Archive for May 16th, 2012

Jack Russell Terrier In America

The JRT Club of America (JRTCA) was founded in 1976. Thirty years later, thousands of members are united in admiration of and dedication to the protection of the Jack Russell Terrier.
The history of the Fox Terrier and the Russell Terrier seems to have repeated itself when the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America (JRTAA) broke away from the JRTCA, with the intention of seeking recognition for the breed from the American Kennel Club. The JRT was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1991 and by the American Kennel Club in 1997 – two moves that were opposed by the JRTCA.
Why do most of the Jack Russell Terrier clubs and the Jack Russell Terrier United World Federation oppose recognition by any all-breed kennel club? Why does the Jack Russell need “protection”? Showing dogs in highly competitive conformation contests has resulted in physical and mental changes to nearly every breed in history. While this kind of competition may be fine for other breeds, it is not suitable for the Jack Russell because beauty alone has nothing to do with the dog’s ability to perform the task she was bred to do.

The Parson Russell Terrier

The JRTCA breed standard has not changed since the club was formed. But the little terriers being shown in AKC breed rings began to change – much as the Fox Terriers of old began to diverge from the working terriers in Britain. The JRTCA eventually sold the name Parson Russell Terrier to the JRTAA. The idea was to help make clear the difference between the two breeds. In 2003 the AKC officially changed the breed name of the dogs it registers to the Parson Russell Terrier and the club changed its name to the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America.
With a more rigid standard that seems to place appearance above working ability, changes will happen quite quickly to this new terrier breed. The Parson Russell Terrier is already a dog of more substance than the Jack Russell Terrier. The Parson Russell standard tolerates less variation in height – just twelve to fourteen inches at the withers, compared to ten to fifteen inches for the Jack Russell, which is suitable for a variety of hunting applications. The Parson Russell breed standard notes a preference for a spot at the base of the tail, which will have some breeders working hard to breed dogs with those markings, rather than on striving to maintain the essence of what the dog should be, a working hunting terrier.
There is currently another group approaching the AKC with another variant of the breed that has short legs, again seeking to use the name Jack Russell Terrier. David Ross of the JRTCA comments, “By adopting the name ‘Parson Russell Terrier’ for the AKC variant of the Jack Russell Terrier, the AKC and the Jack Russell Terrier Association did in fact separate the standards into two different terriers, eliminating much of the confusion and leaving the name Jack Russell Terrier for the standard the JRTCA and the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain have used for many decades. While education and time will be needed for both our organizations to completely sort these terriers out in the public’s mind, a good start has been made. However, if the AKC now accepts yet another standard for ‘Short’ Jack Russells and calls them ‘Jack Russell Terrier,’ both our registries will be in the unenviable position of telling innocent buyers that while their breeder and pedigree say they own a Jack Russell Terrier, the fact is they have purchased a ‘new’ variant of the terrier named after our terrier.”

Preserving the Breed

The Fox Terrier was once the dog now known as the Jack Russell Terrier. However, today’s Fox Terrier no longer has the conformational structure or even the desire to perform her original function of holding at bay or bolting foxes from their earth dens. The Jack Russell Terrier today is the unspoiled working terrier of the 1800’s. The breed has been preserved in the standards of most of the major terrier clubs, which emphasize working ability. The mental and physical soundness of the Jack Russell Terrier is protected by those dedicated to their breed’s performance and character.
Fierce protection of these traits motivates loyalty to the breed, and the members of the JRTCA are devoted to the organization and its task. Through understanding, the club can continue protecting this remarkable terrier.
Today, the Jack Russell Terrier is a much-loved pet in homes and families across the country. In addition to preserving the working function of the Jack Russell Terrier, the JRTCA educates pet owners about the unique qualities and requirements of keeping a Jack Russell. The JRTCA offers services and activities to keep people working and bonding with these special dogs. The club encourages people to love, play with, and work their terriers, and to fight for the dog’s ability and instinct to work, both now and in the future.

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