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Jack Russell Terrier - A Lecture Presented By: MRS R.N. FRANCIS-LITTLE

Jack Russell Terrier - A Lecture Presented By: MRS R.N. FRANCIS-LITTLE


Rita Francis-Little z Nowej Południowej Walii (Australia) jest sędzią kynologicznym, członkiem Jack Russell Terrier Club Of Australia i pionierem hodowli JRT. Dla nas jest przede wszystkim autorką jak dotąd jedynego komentarza do wzorca Jack Russell Terriera. Posiada nie tylko szeroką wiedzę na temat rasy, ale i jej propagatorką i mentorem. Jeden z pierwszych jej Jack'ów (suczka) pochodziła z hodowli pani Hoben nabyta w roku 1974. Kolejnym Jack'em był pies o imieniu Trump (na pamiątkę sławnej Trump Jacka Russella) nabyty od pana Shepherd'a. Para ta dorobiła się licznych, wartościowych szczeniąt.
Jeszcze kilka lat temu komentarz krążył jako tajna literatura dla wtajemniczonych, będąc swoistą biblią wśród znawców rasy. Dzisiaj jest w internecie ogólnie dostępny, a mimo to nadal wydaje się być nie znany zarówno hodowcom, jak i sędziom kynologicznym, którym to ten artykuł z całego serca dedykuję.


Tekst w pisowni oryginalnej. Od momentu napisania wzorzec ulegał niewielkim zmianom. mimo to komentarz jak najbardziej zachował swoją aktualność. Tłumaczenie polskie wkrótce.



  • Introduction
  • History
  • General Appearance
  • Characteristics
  • Temperament
  • Head & Skull
  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Mouth
  • Neck
  • Forequarters
  • Body
  • Hindquarters
  • Feet
  • Tail
  • Gait & Movement
  • Coat
  • Colour
  • Size
  • Faults
  • Good Examples
  • Acknowledgements


First and foremost students of the Jack Russell Terrier must be aware that the function for which the dog was bred created its form and strangely enough, its colour.

With this in mind it should not be difficult to identify the CORRECT TYPE in its various forms. Thereby preserving the traditions which had their beginnings almost 150 years ago.

The ANKC recognised the Jack Russell Terrier in 1991 although it had been in Australia since the 60s a very comprehensive stud book register was set up in Victoria at that time. This proved invaluable when seeking ANKC recognition as a pure breed.

Because Australia was the first country to accept the Jack Russell Terrier as a pure breed, we have naturally become the source from which breeding stock is sought. Even before FCI recognition, Asia & Europe looked to us to lead the way. It is therefore IMPERATIVE that you as Judges reward and foster the correct breed type as it is so easily lost through the lack of knowledge or disinterest.

On the other hand, one should not award an inferior type, remember you sign its Challenge Certificate which states – "I am clearly of the opinion that this exhibit is of such OUTSTANDING MERIT ..."

The ANKC has recently released an Extended Standard for the Jack Russell Terrier, this is most helpful as the breed, many feel is still in its formative years. To deviate from these guide lines and promote LIKES and DISLIKES would destroy the Jack Russell's history and breed type.

At times it will be a difficult undertaking to find the required "Hallmarks" for this breed, but when you do and send it through to General Specials where your choice wins in Group or in Show your discernment and effort will prove worthwhile.




The Jack Russell Terrier – Looking Back Briefly

John Russell was born on December 21, 1795 in Dartmouth where his father was also a Rector of Iddesliegh in North Devon. He kept a small school and a modest pack of hounds. His son inherited his father's love of hunting and the countryside, but was described unlike his father as only a fair classical scholar.

Jack's education began at Plympton an old established grammar school which boasted Sir Joshua Reynolds as a former pupil. When Jack was 16, he went to study at Tiverton where he kept ferrets to go rabbiting. He was caught and thrashed by the principal Dr Richards. Later, Jack was in trouble again when it was found that he had half a pack of hounds in partnership with the local blacksmith.

In 1814 he went up to Oxford to take Holy Orders and was admitted to Exeter College. Jack Russell soon had hunting friends, the Duke of Beauford who hunted near Badminton (where the famous 3 day event horse trial is now held) and South Oxfordshire that is now hunted by the Heythorp. Interesting to note that early imports of Jack Russell dogs were given to Bill Roycrofft (the Gold medallist of the 1960 Rome Olympics) by the now Duke of Beauford and Heythorp hunt. Jacks from this hunt were also imported in to Victoria in the 1960's, these dogs can be found in many of the Jack Russell pedigrees today registered with the ANKC.

