Digging Up the Facts About the Jack Russell Terrier

For all you millennials out there, when you think of a Jack Russell Terrier, the “Wishbone” television series might be the first thing that comes to your mind. And while we watched this cute little dog from the comfort of our homes, it didn’t do the Jack Russell near enough justice. The Jack Russell Terrier, also commonly referred to as the “Parson Russell Terrier”, is athletic, tenacious, and a bit of a handful. To find out more let’s dig a little deeper into the history and traits of this working terrier.

closeup of jack russell terrier

The History of the Jack Russell Terrier

This breed gets its name from the Reverend James Russell, who developed the Jack Russell Terrier in the mid-1800s to hunt foxes and other small game. His passion for foxhunting lead Russell to develop a distinctive strain from dogs then called “fox terriers.” These prized dogs possessed exceptional endurance on hunts, and ability to dig animals (particularly foxes) out of their holes and dens.

This breed’s distinct body composition, including the coloring, coat, and stature is the perfect makeup for a fox hunter. Small and flexible, this dog has the capabilities to maneuver underground and in spaces where most dogs can’t.

jack russell terrier looking happy

The Jack Russell vs. The Parson Russell

While the two names are referring to the same dog, some beg to differ. The only real difference between the two breeds is which organization they are registered with. The name Jack Russell only applies to dogs registered with the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. The Jack Russell Terrier Club holds a copyright on the name. The name Parson Russell Terrier applies to dogs registered with the American and British Kennel Clubs. The AKC recognized the Jack Russell breed in 1997. The official AKC name changed to Parson Russell Terrier in 2003, but the battle between the two still exists today.

closeup shot of a Jack Russell Terrier puppy's face

The Jack Russell Terrier Personality

The Jack Russell Terrier is independent, headstrong, and full of energy. It is not recommended for inexperienced dog owners to start with a Jack Russell Terrier. Jack Russell Terriers enjoy doing things their way. If they aren’t given a job to do, or under constant supervision, they will find a way to stay occupied–including finding prey in the yard or digging holes. Their drive to dig and their relentless need to hunt is a legacy of their origins.

With positive reinforcement (and healthy dog treats), these pups can be trained to understand their boundaries and make excellent dogs for active people. They are playful, affectionate companions who bring a lot of energy to any home.

We are definitely “digging” the Jack Russell Terrier. This dog is the type of pet that adds a lot of excitement to the household. You never know what to expect when you hang out with a Jack Russell Terrier!

a sitting jack russell terrier

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