Jack Russell Terriers are a high-energy small-dog breed. They were initially bred in Britain as fox hunting dogs, and purebreds frequently feature in dog shows or competitions. Jack Russells are breed dogs, and there are several ways to identify one.
There are four key elements to observe when checking if a Jack Russell Terrier is purebred:
- Head and face
While there are variations involved in each element, specific details, like the amount of white on the coat, will show the purity of the breed.
If you’re looking to get a purebred Jack Russell Terrier, read on to find out more about how to identify one correctly.
The Characteristics of a Purebred Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers are a prized dog breed and one that does well in dog shows. If you would like to enter competitions with a Jack Russell Terrier, you will usually have to make sure you get one with characteristics that follow the breed standard. The standard is broad, but some specific requirements have to be met.
When it comes to dog competitions, in particular, requirements for purebred Jack Russell Terriers can be very detailed. The coat is one of the most noticeable aspects to observe in dogs and one of the most important in establishing whether a Jack Russell Terrier is purebred.
The double coat of a purebred Jack Russell Terrier should ideally contain more than 51% white. There should also be black or tan patches on the face and around the tail. The skin of the Jack Russell Terrier should be pink and dotted with either brown or black freckles.
Jack Russell Terriers can have differently-textured fur, which will affect the requirements for coat length. Those with smooth fur should have no sparse spots, no silky texture, and the coat should remain around 1.5cm/0.60in in length. Those with rough fur should not have a wooly texture, and their coat length should not exceed 10cm/4in.
Jack Russell Terriers can also have what’s called a broken coat: a combination of the two types of textures. This may alter the length of hair found on the face or around the tail.
The Head and Face
Breed experts will recommend several things when it comes to the head and face of a Jack Russell Terrier. A purebred should have ears in the shape of a V that are a moderate distance apart. The ears should also taper over the eyes, which should be almond-shaped and dark.
The head of the Jack Russell Terrier should be proportional to the body and feature a flat skull. The nose should be black, and the length of the muzzle should be taken into consideration too. The mouth should feature powerful teeth, preferably with an overlap in the bite. The preferred bites are the scissor and the level.
The scissor bite has the lower canines ahead of the upper ones. The jaw should also be strong and well-muscled in the cheek area. The stop, the angle where the skull and the nasal bone slope, should be defined but not too much.
Purebred Jack Russell Terriers are known for the strength of their hindquarters, but many of them can be affected by a genetic condition known as achondroplasia. This condition causes the legs to be bowed or crooked and can even stunt the terriers’ growth. The dog’s posture is essential in competitions, as the legs must be observed in a straight position.
The build of Jack Russell Terriers has barely changed in the breed’s more than two-centuries-old history. This makes it easy to identify the purebred dogs based on a few criteria:
- They have to measure 10-15in/25-38cm in the area between the shoulder blades, also known as the withers.
- The preferable weight is between 14-18lb/6-8kg and should always be proportional to the length of the body and the size of the head.
- The hindquarters should be strong and flexible to allow for a good degree of propulsion when the dog is running.
- The feet should be round with hard padding and not turned either out or in.
- The tail should be tall and strong, about four inches long if proportional to the body’s length.
- The neck should be well-muscled, proportionally long, and broader at the shoulders.
- The chest should not be too wide, as this was originally a breed meant to hunt foxes in burrows, and the ability to fit through narrow spaces continues to inform the genes.
- The body should be shaped like a rectangle and sturdy.
- The shoulders should be laid back.
- The body of Jack Russell Terriers tends to be longer than it is tall.
The Personality of Purebred Jack Russell Terriers
Jack Russell Terriers are “working terriers” bred to hunt their prey even if it hides in burrows underground. If they don’t get to hunt foxes, Jack Russell Terriers feel compelled to work, whether helping you with an activity or dedicating themselves to digging up the garden. Here some of the identifying personality traits of purebred Jack Russells:
The Hunting Gene
It may not strike you at first, but Jack Russell Terriers are not low maintenance dogs. They have almost infinite supplies of energy and are highly active. They require plenty of exercise and outdoor activities. A short walk won’t keep them entertained for long, so you must bear in mind that you’ll need to actively dedicate significant parts of your schedule to them.
Regardless of whether you will use them for hunting or not, Jack Russell Terriers still carry that gene, and it continues to inform their personality. They are brilliant dogs, but they also require more training, discipline, and attention. You will become very aware of their demands for the outdoors and attention when you have them.
You should also keep in mind that they can be very aggressive dogs. The hunting gene can make them see many things as either threats or prey, including other Jack Russells, dogs, other animals twice their size, and significantly smaller animals like cats or mice. Jack Russell Terrier owners must be prepared to deal with aggressive situations.
The aggression encoded into this breed isn’t a fault, but an inherent trait to hunting dogs. Owners are advised not to leave Jack Russell Terriers unsupervised and be aware of how to defuse a potentially dangerous situation, especially with other Jack Russell Terriers. You should also have specific training for your actions when something like this happens.
These dogs are also courageous, but this can make them reckless. Supervision is also required when you are roaming the outdoors together to make sure they don’t tackle a foe or an action that is too challenging. Their instinct can also take over and have them hunting or chasing prey to the point of getting lost or hurt.
The Family Aspect
While purebred Jack Russell Terriers are highly suitable for active owners with plenty of free time for outdoor activities, these dogs can also make great family pets when adequately trained. They are exceedingly loyal and very affectionate. They’re also kind and patient with children, but you should still keep an eye on things if you have children under six.
Jack Russell Terriers won’t tolerate even accidental or perceived abusive behavior, so children must be taught to take great care with them to avoid any issues. In general, they get very attached to their families and can suffer from separation anxiety. Make sure to keep them with you in the house to ensure their wellbeing.
Jack Russell Terriers are a popular hunting breed that is also suitable for family life as long as their energy is worked off through exercise. Several purebred traits can be found in them, from their coats to the shape of their heads and bodies.