Legend has it that Parson John Russell, Vicar of Swymbridge in Devon acquired his first terrier while studying at Oxford, around 1816. A bitch named "Trump" was bought from a milkman in the village of Marston in Oxfordshire. She was described as a sort of fox terrier, the size of a small vixen -around 12" in height, rough coat and cropped ears which was the fashion. Cropping was banned soon after this time as the Prince of Wales did not like it. "Trump" was predominantly white with head markings and a penny piece spot at the base of her tail. Quote: -"Jack Russell's interest lay in terriers which were entirely white or had colour confined to head and a small patch at the root of their tail. So single minded was his pursuit of these characteristics that towards the end of his life not only were all his terriers incapable of producing other markings but he, confined himself to dogs which carried these markings. Body colour in Russell's opinion was a sure sign of a beagle cross!"

Because "Trump" was the ancestor of the Parsons legendary strain of terriers these markings have been emulated by breeders since and are termed "Classic Markings" or "Ideal" though not mentioned as such in the current ANKC standard. Much of the original JRT standard was thought to be too wordy and was left on the "Cutting room floor" even so the STANDARD does say white MUST predominate and most breeders try to emulate the Rev Jack Russell's original concept.

Jack Russell used his terriers to flush quarry for his hounds and he was quite insistent that the terriers should not be required to thrash a fox, cripple or kill it but were to nip and tease the fox to leave it's earth (den) and start the chase again. The terrier being unable to keep up with the hounds was carried to the earth by a Terrier/Huntsman on horseback. This terrier was carried in a small sack either in front or behind the rider. The terrier was set down some distance away to find his way to the den. 
This was the reason the Parson Jack Russell always insisted on white body dogs so the hounds would not confuse the terrier with the fox and so kill it by mistake. There is a weight to height ratio and it is a hallmark of the breed (NO bull terrier chests) spanning may seem silly to some but by doing so, you can tell a lot about a JRT's construction. eg, ls the dog too heavy boned or just fat etc. "Terrier" takes its name from the Latin Terre meaning Earth for further reading see The Making of the Parson Jack Russell Terrier by J& F Jackson, also The Complete Jack Russell by Brian Plummer. 
The Rev Jack Russell was a remarkable man, a great sportsman, he shot, wrestled, boxed, played cricket, hunted on foot and horse -otter, badger, fox and hare. He was also a great raconteur. Jack was also a founding member of the Kennel Club UK. He died in 1883 and was buried in Swymbridge church yard.


​Ch Prompter, born in September 1889, was by Spank out of Moss, a bitch by Little Swell (not to be confused with Jack Russell's Moss). Prompter represents an intermediate between the old fashioned type and the emergent modern type of Jack Russell Terrier.


A strong, active, lithe working Terrier of great character with flexible body of medium length. His smart movement matches his keen expression. Tail docking is optional and the coat may be smooth, rough or broken.

The word "strong" in this context means – sinewy, with long flat muscles in hard condition, a slimly built dog, supple and flexible enough to turn on itself when underground.

A Jack Russell should NEVER be heavy chested with coarse bulging muscle. His activity is indicated in smart willing movement and should not display any peculiarities. The coat can be one of three, smooth, broken, rough. Whatever the coat, it should be harsh to touch, thick and weather proof. Tail docking is optional.


A lively, alert and active Terrier with a keen, intelligent expression.​

Lively, alert and active Terrier with a keen intelligent expression. These three things contribute greatly to the Jack Russell's charm and universal appeal. Keen, intelligent expression is an essential characteristic of all Terrier's especially the Jack Russell. His character is denoted and

shown by the expression of eyes, carriage of ears and an erect tail when moving. Nevertheless, a hyper active dog should not be placed over the dog who is standing quietly confident, aware of his surroundings, providing all else is equal. A restless, leaping dog can often fool the observer into thinking he is the better Terrier of the two, as he is the most "active."

A Terrier that is not sober in attitude is of little use in the field as he distracts his fellow pack members.


Bold and fearless, friendly but quietly confident.

The Jack Russell is a highly intelligent dog who is readily trainable. His character is such that his handler should be able to keep his undivided attention. Whilst he should not back down from a challenge, an overly aggressive temperament should not be tolerated nor should nervousness or timidity. He must be totally reliable both with children and adults alike.

