INTERPRETING THE RUSSELL TERRIER BREED STANDARD
SIZE The previously described proportions are obviously affected by size, but I left this last so that we had covered the chest depth-to-leg length ratio—since we find another conundrum in the breed standard. The AKC standard states: Disqualification: Height under 10 inches or over 12 inches. There is no disqualification for height in the Australian National Kennel Council’s originally approved description of the breed, nor in FCI, nor in the more recent interim standard from the Kennel Club in the UK, the country of origin for the breed. Since our breed is still early in its development and is based on many Australian and European imports, it is not surprising that size varies greatly. There are pros and cons to having a disqualification for height; perhaps it was believed that it would help stabilize the breed so that it does not encroach upon the PRT. But as discussed previously, the Russell Terrier is not, and should not be, a smaller size variety of the PRT. So, do not use size as a crutch in defining that picture in your mind as to what constitutes breed type for the Russell Terrier. When you look across the rings at Montgomery, you will be unable to determine height before making your guess as to whether you see a PRT or a Russell Terrier. As a breeder, I would much prefer an excellent dog, in breed type, that is slightly under 10 inches or slightly over 12 inches to an average dog within the height standard. Now, for the conundrum, the standard states: …small, oval-shaped compressible chest… …small enough to be spanned by an average size man’s hands, approximately 14 to 15 inches at the top set. The Australian standard and the FCI approved standard for the JRT both say that the girth behind the elbows should be “spanned by two hands, approximately 40 to 43 cm,” which equates to 15.7 to 16.9 inches. That is a big difference from the AKC standard of 14 to 15 inches. One could argue that AKC standards are allowed to vary from other countries, but the conundrum is that it is nearly mathemati- cally impossible to have a dog with an oval-shaped chest measuring 14 to 15 inches to not be under height if the chest depth-to-leg length ratio is 50:50. The dog will either be shorter in height or the chest will be deep and narrow (slab-sided) or the dog will be leggy. The only other option is for a larger chest—one closer to that which is stated in the Australian and FCI breed standards. The intent for giving a chest circumference in the breed standard is to ensure that the dog can traverse a fox tunnel and turn around if needed to exit. If the chest is spannable, compressible, and flexible, the intent is met. Learn to span correctly. Learn to feel compression. Flexibility is not tested in the show ring, but breeders should be aware of what it means. Flexibility is demonstrated by showing that the ter- rier can be folded in half horizontally by making the dog’s nose touch the base of the tail. Again, breed standards are not precisely engineered manuals of dog construction. Neither were they drafted by anatomists. Instead, from studying the breed standard, we gain an impression of the founders’ intent for what the breed should be. A fair evaluation of a dog is then an art, grounded in sound knowledge. In this Part One, we have covered Substance and Proportion for the Russell Terrier. Future publications will discuss Balance, Move- ment, and other parts of the Breed Standard for the Russell Terrier.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Candace Lundin is a veterinarian/breeder of Russell Terriers. With her husband, Frank Zureick, they have DBF Russell Terriers, which was an offshoot of their Thoroughbred breeding, training, and racing business at their Dog Branch Farm. Dr. Lundin holds a Master’s Degree in Anatomy & Physiology, with an emphasis on movement, sports medicine, and performance evaluation on the treadmill. Her residency was in equine surgery and lameness. She has served as Associate Editor for the American Journal of Veterinary Research and the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and has worked in clinical development/medical communications for Pfizer Inc. during the development of Vanguard Plus® and Revolution® for small animals. DBF Russell Terriers has bred over 100 AKC Champion Russell Terriers, including the first male and female champions in breed history. They’ve also bred a Crufts Reserve Terrier Group winner, World Winner, two Junior World Winners, and the first American-bred FCI International Champion.
212 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2021
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