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Breed Description

The Jack Russell Terrier was developed as a fox hunting dog. A correct Jack Russell Terrier will possess all the characteristics that made it an excellent hunting companion in the past. It should be noted that many dogs currently seen today, are not true to type, the way they were originally developed, back in Victorian England. Please, visit our History of the Breed, for more information on this subject. The correct Jack Russell Terrier is described below. (see Photo)


Jack Russell Terriers should be between 10 to 15 inches at the withers. Dogs between 10 and 12 1/2 inches are shown as small, while over 12 1/2 up to 15 inches are shown as tall. The two sizes allow the dog to hunt different types of quarry. Smaller ones usually stick to ratting, groundhog and smaller quarry, while larger dogs are also used for larger fox, raccoon and more heavy, challenging quarry.


The Jack Russell coat can be smooth, broken or rough. All coats should have a coarse texture and should never be soft or woolly. A broken coat is like a long smooth coat, and above all is a very desirable coat. Coats which are too long may lead to grooming problems and often lose their texture. Smooth coated terriers tend to shed more than their rougher, or broken coated littermates, who mostly lose seasonal undercoat.


The coat should be more than 50% white. JRTs may have black, tan or both colours in various patches around the body, but brindle is definitely not desired and will disqualify a dog from registering, because it usually means foreign breeding down the line (often bull terrier).

The Head:

Jack Russell Terriers should have flat skulls, not domed. A moderate width at ears, well proportioned with the body, is expected. The JRT should have a defined stop, but not too much. The muzzle length from the nose to the stop should be a bit less than the distance from the stop to the top of the skull. The nose is always to be black, with powerful jaws and strong, well muscled cheeks. The eyes should be very dark and almond in shape. Blue, or light yellow eyes are a disqualification as they are evidence of foreign (mixed) breeding. The eyes should be bright and full of intelligence. The ears should be small, "V" shaped drop ears, carried forward close to the head and of moderate thickness.


A scissors bite if preferred, but level is acceptable. An overshot, or undershot bite will stop a dog from registering and this dog should not be used as a breeding terrier.

The Body:

The Jack Russell Terrier should give the appearance of a strong, healthy, square terrier. The chest should remain small and spannable, regardless of how much bone the dog has. When a judge checks a terrier for size in the show ring, they put their fingers around the chest, spanning it, just behind the shoulders. A good small sized chest should be easily spanned by average sized hands. The terrier should be flexible and the legs should come together with the elbows meeting under the chest without a breastbone in the way. That way, he can squeeze into many small dens and tunnels, often turning around and coming back out head first. Tiny, weedy, or thin legs, usually are not as strong or nice to see in a terrier. The feet should be rounded like a cats, not long and narrow, or hare-like. The tail should stand up rather high, gaily carried and in proportionate length to the body, usually about 4 inches long, providing a good hand-hold (to help out if the dog is stuck in a hole, or has hold of quarry and is trying to pull it out).


Flesh coloured noses; blue eyes; brindle markings; silky or woolly coats; overshot or undershot bites; barrel ribs; out at the elbows; down at the shoulders; fleshy ears; straight stifles; weak or hare foot; narrow hips; shrill or weak voice; unsound movement; dishing, plaiting, or toeing; lack of muscle or skin tone; lack of stamina or lung reserve; evidence of foreign blood; shyness disinterest or overly aggressive. Little, stocky, bowed out legs are also a fault, and the dog should be square in build, just as tall at the withers as his body is long. No long backs with short stocky builds, please.


Jack Russell Terriers are not automatically registered with the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Canada when they are born. Registration in this particular registry indicates more then just the parentage of an animal, it indicates that the dog in question meets the standards set out by the JRTCC.

In order to be registered, the dog has to be over 1 year old so that people know what you see is what you are getting and the dog's development is complete. The terrier has to pass a very thorough veterinary exam, for hearts, hernias, leg problems, including sub-luxating patella. It cannot have bad movement and the vet checks bite, eye colour and toes (all must be on the ground). Four photos of the dog (front, back and 2 side shots) must be signed by the vet and the photos, vet form, original signed pedigree and stud service certificate along with the application form must all be sent to the club. The breeder's committee will then determine if that particular dog meets all requirements to be registered and deemed fit to breed.

This intense registration process will ensure that the breed will remain sound and healthy. We also have our dogs BAER tested, for hearing and and their eyes are examined by a canine opthamologist for eye problems, although this is currently an optional aspect of the registration process.

Return to the JRT Homepage

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