It has been said that John Russell placed the temperament and courage of his terriers on par with their conformation. A working terrier must have plenty of courage, but it must be tempered with discretion. A hard dog, which goes to ground and gets hold of his fox is of little use to anybody. The fox cannot bolt, the dog cannot bark or give voice, and he will spend half his time in hospital. Also if another hard terrier manages to slip his lead and get to ground, the two will fight to the death. Russell liked his dogs to find their fox underground by scent and then lie a little way off and bay at him and keep on baying. Now and again the dog would dart in, nip his fox and get back out of danger. Thus the fox was not injured, only ever "worried" by the terrier until he was "bolted."

In the show ring, the Jack Russell is not a dog that stands still for long and can become restless. Essentially, he is a "pack dog" but when asked by the judge to face up in the ring to another Terrier that he does not recognise as part of his pack, can lead to an altercation. These confrontations should never be vicious or savage merely a warning to stay away. You as a judge should be mindful that it could get out of hand and in the present political climate may be unwise to instigate.


Head and Skull - The skull should be flat and of moderate width gradually decreasing in width to the eyes and tapering to a wide muzzle with very strong jaws. There should be a well defined stop but not over pronounced. The length from the stop to the nose should be slightly shorter than from the stop to the occiput with the cheek muscles well developed. The nose should be black.

A bright and alert head, correctly proportioned, ready to greet the world. The skull is flat, of moderate width, gradually decreasing in width to the eyes and tapering to the wide muzzle with strong jaws. A well defined stop, but not over pronounced and finally, the length from the stop to the nose is slightly shorter than the stop to the occiput, as in 2 to 5. The ears in this case are dropped.

The skull should always be flat and never appear apple headed or domed. Sometimes a domed head can be disguised by its ear set. While the standard calls for well developed cheek muscles, the head must never have aCHEEKY look, if accompanied by a narrow muzzle, the head looks weak and quite foreign in appearance, as do eyes that are too close together. Heads lacking fill beneath the eyes have no proper molar support. The importance of a well developed under jaw is vital to a breed whose function is to eliminate vermin.


​In broken and rough coats, a weak foreface is not so obvious, as facial hair can be arranged to hide this fact. Smooth coats on the other hand can not, and you must use your hands to ascertain the true quality of the coated head. The back of the skull should not recede, a well defined stop should be present along with parallel plains. A down face usually means no under jaw, sometimes an optical illusion is created by bushy eyebrows resulting in a diverging plane. The muzzle should be truncated, the foreface a cut off appearance, occasionally one finds the nose in profile appears to slope backwards like that of a Scottish Terrier. This can make the under jaw look weak.





​This head is rather coarse and broad between the ears, with heavily muscled cheeks from the stop to the nose immediately below the eyes, the muzzle is quite round and long in profile. Once again, the head lacks strength and breed type.


This is a wedge shaped head decreasing in width to the eyes and tapering to a wide muzzle with strong jaws as required in the standard. It is spoiled by the fact that the muzzle is too long and if accompanied by a shallow stop takes on the proportions akin to that of a Fox Terrier.


Apple heads are invariably accompanied by protruding eyes.



Small dark and with keen expression. MUST not be prominent and eyelids should fit closely. The eyelid rim should be pigmented black. Almond shape. 

The standard asks for almond eyes, small dark and keen in expression. The dogs that work underground should never have large globular eyes. Triangular eyes give a hard, not to be trusted, and foreign expression. Throughout the Terrier group, eyes that appear dark are preferred, light eyes give the head a shallow bland and, at times, almost evil look. Close fitting eyerims are of great importance, considering the dogs function as an underground hunter and should be pigmented black. Pigmentation of the eyerims are not only for cosmetic reasons but prevent photo sensitivity, nevertheless, if confronted with a white or clown faced dog of quality, what should a judge do? The standard states that faults must be considered according to their seriousness. In other words is too little colour/pigment any more damming than too much, after all, colour patterns are genetic and I beg to say not as serious as construction faults. Taking our personal likes and dislikes aside, a well balanced dog that meets the standard in all aspects should not go down to an inferior one because one eye is not pigmented.

​A head that lacks insufficient stop, followed by a down face and long muzzle creates a crocodile expression. The lack of adequate brow restricts the area in which the eyes can be set, inevitably they are too close together and seem on top of the head rather than set where the normal frontal bone would occur.




Button or dropped of good texture and great mobility. 

