Jack Russell Terrier - Canine Companion or Demon Dog (Chapter 4, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 4

In most breeds, dog shows will judge them on appearance and their standard will directly relate to how the dog appears visually. This is not the case with the Jack Russell. Because it's a working Terrier, the Jack Russell is judged on its body dimensions and its ability to perform complex work tasks, not on their specific appearance. A key element in the evaluation of Jack Russell's is chest size. A strong barrel shaped chest that's still small enough to crawl into the den of any fox and work game from burrows is of the utmost importance.

The most common adversary of the Jack Russell is the Red Fox, which Reverend John Russell specifically created the modern day Jack Russell to hunt. The fox will make a home in any den hole available, whether it's their own burrow, a groundhog hold, a rabbit hole, even a vacant badger's den. They've also been known to live inside drain pipes and building crawl spaces. In any event, a proper Jack Russell must be small enough to chase a fox and fit into its home, no matter how small. Generally it is preferred for a Jack Russell to have a chest size that is no larger than that of the average fox. Around the world the average known red fox chest ranges from 12-14 inches, and a proper Jack Russell's chest should match that range accordingly. The weight of the average fox is 14 lbs., it's desirable to be able to match the weight of the fox as well, but a working Terrier will often exceed that number slightly because of the dense muscle that the breed is known for.

Barry Jones, the founding Chairman of the National Working Terriers Federation was once asked to contribute opinions for Kennel Club Members who wanted to bring the Jack Russell's (as Parson Russell's) into dog showing events. Although most working terrier breeders and organizations are against this, he did offer some guidelines as was quoted as saying:

"The chest is, without doubt, the determining factor as to whether a terrier may follow its intended quarry underground. Too large and he/she is of little use for underground work, for no matter how determined the terrier may be, this physical setback will not be overcome in the nearly-tight situations it will encounter in working foxes. It may be thought the fox is a large animal - to the casual observer it would appear so. However, the bone structure of the fox is finer than that of a terrier, plus it has a loose-fitting, profuse pelt which lends itself to flexibility. I have not encountered a fox which could not be spanned at 14 inches circumference - this within a weight range of 10 lbs to 24 lbs, on average 300 foxes spanned a year. You may not wish to work your terrier. However, there is a Standard to be attained, and spannability is a must in the Parson Russell Terrier."

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