Russell Terrier

The Russell Terrier is a predominantly white working terrier with an insatiable instinct to hunt formidable quarry underground. The breed was derived from the Reverend John Russell's fox working terrier strains that were used in the 1800s for fox hunting. The Reverend's fox working strains were much smaller than the Show Fox Terrier and remained working terriers. The size of the Russell Terrier (10" to 12") combined with a small flexible, spannable chest makes it an ideal size to work efficiently underground. Their unique rectangular body shape with the body being of slightly longer length than the leg makes them distinctly different from the Parson Russell Terrier and the JRTCA Jack Russell Terrier.

Russell Terrier Appearance

A strong, active, lithe working Terrier of great character with flexible body of medium length. His smart movement matches his keen expression. Tail docking is optional and the coat may be smooth, rough or broken.

  • The overall dog is longer than high.
  • The depth of the body from the withers to the brisket should equal the length of foreleg from elbows to the ground.
  • The girth behind the elbows should be about 40 to 43 cm.

Russell Terrier Temperament

  • A lively, alert and active Terrier with a keen, intelligent expression. Bold and fearless, friendly but quietly confident.

This breed does well in a calm setting, it's tendency to be hyper-active makes it more sensitive to sharp noises or erratic behavior of humans. It can actually vibrate with fear if faced with uncertainty about it's treatment from people, and can become a veritable "wood-chipper" towards human hands. Yet it easily controls larger dogs in the household. They are good coyote chasers too--- down city streets. In the yard they walk with nose downward always on the alert for vermin and are the undisputed kings and queens of hole diggers. They really are exterminators, and will go after anything and usually prevail.


Cranial Region

  • Skull: The skull should be flat and of moderate width gradually decreasing in width to the eyes and tapering to a wide muzzle.
  • Stop: Well defined but not over pronounced.

Facial Region

  • Nose: Black.
  • Muzzle: The length from the stop to the nose should be slightly shorter than from the stop to the occiput.
  • Lips: Tight-fitting and pigmented black.
  • Jaws/Teeth: Very strong, deep, wide, and powerful. Strong teeth closing to a scissor bite.
  • Eyes: Small dark and with keen expression. MUST not be prominent and eyelids should fit closely. The eyelid rims should be pigmented black. Almond shape.
  • Ears: Button or dropped of good texture and great mobility.
  • Cheeks: The cheek muscles should be well developed.
  • Neck: Strong and clean allowing head to be carried with poise.

  • General: Rectangular.
  • Back: Level. The length from the withers to the root of tail slightly greater than the height from the withers to the ground.
  • Loin: The loin should be short, strong and deeply muscled.
  • Chest: Chest deep rather than wide, with good clearance from the ground, enabling the brisket to be located at the height mid-way between the ground and the withers. Ribs should be well sprung from the spine, flattening on the sides so that the girth behind the elbows can be spanned by two hands - about 40 cm to 43 cm.
  • Sternum: Point of sternum clearly in front of the point of shoulder.
  • Tail: May droop at rest. When moving should be erect and if docked the tip should be on the same level as ears.

  • Forequarters
  • Shoulders: Well sloped back and not heavily loaded with muscle.
  • Upper arm: Of sufficient length and angulation to ensure elbows are set under the body.
  • Forelegs: Straight in bone from the elbows to the toes whether viewed from the front or the side.
  • Hindquarters: Strong and muscular, balanced in proportion to the shoulder.
  • Stifles: Well angulated.
  • Hock joints: Low set.
  • Rear pastern (Metatarsus) : Parallel when viewed from behind while in free standing position.
  • Feet: Round, hard, padded, not large, toes moderately arched, turned neither in nor out.
Gait / Movement
  • True, free and springy.

  • Hair: May be smooth, broken or rough. Must be weatherproof. Coats should not be altered (stripped out) to appear smooth or broken.
  • Color: White MUST predominate with black and/or tan markings. The tan markings can be from the lightest tan to the richest tan (chestnut). Terriers exhibiting both black and tan markings (on the predominately white coat) are called tri-colored.
Size and Weight
  • Ideal Height: 25 cm (10 ins) to 30 cm (12 ins).
  • Weight: Being the equivalent of 1 kg to each 5 cm in height, i.e. a 25 cm high dog should weigh approximately 5 kg and a 30 cm high dog should weigh 6 kg.


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. However, the following weaknesses should be particularly penalized when entering a conformation competition:

  • Lack of true Terrier characteristics.
  • Lack of balance, i.e. over exaggeration of any points.
  • Sluggish or unsound movement.
  • Faulty mouth.

Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities should be disqualified when showing.

The Russell Terrier originated in England with Australia being designated as the country of development.

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