Ears should be set on the corners of the skull. They should not be set too high which gives a surprised expression or appear as a bow on the top of the skull. Nor should they be set low with the tips extending beyond the corner of the eye. A button ear presents with the fold of the ear just above the level of the skull. A drop ear has a fold which breaks at the level of the skull. Both are equally correct. Although, we all seem to develop our own preference in this area, when judging you should always remember this point, do not discriminate. The fold of the ear should never break below the level of the skull, this will give a "houndlike" appearance which is totally undesirable. Also, the tips of the ear should be V shape and on no account rounded, as seen in the Norfolk or Sealyham Terriers.

Erect or Semi pricked ears are totally undesirable and are to be penalised heavily. The leathers of the ears should not be thick, falling in folds, nor should they be too fine and "flyaway". The standard asks for ears to be "of good texture and great mobility". Jack Russell can move his ears 180o which can be thrown back when on the move, in fear or pleasure. The ear should always fall forward carried close to the head pointing straight towards the ground and NOT towards the eye as required for the Fox Terrier and Lakeland Terrier. This is best assessed when the dog is alert. The set of ears should never cause wrinkling so the dog appears like a worried Basenji.



Deep wide and powerful jaws with tight-fitting pigmented lips and strong teeth closing to a scissor bite. 

The Jack Russell should always present with "full dentition" with no cramping of the teeth. Teeth broken damaged or missing, which is clearly due to accident or hunting should not be penalised. The jaws should appear squarish, a pointed, weak jaw, undesirable. As stated previously, the strength of underjaw and foreface is of vital importance to hold onto prey. As with any working terrier, lips should be tight and clean. The lips completely pigmented black as is the nose.


Full Set of Teeth    42 

Upper Set               20 

Lower Set               22 

(There are two extra molar teeth in the lower jaw).

Wey Mouth. 

A type of mouth in which the lower jaw is twisted to one side, placing the upper and lower jaws out of line with one another. A relatively common fault in brachycephalic (short faced) breeds, e.g., British Bulldog, Pekingese.



Strong and clean allowing head to be carried with poise. 

As with other terrier breeds, if the shoulder is upright the neck will be shortened. In the balanced Jack Russell, the length of the neck should appear approximately 2/3 the length of the back. If the neck is set on correctly and the carriage of the head is correct an arch or crest should appear in the neck behind the ears. A ewe neck, swan neck, or a neck lacking in strength is not desirable, as is also a heavy neck. The neck should conform to the overall balanced appearance of the dog. Correct head carriage is synonymous with his "smart movement".

INCORRECT Insufficient neck. Too deep in brisket, well below elbow.


Shoulders well sloped back and not heavily loaded with muscle. Forelegs straight in bone from the elbow to the toes whether viewed from the front or the side and with sufficient length of upper arm to ensure elbows are set under the body with the sternum clearly in front of the shoulder blades. 

The dilemma facing most breeds today is upright shoulders. Terriers in general have what is known as Special Fronts, which are the angles and relationship between the scapula and humerus. A Jack Russell's anatomy is very straight forward or should be. Firstly, the most common fault is that the chest is wide rather than deep, accompanied by barrel ribs. The scapula humerus ulna/radius can not maintain their static balance that provides a straight column of bones below the point of shoulder for support. The shoulder blade can not curve around a barrel. To compensate, thickening muscles beneath the blade force the top edge outwards bringing the point of shoulder in and the elbows out. As bones work in pairs the humerus is shortened by its almost vertical placement. Loaded shoulders result along with turned out feet. The dog must have a well laid back shoulder to have sufficient reach. Without the length of upper arm, the dog tends to move up and down on the spot and drag himself forward by his pasterns. The sternum clearly in front of the shoulder blades ensures the required layback of 45o and good reach. Forward placed assembly gives the dog a steeple front and toeing in when moving, as vertical balance can not be maintained. Forelegs should always be straight from the elbow to the toes. Recently the ANKC altered this from the word "shoulder" to "elbow", but I think we all knew that. 3 sets of bones moving in different planes could not be straight from the scapula to the feet. However, it is now technically correct. A Jack Russell should stand well up on his pasterns. On coated dogs that have been left in a natural state or ineptly trimmed may appear knuckled over, out at elbow or even cabriole front. Hair tends to grow more profusely on joints making straight legs crooked. You should check with your hands to gauge the true state of affairs.

