inconsistency in litters, in what we see in the show ring, and in what judges choose to place. But we now have a breed standard, based on the JRT breed standard first written in 1983 by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Australia and then approved in 1991 by the Australian National Kennel Council, and later by FCI (International Canine Federation) in 2003. So, shouldn’t we have solved our problem with what general type constitutes a Russell Terrier? The Fancy likes to say that a breed standard is a blueprint for a breed. Percy Roberts, the long-respected judge, wrote “A breed standard is the blueprint. The breeder is the builder, and the judge is the building inspector.” No disrespect to Judge Roberts, but my father was a builder and we always had several blueprints laying around the house. They were mathemati- cal, engineering diagrams. None ever stated that the length of one wall should be moderately longer than the height of another wall (a common description in breed standards). If our breed standards were as specific as a blueprint, we could do a computer generation of the ideal Russell Terrier, and everyone would easily agree on correct breed type. So, I do not think our standards are blueprints for our breeds. Rather, they describe an impressionist 3-D artwork of our breed, perhaps, or they provide concepts to consider in deriving breed type. This means that there is a fair amount open to interpretation by breeders and judges alike. So, the purpose of this article is not to simply recite the breed standard, but to suggest how to interpret key parts of it. Of course, it is my opinion as an experienced single-breed breeder who has studied this breed in depth. The reader is asked to consider my view, but everyone will need to interpret the standard for themselves, hopefully keeping the best interests of the breed in mind. BY CANDACE S. LUNDIN, DVM, MS


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