INTERPRETING THE RUSSELL TERRIER BREED STANDARD
pictured below: Figure 1a and Figure 1b
My interpretation of ‘strong, active, lithe’ is that it should be a strong, sturdy dog that retains its flexibility and is supple enough to enter a fox hole and turn around in it.
Quotes from the AKC Breed Standard of the Russell Terrier have been grouped into categories for ease of discussion. SUBSTANCE
The Russell Terrier is strong, active, lithe… Substance… neither too coarse nor too refined. …sturdily built…with smooth muscle transitions… …clean, strong neck… …moderately well boned. …loins are short, strong, and well-muscled. Hindquarters are muscular and strong. …weight proportionate to height.
What is lithe? The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as “flexible, supple.” When the standard was first drafted in Austra- lia, club members in Queensland said that it was meant to mean “slimly built,” but those in New South Wales said “bending, read- ily pliant, limber, supple.” When I look at photos of many of the early JRTs in Australia, few were “slimly built” (Fig 1a & 1b). My interpretation of “strong, active, lithe” is that it should be a strong, sturdy dog that retains its flexibility and is supple enough to enter a fox hole and turn around in it. The 10- to 12-inch JRT (called the Russell Terrier in AKC) was developed separately from the Parson Russell Terrier (PRT), and so it is not just a smaller version. The JRT was developed in Australia, the Parson Russell in the UK. It is actually the Parson Russell Terrier that is most closely aligned with the type of Ter- riers that the Rev. John Russell had, and not the Kennel Club recognized JRT. The AKC Russell Terrier, developed as the Jack Russell Terrier in Australia, has a type that is different from the Parson Russell Terrier. I cannot say it enough; it is not a height variety of the Par- son. Both standards call for balanced dogs, but the Russell Terrier standard uses the terms: sturdily built; strong is used as an adjec- tive several times; and moderately well boned. On the other hand, the Border Terrier standard talks about it being “rather narrow in shoulder, body, and quarter,” although it does state “medium bone, strongly put together.” Both the PRT and Border Terrier
call the bone “medium,” whereas the Russell Terrier uses the term “moderate.” I interpret it as a difference. For me, the Russell Ter- rier should be an overall heavier-built dog than the PRT or Border Terrier, while still being of a size to go-to-ground. PROPORTION Length: Height …body of moderate length and rectangular profile. The body is proportioned marginally longer than tall, the sil- houette representing a distinct rectangle when measured from the point of shoulder to point of buttocks than from the withers to the ground. …measuring slightly longer from the withers to the root of the tail than from the withers to the ground. Overall presentation is a compact, harmonious, rectangular silhouette. This is the area of the standard in which too much liberty seems to be taken by breeders and judges choosing a style prefer- ence of their own, so much so that I think that some dogs lose type. Proportion is a critical part of the standard for the Russell Terrier—to differentiate it from the Parson. Breed type is terminology that is frequently used in the dog show world, but not everyone agrees with what it means. Rich- ard Beauchamp in Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type writes that there are five elements to breed type: breed character, silhouette,
206 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2021
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