​Thickening muscles beneath the blade forces the top edge outward, bringing the shoulder point in and the elbow out as indicated in the diagram below of the dog's left front assembly. Compared with this, is the right hand assembly which provides a straight column of bones below the point of shoulder for support.

​LOADED SHOULDER (Forces elbows out)

​CORRECT (Required shoulder for Jack Russell Terrier) RIGHT HAND ASSEMBLY

​Kinetic Balance of the front leg as considered from the side follows closely that of static. The power or force is transmitted from the ground contact through the center of the shoulder blade along a line parallel to the radius, the weight carrier, of the forearm. This relationship is maintained from beginning to end of the stride in a kinetically balanced front. Static Balance from the front is accomplished by setting the heel, or at least the inner edge of it, under the vertical center of the shoulder blade. Diagram 1 shows the German Shepherd has an almost if not vertical set to the shoulder blade and therefore does not have to bring his feet in to get static balance. Diagram 2, the Pointer and many others, have a slight and often decided slope of the blade so that they must set their feet well inside the vertical of the shoulder point to get balance. Diagram 3, the Dachshund with a decided slope to the blade will often have a curved forearm, setting his pasterns much closer together than the elbows and giving him static balance. Scotties and many others follow the same pattern.



Chest deep rather than wide, with good clearance and the brisket located at the height mid-way between the ground and the withers. The body should be proportioned marginally longer than tall, measuring slightly longer from the withers to the root of the tail than from the withers to the ground. Back level. Ribs should be well sprung from the spine, flattening on the sides so that the girth behind the elbows can be spanned by two hands – about 40cms to 43cms (15½" to 17"). The loins should be short, strong and deeply muscled. 

Attention should be paid to the Standard with regard to the wording "chest deep rather than wide," so that the girth behind the elbows can be spanned by two hands". The Jack Russell has height and weight standards which will be dealt with regarding size, but the measurement mentioned of 40cm to 43cm (15 ½" to 17") should be ADHERED to. It is unlikely that a 25cm dog could not be spanned but it should not be done at the top end of the scale 43cm, as it indicates a dog far too heavy in chest. If you are unsure place a tape measure on the table to familiarise yourself with your own hand span. There by gauging if you must add something or subtract from your span. This will be useful as there are two other Terriers in the group that are also spanned. It is a useful tool in determining a dog who is off type, barrel ribbed etc. They will often rock and roll coming towards you, as short legs strive to move in a vertical plane round a broad chest.

Diagram 1a and 3a above have the same length of back, although the overall dimensions of the first dog is 3cm longer. 1a appears much longer in back because the dog is heavier in neck and longer in loin. 2a is the same total length as 3a, but appears much longer than either 1a or 3a because of the upright shoulder, stove pipe neck and low tail set which gives this impression, while the body is shorter than 1a, the back is longer. All dogs are the same height. 3a has the correct “marginally longer than tall.” There are some things you can NOT measure except with the eye, always look for BALANCE.

​A Jack Russell Terrier is NOT a square dog, being marginally longer than tall. How does one define marginally? It is something that can not be measured with a tape. The dog must appear a natural length, balanced for his height. He must not have the proportions of a Parson (height equals withers to root of tail) or Fox Terrier, nor should he be long like a Skye or a Dachshund, nor have the balance of a Norfolk Terrier. 

"The brisket reaching the elbows and located at the height mid-way between the ground and the withers" leaves no OTHER POSSIBLE conclusion that the Jack Russell MUST have 50% length of leg and 50% depth of body. The top line should be LEVEL with no rising over the loin or falling downhill to a ewe neck. The loin should be short, strong and well muscled as this section is the "transmitter station" that transfers drive from the back legs to the forehand. 

Another important reason that "well muscled" is called for in most standards is because the loin and lumber vertebrae at this point are unsupported by ribs. Good top lines are achieved by articulating faces of the vertebrae and a well set pelvis. A dog with a roached back or a sway back is not only weak, but an abomination to the eye. A dog with good rear angulation goes with a well set pelvis which goes with a well set and carried tail. It allows the Jack Russell to have a shelf or (bum behind the tail) balancing hindquarters with forequarters. If this is missing, the dog will have a definite look of the hindquarters being set straight on the ribs without a loin.



