The Versatile Russell

Outside the United States, the Russell Terrier is known as the Jack Russell Terrier (source: AKC), a breed so versatile that its limitations (within reason) have seemingly yet to be found: One Russell pulled over 2,000 pounds on a rail track in Virginia, and several compete in Treibball competition. A few are known to be hard working farmhands, and more than one has found stardom in front of a TV camera. They compete in agility, obedience, and rally, and “Macho” is a Dock Diving Champion. One Russell Terrier even holds the Guinness World Record for popping balloons in the least amount of time.

Parson John Russell’s original terriers spawned two distinct breeds, the Parson Russell Terrier and the Russell Terrier. The Parson Russell is longer legged and taller than the Russell Terrier which more rectangular and shorter, standing 10 to 12 inches to the Parson Russell’s 12 to 15 inches.

To keep the Russell and Parson Russell separate in both bloodlines and appearance, the American Russell Terrier Club was established in 1995 as a registry.  In 2003, the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America changed its breed’s name from the Jack Russell Terrier to the Parson Russell Terrier, and the AKC followed suit. In 2012, the AKC recognized the Russell Terrier as a unique breed, and to be clear, the AKC doesn’t officially recognize any breed as Jack Russell Terrier, only the Parson Russell Terrier and Russell Terrier.

In the end, it can be very confusing, even for fanciers. We’re big fans of mnemonic devices (little tricks to help you remember something), and what we tell folks to recall is that the longer named Parson Russell Terrier also has longer legs than the Russell Terrier, and thus, is taller.

It seems to help some of us.

Image: “Jack Russell In Autumn” by Jane Schnetlage is available as fine art, lifestyle items, and personal products here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Optionally add an image (JPEG only)