Jack Russell Terriers are a strain or type of working terrier. Jack Russell Terriers are small but intelligent dogs created over 200 years ago for fox hunting. These dogs are mainly white-bodied. Their coats can be smooth or broken and of any colour. The Jack Russell Terriers are often confused with the Parson Russell Terrier and Russell Terrier variants. People often mix up these terriers with other tiny and brown-coated terriers.

Even though the slight build of Jack Russell Terriers often fooled people into believing that these are good house dogs, the truth is precisely the opposite. The highly energetic Jack Russell Terrier dogs require high stimulation and energy to stay healthy and happy. These dynamic dogs do not suffer from many health issues as well.

These energetic dogs have a similar origin to the modern Fox terrier. In the 19th century, Reverend John Russell bred and used these dog breeds for hunting. That’s why the dog breed is named after him. Over the years, the Jack Russell Terriers underwent different changes to meet the additional working requirements and to fulfil the standards of varying kennel clubs worldwide. Jack Russell Terriers are known for making various appearances in television, films, and print. While these dogs are intelligent and affectionate, they can be a handful to manage.

History Date Timeline

Reverend John “jack” Russell first bred the tiny, energetic, peppy working terriers we love today. The origin of the Jack Russell Terriers can be traced to the now almost lost breed of English White Terrier. These dogs were primarily used for hunting foxes; the breeder needed to focus on the colour of the coat. The white colour of the dog helped the owners differentiate it from the animals they pursued.


Jack Russell Terrier dog - 1819
History – 1819

This was the last year for Reverend Russell in Exeter College, Oxford. This year, he bought a small tan and white terrier female dog from a local milkman. The name of the dog was Trump. Being a hunter himself, Reverend understood the necessity of the white coat of the terriers more than anyone else. Trump was able to fulfil all his requirements.

A black and white original photo of a man called Revered John Russell, in his hunting gear
A photo of Revered John Russell, the Jack Russell terrier creator

During this time, any terrier that shooed foxes away from its burrows was called fox terriers. While describing Trump, Reverend Russell wrote that she was white with patches of tan over her eyes. A small patch the size of a penny marked the root of the tail of Trump.

Davies, a friend of Reverend Russell, wrote that Trump was the animal the Reverend had seen only in his dreams. She was the cornerstone of a breeding program that concentrated on creating terriers with high stamina and courage, a necessary quality for hunting. Reverend Russell also focused on the dog’s physical form to ensure it could chase out the foxes that have taken refuge in their burrows.


Jack Russell Terrier dog - 1850-1883
History – 1850-1883

By this year, the Jack Russell Terriers were so popular that they got recognised as a distinct breed. One of the crucial characteristics of the Jack Russell Terriers is that they have just the right amount of aggressiveness, which is required to drive and pursue the fox.

However, these dogs are not overly aggressive and never inflict any physical harm to the fox, which is considered unsporting. It is said that Russell used to pride himself that about the fact that none of his terriers had ever tasted blood.

It is one of the reasons why the hunters liked the Jack Russell Terriers and often chose them as their partners. However, it is hard to find a Jack Russell Terrier today that is a direct descendent of Trump. This is because John Russell had to sell all his dogs on more than one occasion due to severe financial problems. When he died in 1883, only four aged and non-breeding terriers left.

While it is accepted that the Jack Russell Terriers and the Fox Terriers of today are the descendants of the dogs of this time, the documented pedigree was not found till 1862.

Between the 1860s and 1882, John Russell kept different documents of breeding. When the Fox Terrier Club was created in 1875, the breeding standards of the club were their aspiration. It was not the breed description as it appeared at that time.


Jack Russell Terrier dog - 1884-1900
History – 1884-1900

Following the death of John Russell, only two men made any serious effort to continue the breeding lines of the Jack Russell Terriers. One person, known as East, was situated in Chislehurst, and the other man, named Archer, lived in Cornwall. East had several couples of Jack Russell Terriers at one point, all of whom were direct descendants of one of John Russell’s dogs. The type he created was not as big as the show Fox Terriers and generally weighed less than 7 kg.

Arthus Blake Heinemann created the first breeding standard for Jack Russell Terriers. He also founded the Devon and Somerset Badger Club in 1894. This club aimed to promote the badger digging abilities of the dogs rather than the fox hunting ones.

The breeding of the terriers suited the purpose of this club perfectly. For this purpose, terriers were acquired from the Nicholas Snow of Oare. It is said that Reverend Russell used to hunt with the hunting club of Snow and provided some of the original hunting terriers of the club. By the end of the nineteenth century, the name Reverend Russell was attached to the dog breed inseparably.


