Upbeat, lively, inquisitive, and friendly, the jaunty Russell Terrier was developed by England’s “Sporting Parson” for use in foxhunts. The adorable Russell Terrier looks like a plush toy come to life but is an eager, tireless working terrier.
About the Russell Terrier
These jaunty little fellows pack lots of personality into a compact, rectangular body standing 10 to 12 inches at the shoulder. Their dark, almond-shaped eyes and mobile V-shaped ears bring out the keenly intelligent expression—an endearing hallmark of the breed. All three coat types are mostly white with markings that are tan or black, or both. Russell’s move with a free, effortless gait that announces the breed’s innate confidence.
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- Temperament:Alert, Inquisitive, Lively
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 82 of 197
- Height: 10-12 inches
- Weight: 9-15 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
- Group: Terrier Group
The Russell and Parson Russell terriers share a common heritage as fox-working dogs from the kennels of Rev. John “The Sporting Parson” Russell of the mid-1800s. Since the parson’s day, the lines of the two terriers have diverged and are now recognized as two distinctly separate breeds. Russells were bred to be swift enough to run with the hounds and tough but compact enough to go to ground and bolt prey.
The Russell Terrier is a strong, active, lithe, predominately white-bodied working Terrier of character with a flexible body of moderate length and rectangular profile. The overall dog must present a balanced image with no one part exaggerated over another. The Russell Terrier is full of life and moves with confidence that matches his keen expression. The coat may be smooth, broken, or rough and may have tan and/or black markings with no preference for coat type or markings. Tail docking is optional.
The Russell Terrier should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The Russell Terrier’s rough and ready appearance is easily maintained. Coats come in three types: smooth, broken, and rough. The dense, short, smooth coat can be kept looking great with an all-over rubdown with a soft brush or a hound glove once a week. The rough and broken coats will require going over with a brush or a dog comb weekly but are kept mostly natural, with minimal grooming. Russell’s nails should be trimmed monthly, and his ears checked weekly for debris or excess wax and cleaned as needed.
The Russell Terrier is not a breed for a couch-potato family. High energy levels and a robust personality make this an excellent choice of breed for an outdoorsy family who takes lots of hikes, bike rides, and long daily walks. Finding games he loves to play will help keep his brain and his body exercised. A tired Russell Terrier is a good RT. With an almost limitless supply of energy, this makes a great companion dog for children who understand dogs. The breed has retained a strong prey drive so should be very well socialized early on to circumvent any problems that might result from that trait.
The majority of Russell Terriers are happy, healthy little dogs. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as patellar luxation (loose kneecaps), deafness, and eye disease, and are dedicated to preserving the genetic health of the breed by doing health testing on all their breeding stock.
Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:
- BAER Testing
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Patella Evaluation
- PLL DNA Test
Did You Know?
- The ancestry of the breed combines the ultimate size, instinct, and construction for the working earth terrier.
- The Russell Terrier originated in England and was developed in Australia.
- The Russell Terrier is considered the ultimate working earth terrier never bred for the bench.
- The Russell Terrier has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since October 2005.
- THe Russell Terrier is AKC’s 175th breed.