Home > History > Who the Hell is Jack Russell?

Who the Hell is Jack Russell?

You know Jack Russell terriers? They’re those adorable little dogs that that are mostly white but with a couple of brown and black spots on their face and bodies. The dog from Frasier was one (well, not really). Maybe a picture would help.

That’s Cassie, our Jack Russell terrier. At least, I’m pretty sure she’s a Jack Russell, it gets rather confusing. Her breed was named after an actual Jack Russell. He was an ordained minister and hunting enthusiast who lived through most of the 19th century (that’s the 1800s for those of you who get confused like I do). One day he spotted a Jack Russell terrier bitch (though it wasn’t called a Jack Russell back then, that would just be weird) owned by a milkman and bought her on the spot.  He began breeding the dog and it became the start of the line of Jack Russell’s we have today. Being a founding member of the Kennel Club, Jack Russell set up many of the standards which are used to judge Jack Russell breeds today.

Jack Russell would breed the dogs to help hunting foxes. The terriers have an aggressive temperament, which I can personally vouch for, Cassie doesn’t get along with other animals. In fact, she tries to rip their throats out; this goes for anything from squirrels to German Shepherds. This aggressiveness combined with their small size and digging ability made them perfect dogs for flushing out fox holes. They’re also highly intelligent creatures. You wouldn’t know this sometimes looking at Cassie most of the time, but she has a knack for getting into trouble and figuring things out when it serves her needs. If she wants to get at cookies cooling on a table, she will, otherwise dumb as a stick.

There’s actually three kinds of terriers that often get lumped together and collectively called Jack Russells. There’s the actual Jack Russell, the Parson Russell and the plain old Russell. Most of the differences are minimal and result from the country of origin and a little bit by size. It’s all politics, really. The Parson Russell terriers was originally called the Parson Jack Russell terrier, but the term Jack Russell terrier actually became trademarked in the United States by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. So the name had to be shortened. The Parson Russell is  just a bit smaller than the Jack Russell, given the varying sizes of certain dogs, this can be a rather difficult thing to judge. The Parson Russell is descended from the United States while the Jack Russell is descended from England and the Russell Terrier was adapted in Australia.

I’m sure all of these standards are fascinating to the kennel club enthusiasts of the world but really don’t matter to the layman. If you come up to me and assert that, “Actually, Eddie from Frasier was a Parson Russell Terrier,” you’ll probably be meant with a punch in the face. At the very least I’ll nod my head in understanding and then curse your name when you walk away.

Here’s some more pictures of Cassie, so that you may bask in the cuteness.

She thinks she's people

Lazy Sunday

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Categories: History Tags: , ,
  1. DJ
    March 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Just wanted to add that Lazy Sunday is one of my favorite pictures that I’ve taken. The lighting and the placement just worked out perfectly.

  2. VoicesCarried
    June 30, 2011 at 5:28 am

    I have a Jack, he thinks he’s a little person too! He’s my baby love! Great post! 🙂

  1. March 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm

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