Formerly the "English Jack Russell Club"-- Established 1995
Russell Terriers
Events and Awards

Welcome to the NRTFC
Breed Standard
Revised standard 1 January 2010

Essentials of the Russell Terrier: A well put together intelligent, excellent temperament, little short dog built to go to ground.  The Russell is a balanced terrier that is longer than tall, must have over 51% white dense smooth coat with black tan, or brown markings, must have an obvious breastbone, ears can be button, drop or rose.   The head must resemble a triangle.  Disqualification: Square or Block head.  Height:  9 to 12 inches, Disqualification: Height over 12 inches.   Ideal Weight:  Male 12 -16 lbs      Female 10 – 15 lbs   Russell Terrier’s should always be presented in hard working condition.


The Russell Terrier is a descendant of the Hunt Terrier, which is solid in color.  This was bred to the now extinct English White Terrier.  Jack Russell Terriers and Smooth Fox Terriers bred by the Reverend Parson Russell are in fact, the Hunt Terrier par excellence.  Earlier, Fox Terriers were primarily smooth coated, the wire hair came 15 years later.

Breeders in America, Australia, Ireland and many European countries imported both registered and un-registered Jack Russell’s.

The English Jack Russell Club (EJRTC) recognized the un-registered dogs as the English Jack Russell Terrier in 1994.  The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the breed as the Russell Terrier in January 2001.  The American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) recognized the breed in January 2003 as the “Russell Terrier”

These little dogs have never been recognized in its country of origin, England.

The NRTFC has a registry dating back to 1961 which does not include any cross bred dogs.


Russell Terriers are many things to many people.  Having wonderful sporting and working qualities, these dogs excel in hunting rodents, rabbits and vermin.  Russell Terriers also perform the more prosaic job of keeping the premises free of rodents with impressive efficiency-at farms, kennels, or stables.  They are true terriers, from whiskers to tail, in every sense of the word.

Not all of us however have properties in need of a rodent eliminator.  What, then, about those of us who just need an all around family dog that will be fun to own, intelligent, and fit nicely into the household.  It would be impossible to improve upon a Russell Terrier as a rodent exterminator and companion.  Game and hardy as they are, they also possess a keen appreciation of comfort; they bask in being permitted to share the house or apartment with their people and even with other dogs (not just of their own breed), plus a cat or two.  How well this works depends on the owner.

The keen intelligence of a Russell Terrier always makes them interesting to have around.  Their delightful ways with people, their affection for their owners (and their eagerness for making this clear), their obvious comfort in sharing a chair, sofa, bed or curling up in your lap as you read or watch television, makes them the ideal companion not matter what your lifestyle.

Being small, Russell’s are truly a most convenient size for taking with you on your travels, and they have the ability to settle in happily in an apartment, a house in the suburbs or in the country.  Their size makes a tremendous amount of exercise unnecessary, although they do seem practically tireless accompanying you on walks.  The Russell Terrier has very few genetic problems and enjoys a long life.   They can live to be 15-16 years of age.


The Russell Terrier is a small, agile, active hunting terrier, built to go to ground.  The length of back from withers to set-on of tail is longer than the dog’s height at the withers.  When measuring height, the length from the elbow to the ground should equal the same distance as the elbow to the top of the withers.  The head is moderately broad, with a powerful muzzle that is slightly shorter than the skull.  Ears are button, drop or rose, and are very mobile.

The tail is straight, can be carried gaily, set high, and normally docked to a length where the tip is level with the top of the ears.  Point of sternum, “breastbone”, must be very obvious.  The skin is thick and the coat is smooth, always dense and thick.  The Russell Terrier is over 51% solid white or predominately white with black, tan or brown markings.  The Russell Terrier should be evaluated as a working terrier, and exaggerations or faults should be penalized in proportion to how much they interfere with the dog’s ability to work.  Scars should neither be penalized nor regarded as proof of a terrier’s working abilities.


The Russell terrier is a bold, friendly, active, and alert hunting terrier.  Built for work underground, they also perform impressively at keeping farms, kennels or stables free of rodents.  This breed is notoriously fearless and requires little encouragement to go to ground.  Aggression towards anything other than legitimate quarry detracts from the dog’s ability as a working terrier and should be discouraged as much as possible.  Intelligence, delightful ways and affection for their owners make them ideal for any lifestyle from country properties to apartment settings, and being small in statue also fit nicely in travel plans.  They do seem to be tireless when outside and active, but, because of their smaller size they require less exercise than larger dogs.  These dogs are known for their excellent temperaments, and make wonderful companions.  They get along with other dogs and cats.


The head is proportionate to the size of the body.  When viewed from the front, it should resemble a triangle and be slightly rounded with a flat back skull.  The muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull and is joined by a slight to moderate stop.  The planes of the skull and muzzle are parallel.

Disqualification: Square or block head.

SKULL – The skull should be slightly rounded with a flat back skull, but not apple or domed.  Cheeks are well developed.

MUZZLE – The muzzle is well developed, strong, tapered and muscular.  There is a minimum of falling away under the eye.  Lips are tight and darkly pigmented.

Faults: Weak jaw; narrow or snippy muzzle.

