Jack Russell Breed Standard And Description

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch section of the Kennel Club website here http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/watch for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.

General Appearance

A strong, active, lithe, working terrier of great character with flexible body of medium length. Smart movement. Keen expression. The coat is predominately white, and may be smooth, broken or rough.

Scars not to be penalised.


Lively, alert and active. A good hunting terrier, sturdily built, that could go easily to ground 


Bold, fearless, friendly and confident.

Head and Skull

The skull should be flat and of moderate width, gradually decreasing in width to the eyes and tapering to a strong muzzle. The stop is well defined, and the cheek muscles are well developed. The length of muzzle from the stop to the nose should be slightly shorter than from the stop to the occiput. Nose and lips black. Lips tight-fitting.


Almond shaped, fairly small and dark, with keen expression. Not prominent. Closely fitting eye rims, with black pigment.


Button or dropped, carried close to the side of the skull, of good texture and great mobility. The top of the ear is level with, or very slightly above the skull. The tip of the ear is in line with the eye.


Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Broken or missing teeth due to work are not to be penalised.


Strong and clean, of sufficient length to carry the head proudly, and to protect the feet when working below ground.


Shoulders well laid back with visible forechest, and never heavily loaded with muscle. Upper arm of sufficient length with angulation to ensure elbows are set under the body. Well boned forelegs as straight as compatible with a short legged dog when viewed from front or side.


The length from the point of shoulder to the buttocks slightly greater than the height from the withers to the ground. Level back, with very slight arch to loin which is short, strong and well muscled. Chest oval, fairly deep rather than wide, with good ground clearance. The distance from the withers to the elbow is equal to the distance from the elbow to the ground. Ribcage oval, well sprung, flattening somewhat on the sides so that the girth behind the elbows can be spanned by two hands - about 40 cm to 43 cm. Moderate tuck up.


Strong and muscular, angulation in balance with the shoulders. Stifles well bent with low set hocks. When standing, pasterns parallel when viewed from behind.


Round to oval, not large, with toes moderately arched. Pads firm.


High set, thick at base, in overall balance with the rest of the dog. When moving the tail should be carried completely erect but may drop at rest.

If docked for work, the tip of the tail on a level with the skull.


Unrestricted, free striding, ground covering gait without exaggeration. Well co-ordinated; straight action front and rear, may converge slightly at a faster pace. Strides should be of good length, never stilted or high stepping. Hindquarters providing plenty of drive.


May be smooth, broken or rough. Must be weatherproof. Not over trimmed.


White must predominate with black and/or tan markings. The tan markings may range from light tan to rich chestnut tan.


25-30cms (10-12 ins). Substance and weight should be proportionate to height. Neither too coarse nor too refined.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.



Illustration of Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier was given official recognition by the Kennel Club in 2016. Although the country of development is seen as Australia, the breed has its roots in the working Terriers of the British Isles, many of which were early exports with ex-pats who emigrated to Australia and which proved their worth keeping down vermin in the new homesteads. Many small working Terriers, some of them genuine Jack Russell Terriers and others loosely carrying the title, were exported to Australia in the 1960s and 1970s and in 1972 the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Australia was founded.

It was in Australia that the breed was first seen as a dog for the show ring. Developed there, with some differences from the foundation stock, the ‘Australian’ Jack Russell has become popular world-wide at dog shows and was recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1991. It must be said that the type developed in Australia has some differences from the type maintained by the Jack Russell breeders in the UK, who have retained the original type: a dog similar to the Parson Russell in proportion, but in a smaller frame. However, the British standard has been drawn up as a compilation based on the British breed club standard with the Australian and FCI standards. Owners of Jack Russell terriers registered with non-Kennel Club breed clubs have been invited to register their dogs with the Kennel Club, in the hope that they will add to the gene pool and compete at Kennel Club shows.

Despite its development in Australia, the nomenclature pays respect to the origins of the breed as a working Terrier in England, and it is hoped that the Jack Russell of the show ring will remain essentially a working Terrier both in type and temperament. (see also Parson Russell Terrier).

Breed Group
Vulnerable Native Breed
How much exercise?
Up to 1 hour per day
Length of coat
How much grooming?
Once a week
Supposedly sheds? *
Town or Country
Type of home
Minimum Garden Size
Over 10 Years

* If you are asthmatic or have an allergy, you should consult your medical advisor before considering obtaining a dog. More information can also be found on the Kennel Club website.

The Terrier Breed Group

Dogs originally bred and used for hunting vermin. 'Terrier' comes from the Latin word Terra, meaning earth. This hardy collection of dogs were selectively bred to be extremely brave and tough, and to pursue fox, badger, rat and otter (to name but a few) above and below ground. Dogs of terrier type have been known here since ancient times, and as early as the Middle Ages, these game breeds were portrayed by writers and painters.