Judges and Members are requested to please note the following points of the Jack Russell Terrier Breed Standard: 

Under "Body" paragraph: 

"the brisket located at the height mid-way between the ground and the withers ..... "AND"...... ribs should be well sprung ..... so that the girth behind the elbows can be spanned by two hands about 40 – 43cms" 

Some Jack Russell Terriers are being awarded at shows despite not conforming to these extremely important standards. It should be noted that the standard calls for a Lithe working terrier with flexible body. The draft extended breed standard makes mention of the following "Remember, the Jack Russell is a small dog that is required to enter a fox hole and to be built with the ability to turn around and Spanning is a hallmark of this breed enshrined in the Standard.

" Breed Standards Working Party. 


1. A Jack Russell is NOT a square dog, nor is he as long as a Skye; 

2. He MUST be spannable; 

3. 50% leg and 50% body MUST always apply.


Strong and muscular, balanced in proportion to the shoulder, hind legs parallel when viewed from behind while in free standing position. Stifles well angulated and hocks low set. 

As with a working Jack Russell Terrier, strong lean muscle in hard condition is desired but the hindquarters should not be "racy" as asked for by the Irish and Border standards. Nor should there be an excessive tuck up directly under the loin. The hindquarters should balance the front assembly with good angulation of the stifles. 

Hocks straight when viewed from the rear and well let down, cow hocks are most incorrect, as are open (bowed) or hocks that are too close together. I shall deal with this later in gait/movement. 

If you draw an imaginary line from just behind the tail to run down in front of the hock and through the hind foot, you would have a normal angulated hindquarter for a Jack Russell Terrier.


​Static Balance from the rear is accomplished by getting the heel pad directly under the Pelvis Joint, for it is from one to the other that weight passes. 1) A Fox Terrier in static balance; for kinetic balance A would converge on C in single tracking. 2) This dog is in an exaggerated back spread often seen in show rings for this breed and others; this dog is in balance if AC equals CB but it is not complete static balance. The value of the "spread" is to lower the croup in regard to the "withers" and straighten out the back line, cover such faults as may exist there, and give the dog an aggressive attitude. The working animal is evident in the first animal for they are both the same.

The Back Leg 

The upper thigh, set 45 degrees to the ground on a 30-degree pelvis (B-E), will usually be longer of bone than one set 90 degrees to the pelvis (C-E), both of which are found in dogs. The former provides longer muscles (B-A) than the latter (C-A). However, set C-E is apt to be more enduring and conform more closely to the front of the average dog. Muscle length and efficiency can also be increased by lengthening the after part of the pelvis (E-A), which also gives the SHELF behind the tail. As mentioned in "Body" – Page 15.


Round, hard, padded, not large, toes moderately arched, turned neither in nor out. 

The feet of a Jack Russell Terrier should never be open or splayed but tight and round, hard and padded, cat like is the usual way of describing this type of foot. Toes moderately arched are mandatory for a digging dog. The dew claws are customarily removed as they are often torn and injured. Pads should not be thin or paper like as this provides poor cushioning for an active dog. Toe nails need to be cut on a regular basis. To neglect this operation encourages flat and splayed feet and the dog becomes accustomed to walking on his heels.



May droop at rest. When moving should be erect and if docked the tip should be on the same level as ears

There is a difference between tail set and tail carried. 

The correct tail set for a Jack Russell is the forming of a right angle with the top line. It should be erect and straight. The lay of the pelvis is of vital importance in this regard. A low set pelvis leads to over angulation and a rolled over top line. The caudal vertebrae have difficulty in raising to the vertical from the "underneath" position. This results in a 1 or 2 o'clock tail set. If the tail is docked longer, it can rise vertically and be misconstrued as a tail that is set on high. This is "tail carried" not "set on". The tail may droop at rest. Bitches are more inclined to do this than males, but a dog who is standing or moving in General Specials with a tail jammed between its buttocks is so lacking in terrier temperament, for he is neither BOLD nor QUIETLY CONFIDENT. This is a fault, while tails that have been docked so short, that it is impossible to take 4 or 5cm in the hand, should not be penalised as this is human error not the dog's. Nevertheless, it is off putting as it ruins the balance of the dog and makes it difficult to judge tail set. 

The ideal tail length is, when erect, to be level with the ears. In the days when Jack Russells earned their living as foxing terriers, the tail was docked to prevent injury and most of all to give the huntsman a "handle hold." When in the earth (den) the terrier would tuck his tail along his side or between his legs. When the huntsman had to extricate him quickly, a straight docked tail was easier to grab hold of and pull the terrier out, in time of danger.

The set of the pelvis on a flat and steep croup is indicated in sketches 1 and 2 revealing the effect this has on the outline of the dog and its tail set.