Jack Russell Terrier dog - 1901-1938
History – 1901-1938

By the beginning of this century, the fox terrier started to change their appearance and showed all signs of becoming the modern breed. However, in some parts of the world, the old style of John Russel’s terrier remained, and from one of those dogs, the modern Jack Russell Terriers descended.

There is no doubt that badger digging requires specific strengths in the dogs. Due to this reason, the bull Terrier stock was brought to bolster those characteristics in the Russell terriers. During this time, the name of the Devon and Somerset Badger Club was changed into the Parson Jack Russell Terrier Club. That created a shorter-legged version of the Jack Russell Terriers that started appearing during this period.

At the same time, there was a split between the show terriers and the working fox terriers. Another division started to appear during this period between two different types of white terriers. Both of these carried the name of Jack Russell. After Heinemann’s death, the club’s reign shifted to Annie Harris, but the club completely shut down shortly before the second world war.


Jack Russell Terrier dog - 1945-1975
History – 1945-1975

After World War II, the requirement for hunting dogs decreased severely. With that, the number and popularity of the Jack Russell Terriers started dwindling. The dogs started being used as companions and family dogs. Further crossbreeding occurred with the Chihuahuas, Welsh Corgis and other smaller terrier breeds. The crossbreed of these dogs was known as the pudding dogs or Russell Terriers.


Jack Russell Terrier dog - 1976-1990
History – 1976-1990

Alisa Crawford formed the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America this year. She was one of the first Jack Russell Terrier breeders in the United States. The club started maintaining an open registry and a very restricted breeding line. The size range of these dogs was kept broad. The ability of the working dogs was more awarded than the qualities that the conformation shows require. Registration of the Jack Russell Terriers was made at the adulthood of the dogs rather than at birth. This is to ensure that the breed’s qualities meet the standards set by the club.

In 1983, the Parson Jack Russell Club of Great Britain (PJRTCGB) was restored to seek the breed recognition of the UK Kennel Club. Even though the application for recognition was initially rejected, it was accepted later. A new standard for PJRTCGB was set following the South East Jack Russell Terrier Club standards. The name Jack was dropped from the breed, and it was renamed the Parson Russell terrier.


Jack Russell Terrier dog - 1991-1999
History – 1991-1999

During this time, American Kennel Club started contemplating the chance of acknowledging the Jack Russell Terrier. This move was resisted by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, as they did not want the breed to lose its working qualities.


Jack Russell Terrier dog - 2001
History – 2001

The members of the Jack Russell Terrier Breeder’s association petitioned the AKC, which granted the admission of the breed in 2001. The AKC recognised standards narrowed the previously recognised standards, and the name of the Jack Russell Terrier was also changed into Parson Russell Terrier.

The Australian National Kennel Council and the Newzealand Kennel Club are some international organisations that recognise both the Jack Russell Terriers and the Parson Russell Terriers.

2016 To Modern Day

The Jack Russell Terrier has been around now for over two hundred years. On 1st January 2016, the Kennel Club(KC) recognised the Jack Russell terrier as a pedigree breed.


Who created the Jack Russell terrier?

An Englishman named Reverend John Russell created the Jack Russell terrier dog breed from Dartmoor in Great Britain.

What year was the Jack Russell terrier first created?

In 1819, Reverend John Russell created the first Jack Russell terrier dog.

What breeds make up the Jack Russell?

The origin of the Jack Russell terriers can be traced to the now almost lost breed of English White Terrier.

Where did the breed Jack Russell come from?

The Jack Russell terrier originated from England.

What was Jack Russells used for?

Jack Russell terriers were initially created for hunting foxes.

Why is a Jack Russell terrier called a Jack Russell?

The name comes from the Jack Russell terrier creator named Reverend John Russell. Jack was his nickname.

When did the Kennel Club finally recognise the Jack Russell terrier as a pedigree?

On 1st January 2016, the Kennel Club (KC) recognised the Jack Russell terrier as a pedigree breed.

Final Words

No matter what the true origin story and the breed is, the Jack Russell Terriers are one of the most fearless and happy. If you lead a busy life, terriers can be your best companion. You have to give them at least one hour of exercise each day to provide the proper outlet for all those extra energies.

Without this outlet, the Jack Russell Terriers can be restless and show destructive behaviour while indulging in hunting instincts. While sharing your life with a Jack Russell Terrier can be an incredible experience, you should remember that these dogs might become intolerant of children and aggressive towards other household pets. If you understand the nature of the dog before adopting it, there is no doubt that you will be able to form an incredible friendship with the happy and energetic Jack Russell Terrier.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the history of the Jack Russell Terrier. We owe thanks to Reverend John Russell.

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