TEETH – The Russell Terrier has a complete set of comparatively large, evenly spaced, white teeth meeting in a preferred scissors bite, level bite is acceptable.

Disqualifications: Undershot; overshot bite; wry mouth.

NOSE – The nose is black and fully pigmented.

Disqualifications: Brown or liver nose; absence of pigment.

EYES – Eyes are deep set, almond shaped, dark in color, with a mischievous, intelligent expression.  Eyelids are tight.  Eye rims are black.

Faults: Light eyes; bulging eyes; round eyes; triangular eyes. A lack of black pigment around the eyes.

Disqualification: Blue eye.

EARS – The Russell Terrier has small, V-shaped button, drop, or rose ears of great mobility.  Ear leather is soft and fine.  Dogs with button drop or rose ears may occasionally hold an ear erect.  This shall be severely penalized in the show ring but does not disqualify the dog for registration purpose.

Serious fault: Heavy, hound-like ears.

Disqualification: Permanently erect ears.  This disqualification shall not apply when the erect ear is the result of accident or injury.


The neck is clean, muscular, and of sufficient length to enable the dogs mouth to extend beyond its forepaws while working underground.  The neck gradually widens from the nape and blends smoothly into the shoulders.


Shoulders are long, sloping, smoothly muscled, and well laid back.  The upper arm is sufficiently long to ensure the elbows are set well under the body, and forms an apparent 90-degree angle with the shoulder blade.  The moderate breastbone is evident.

The forelegs are strong, and moderately well boned.  Forelegs may turn slightly outward.  The elbows are set close to the body, but are able to move freely in action.  The pasterns are short, powerful, straight, and flexible.  When viewed in profile, the pasterns are short,

Faults: Bowed legs; down in the pasterns; toes turned out excessively; knuckling over or any other misalignment of joints; out at elbow

Disqualification: Fiddle front


A proportioned Russell Terrier is longer than tall.  The length of back from the withers to set-on of tail is longer than the dog’s height at the withers.  When measuring height, the length from the elbow to the ground should equal the same as the elbow to the top of the withers.  The Russell Terrier is perfectly designed to go to ground.  This requires a chest of sufficient depth to give good heart and lung room, but without so much depth and width that the dog is encumbered underground.  The well-sprung ribs extend well back.  The chest must be capable of being compressed so that the dog is unhindered when working underground.  The back is of moderate length, and level, blending into a muscular, slightly arched loin with slight to moderate tuckup.  Skin is thick.

Serious faults: Barrel ribs; chest too deep or too broad


The hindquarters are strong and muscular.  The bone, angulations, and musculature of the hindquarters are in balance with the forequarters.  The stifles are well bent, and the hocks are let down.  When the dog is standing, the short, strong rear pasterns are perpendicular to the ground, and viewed from the rear, parallel to one another.

Faults: Cow hocks; straight stifles.


The feet are fairly rounded, moderately small, well arched, and tight.  Pads are hard, tough, and well cushioned.  Dewclaws may be removed.

Serious faults: Thin feet; splayed feet; Flat feet


The tail is set on high and customarily docked to a length so that the tip of the tail is level with the top of the ears.  When moving or alert, the tail may be straight or with a slight curve forward and carried erect or gaily.  When the dog is at rest, the tail may drop.


The Russell Terrier always has a smooth, short, flat, hard, dense, thick and weather resistant coat that covers the entire dog, including the belly and underside of the thighs.

Disqualification: Rough, broken, silky or wooly coat 


51% solid white or predominantly white with any combination of black, tan, or brown markings are preferred, but and otherwise good specimen of the breed must not be penalized for heavy body color.  Legs, chest and belly must be white.  The back and sides of a dog with heavy body coloring must have a minimal amount of white.  Any white area may be ticked providing that white predominates.

Serious fault: Having less than 51% solid white

Disqualifications: Any color, pattern, or markings other that listed above; albinism


The Russell Terrier is of a size to go to ground.   Mature Russell Terriers range in height from 9 to 12 inches.  Preferred weight for males is 12 to 16 pounds and preferred weight for females is 10 to 15 pounds.   Russell Terriers should always be presented in hard, working condition.

Disqualification: Dogs over 12 inches in height


The Russell Terrier moves with a jaunty, confident, attitude, conveying the character of the breed.  When trotting, the gait is effortless, smooth, powerful, and well coordinated, showing good, but not exaggerated, reach in front and

drive behind.  The backline remains level with only a slight flexing to indicate suppleness.  Viewed from any position, straight legs preferred, slight turning out is acceptable as long as feet do not cross or interfere with each other. . As speed increases, feet tend to converge toward centerline of balance.  Poor movement should be penalized to the degree to which it reduces the Russell Terrier’s ability to perform the variety of tasks it was bred to do.


Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Vicious or extreme shyness. Square or block head. Undershot or overshot bite. Wry mouth.  Blue eye. Brown or liver nose. Absence of pigment in nose. Permanently erect ear. This disqualification shall not apply when the erect ear is the result of accident or injury. Any color, pattern, or markings other than listed. Dogs over 12 inches in height. Coat: Rough, broken, silky or wool.   Albinism.