​True, free and springy. 

As in most breeds, movement is the crucial test of conformation and is best assessed when the dog is moving on a loose lead. 

True – Straight for and aft, not crossing or paddling. The rear movement should not be too close or too wide. Hocks should always remain parallel during movement. 

Free - Movement should never appear stilted, always exhibiting good reach and drive with the necessary extension. 

Springy - Indicates a buoyant, cocky movement best described as an extended trot, which has a period of suspension. Springy does not indicate a hackney or choppy movement. Movement should always demonstrate an effortless economy and fluidity. 

The front should swing straight through from the shoulder with forward reaching low movement with no bending of the pasterns. 

The propulsion comes from the rear, hocks supplying the drive, the hind legs coming well forward under the body.

​The pad remains fixed and the pelvis is carried forward, but figuratively the action is along a chord of an arc described by the leg action. During the first half of the chord, the leg receives concussion, but from B to C it is transmitting power generated by the rearing muscles. Efficiency is in ratio to the difference between AB and AC, the contracted and extended lengths.

Lateral Displacement


In projection "B" showing two diagonals of the trot with pads on the line of progress, the legs are traveling with body line and therefore applying force at an angle to the travel line. The legs are not carried straight forward. The mathematical loss is in ratio to the angle set up at the intersection with the line of travel. Projection "C" shows the same body condition solely for comparison but with the pads traveling in line with that of progress. The small triangle a-b-c establishes the value of the slightly turned out front foot; the degree of its rotation depending upon the deviation from the travel line that the leg itself takes. A dog traveling as indicated here does carry his legs straight forward and in related not counter planes.


May be smooth, broken or rough. Must be weatherproof, preferably unaltered. 

The standard allows for 3 coats, smooth, broken and rough that must be weather proof. This causes some judges great anxiety. 

When does broken become rough etc? Despite the fact that the standard calls for coats preferably unaltered, it would be rare to find a dog in the show ring "au naturale". Therefore, I suggest you think in terms of smooth and coated. Some dogs will present to you virtually in undercoat only, or what I call "ducks down". There are two reasons for this – firstly the trimmer is a rank amateur whose only ambition is to get the bulk off to establish an outline. You may find that the dog has not been hand striped but cut with thinning scissors the night before! The second is that the coat is very INCORRECT in so much that it is soft, linty and abundant, no matter how you strip this coat, it will always remain soft. To keep it in any condition at all, it should be raked and hand stripped every week. Even so, it will never be harsh or weather proof. 

The correct coat is close or tight jacketed, harsh to the touch but not overly so, and when the top coat is parted, undercoat is present at the base of the hair shaft. When looking for quality, the length of the coat is not as important as the harshness. Top lines are often raked and stripped more than other parts of the body and may not give a true picture of the coat condition. A better site is the neck, shoulders or sides. Where a colour patch appears, it is easier to find the required undercoat, as it will be a variant of the colour. White on white is hard to find. Jack Russells are not a breed that is known as double coated, but some undercoat should be present. 

Soft, linty coats are objectionable and should be considered a serious fault as they are very hard to breed out. Breeding with a smooth coated dog strengthens this type of coat. This is the reason why the three coat types have never been separated and are always judged together.



White MUST predominate with black and/or tan markings. The tan marking can be from the lightest tan to the richest tan (chestnut). 

White MUST predominate which is more than 51%. The word predominate clearly means overwhelm not as some imagine a marginal percentage. White and tan are the most often seen, but the Tri colours (black, tan and white) are starting to emerge again after being rare in the early 1990s. They have always been part of the Jack Russell breed. The white, black tan and brown come in many patterns and varying mixes of individual hairs, regardless of the shade, dogs are classed as plain tan/white or tri. 

Speckles or ticking are sometimes found. This is not a fault as such but is NOT encouraged. The same applies to Fox Terriers. All white dogs are quite correct if the nose, eye rims and lips are pigmented black.


The Colours of the Jack Russell.

An article by Dr. Julie Tilbrooke – DVM and Susan Hunt. 

While the standard calls for white/tan and tri coloured, they can be broken down into more precise combinations. They are, in rough order of occurence, as follows:


​These dogs are white with tan patches – tan may include all shades of tan from lemon through to chocolate. There is no sharp variation from one part of the body to another and the dog is the same shade all over (with the exception of normal pigmentation variations, ie., slight lightening over cheeks/eyebrows/foreface, darker hairs on ears etc.)

