The Russell Terrier


  • December 01, 2018
  • By Jo JoAnn Stoll

From the November 2018 Issue of ShowSight. Click to Subscribe.

The Russell Terrier originated in England in the 1800’s to assist in Fox Hunting and elimination of various other vermin above and below ground. Their unique small chest and size made them ideal for hunting fox because of their similar size to the fox. The Russell was bred for their hunting abilities with a diverse genetic background for decades and never for bench.

They also made ideal companions on farms to eradicate vermin. The Russell is as cute as a button and immensely entertaining. They are fiercely loyal, highly intelligent, perfect for an 
active family.

They are a somewhat new breed to the kennel club compared to the well establish terrier breeds with decades of kennel club history. The Australians are credited for writing the first kennel club standard for the breed. Their motto “The Hallmark of the breed is the Spanability of the chest enshrined in the 50/50 proportion. Spanability should be evident in the silhouette. Key to correct breed type are the elements of chest size, shape and compressibility. If the chest falls below the point of the elbow the chest the dog becomes short legged as the 50/50 height requirement is negated. The correct proportions couldn’t be more evident lending to a more agile/flexible terrier, better able to perform his job.

We view the most concerning factor today as being the inconsistency in silhouette exhibited in the show ring. The breed is well defined by the standard with little wiggle room. There are points in the standard which can support different opinions or styles but not the 50/50 silhouette and small chest. Today few Russells have the privilege of the hunt field. Yet we must value the tenants of the working terrier staying true to the origin and purpose. 

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