Meet the Breed: The Jack Ruseel and Parson Russell Terriers

Open your doors to these two clever terriers; they’re spring loaded and ready to explore.

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Only a very few individuals have bestowed their names on breeds they originated or popularized. Louis Dobermann and King Charles come to mind. But the Parson John (Jack) Russell tops them with three breeds or varieties bearing his name in one form or another. True, the Parson Russell Terrier and the Jack Russell Terrier are virtually one and the same, divided primarily by politics and differing views.

The third member of the trio, the Russell Terrier, does not have the length of leg of the PRT and JRT. According to history, they were cross-bred hunt terriers, bred by a relative of the Parson’s kennel man, who found her dogs sold better when dubbed “Jack Russells.” That’s merchandising for you. However, the short-legged, long-bodied puddin’ dogs found a niche as favored stable dogs and occasionally badger hunters.

Before delving into the dogs’ story, let’s take a look at the man behind the breed. There’s only one Parson in the terrier world. Born in Dartmouth, South Devon, England on December 12, 1795, he grew up in a fox-hunting family so his passion for the hunt was nurtured from childhood. In fact, his fascination for the sport almost resulted in his expulsion from Blundell’s School in Tiverton. The 16-year-old student kept a pack of four-and-a-half couples in secret with another classmate, Robert Bovey, and the village smith. They had a grand time hunting with the pack until the school’s headmaster found out. Bovey was ousted from the school, and Russell was punished with a solid thrashing which didn’t deter him in the least.

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