TAN/WHITE (black face mask)
TAN/WHITE (black shading)

Tan/whites may inherit a separate gene from Black Face Markings. This may be a full black face mask, or a little black shading on the cheeks and/or around the eyes. Tan/white dogs with black face markings are not tricolours – tricolours have lighter face markings (see below). All speckles on a tan/white dog will be tan.


These dogs are white with black patches. The black patches are uniformly black, although occasionally may have a tan border or a tan undercoat. The body may have some all tan patches as well as black patches, but the head of the tricolour is basically black. 

In some dogs the black turns to tan as the dog ages, sometimes as early as puppyhood. These dogs are the tricolours more likely to have one or more tan body patches. 

Tricolours have a separate gene for tan points on the face. This may be a full tan face mask or tan points on eyebrows, cheeks and on the undersides of the ears.

TRICOLOUR Tan head, black body patches
TRICOLOUR (tan “pips” & “cheeks”) patches
TRICOLOUR Black head (tan pips), black body patches)

Speckles on a tricolour will often be tan where they appear on the legs, breaching or chest and black on the neck or body.


​In other breeds this colour is often called sable/white. A true tan/white (brown) is so dark in colour as to appear black and follows the same tan or lighter shading patterns as found in tricolours. Occasionally, the head is tan and the body patches near black. Usually the undercoat is tan, and the outercoat a mixture of black hairs interspersed with than. 

SABLE is an even admixture of brown and black hair in no particular pattern, with lighter points as mentioned above. 

The sabling of the tan/white (Brown) is a colour found in the ancestors of the Jack Russell – the Fox Terrier and Parsons Terrier. All Jack Russells registered with the ANKC (bar those descending from recent imports and those transferred from the JRTCofA Inc, registered with a pedigree category of "100% imported bloodlines) are known to trace to early Foxing Terriers and will carry the genetics of the common colours that appear in those breeds. I know of no brindle Jack Russells in Australia. 

White dogs are not seen in the show ring. Unlike Parsons Jack Russell Terrier exhibitors, a breed with very similar colour requirements to the Jack Russell Terrier. Breeders, judges and exhibitors show a distinct prejudice against all white animals. If pigment is present in eyes and lips, the dog is quite correct.


Ideal height: 25cms (10 ins) to 30cms (12 ins). The weight in kg being equivalent of 1 kg to each 5cms in height, i.e., a 25cm high dog should weigh approximately 5kg (10 lbs) and a 30cm dog should weigh 6 kg (13 lbs). 

It is quite clear from the height, weight and the circumference of a Jack Russell Terrier's chest he is NOT a STOUT Bull Terrier like dog. He is a small dog NOT a short legged dog, but well proportioned with a body being 50% and legs the other 50% of total height. 

He is neither too long nor too short in back. His bone is never coarse or heavy. Every part of the standard calls for a balanced slimly built dog. No smaller than 25cm (10") to 30cm (12") tall. 

There will be times when you, as judges will have to decide between a good dog that is 31cm and an inferior one that meets the height standard. Personally, I would always choose the balanced dog with a correct outline, angulation and movement, over the dog whose ONLY virtue is him being within the height standard. I am always amazed when breeders tell me "Oh he's not over height" - I want to scream. "I can see that, but have you considered what is happening between the withers and the ground." There before me stands a 30cm dog on a 25cm dog's legs, but it's not over height!!! It takes a lot more than that to make a Jack Russell Terrier correct.



Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree. However, the following weaknesses should be particularly penalised: 

(a) Lack of true Terrier characteristics 

(b) Lack of balance, i.e, over exaggeration of any points 

(c) Sluggish or unsound movement 

(d) Faulty mount. 

NOTE: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.





​1. Susan Hunt for providing article on colouring with Dr. Julie Tilbrooke – DVM. 

2. Dog in Action by McDowell Lyon. 

3. Canine Terminology By Dr. Harold R. Spira. 

4. Barbara Kilworth "Cabal" for canine photos on Cover and pages 

5,  Illustration on page 21 by kind permission of Gail Revell of Victoria. 

6. Other illustrations provide by Author with the exception of the drawings accompanying Dr. Julie Tilbrooke's article, which were done by Susan Hunt. 

7. Photography throughout this paper is that of the Author's. 

NOTE: This lecture may be reproduced ONLY if the author is acknowledged and it is reprinted in its entirety. To be used as a teaching tool for Terrier Judges and Jack Russell breeders.




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