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What Were Jack Russells Bred For? (Explained)

It’s hard to imagine a world without Jack Russell Terriers. This popular breed has been around for centuries and can be seen in paintings and artwork from the 1700s. But what were Jack Russells bred for?

Jack Russells are a type of terrier that was originally bred for hunting foxes. The breed is known for its high energy level and athletic build, which makes it well-suited for long days of running and tracking. 

This is why Jack Russells are known for their high energy levels and strong hunting instincts. They were bred to be tenacious, fearless, and determined, qualities that make them excellent hunting dogs.

But there is more to know. In this article, we’ll explore the history of the Jack Russell Terrier, and we’ll discover the origins, as well as the characteristics that made this breed so loved by so many people.

Let’s get started!

Where the Jack Russel come from?

The Jack Russell Terrier was originally bred in England in the 1800s. The breed was named after Parson John (“Jack”) Russell, who developed the breed ( a variety of the fox terrier) for fox hunting.

Interestingly, Jack Russells were not the only breed used for fox hunting. In fact, there were several other breeds that were popular among hunters, including the Foxhound and the Beagle.

Jack russell with risograph effect remixed media

So, what made Jack Russell so special?

There are a few things that set Jack Russells apart from other breeds. For one thing, they are small dogs, which made them ideal for hunting foxes that lived in burrows and dens.

Another thing that made Jack Russell unique is their temperament.

Unlike other breeds that were bred for hunting, Jack Russells were bred to be tenacious, fearless, and determined. This helped them to excel at their job of tracking down foxes.

Lastly, Jack Russells have a lot of energy. This made them perfect for spending long days running and tracking down their prey.

All of these characteristics make Jack Russells an excellent hunting breed. But what about now? Is the Jack Russell still being used for hunting?

The answer is yes! While there are now many different types of terriers, the Jack Russell is still one of the most popular breeds for fox hunting.

In fact, they are often considered to be the best breed for this type of hunting.

Today, Jack Russells are still used for hunting in some parts of the world. But they are also popular companions and family pets. Thanks to their friendly, energetic personalities, Jack Russells make great dogs for active people and families with kids.

How to identify a pure breed

Jack Russells are a popular breed of dog, known for their intelligence, loyalty, and energy. They are also one of the most easily recognizable breeds, thanks to their distinctive appearance.

  • They have short legs and short tail
  • They are typically white with black or brown patches
  • They have a short, coarse coat
  • They have a pointed muzzle
  • They typically weigh between 10 and 15 pounds
  • They are medium-sized dogs

Breed characteristics


Their sharp senses and strong territorial instincts make them quick to sound the alarm at any sign of danger. Jack Russells are also brave and determined, meaning they are not afraid to confront an intruder. And, thanks to their small size, they’re perfect for small apartments. As a result, a Jack Russell watchdog can be a great asset for any household.


When it comes to barking, Jack Russells are notorious. While most dogs might bark to alert their owner to an intruder or to ask for food, Jack Russells seem to bark just for the sake of it.

In fact, many owners of Jack Russells report that their dog will start barking for no apparent reason and continue barking for several minutes, even after the initial stimulus is gone.

This issue occurred when I had my first dog, so if you’re interested in canine howling, read my most recent article.

While some people find this behavior annoying, others find it endearing. But whether you love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that Jack Russells are one of the most vocal breeds of dogs.


The breed is known for its high energy level, intelligence, and loyalty. Jack Russells are very active dogs that need plenty of exercise in order to burn out energy so that they can be as less destructive as possible at home. 40 to 45 min ex


Jack Russell is a lively, determined and fearless little dog. They were originally bred as hunting dogs, so they have a lot of energy and stamina. They are also very intelligent and trainable but can be willful if not given enough attention and exercise.

Size and weight

The average Jack Russell is between ten and fifteen inches tall, with the females being on the smaller end of that spectrum. They generally weigh between thirteen and seventeen pounds.

The breed standard says that they should be “just big enough to kill a fox.”

Overall that’s what they were bred for. Check out my recent article to know if a Jack Russell can actually kill a fox.


After the second world war, Jack Russells were cross-bred with other terriers to create a dog that was more for family companionship than hunting. These new Jack Russells were bred to have a more gentle temperament and they quickly became popular as family pets.

Today, there are three different types of Jack Russell:

  • Jack Russell Terrier. The Russell Terriers’ distinctive rectangular body form with a longer body than leg distinguishes them from the Parson Russell Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier.
  • Parson Russell Terrier. A slightly larger version of the Jack Russell Terrier that is more popular in America. The Parson Russell’s coat is long and white, whereas the Jack Russell has a shorter coat and is mostly black, tan, or grizzle in coloration with markings of blue-black or tricolor.
  • Russell Terrier. A cross between the Jack Russell Terrier and the Parson Russell Terrier. The Russell Terrier’s distinctive rectangular body form with a longer body than legs distinguishes them from the Parson Russell Terrier and the Jack Russell Terrier.

The controversy around their name

The Jack Russell Terrier is a breed of dog that was originally bred for fox hunting. The breed was named after John Russell, who developed the breed in the early 19th century.

There is still some controversy over what to call these dogs, as some people believe that they should be called Parson Russell Terriers, in honor of the breeder.

The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA) is the breed’s official registry in the United States and Canada. In 2002, the JRTCA split into two clubs: the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America (JRTA) and the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America (PRTAA).

Despite the controversy over their name, Jack Russells are one of the most popular breeds of dogs in the world. They are known for their high energy level, intelligence, and loyalty.

Recognition by the Kennel Club

In recent years, the breed has become popular as a family pet.

While the Jack Russell is not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club,(they only officially recognized the Russel Terrier) there are a number of organizations that have formed in order to promote the shorter leg Jack Russel Terrier breed, and lobby, which led to the first official recognition by the Australian Kennel Council followed by the British Kennel Club in 2016.

Why does Jack Russell live so long?

The typical lifespan of a Jack Russell Terrier is between 13 and 16 years, which is relatively long compared to other dog breeds. One possible reason for this longevity is that the breed was selectively bred for health and vigor.

In fact, Jack Russells were originally bred as working dogs that needed to be able to withstand long days of hard labor, for example chasing foxes out of their dens. This robustness has likely been passed down through the generations and is one of the reasons why Jack Russells are still such popular dogs today.

So, if you’re looking for a long-lived companion, a Jack Russell Terrier might be the perfect breed for you! Just be prepared for an active dog that needs plenty of exercise and stimulation.


As we come to the end of this post, it’s hard not to love these lovable dogs even more. They have a long history that is full of amazing feats and they continue to adapt well to the modern world.

If you’re looking for an incredible dog breed that will be loyal and loving, the Jack Russell Terrier is definitely one you should consider adding to your family. Thanks for following along on our journey through their history!

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