You must be ready to provide firm, consistent and responsible handling.
Introducing the Jack Russell Terrier
Starting out as a hunter
The Jack Russell Terrier is a fox hunting breed developed in England in the 19th century and is the breed from which the modern or show Fox Terrier has evolved. The Jack Russell takes his name from the renowned hunting parson, the Reverend John Russell, who from 1830 to 1870 bred with care, a predominantly white terrier that followed the hunt on foot and went to ground after the fox.
At that time the Jack Russell was known as the working Fox Terrier and was bred by many fox hunting terrier men. The type of terrier bred by John Russell was the type now called the original or true type Jack Russell Terrier.
Growing into the job
The conformation of the Jack Russell follows its original function. Early British fox hunters used a black and tan type terrier, rather like the Fell or Welsh terrier, whose colour was similar to that of its quarry the fox. Difficulty telling terrier from fox in a dig brought about a desire for a white terrier to do the job and most probably the Old English Black and Tan was crossed with the Old English White Terrier (now extinct) to achieve the type of colouring we have today.
As the Jack Russell most often followed the hunt on foot (no jeeps to follow the hunt in the 1880's), he had to have a most reasonable length of leg. As he went over terrain and to ground following into the fox's territory he had to have a size and shape similar to that of the fox. Has anyone ever seen a short-legged, thick muscled fox?
The Jack Russell Terrier is a happy, bold, energetic dog, extremely loyal, intelligent and assertive. Their greatest attribute is their working ability, closely followed by their excellent qualities as a companion. A Jack Russell can be equally contented bolting a fox or chasing a toy at home; or equally adept at killing a sock in the living room or a rat in the barn. Their funny antics will continually amuse you and their intelligence knows no bounds, although their assertive nature and boundless energy can at times be overwhelming.
These little dogs require an extraordinary amount of human attention, outdoor activity, exercise, discipline, and your understanding and acceptance of their hunting nature. Their natural instinct may make them agressive towards other small animals such as snakes, cats, gerbils, guinea pigs. They can also be very aggressive with other dogs. Never leave two or more together unattended, as Terriers have been hurt, and even killed by their fellows. Even young pups must be carefully monitored. It is imperative that prospective owners understand this part of the Terrier's nature.
These feisty little Terriers capture the hearts of many, BUT they are not the dog for everyone! While adaptable to a variety of environments, they are first and foremost bred to be hunting dogs. City or apartment living, or a confined or sedate lifestyle, do not suit a Jack Russell. Special facilities and handling are absolutely necessary, especially when owning two or more Jack Russells.
You must be ready to provide firm, consistent and responsible handling. And, while facilitating outdoor activity and exercise is essential, you can never leave your Jack Russell Terrier unattended, even in the country. The courage of the Jack Russell is never in doubt, they may take on any adversary, even twice (or more) their size. They are intelligent, determined and bold, but sometimes you have to apply the brakes they were born without.