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The Jack Russell Terrier is a fox hunting dog, developed in England in the 19th century. There were terriers of all descriptions hunting earth dwelling creatures for hundreds of years before the Reverend John (Jack) Russell developed his particular "strain" of hunting terriers. The Reverend lived in the mid-1800's in Devonshire. He maintained his dogs with a certain body style and temperament best suited to do the job of fox hunting. Our present day Jack Russell Terriers came to be solely by the efforts of this fox hunting parson.

The conformation of the Jack Russell Terrier follows it's original function. Early British fox hunters used a black and tan type terrier, rather than the Fell or Welsh Terrier, whose colouring was too similar to the quarry it was hunting, namely, the fox. Difficulty in telling the terrier from the creature it was bolting out of it's den brought about the desire for a more white-bodied dog. In all probability the English Black and Tan Terrier was crossed with the Old English White Terrier (both now extinct) to achieve the type of coat and colouring we have today in our Jack Russell Terriers.

As the Jack Russell Terrier often followed the hunt on foot, he had to have a reasonable length of leg. As he was needed to run across rough terrain to follow the fox into it's den and squeeze through tight, underground burrows and tunnels in the fox's territory, it only makes sense that the terrier should be built similarly to this elusive fox.

The shorter-legged, bulldog-like, muscular terriers we often see today certainly are not the original working terrier that Reverend Russell owned, hunted with, and bred. They have been crossed in experiments over the years with Bulldogs, Bull Terriers and Beagles, yet they are passed off as Jack Russell Terriers. They are not the true Jack Russell Terrier, the way they were originally designed to be, nor are they as sound in temperament or health. These terriers may have the outstanding character, courage, and intelligence of our Jack Russells, but they do not have the shape required to properly hunt, nor do they resemble a vixen red fox, as is required. They are not true and proper, correct Jack Russell Terriers.

The proper Jack Russell Terrier of today is still able to perform the functions it was originally bred to do. It has longer legs which allow it to travel on foot, it has a light flexible body that allows it to squeeze into underground dens, and it has an engaging terrier temperament that allows it to be both a wonderful companion and an excellent hunter. Photos

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Julie McClure,
1291 Scugog Line 3,
Port Perry, Ont. L9L 1B3,
(905) 985-2350