The Russell Terrier originated in England with Australia
being designated as the country of development for the breed.
The breed was established for use in the sport of fox hunting,
from Reverend John Russell's original fox working terriers
in the early part of the nineteenth century.. The small
size of the breed made them ideal to be carried on horseback
in terrier bags, a requisite for certain terrain. The nose
to locate and the voice to bolt the fox were far more important
than speed. The breed's handy size, small flexible chest,
nose, strong voice and fearless nature made them excellent
specimens to work vermin below ground.
The breed derived from the Reverend Parson's fox working
terrier strains, sharing many common characteristics of
the Parson Russell Terrier. However, it must be noted the
two breeds are distinctly different in body structure and
height, 10-12 inches, and have been maintained as separate
breeds in the US and Europe. The Russell Terrier may be
described as game but not quarrelsome. The breed is confident,
highly intelligent, faithful, versatile and hardy. They
view life as a great adventure up for any task. First and
foremost, they are hardy earth working terriers.
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. 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.
SUBSTANCE & PROPORTION
In size the Russell Terrier measures from 10"-12".
Substance and weight should be proportionate to height,
being neither too coarse nor too refined. The body is proportioned
marginally longer than tall, the silhouette representing
a distinct rectangle when measured from the point of shoulder
to point of buttocks than from the withers to the ground.
The height and weight descriptions indicate a sturdily built
yet balanced dog with smooth muscle transitions, able to
traverse narrow tunnels. There may be slight differences
between males and females. Males should look masculine while
females should look feminine. However both sexes must adhere
to the breed standard. When viewed in profile the midline
of the dog is at elbow and the bottom of the brisket. Severe
Fault: Any hint of achondroplasia
Disqualification: Height under 10 inches or over 12 inches
The skull is flat and of moderate width gradually decreasing
in width to the eyes and then tapering to a wide muzzle,
that narrows slightly to the end maintaining very strong
jaws. The stop is well defined with minimal falling away
under the eyes. The length of muzzle is slightly shorter
than the length of the skull from the occiput to the stop.
The cheek muscles are well developed. Nose: Black and fully
pigmented. Disqualification: Any color other than black,
not fully pigmented.
Ears: Small V-shaped button or dropped ears carried close
to the head of good texture and great mobility. The points
of the ears are even with corner of the eye and pointed
downward. The fold is level with the top of the skull or
slightly above and forms a straight line when alert. Disqualification:
Prick or semi-prick ears. Eyes: Dark, almond shaped with
a keen expression of alertness. Eyes must not be prominent.
Eyelid rims are to be fully pigmented black. Disqualifications:
Blue eye or eyes.
Bite/Teeth: The bite is a scissor bite with comparatively
large teeth. A level bite is acceptable. Missing and broken
teeth due to terrier work should not be penalized. The lips
are black and are tight fitting. Disqualification: Over
shot, under shot, wry mouth.
A clean, strong neck tapering gradually into the withers
is required for terrier work. The neck is of sufficient
length to allow the terriers mouth to extend beyond its
forepaws when working.
Shoulders are well laid back and not heavily loaded with
muscle. The upper arm should be equal or nearly equal to
the length of the scapula forming an approximate 90 degree
angle. This assembly allows for sufficient length of upper
arm to ensure the elbows are set under the body, with the
sternum clearly in front of the point of shoulder. Proper
reach matched with equal drive allows for efficiency of
Forelegs are straight in bone from the elbows to the toes
whether viewed from the front or the side with a slight
angle to the pastern from the side. Legs are moderately
well boned. The depth of the body from the withers to the
brisket should equal the length of foreleg from elbows to
Severe Faults: Benched or bent legs, leg length either less/more
than the depth of body.
The body of the Russell Terrier is proportioned marginally
longer than tall, measuring slightly longer from the withers
to the root of the tail than from the withers to the ground.
The overall presentation is a compact, harmonious rectangular
silhouette, in sound athletic condition. From the withers
to the bottom of the brisket should represent 50% of the
distance from the withers to the ground. The brisket should
never fall below the elbow. The loins are short, strong
and well muscled. The tuck up may be described as moderate.
Scars incurred while hunting are not to be penalized. Top
line: Level while in motion. There is a slight arch of loin,
from muscling that is felt rather than seen. Chest: The
small oval shaped, compressible chest is the hallmark of
the breed and is the single most important attribute the
Russell Terrier must have allowing it to work efficiently
below ground. It must be compressible and small enough to
be spanned by an average size mans hands, approximately
14"-15" at the top set. Ribs are to be well sprung
from the spine, tapering on the sides forming an oval shape
so that average-size hands of an adult can span the girth
behind the elbows. The chest must never fall below the elbow.
Severe Faults: Incorrectly shaped, unspannable, uncompressible
chest falling below the elbow.
Muscular and strong; when looking down on the dog, the width
of the hindquarters is equal to the width of the shoulders.
Angles are equal and balanced front to rear. The hind legs,
when viewed from a rear standing position, are parallel.
The stifles and low-set hocks are well angulated, allowing
for good driving action.
Both front and hind are moderate in size, oval shaped, hard
padded with toes moderately arched, turning neither in nor
The tail is set high enough so that the spine does not slope
down to the base of the tail. Customarily, if docked, the
tip of the tail should be level with the top of the ears.
When moving or alert, the tail may be straight or with a
slight curve forward and is carried erect or gaily. When
the dog is at rest, the tail may drop.
Movement must be unrestricted and effortless, while exhibiting
an attitude of confidence. The dog must always be exhibited
and gaited on a "loose" lead. On the lateral,
the dog must exhibit equal reach and equal drive. When moving
down and back at slower speeds the dog must parallel track.
As speed increases, feet tend to converge toward a centerline
May be smooth, broken or rough. Must be weatherproof: all
coat types have an undercoat and a harsh outer coat. Coats
are preferably natural and unaltered. The conformation underneath
is the same with no preference being given to any particular
coat type. The belly and underside should be well covered.
The terrier is shown in its natural coat with minimal grooming.
Sculpted furnishings are to be severely penalized.
Smooth- A dense short, coarse smooth hair with an undercoat.
Broken- Intermediate length hair, between smooth and rough,
usually with facial furnishings and possibly a slight ridge
down the back.
Rough- Harsh and dense hair with an undercoat. Not thin,
woolly, curly or silky.
White is predominate with black and/or tan markings. There
is no preference to markings so long as the dog remains
51% white. Tan can vary from lemon to mahogany. Ticking
is acceptable. Disqualification: Less than 51% white, brindle
coloring, any other color than listed above.
An alert, lively, active, keen terrier with a very intelligent
expression. The sporting character of the Russell Terrier
is that of a spirited and game hunter. Their intensity for
life is one of their most endearing traits. They are playful,
curious, loyal and affectionate. Sparring is not acceptable.
The foregoing description is that of the ideal Russell Terrier.
Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized
to the extent of the deviation.
Height under 10 inches or over 12 inches
Prick or semi- prick ears
Blue eye or eyes
Over shot, under shot, wry mouth.
Nose: Any color other than black, lack of pigment
Less than 51% white, brindle coloring, any other color than
American Russell Terrier Club, Inc @ 2009